Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after qualifying at Qatar:
3rd and 5th row starts for Red Bull KTM Ajo riders
Miguel Oliveira, in eighth, will start from the third row for the first Grand Prix of the year in Qatar. Brad Binder and Karel Hanika will do so from row five.
03/28/2015 - Losail International Circuit, Qatar
The first qualifying session of the season took place this evening at the Losail International Circuit. In a closely contested battle for the top spots, slipstreams proved decisive in deciding the grid positions for tomorrow’s race. Miguel Oliveira placed eighth –taking a spot on the third row– and Brad Binder and Karel Hanika were thirteenth and fourteenth, respectively. The latter duo will take off from the fifth row. The top 17 riders were separated by less than a second.
After a first three laps used to test the waters, the trio of Red Bull KTM Ajo riders returned to the pits to change tyres and went back out together. Like last year, the riders worked together to achieve the best grid positions possible. Oliveira led the timesheets after seven minutes and, at the midway point of the session, the three Red Bull KTM Ajo competitors were all running inside the Top 10. With 10 minutes of track time remaining, a final runout enabled Binder to improve his lap time. Oliveira was on pole position pace on his last lap, 0.5s quicker than anyone else at the second sector, but he missed out after slowing at the end.
After almost five months away, racing returns tomorrow at 6pm local time. The Qatar Grand Prix will be the first race of the year for the Moto3 riders, with the Red Bull KTM Ajo team fighting for a place on the podium.
44 MIGUEL OLIVEIRA
"Today's qualifying session was a bit difficult. It was hard to go faster than the other riders because today it was much windier than yesterday, and the wind blew towards you on the main straight. Today a slipstream would have given us much more advantage, but I think we did a good job. We have been consistent with our times and I felt comfortable on the bike. It is still a little frustrating to know that the lap time could have been better than what we did. Tomorrow we will concentrate on getting a good start and getting to the front at the start of the race. I’ll try to push and see what happens."
41 BRAD BINDER
"Unfortunately the qualifying session did not go too well. We worked hard and we were able to do a fair amount of laps consistently, but I could not manage to set a time 3 or 4 tenths faster than I had done before. I was also unable to take advantage of any slipstream, and this hurt me a bit. The position we have for tomorrow is not very good and I am somewhat disappointed, but I'm a raceday rider and tomorrow is the day that I like most."
98 KAREL HANIKA
"Today we took an important step forward with the team. Yesterday we tried to improve the bike a little and went in the right direction. Today we used a good team strategy and it worked rather well. At the end we all did our job alone. I rode on my own and I tried to catch a slipstream to go quicker. Most importantly, we know we can ride alone tomorrow. Unfortunately we are fourteenth on the grid, but I think we can have a good race tomorrow. I want to thank the team for the great work they have done today."
Repsol riders ready for first race of 2015
Fabio Quartararo and Jorge Navarro produce good performances in the first qualifying session of the year. Maria Herrera improves her pace and ends thirty-second.
Under the floodlights of the Losail circuit in Qatar, Fabio Quartararo and Jorge Navarro made another excellent showing in qualifying on Saturday. The duo finished very close to the best times in the Moto3 class, in the first grid-deciding session of the season. The Frenchman set the sixth fastest time, just 0.123s off fellow countryman and Losail poleman Alexis Masbou. Teammate Navarro was twelfth, 4 tenths of a second off Masbou. Maria Herrera also took a step forward with her times, placing thirty-second fastest.
Throughout the qualifying session, both Quartararo and Navarro fought for the top positions on a timesheet in which the first 17 riders were separated by less than 1 second. Quartararo lowered his times from yesterday by 3 tenths, with a best of 2:06.293 and taking sixth for his debut start. Navarro also improved from yesterday, by almost half a second, and will start tomorrow from the fourth row of the grid in twelfth.
Maria Herrera is accumulating experience with caution in her first outing as a full-time World Championship rider; Losail is a particularly difficult and unique circuit on the calendar. Today she lowered her best time from yesterday by almost a second and will start tomorrow from 32nd on the grid.
