Press releases from the teams after the first day of practice at Motegi:
Rabat withdraws from Japanese Grand Prix
Motegi, Japan – 9 October 2015: Tito Rabat has withdrawn from this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi, as a result of the injury sustained in a training crash on Monday.
Rabat completed eight laps of the Motegi circuit during the first Moto2 free practice session this morning, but was well off the pace as he struggled with a lack of power in his injured left arm.
After consultation with the team, Rabat made the decision to withdraw from this weekend’s event, rather than to continue and risk further injury.
A further assessment of Rabat’s injury will be made next week, after which a decision will be taken about his participation in the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island.
“There was little pain, but I just didn’t have the power in the injured arm needed to cope with the hard braking areas here at Motegi. To continue this weekend would have made no sense. The championship is gone and second place is not worth the risk of crashing again and making the injury worse. I am disappointed we weren’t able to fight to the end, but congratulations to Johann Zarco on the championship. He’s ridden a faultless season and will be a worthy champion.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“To ride injured like this makes no sense for Tito. He needs more time to recover from the surgery he had on Monday and to continue here in Japan would only have risked further injury for little gain. Whether we finish second or third in the championship is not important, but Tito’s health is, which is why, together, we made the decision to withdraw from this weekend. We will assess the injury again next week before making a decision about Tito’s participation in the Australian GP. With Tito unable to ride this weekend it means that Johann Zarco will be crowned as Moto2 World Champion here. Congratulations to him; he’s been impressive this season.”
Productive first day for Repsol riders
Navarro finishes ninth, a prudent Quartararo returns to action with nineteenth fastest time and Herrera fights flu for thirty-first.
The flyaway stage of the season got underway today with the first practice session at the Japanese circuit of Motegi. Jorge Navarro was the fastest of the three Repsol riders in Moto3. Twelfth this morning in the opening free practice session, Navarro took a step forward in the afternoon, lowering his times by half a second after completing 16 laps. His best time of the day was set in the afternoon –1:58.248– and took him to ninth place on the timesheets on day one.
Fabio Quartararo, still recovering from an injury to his right foot, faced this first day of practice with great care. The lack of recent activity, coupled with discomfort, did not allow him to ride easily in the first practice session, in which he placed twenty-fourth and was just over two seconds off the fastest time –set by Antonelli. In the second session he took a step forward, finishing nineteenth and 1.362s down on the Italian’s top time.
Maria Herrera, suffering from a bout of flu on her first visit to the Japanese circuit, finished thirty-fifth in the morning, more than 3.5 seconds off the best time. In the second session she lowered her times by almost 2 seconds and moved up to thirty-first.
Fabio Quartararo 19th 1:58.862 31 laps 149 km
"I like the track, but in the first session when I turned to the right my leg bothered me and I preferred not to force things. In the second session I upped the pace and my foot responded better, but the pain continued. In addition, I have not been able to train at the highest level for a while and it showed. After five laps I felt a little tired, when normally I don’t feel like that until the last few laps. We must continue working and gradually we will improve."
Jorge Navarro 9th 1:58.248 30 laps 144 km
"We know that at this circuit, with the type of corners there are, it would take me some time to adapt. From the first free practice we took things calmly, working on trying to improve both my riding and the bike setup. This afternoon we took another step forward, but we still have many things to try for tomorrow. I feel very comfortable with the configuration of the geometry and the chassis we have used in recent races, but we have to improve the gear setup and engine braking to better handle the heavy braking required here, such as at Turns 5 and 11."
María Herrera 31st 1:59.463 31 laps 149 km
"In the first practice I did not feel comfortable, but it helped us to learn the track and find a good feeling with the bike. In the second session we took a step forward and I'm happy with this first day. We have to keep working because I think we can lower our times further. The track has a lot of hard braking and straights and, although that is not really my style, I like it and I think I can go fast here. I've never been to Japan before but I like it; here the people are very grateful and affectionate."
MIXED EMOTIONS FOR LEOPARD RACING AT THE START IN JAPAN
Whilst Leopard Racing’s heroes Danny Kent and Efren Vazquez both endured a difficult opening day at the Japanese Grand Prix today, it was youngster Hiroki Ono who underlined his speedy talent at this home track.
