Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the first day of practice at Qatar:
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Start First Qatar FP Session with Perfect 1-2
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP took its first strides towards the 2016 MotoGP title challenge today at the start of the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar. Riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi made their intentions for the new season clear in the first free practice session of the season under the scenic floodlights at the Losail International Circuit, securing first and second place respectively.
After positively concluding pre-season testing a fortnight ago, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team's Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi returned to the Losail International Circuit today to officially start the 2016 MotoGP season. As if the winter stop never happened, the teammates instantly fell back into their old groove and placed their YZR-M1s 1-2 in the ranking order.
Lorenzo felt confident and in a good physical shape after completing pre-season testing and his eagerness to get back into 'racing mode' didn't go unnoticed at this evening's free practice session once he hit the track. Having given the field a 'head start' to be guaranteed some clear space on track, he left his box as the second to last rider and immediately shot to the top of the leader board with his first flying lap. The Majorcan continued to set the bar high, dropping a 1'55.693s, more than 0,6s faster than all his rivals, around the midway stage of the session. As the pace picked up during the end of the session, the reigning World Champion responded almost with ease and wrapped up the proceedings with a best lap of 1'55.440s for the provisional lead in the standings.
Rossi was also not shy in claiming a key protagonist position in the first 45-minute practice session. Similar to his teammate he left his departure from pit lane late, but was quick to turn up the heat as soon as his tyres were warmed up. Fully focused on getting his setting exactly to his liking, he worked on the balance of the YZR-M1 with the new electronics and Michelin tyres and gradually moved up the timesheets. He ended the day with a long stint during which he skillfully made the traffic on the track work to his advantage. climbing up to second position as the session came to an end and finishing 0,267s from the leading time.
As Sunday's race will be held at 21:00 (GMT+3), the format of the race weekend has been changed to enable the riders to be fully prepared for the night event. There will be a second and third free practice session held tomorrow evening.
Massimo Meregalli - Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
"The new MotoGP season is now well and truly underway and we can be very satisfied with the results of today's first free practice session. Whenever we arrive at this track it takes a few sessions to get the initial dust and debris from the desert off the track, but today the conditions and level of grip were OK. Jorge started the season where he left off the previous year and showed his fast and consistent pace throughout the whole session. Vale was also fast right from the get go and his motivation showed in the lap times. Though there are still areas of the setting that we aim to improve on, we will try to sort this out before tomorrow's FP2."
1st / 1'55.440s / 15 laps
"I had a good start. From the first run I was able to have the best lap time and probably also the best pace, but we still have a margin for improvement both in lap time and pace. We will keep working on the setting and the electronics to improve in some areas for tomorrow. The track will also be better with more grip level tomorrow and the lap times will be faster."
2nd / 1'55.707s / 17 laps
"The first practice was positive. I'm quite satisfied, it was a strong way to start the season, because the second position is good and also the lap times are already not so bad. They're in the 1'55s and the pace is quite good. We start working from what we did in the test. This means that we did a good job during pre-season and we begin with a good base, but now we have to keep focus. The condition of the track changes a lot session by session and together with the team we have to deliver good work so we will be ready when the grip becomes better. I'll try to improve the feeling and also try to make the right decision for the tyres."
Iannone third, Dovizioso ninth after first day of free practice action at Losail for the GP of Qatar
The first race weekend of the 2016 season got off to a positive start for the Ducati Team riders at Losail. In Thursday’s first and only free practice session, Andrea Iannone was classified third while Andrea Dovizioso finished his run in ninth place.
The MotoGP riders started up their engines at 7.55 pm local time this evening for the first 45 minute run and Iannone lapped throughout with the hardest rear tyre available. He set his quickest time on his eighth lap, 0.296s behind leader Lorenzo. His team-mate Dovizioso, on the other hand, used the softer rear tyre option and he ended up 0.947s off the pace of the Spanish world champion.