Tomorrow sees the first Moto3 race of the 2015 season open up the night’s action.
Fabio Quartararo 6th 2:06.293 16 laps 86 km
"I am very happy, because we have done a good job in our first qualifying session in the World Championship. Jorge [Navarro] and I helped each other out a lot, but we lacked a bit of experience to better use the slipstreams. It's my first Grand Prix and I have still got a lot to learn, but I'm happy because I have a very good pace and this will help me in the race. We have worked well during practice and I think the tyres will hold up well and enable us to maintain a fast pace. I think the race will be fun and do not think any rider will be able to escape; a group will be formed amongst the riders fighting for the win."
Jorge Navarro 12th 2:06.574 16 laps 86 km
"We all know that at a circuit like this the last few minutes of a qualifying session are crazy, because every rider is trying to find a slipstream and gain a few tenths. We had a very good pace throughout the session and I think we put in a pretty good time, but perhaps we lacked the finishing touches to do a perfect lap which would have allowed us to move up a few rows. In any case, I'm happy because we have progressed from the first day, gradually reducing the gap to the front. Although I am twelfth, in this class you get some very large groups and anything can happen. The bike is working well and I think we're ready to have a good race."
Maria Herrera 32nd 2:09.431 16 laps 86 km
"Today we improved by more than as second, which is pretty good. We cannot lower our time by three seconds straight away, we have to work hard, and I'm psyched up to start stronger next time we have free practice in order to get better prepared for the qualifying session. This is what we have been missing here at the first Grand Prix. I hope to continue taking steps forward in the warmup tomorrow and keep learning in the race. I have been looking forward to the first race, although there will be some nerves at the start."
Johann Zarco claims first front row start of the year
Ajo Motorsport rider takes 2nd position on the grid for first Grand Prix of 2015 in Qatar.
03/28/2015 - Losail International Circuit, Qatar
The first qualifying session of the season, held this evening at the Losail International Circuit, saw Johann Zarco claim a place on the front row and put him in an excellent position from which to fight for the win tomorrow. The Ajo Motorsport rider continued at the same performance level as the previous two nights in Qatar and, for the third consecutive night, managed to go second fastest in the intermediate class. He missed out on pole position by just 0.332s.
Zarco was involved in the fight for pole position from the very first minutes of the session, going quicker than the previous Moto2 pole record on only his third lap. However, this excellent lap was not enough to clinch the top spot, as both Sam Lowes and Tito Rabat managed up the pace still further. Zarco refused to give up and, with three minutes left, put in a superb lap of 1:59.755 for second on the grid.
The first race of the year for the Moto2 riders will begin at 7:20pm local time tomorrow. Johann Zarco will have the opportunity to claim his first victory in the class on Ajo Motorsport’s category debut.
5 JOHANN ZARCO
"I am very happy, because qualifying on the front row is very important. It was a tough battle for pole position, which shows I am able to be fast and consistent with my times. This makes me very satisfied. My team and I are ready for the race and already know which tyre we will use. Things are going well. We have to focus on tomorrow and it would be great to fight for the win."
SIXTH AND TENTH ROW FOR THE SKY RACING TEAM VR46 IN QATAR
Fenati is expected to pull out a great comeback. Migno is ready to fill the gap
Losail, March 28, 2015. Sixth and tenth row respectively for Romano Fenati and Andrea Migno of the Sky Racing Team VR46 at the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar.
The starting grid of the first GP of the season will be very challenging for Romano, motivated to do his best to get to the front. The rider number 5, whose pace was slowed down by a few problems on the front, completed qualifying in 17th position with 2.07.099.
Andrea Migno improved his time by nearly one second registering 2.08.350 (yesterday in the third FP session his best time was 2.09.032). Getting away from the tenth row in the 29th position, he will have to strive even harder in order to fill the gap, but his latest progress will encourage him to give his best.