Teams and riders were welcomed by bright skies and warm temperatures to head into round 15 of the season today at the demanding Twin Ring Motegi. Series leader Danny Kent, who is fighting for the title to secure it already this weekend, struggled with his crew to set up his Honda machine properly to the 4.8 kilometres track in Motegi. He now will have a look on the data to find a solution until the all-important race day this Sunday.
On the other side of the team’s garage, the more experienced Spaniard Efren Vazquez lost almost the entire morning session due to a technical issue at his bike whereas he was able to set fast lap times immediately during FP2 this afternoon, but he foremost needs to fine tune his race pace in terms of a better consistency.
Even a small crash this morning could not reduce the big smile in Hiroki Ono’s face after the day’s conclusion as the 22-year old Japanese rider was amongst the top ten riders during both sessions. Ono showed a strong performance this afternoon too, as he also lost a lot of valuable track time because to his crew had to change the engine. Nevertheless, Ono just took three laps time to improve his lap time from the first session.
Moto3 action will continue on Saturday morning with the final free practice session before teams and riders set to prepare for the all-important qualifying practice at lunchtime.
#7 Efren VAZQUEZ (FP1: P22 - 1´59.459 (5/8) / FP2: P11 - 1´58.564 (13/13)):
“It has been a difficult start into the weekend as we missed almost the entire first session due to a technical problem. So going into FP2 this afternoon I tried to do some laps in order to get the feeling back for this track and we ended with a lap time I’m not pleased with. It isn’t so bad, but also not really fast. Anyway, we need to keep work hard and push in each remaining practice because this track is particularly demanding in terms of race pace. It’s not a big task to set up the bike to suit well to this track layout, but it requires consistency in race pace, so this is our task for tomorrow for sure.”
#52 Danny KENT (FP1: P4 - 1´58.134 (15/15) / FP2: P15 - 1´58.628 (13/13)):
“It was a difficult opening day here in Japan even though I enjoy riding at this circuit a lot. But we struggled to set up the bike well, particularly that it doesn’t turn. I’m really fighting a lot with the bike almost in every corner throughout a lap so we just need work hard and analyse the data in order to make a big chance for tomorrow because I felt we’re at the limit with bike without making any progress. I hope we can find a solution for tomorrow, but I believe in my crew that we will find a good way for race day.”
#76 Hiroki ONO (FP1: P9 - 1´58.516 (13/13) / FP2: P10 - 1´58.419 (3/3)):
“What a day, what else I can say after today’s first practice sessions. We started so well this morning as I felt that much comfortable with the bike as well as very much at home on this track. We’re able to make good lap times, as well as consistent ones and were really fast straight away, but a low sider shortly before the session’s conclusion robbed some valuable track time. I lost the front, which was nothing bad but we were badly surprised at the beginning of FP2 as we realized that the engine was damaged, so we had to change it. A huge thanks to my crew for their superb job as they changed it so quickly that I was able to do some laps at least with six minutes left. I pulled out what I could do and in doing so I improved my time slightly from this morning, so it was a positive start into the weekend for us for sure. Thanks to everybody involved for being capable of this.”
Encouraging first day for Red Bull KTM Ajo
Miguel Oliveira, second, one of riders with best pace on the opening day of the Japanese GP. Brad Binder, fifth and Karel Hanika, eleventh, take important step forward with setup of their KTM bikes.
10/09/2015 - Twin Ring Motegi, Japan
The flyaway rounds of the Moto3 World Championship tour started on Friday at Twin Ring Motegi with a positive first two free practice sessions for the Red Bull KTM Ajo team. After victory in Aragon a fortnight ago, Miguel Oliveira came out ready to continue at the top of the timesheets, setting an excellent pace riding alone throughout the day and putting in the second fastest time in both sessions. Brad Binder and Karel Hanika also made a good start to the GP, placing fifth and eleventh, respectively in the combined timesheet.