Tomorrow there are two further sessions of free practice, which together with today’s, will determine the ten riders who will go directly into Saturday evening’s Q2 session.
Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team #29) – 1’55.736 (3rd)
“Today we went well but didn’t improve on the time we set in the tests and so we still need to find something extra in order to be quicker and more competitive. It was in any case a positive session, even though towards the end we made a modification that didn’t give the results we had been hoping for but did help us get a clearer idea of the direction to take and the work we will have to do to make more improvements in corner turn-in under braking. I preferred to only use the hard rear tyre, seeing as we’ve still got a bit more margin, and tomorrow we’ll try and understand if we can also do the race on the soft tyre.”
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 1’56.387 (9th)
“It was a bit of a strange session because the conditions were quite different to the ones we found here during the tests at the start of the month. We started off by using tyres that today produced a bit of front-end vibration and so now we will have to work to try and understand the cause. However I am not worried about my position because I still had some margin and in some corners I preferred not to take too many risks in this first practice session because I still haven’t reached a perfect feeling with the bike.”
Qatar GP gets underway in Losail for Repsol Honda Team
The 2016 MotoGP World Championship officially commenced this evening in Qatar, with a single free-practice session for the premier class. Rain had fallen on-and-off all day Wednesday, but the track was in generally good condition when action got underway at 8:55 p.m. Thursday local time.
At the end of the 45 minute session, Repsol Honda Team riders Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez were classified seventh and eight respectively, with Dani setting his fastest time of 1’56.098 on his seventh lap and Marc recording a 1’56.258 time on his 15th and final lap.
FP2 and FP3 will commence tomorrow at 6 p.m. and 8:55 p.m. local time, respectively.
"Luckily, the track was in good condition and this practice was a useful start for us to gather information, because we started working on the setup we used on the last day of test and then decided to try a big change. We need to work more on this idea and I hope tomorrow we’ll be able to build on it. We’ll study the data we’ve gathered very thoroughly in order to improve in the direction we feel could make the bike faster. We’ll try to reduce the gap, tenth by tenth, working on power delivery and chassis settings."
"Today the 2016 season started for real. It was not the easiest FP1 I've ridden in, but we tried to improve gradually. The feeling was not very good, but we worked hard and we tried a lot of things out, so now we have to see what has changed between the test and today. We know that in Qatar the track conditions change a lot, so we will try to continue to evolve and get close to the top riders."
TEAM SUZUKI ECSTAR ON TRACK AT QATAR MotoGP™
Team Suzuki Press Office – March 17.
Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s Maverick Viñales and Aleix Espargaró put their GSX-RRs on track tonight under the floodlights of Losail International Circuit in Qatar for the opening Free Practice session of the 2016 MotoGP™ season.
Viñales set his best time of 1'55.847 on his final lap to place fifth overall, while Espargaro recorded a lap-time of 1'57.096 for 16th position in the session.
Both the riders started their job from where they left off earlier this month at the Qatar test with their new GSX-RRs that look to be in a good shape. Viñales spent 16 laps out on the track testing with only one set of tyres and checking the consistency of the performance through the distance. Although the drop of tyres, the young Spaniard could find better and better feeling lap after lap, scoring his best time in the very last lap.
A different job has been brought on by Aleix Espargaró, who started back from the positive improvements he registered in the last laps of the previous test in Losail. His struggle in finding a perfect feeling with the machine still continues, but his improvements are consistent and the team is working hard to best support him.
Davide Brivio – Team Manager:
“Obviously it has been a positive beginning of the weekend for Maverick who could be very fast especially at the end of the session using hard tyre. This is a good sign, but we still have work to do; there is room for improvements in the electronics and we will test the different options in tyres and some more little details we want to check. A little harder for Aleix, we thought to start a little better but with him we are still trying to find a better set-up for the bike. Today we have done only one session, we have the whole night to work on the data and we definitely want to deliver him a machine that could better suit his needs, as this performance his not where he belongs and we believe his potential is much higher.”