PABLO NIETO / Team Manager
“It was quite a difficult day, Romano likes running on his own, but on such a track, on such a stretch that is very hard. Most teams use “formation riding”, where teammates lap in groups around the circuit to allow them to take advantage of each other’s slipstream to set faster times, so we will have to try and do the same. I think that Romano will possibly pull out a great race as he has the potential to do so. When the bike was not running well, he tried to push harder and the result was that sort of hiccupping he reported to us at the end of the session. We got a good set-up, even if we’ll have to make a few slight changes, but that is not big deal.
Andrea has improved. For him as a rookie having one more day to practice would be great, but I’m sure he will improve a lot. Today’s improvement was just a tiny step ahead but yet necessary to put us on the right track”.
ROMANO FENATI / Pilota
“We got some problems on the front wheel which was vibrating in fast big corners, above all in the last part of the circuit where the fourth gear is engaged. It was difficult riding like that, as I delayed in hitting the gas and could not find the right racing lines. Tomorrow we’ll try and build on the good job done during FP sessions, looking for a solution during the warm-up. Then we’ll be able to make up for the lost ground always striving hard to get to the front”.
ANDREA MIGNO / Pilota
“We managed to improve our performance both in terms of time and the bike setting, but we still have a long way to go. I haven’t found the right racing line so far. We will now try to get a better feel for the track ahead of the race. If we manage to find a good set-up and go faster, we will have good chances to get to the front”.
Good position to fight for top 10 in Qatar
Livio Loi will start the first Moto3 race of the 2015 season from eleventh on the grid. The Belgian rider of RW Racing GP was kicked out of the top 10 in just the final moments of the qualifying practice of the GP of Qatar.
Being in eleventh at only three tenths from Alexis Masbou’s pole position was kind of frustrating, especially because Loi had the feeling there was more in it.
Loi was fast from the beginning of the session, running a 2.07,696 already in his second lap. In his second run he improved to 2.07,094. With ten minutes to go Loi began his hunt for a really fast lap. He set his fastest time of 2.06,551 in his twelfth lap and was looking to go even faster but like in FP3 he was hindered by other riders, much to his frustration.
RW Racing GP team manager Jarno Janssen was satisfied nevertheless. “The field is extremely close together. Two tenths quicker and Livio would have been six places up. You just need that little bit of luck of having the right slipstream, but P11 is a good position to start from. I think the prospects are good too. Livio has the pace and the rhythm to have a good race. In this field anything is possible.”
Livio Loi – 11 (2.06,551)
“P11 is not bad at all, but I would have been happier with it if I had the feeling I got the maximum out of it. I think there was more in it, but I couldn’t get it out. That’s why I still feel a bit disappointed. There was quite some headwind on the long straight and a slipstream was very important. But that wasn’t where I lost it; I got stuck in the corners. I couldn’t get through the pack. The good thing is that I know I have the pace for the race and I’m pretty sure some of the guys in front of me on the grid can’t keep up that pace for the whole 18 laps. My feeling with the bike is just excellent. Hopefully I can snatch a few positions at the start and then fight for the top positions.”
SENSATIONAL THIRD ROW START FOR LOCATELLI AT LOSAIL. BASTIANINI QUALIFIES 21st
At his first race with Honda and Gresini Racing Team Moto3, Andrea Locatelli clinched the third row of the grid for tomorrow's Grand Prix of Qatar, setting in this evening's 40-minute Qualifying session the seventh fastest time, 2’06”323, only 0.153 seconds off the pace.
His team mate Enea Bastianini, who still struggled with set-up issues, claimed the 21st position with 2’07”308: the 17-year-old Italian rider, however, is confident to make a comeback tomorrow, since he found a better feeling with his bike in the latter stage of the Qualifying.
ANDREA LOCATELLI (7th - 2'06"323)
“This seventh place for me is like a pole position, to which we still went really close! By the way, in my last attempt, on the last corner, I also made a small mistake which made me lose a bit of time. Anyway I’m very satisfied because for me in this race everything is new, team and bike; I can’t deny that it was a big thrill to see my performance on the TV board after crossing the finish line… I could hardly believe it! In addition, the gap from the pole position is very minimal: it’s true that we are all very close, but this means that we have the potential to be able to stay with the leaders. After free practice we already knew we could improve and we did it: I'm confident for the race, though for me tomorrow will be like a debut. Let’s see how it goes, but I’m convinced that we can fight for a good result”.