Oliveira -1:57.607-, Binder -1:58.126- and Hanika -1:58.367- were second, third and sixth fastest, respectively, and quickly found a good feeling at the Japanese circuit in FP1. The Portuguese led the 40-minute session for almost the duration, and only in the last moments was he relegated to second place. Binder climbed positions in the final minutes whilst Hanika was at all times within the Top 10.
Despite good track conditions, it was not easy to lower times in the second free practice session. Binder, fifth, was one of the few riders to do so, with a 1:58.113 almost identical to his previous best. Oliveira experienced the same situation as in the morning, when again he had the fastest time snatched from him at the end. His 1:57.629 was just 0.020s off the top spot. Hanika -1:59,063- was 22nd and hindered by a crash with 16 minutes remaining, although he was still able to put in further laps in the session after a trip back to the pits.
After this promising first day, tomorrow will see the starting grid for Sunday decided. Qualifying will start at 12:35pm -local time-, 5:35am in Europe.
44 MIGUEL OLIVEIRA
"This first day we had a good pace and were very consistent, lap after lap. The first two sessions were very similar; I felt comfortable on the bike, although we can improve this a bit -especially the feeling with the front. Motegi is a circuit that we like a lot, and with the work we are doing we hope we can improve tomorrow. We will try to enjoy the race and get the best possible result."
41 BRAD BINDER
"Although today's results were not bad, as this morning we were third and this afternoon we were fifth, I did not feel entirely comfortable with the bike. I had some trouble stopping under braking. That problem meant I could not enter corners well and lost time. Tomorrow we will try something completely new and hopefully do better. I feel very strong but I feel that something is not letting me use all the potential we have."
98 KAREL HANIKA
"This morning was very positive and I felt comfortable from the beginning. We worked especially on the setup for braking and corner exits, and that went quite well. The rear wheel slid out a bit and we had to make some changes for the second session. Conditions changed in the afternoon and we were not able to ride like we had in the morning. We have a good setup for the front of the bike and that's good for this circuit, where there is so much braking. We hope for further improvement tomorrow and to get into the top ten. In the afternoon I had a small crash but it was nothing."
BASTIANINI QUICKLY BACK IN THE GROOVE AT MOTEGI. LOCATELLI STAYS STRONG
Today’s first two free practice sessions at Motegi officially kicked off the Japanese Grand Prix and the long trip outside Europe which will bring the Moto3 riders also in Australia and Malaysia. Gresini Racing Team Moto3 racer Enea Bastianini was third fastest in the combined classification of the lap times, setting 1’57”799 at the end of the second session and so finding immeditely a good rhythm after a high side crash in the morning session. Following the fall the 17-year-old rider from Rimini complained about some pain in his left shoulder, which has affected him especially in the braking areas.
His team mate, Andrea Locatelli, was back on track after being forced to miss the last two races and he was able to complete no less than 27 laps: the 18-year-old rider from Selvino is still slowed by the fracture of the coccyx, but he will be able to continue the race weekend. His best lap of the day was 2’00”784, obtained in the morning session.
ENEA BASTIANINI (3rd - 1'57"799)
“Unfortunately I had a high side this morning: the asphalt was not in the best condition yet and I lost grip at the rear. I’m sorry for that, even though I was lucky to escape the crash unhurt. I’m just feeling some pain in my left shoulder, because of which in the afternoon I couldn’t be as strong as I would have liked on the brakes. Too bad, we should try to prevent this kind of crashes, but it happened and all in all the third fastest time is a good result for today. Tomorrow we hope to improve the situation of my shoulder, so we can prepare for the race in the best possible way”.
ANDREA LOCATELLI (35th - 2'00"784)
“I’m still struggling to ride, so we are doing several tests in an attempt to find a set-up which can help me to ride well in spite of the difficulties. I still have a bit of pain and I can hardly move on the bike and these certainly are the things that affect me the most. In particular, I’m struggling to close the line on corner entry. However, I think that session after session we will improve and I can also regain confidence and resume a good pace. Now we will analyze all the data to assess what is the best solution for tomorrow”.