“It’s been a positive first session, we started from where we left-off at the tests and I feel quite confident with the bike. Today I tried only one set of tyres, with the harder compound, both to verify the performance consistency and to keep some softer for the next sessions. Although they got worn I managed to improve my lap times consistently and I scored my best at the last one, which is positive for me both for the race and for the feeling that I have. I have also tested the full seamless, but we still need to work on its set-up, our objective is to adopt it definitively as soon as possible, this is why we will continue testing and try to find a good set -up. It’s only the beginning, but my feelings are positive and the improvements are consistent, which gives me good hopes for the next days.”
“It’s been a hard first session, I can’t find the feeling with the front end and this prevents me braking hard and enter fast into the corners, which is a peculiarity of my riding style. This is the main problem, but the confidence with the front is also one of the hardest parts in motor racing. Today there was the problem that the track was much slipper, we tested only with the hardest tyre in order to keep the softer for better conditions on the track, which will for sure improve tomorrow. I spoke a lot with my engineers, my trust in them is total and we have already some ideas about what to change to improve the feeling. I’m sure we will get in better places soon because we only need time to find the right direction, the technical package and my potential are much higher than where we are now.”
APRILIA ON THE TRACK LOOKING TO IMPROVE THE NEW 2016 RS-GP
16 LAPS AND A GOOD LAPTIME FOR BAUTISTA, 15 LAPS FOR BRADL
Losail (Qatar), 17 March 2016 - With the first free practice session that is held on Thursday only in Qatar, the first round of the 2016 MotoGP season kicked off. For Aprilia it was the competition début for the new 2016 RS-GP. With only a couple of test sessions under its belt, the prototype from Noale stood its ground well for what was just the first step in a season where, according to Aprilia Racing's plans, it must grow in terms of performance. During this début weekend the goal is maximum reliability for the technical base on which to build and develop.
The Aprilia Racing Team Gresini riders took to the track under the Losail artificial lighting in search of the best feeling with a vehicle that is still waiting to be discovered, and therefore with the goal of achieving consistent performance. At the end of the day Alvaro Bautista put in a total of 16 laps, whereas Stefan Bradl finished 15. The Spaniard, who also tried out a few updates with respect to the bike that was used in the last tests, also had a good time result, stopping the clock at 1’57,129 to keep the gap from the front-runners within a second and 68 hundredths. Bradl's best time was 1’57,989.
“We lapped for the entire session without any problems and that is very important since our top priority is gaining familiarity with the bike. Today we made a few changes to continue development so I didn't have the same feeling as the last tests because with these changes the character of the RS-GP was slightly altered, but that is all part of the testing that needs to be done. Tomorrow we'll glean from what we learned today”.
“This was a good day of practice for us. We got a lot of laps in. At the beginning of the session we were a bit shaky, but toward the end my feeling began to improve both with the bike and with the tyres. I'm pleased because we got off to a good start. Now we will have to try and push to improve in tomorrow's sessions”.
Espargaro shines brightly on opening day at Qatar
The Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team riders Pol Espargaro and Bradley kicked off their 2016 campaigns and hit the track with instant speed in the first shakedown in Qatar as they began setting up their Yamaha MotoGP bikes for Sunday’s first round battle.
Pol Espargaro wasted no time in getting straight on the pace as he aims to win the fight for the leading satellite rider battle this year. The young Spaniard lapped the track 18 times and set his personal best on the final run which left him in 6th, just three tenths back from third, marking a promising start to the weekend. Meanwhile, Bradley Smith leapt into gear as he confidently began the 2016 season and after consistently gaining speed, he set his fastest time on his 13th lap whilst aiming to improve further. Yet, a small crash at turn 13, close to the end of the session, prevented Smith from ascending any higher. However, the young British remains fully confident of bouncing back strongly tomorrow.