ENEA BASTIANINI (21st - 2'07"308)
“At the beginning of the session we made changes to the bike that I did’nt like, so then I had to regain the right feeling and rhythm: in the end I felt good, but it was too late to move up the field; plus, I have not seen the pit board that indicated to me to return to the pits and when I came back there was no time to fit new tyres. All in all I remain confident for tomorrow: today I understood many things, so I will fight to try to make a comeback in the race”.
“Locatelli’s performance has been a pleasant surprise: ending the first qualifying of the year with just 153 thousandths from pole position is a very good start! Andrea is enjoying the bike and he can keep a good race pace, so I am convinced that tomorrow he will have fun and that he can try to stay with the leading group. It will be important to get a good start, and slipstreams as well. Bastianini struggled a little with set-up issues and this obviously slowed him down. I’m sorry fotr this, but I’m sure that Enea will quickly find the right feeling: we will help him to suceed because we want to see him up at the front as soon as possible”.
SIMEON TO KICK OFF 2015 SEASON FROM SECOND ROW OF THE GRID AT LOSAIL
Xavier Siméon claimed the sixth fastest time during this evening’s Grand Prix of Qatar Qualifying: aboard the Team Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 kalex machine, the 25-year-old Belgian rider set a lap time of 2’00”323, which will allow him to line up tomorrow on the second row on the grid. Siméon can also count on a good race pace and tomorrow will take advantage of the warm up to keep working on the bike set-up and try to further reduce the gap to the fastest riders, with the aim to stay in the leading group in the race.
XAVIER SIMEON (6th - 2'00"323)
“The top riders have been showing a better rhythm since the beginning of the weekend, but now we are closer to them and we have the chance to fight with them in the race, which is our goal. I’m happy especially because we took a big step forward compared to yesterday: now our pace is very good, I can constantly lap around the 2'00” mark, alone. Perhaps today would have been useful to take some slipstream, considering the long straight and the strong wind, to try to get under the wall of two minutes over a single lap, but that’s okay: we hit the target we set ourselves, which was to remain in the first two rows of the grid. Now we have to stay focused to fight at the front in the race”.
“I'm very happy: Siméon has always kept a good pace and did a really good job with the team, trying different things on the bike that gave positive results. Of course our goal is to bring home a good result tomorrow; we know that something is still missing from the fastest riders, but not so much, and the races are always unpredictable. Congratulations to Xavier and also to the guys of the team who did a great job!”.
Tech3 Racing Team duo ready to contest opening race in Qatar
Ricky Cardus will commence the opening Grand Prix of the 2015 Moto2 season from the middle of the 5th row, after posting a best time of 2'00.713 at the Losail International circuit. The Spanish rider began the qualifying session with instant speed as he used the three free practice sessions to adjust his Mistral 610 with the Tech3 Racing Team. After having completed 17 laps at the Qatari circuit, Cardus concluded the first qualifying practice of the year in 14th place. His performance here leaves the Spanish star confident of a strong showing tomorrow, where he will intend to undertake a typical rocket start and then clinch a top point scoring position to begin the year positively.
Meanwhile, Marcel Schrotter will launch from 17th position on the grid at tomorrows 20 lap sprint for the opening race of the season under the floodlights. The young German produced a solid effort to eventually post a top time of 2'00.948 on his last run which was on his 16th lap. Furthermore, Schrotter's time was only three tenths of a second from the top ten and he now confidently looks towards the race tomorrow where he will intend to climb through the field and collect valuable world championship points at Qatar. In addition, he will seek to launch into a positive groove at the first race of 2015 with his ambition being to build upon his 10th place finish in last season's championship standings aboard the Tech3 Team's Mistral 610.