“Bastianini’s race weekend has not started in the best way in the morning, with a crash; however Enea was able to be fast in the afternoon in his only lap on new tyres. This means that we have the potential to be on top also here. Locatelli is still affected by physical problems, but he managed to ride, so now the important thing is to continue to practice and to help him to regain confidence despite the difficulties”.
The Sky Racing Team VR46 testing bikes setting on Day-1 of the Grand Prix of Japan
Fenati and Migno in the top-ten of the first FP session.
FP2 served as a testing ground to find the best feeling with the bike
It was a busy day at Motegi for the Sky Racing Team VR46, on Day-1 of the Motul Grand Prix of Japan, fifteenth round of the Moto3 World Championship.
It was a very positive morning session with both riders in the top-ten: 5th fastest time for Romano Fenati in 1'58"188, 688 milliseconds off the session leader leader Niccolò Antonelli (1'57"500) and 10th fastest time for Andrea Migno with a best lap in 1'58"627.
The second session was affected by very hot weather (the track temperature at the end of FP2 session was at 38.7C°) and saw the team setting up the bikes to best face the many hard braking points featuring the Twin Ring.
Migno did not manage to do better than 1'58"732 (14th fastest time), while Romano ended the day in 16th (1'58"809), 8th in the combined timesheets thanks to the good time (1'58"188) he set in FP1.
PABLO NIETO / Team Manager
We did quite well in the morning session, as temperatures were cool enough. In the afternoon we struggled a bit more. We are working on the setting-up of Romano’s bike as we need to improve its performance especially in hard braking points. The data gathered today will be useful to find new solutions ahead of tomorrow’s qualifying. For Migno it was a good day, all things considered, he has taken one more step forward in his growth path and he seems to have already got a great feeling with the bike. The season finale will be important for him to confirm the progress made in the last outings.
ROMANO FENATI / Rider
We did well in the first round, a little less in the second. We had some problems with the bike’s setting and we are already working to try to solve them. I had much spin on the back but this did not help me face the corners in the right way, indeed, it made me go wide a bit. We must work on this aspect, improving the grip of the bike and then we'll be ready.
ANDREA MIGNO / Rider
It was not bad, track temperatures were very high this afternoon and that is not an easy track at all. We need to set up the bike for braking points that here in Motegi are many and very hard. At each corner, the slightest little mistake is enough to lose precious time and then it’s hard to make up for it! We are working on the bike, so far we have done well. We are not that far and I am sure we will be able to improve further ahead of tomorrow’s qualifying.
Marquez picks up Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS baton in Japan
Motegi, Japan – 9 October 2015: Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Álex Márquez kicked off the crucial flyaway triple-header races in Japan today with an encouraging 14th place at the end of the opening day of practice.
A double winner in Moto3 at the stop and go Twin Ring Motegi track, Márquez found the Honda-owned venue a completely different challenge on his Kalex Moto2 machine in warm and sunny autumnal weather.
With five hard braking zones at the 2.983 miles track, the 19-year-old dedicated much of his time on track today to gaining front-end confidence for braking and corner entry, which is an area he’s worked tirelessly on throughout the 2015 World Championship campaign.
Márquez set a best time of 1.52.409 to finish just over 0.5s outside of the top six on a day where he was also satisfied with his pace on both the hard and soft option Dunlop rear tyre.
Márquez will be the lone Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS participant in Sunday’s 23-lap race after the left arm injury Tito Rabat suffered in a training accident in Almeria five days ago forced him to withdraw after this morning’s FP1.
Álex Márquez: 14th - 1’52.409
“We knew this track was going to pose a completely different challenge on a Moto2 bike for me after my success here in Moto3. This track features a lot of strong braking points and it is the biggest area we need to improve for me in this class. We made a good step forward during each exit in both sessions but we will definitely need another step tomorrow in practice and qualifying to be more competitive. I have the same feeling with the hard and soft option rear tyre, but I need to improve on the soft because that can be crucial to exit the slower corners."
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“It has not been an easy day with Tito unable to ride with his arm injury and the World Championship being taken away from us. It has been quite emotional but the show goes on and we have to concentrate 100% on helping Álex be as competitive as he can. It wasn’t an easy start on a track he’s had a lot of success on and we didn’t find the improvement we expected at the end of the session on the soft tyre. We will have to find a solution for that, particularly in qualifying.”