Position : 6th Time : 1'56.051 Laps : 18
"It definitely feels good to open the weekend in this way, even if I was a bit nervous at the start of the session. I had a small issue with one of my gloves, which disturbed my concentration and I really wanted to set a fast lap time straight away. Yet, due to this, I wasn’t really relaxed so I came back to the garage, to calm down before going out again. After that, I tried to remember every single detail that we focused on during the test, corner by corner, and then things got a lot better. By the close of the session, we were able to post a good lap time on used tyres and I feel confident for tomorrow. Still, we have a large margin of improvement to make, but overall I’m feeling satisfied and looking forward to the next sessions."
Position : 11th Time : 1'56.524 Laps : 17
"It was a positive start to this Grand Prix, but it was really unfortunate to end the first night with a crash. I felt very comfortable and confident with the Yamaha along with the hard Michelin tyre and I did a long run at the beginning of the session. We then changed to the tyres that I preferred to use at the test here, and unfortunately, I made a small mistake in turn 13 which caused me to lose the front. Anyway, for me it was vital to get the data about both tyre options during the first night, in order to have a clear direction to follow for the remainder of the weekend. We will continue to push forward inside the top ten, because I am convinced that without the crash, I could have ended the session there. This is a good step forward compared to the test, so now we will repair the bike, check the data and come back a bit stronger tomorrow.”
Petrux is back: "I'm happy. Thanks to everyone who helped me".
Scott in Top 10 with confidence
On the Losail International Circuit of Doha (Qatar) lit by the energy produced by 44 Pramac GSW generators, the 2016 MotoGP season has finally began.
The first day of activity was characterized by the tenth place of Scott Redding, great protagonist of the last pre-season test less than two weeks ago, and the great satisfaction for Danilo Petrucci, returned riding his Ducati Desmosedici GP only 28 days after the big crash at Phillip Island and the fracture of the second, third and fourth metacarpal of his right hand.
Petrux has successfully passed the exam of Fp1 and after having removed the brace from his right hand at the end of lap two, he managed to complete 17 laps finishing well by setting on his final lap a crono of 1:56,981 that earned him 15th position but above all gave him so much confidence.
Positive indications from Scott Redding. Following an initial phase without good feeling with the rear hard tire, on his last run he managed to find a good pace. The British rider has finished his first day of activity in tenth place with a time of 1:56,412 (17 laps completed).
10th Scott Redding
1:56.412 - 16 laps
The feeling is a bit different from that of the tests. But I must say that with the team we have very clear ideas about what we should do and we know the direction we need to take tomorrow. With hard tyre things have not gone very well and this is to work. But with the soft tire we did better and tomorrow we want to start from this point. The track? Conditions are different from those of the tests. Probably not better or worse, just different. At the end the laptime it is not bad but tomorrow I expect to do better.
15th Danilo Petrucci
1:56.981 - 17 laps
After a month off the bike it was difficult to start again. I confess that until one hour before the start of the Fp1 I was very worried. After the first lap I removed the brace and things got better. Now I'm really happy. I have to recover confidence and obviously overcome the fear of crashing. There is always a little fear, especially in right-corner entry. But I'm happy because I did not think I could run so well. I thank those who helped me in this difficult time, the doctors that I have operated me in Australia, Dr. Zasa and the Clinica Mobile who followed me in therapies, Dr. Catani for medical consultations and valuable advice. As for the feeling with the bike it was immediately positive. My team have done a great job during testing. Now I just have to find the courage and confidence to brake a little later and open the throttle a bit before..
Mixed fortunes for Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS on opening day in Qatar
Losail, Qatar - 18 March 2016: Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Jack Miller and Tito Rabat have completed a busy first free practice session in advance of the season opening Qatar Grand Prix.
Both Miller and Rabat will be making their first MotoGP appearances for the team aboard a pair of Honda RC213Vs in Sunday's race.
Miller, 21, is entering his second season in the premier class while 2014 Moto2 World Champion Rabat is a MotoGP rookie.
While Miller is still recovering from fractures to his lower right leg suffered in a pre-season motocross accident the 21-year-old Australian is feeling much more comfortable on the predominantly right-hand Losail Circuit.