Ricky Cardus : 14th : 2'00.713 : 17 laps
"It has been a tricky weekend up until now. We were really unlucky during the pre-season tests with regards to the weather conditions, which meant that we needed to work on a good base setup for our new 2015 bike here in Qatar. The most significant fact is that now, we improve our time with every run as well as my riding and confidence on the bike. The team is doing everything to help me and it's getting easier to produce good times. At the moment, we are struggling a bit on the straight and we are able to keep the slipstream, but we can't recover on the riders in front. Plus, I would also like to improve the turning of the bike. For sure, tomorrow will be a tough race and it will be difficult to keep a good rhythm for so many laps. However, I'm ready to fight and will give it my all."
Marcel Schrotter : 17th : 2'00.948 : 16 laps
"In all honesty, the start of this year hasn't really gone according to plan. We had to work through several difficulties which we didn't expect, after the improvements that we made throughout last season, but the lack of track time at the winter tests due to the rain, did not make things easier for us. Finally, during this session we managed to improve my feeling on the bike significantly and also the lap time is more competitive. Nevertheless, the position is far from what we are aiming for, but these kind of weekends do happen sometimes. It's just important to keep our head down tomorrow and take home as many points as possible."
Moto3 - Hard Qualifying for San Carlo Team Italia at Losail
Matteo Ferrari and Marco Bezzecchi on 10th and 11th row.
The riders of San Carlo Team Italia will have to close the gap at Losail International Circuit, where the first round of the season will take place. In the only session of qualifying, the French Alexis Masbou (Honda) got his first pole position with a time of 2'06''170, preceding Isaac Vinales and Niccolo Antonelli (3rd) and Francesco Bagnaia (4th), two riders that rode in Team Italia in the past, while the young talents of the Italian Motorcycling Federation had a difficult Saturday.
Thanks to an improvement of 1'' from his time in free practice, Matteo Ferrari (2'08''497) reduced to 2''3 the disadvantage from the pole position, however he will be forced to start from the 10th row (30th). The 2012 Moto3 European Champion has still to perfect the feeling with his Mahindra MGP3O 2015, but he got some interesting confirmations regarding to the constancy of performance of the race pace.
Also the rookie Marco Bezzecchi reduced his previous time, but he run into two crashes, fortunately without any consequence, that delayed inevitably his performance. The current Moto3 CIV runner-up, called by San Carlo Team Italia as substitute of Stefano Manzi (he will turn 16 tomorrow, the minimum age provided for by the rules), will start from the 11th row.
Matteo Ferrari (San Carlo Team Italia - Mahindra MGP3O #12) 30th, 2'08"497
"I succeeded in regaining some confidence in myself and in my bike and this is encouraging in view of tomorrow. We improved some more, limiting the gap from the top. We could have done better, but in the last lap I made a little mistake and I didn't take the corner in the right way. This is a pity because I could have had an interesting lap time; we will try again tomorrow during the race: I will give my best till the last lap."
Marco Bezzecchi (San Carlo Team Italia - Mahindra MGP3O #53) 33rd, 2'09"757
"The two crashes were really a shame. I felt really good with the bike: in my first lap, factual the only one useful in the session, I improved the time of the practice of yesterday. This reassures me in view of the Warm Up and the race: I will try to ride as more as possible and to experience. I really want to thank all the team that fixed the bike, after the first crash, in a very short time; I will do everything possible to requite the guys tomorrow during the race."
Cristiano Migliorati (Sports Manager - San Carlo Team Italia Moto3)
"We carry on the progression that we started on Thursday: also today we succeeded in limiting the gap from those on the top in this weekend. Unfortunately we missed the final "strike" of Matteo Ferrari, that made a little mistake in his last opportunity of time attack: this precluded us the possibility of getting two rows ahead on the grid. Talking about Marco Bezzecchi, naturally he's feeling the emotion of the debut: apart from the crashes, he's showing his speed, which is unquestionable, and he confirmed to be a very interesting rider. Moreover, I want to underline the professionalism of our technicians that, in a very short time, have fixed the bike of Bezzecchi after the first crash. This amazing work permitted to Marco to finish the last 7 minutes of qualifying: they really deserve our applauses."