SIMEON LOOKING TO MAKE THE MOST OF NEW TYRES AHEAD OF MOTEGI QUALIFYING
Xavier Siméon and the Team Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 enjoyed a positive first day of practice today at Twin Ring Motegi, which hosts the Japanese Grand Prix: the Belgian rider, after a slight and harmless crash in the morning, maintained a good pace obtaining good feelings aboard his Kalex machine. In the final stages of the second session, in the afternoon, Siméon didn’t manage to exploit the potential of the new tyres, improving only a few cents the lap time obtained in the morning session. The time of 1’52”528 therefore left him in 16th place in the combined classification.
XAVIER SIMÉON (16th - 1'52"528)
“Both today’s practice sessions were positive. At the end of the afternoon session, however, we could not make the most of the new tyre, otherwise we could definitely close this first day in a more advanced position compared to what happened in the recent races. This gives us so much motivation for tomorrow, but obviously we have to work to find a set-up that can allow us to take advantage of the new tyre, which makes so much difference here”.
“Regardless of the position in the timesheets, this first day of practice can be considered positive: Siméon showed the potential to remain close to the fastest and we missed only a fast lap with the new tyres. Tomorrow we will work to be able to make the most of it, with the aim of returning to make a good Qualifying”.
Ajo Motorsport rider crowned Moto2 World Champion on first day of Japanese Grand Prix.
10/09/2015 - Twin Ring Motegi, Japan
After 14 Grands Prix and with 4 remaining of the season, Johann Zarco was proclaimed Moto2 World Champion 2015 on the opening day of the Japanese GP. The retirement through injury after FP1 of his only title rival, Tito Rabat, combined with a 78-point lead in the overall standings, enabled him to clinch the title mathematically. It is the crowning moment of a dream season for the Frenchman, and for the Ajo Motorsport structure who debuted in the class in 2015.
In 2011, in the 125cc class, Johann Zarco took at Motegi his first Grand Prix victory –under the Ajo Motorsport banner. It was an unforgettable year that allowed him to fight for the world title, eventually finishing runner-up. Four years later, the Frenchman wanted to repeat the experience and return to a team with whom he had shown his best form. The title this season, in the team's rookie campaign, is Ajo Motorsport's fourth World Championship after three in 125cc/Moto3 (2008, 2010 and 2012).
With 284 points from 14 rounds and 78 points clear of his nearest rival, Zarco also set a record of 12 consecutive Moto2 podiums this season –6 of them victories. Zarco is the first Frenchman to win the Moto2 title and the fourth to win the intermediate category. Never before has a Frenchman achieved three consecutive victories in the World Championship, or six wins in a single year.
Zarco did not want to lose sight of the job at hand this weekend, and was second fastest in the first free practice session. He was quickest in the afternoon session, with a 1:51.158 lap. Tomorrow the Ajo Motorsport rider will try to repeat the position and take pole for the Japanese GP.
5 JOHANN ZARCO
"It's fantastic. It's a dream come true to be Moto2 World Champion. Now it is time to be calm and we will leave celebrating until Sunday after the race, because now we have to think about this Grand Prix, but I'm very happy. I did not expect things to go this way, and I feel bad for Tito [Rabat]. I hope he recovers soon.
It has been a spectacular season, and we have always been fighting for the win at every race. If we haven’t got it, we have always been very close. The work we have done has been great and the atmosphere in the team has been fundamental.
In 2011 I had experienced my best year in the World Championship, with Ajo Motorsport, and I knew that if I wanted to show my top form again, we should get back together. This year we were able to work together again and, thanks to my experience and the passion for winning that they have, we have been able to finish the job we started in 2011.
I want to thank all the whole team, Aki [Ajo], Laurent [Fellon] and his family, my family and friends, the partners and all who have helped me.
Hopefully on Sunday we can celebrate the title with a victory."