THIRD ROW START FOR LEOPARD RACING’S DANNY KENT AT LOSAIL
Strong showing again by Leopard Racing during Saturday’s qualifying practice even though all three riders missed some luck on their run for a super-fast lap at the Losail Circuit
After Friday’s one-two during the final free practice session expectations were high for today’s very first qualifying practice in 2015. Although the team’s three riders pushed from the beginning till the end of the session very hard for a lap time Leopard Racing riders run in their time attack into traffic on track.
Again it was Danny Kent who leads the team’s trio to qualify for ninth place in the grid. Even his starting position from the third row the young Briton remains confident for the race due to his consistency fast race pace. On the other side of the garage Efren Vazquez missed the third row by margin of a second to start the season opener form tenth position. The experienced Spaniard steadily gain back his level after he missed most of pre-season testing’s due to an ankle injury.
Hiroki Ono who surprised yesterday with the second fastest lap time in the combined free practice times also went highly motivated in his first qualifying practice as a permanent entry in the Moto3 World Series. But today he wasn't lucky at all on track as he didn’t find a fast group as well a good slipstream which is especially important for the long straight here in Qatar.
Nevertheless, all three rider look forward with confidence to tomorrow evening’s championship start at the Grand Prix of Qatar due to their strong and consistent race pace respectively. Starting time for the race is 6pm local time (GMT+1).
#7 Efren VAZQUEZ, Grid position 10th - 2´06.465 (11/13):
“I’m happy how this day went because I think we’ve done a very well job during qualifying practice. All changes made on the bike for this session worked out well and most important I get back my feeling for the bike lap by lap. Of course we must continue working hard, to understand the bike even better in order to get the best possible compromise between my feeling and my riding style for tomorrow’s race. But for now I want to go back to hotel, to relax, to concentrate and prepare in the best way for the first race of the season. In general we’re ready even there is still some work do to during warm up session. But I’m confident it will bring a positive conclusion. After three days riding with the bike I don’t have any problems with my ankle although sometimes I feel a bit tired but the time schedule for this weekend is truly a help because there enough time to relax and recovery. But as soon I jump on my bike I completely forget my leg. So I really look forward to the first race in this year.”
#52 Danny KENT, Grid position 9th - 2´06.426 (11/14):
“Honestly speaking I’m bit disappointed because ninth position looks really bad on the paper but in term of consistency we’re very strong. During all practice sessions I was one of the fastest guys on track in consistency. But today I also was a bit unlucky to get a slipstream for the long straight otherwise I would been able to do a faster lap time. Although I was held up in my fastest lap which is bit frustrating but I look forward with confidence because our race pace is quite good. So I hope for a good sleep tonight to be more ready for tomorrow.”
#76 Hiroki ONO, Grid position 15th - 2´06.829 (8/14):
“Of course this starting position is not what we expected after yesterday’s strong performance. At least we had an eye to qualify within the top ten. But I’m satisfied with my lap time because the gap to pole position isn’t that big. From this point of view I’m happy with my first qualifying session in this year. Today I also was unlucky with a good slipstream and also I missed fast riders in front of me to push harder for a lap times as it was the case yesterday. Furthermore I run into traffic but the important thing is that our race pace is already quite fast and during a race everyone’s rhythm is high because there will be anyone cruising around who is slowing down and waiting for other riders. As said I’m not that much disappointed but also not happy about today but I look forward to tomorrow’s race where I’ll push from the start till the chequered flag.”
Stefan KIEFER (Team manager):
“Our today’s performance was at the same level like yesterday even it looks different. But we missed some luck to catch a good slipstream and unfortunately all our riders run into traffic in their fastest lap. Without any trouble I’m sure both Danny and Efren would be able to set in the low 2´06 and we would start from the second row tomorrow. However, this session went well in generally and we’re pleased with the results in position nine, ten and 15 for Hiroki respectively. Thanks to the efforts of all team member as well the riders Leopard Racing is well prepared for the first race in 2015.”