AKI AJO - Team manager
"It's an amazing feeling to win the Moto2 World Championship. It is the goal we all have, to win the World Championship one day. It is the fourth title for Ajo Motorsport, but each title always feels as good as the first. This is why we keep working hard here every year. It is always a very exciting time. I want to thank everyone who made this possible and, of course, Johann, his family, his manager Laurent [Fellon] and our great team for the great job they have done. I also want to thank my family for their support, both in the good times and the bad. Also our partners, as without them none of this would not have been possible. It has been a great season for everyone."
Moto3 - Good start for San Carlo Team Italia at Motegi
Stefano Manzi finishes 17th the first day of practice, Manuel Pagliani expresses convincing levels.
The first two sessions of practice at the Twin Ring Motegi gave favourable and positive results to the riders of San Carlo Team Italia. In a Friday of activity that saw a "product" of Team Italia as Niccolò Antonelli (Honda) as big protagonist, with a best time in 1'57"500, Stefano Manzi and Manuel Pagliani managed just fine in the competitive grid of the entry class, interpreting as best as they could, the characteristics of the Twin Ring, a track that was completely unknown to them.
Riding with remarkable times already in the morning, during the second session Stefano Manzi got the 15th time in 1'58"756 and was 17th in the combined timesheet, second best Mahindra rider on track, at 1"256 from the top.
Impressive start also for Manuel Pagliani, with a time in 1'59"290 at 1"790 from the first position and at almost half a second from the times of his teammate, but with all the potential to improve his position in the standings compared to his current 29th position.
Stefano Manzi (San Carlo Team Italia - Mahindra MGP3O #29) 17th, 1'58"756
"I am very happy. Even though the track was completely new for me, we are already in our reference group with a great 15th time in the second session. The beginning was positive and we worked very well with the team, so our goal can be nothing but carry on this way in qualifying and race."
Manuel Pagliani (San Carlo Team Italia - Mahindra MGP3O #96) 29th, 1'59"290
"Motegi is a very technical track and difficult to remember in such short time, but between the two sessions I succeeded in doing it. We are not completely at our 100% in terms of set up, but we have all the premises to do well tomorrow and to improve the positions in the standings. The team will help me to find a compromise so that I will be at my best in the official qualifying."
Cristiano Migliorati (Sport Manager - San Carlo Team Italia Moto3)
"We are objectively in good shape in terms of competitiveness with Manzi, in line with the performances of Misano and Aragon. Stefano is doing very well, being the second best Mahindra Rider on track: in this "derby", we are playing our cards right, without backing out. He interpreted at his best a track that was completely unknown and despite the crash of this morning, he is at just 1"2 from the best time, a convincing signal that makes us confident in view of tomorrow. Talking about Pagliani, he's doing well too: he is already at half a second from Manzi, even if he still needs to work in the set up. He has the possibility to reach the same times of his teammate and to improve his position in the standings: with the work of the whole team,we want to help him in his growth during the weekend."
Loi opens Japanese GP in fourth
The first practice for the Japanese GP at Motegi wasn’t all that good for Livio Loi and RW Racing GP, with nineteenth place. But right from the beginning of FP2 the Belgian rider of the Dutch team found his mojo at the Twin Ring and never was outside of the top 5. Loi rounded the first day off in fourth, 0,472 from provisional pole sitter Niccolo Antonelli.
It had been two years since Livio Loi rode at Motegi and so it took him the first session to familiarize again. The Twin Ring is quite a difficult track with hard braking and acceleration which requires precision and full focus.
Loi managed to set his lap times by himself, without any help of a slipstream. “Which is very positive, as race direction has aggravated the penalties for waiting for a tow,” RW Racing GP team manager Jarno Janssen explained. “It is extra positive as Livio has showed he can do it on his own and that he has the right pace early in the weekend already. This was one of the better practices we had this year.”
Livio Loi – 4 (1.58,081)
“It went very well. This morning was still a bit sticky, but in the afternoon I found my rhythm and could keep it. I was in second, third or fourth all the time. Motegi is quite a typical track, where you have to open the throttle at just the right timing to accelerate out of the corners with high speed. In the final stage of the session we used new tyres, front and rear, and I could even improve more. The setup of the bike is excellent and that means we can continue to improve from here, working on the pace for the race. The feeling is good.”