Despite his injury delayed start to the season Miller is happy with his progress and finished the opening session 14th with a time of 1'56.939.
Rabat's focus is to find a confidence-inspiring set up for his Honda RC213V after a bruising series of front-end crashes during the pre-season test in Qatar. He did not push for a lap time today and finished 20th.
Track conditions were less than ideal after heavy rain showers hit the Losail circuit the day prior to the first free practice session.
Jack Miller: 14th - 1’56.939
"I am feeling better on the bike with my right leg compared to the test here two weeks ago but I'm still not satisfied, I want to be closer to the front. But we have made some positive steps in the set up to find a direction that should be good for qualifying and the race. I need to get the front-end more stable and have the confidence to push for faster times. The track was a little bit dirty from the rain yesterday and it was windy but overall a good start to the weekend."
Tito Rabat : 20th - 1'57.916
"We tried a different direction from the test but I still lack confidence on the front, I feel I am always on the limit. We made some big changes but we need to look at some different set up options for tomorrow. At the moment it makes no sense to push and have another crash, we still have two more sessions and plenty of time to find some solutions."
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
"It was difficult session for Tito because we made some big changes to the bike, we needed to do something after his crashes during the test here. He feels he is sitting too much over the bike and we will make some more adjustments for this tomorrow but we made some positive steps. For Jack it was a nice practice session and he is not that far behind the other Honda riders. He did a good job considering he is not yet 100% fit so we are yet to see his full potential."
Fourth fastest time for Barbera on the first day at Qatar
The 2016 MotoGP World Championship started at the Losail International Circuit tonight and this start couldn’t have been better for Avintia Racing, with Hector Barbera putting in the fourth fastest lap time aboard his Ducati Desmosedici GP. The Spanish rider used the 45 minutes of today’s one and only MotoGP session to try tyres and to adapt the electronic set up to the track conditions, since the tarmac was much dirtier than two weeks ago in the official test.
His teammate Loris Baz had some technical issues and was only able to set two fast laps, but the Avintia Racing rider was still satisfied and confident to improve his pace during the weekend and to break into the Top 10.
Tomorrow, the MotoGP Class will have two free practice sessions and the aim of the Avintia Racing riders is to increase the pace for Sunday’s race.
“We started better than we had planned. Our aim tonight was to end up between the fifth and tenth place, so finishing fourth is like a gift for us and I’m very happy. We did a great job during the winter and now we can see the results, we are strong and this year we can fight for good results. The track condition was worse than two weeks ago, it was dirty and the bike had more spinning, especially in the middle of the turn when you start to open the throttle. But the best thing about this sport is that the conditions are the same for everybody and you have to adapt. My team is doing a great job and although we are only a few people inside the garage, we understand each other very well. We spent two weeks off the bike and I crashed twice on the last day of the test, so at the beginning the feeling was not the best. Nonetheless, this fourth place is a price win for us.”
“The World Championship has started and the first free practice session at Qatar is the moment where I feel the most pressure of the entire season. You arrive here two days before and you have to put your leathers on just to make pictures, but not to ride the bike, so the desire to start is always incredible. Because of all of this, I don’t ride as usual and I’m always a little bit stressed. Overall we had a good start, but the track was dirty after the rain ove the last few days and I was able to do just two fast laps because the exhaust of one bike broke and we also had a small issue with the other bike. But nevertheless, we are only 1.3s from the fastest guy. Last year I would have opened a bottle of champagne with a gap that small! I think Dorna did a great move with the new rules. It’s really good for us.”
MotoGP season fires up in Losail
Thursday, 17 March 2016 20:44
Yonny Hernández and Eugene Laverty feeling optimistic of improvements after finishing opening session of GP of Qatar in eighteenth and nineteenth position
The first 45 minutes of the MotoGP season took place tonight as the opening free practice session for the Grand Prix of Qatar signalled the start of 2016. Jorge Lorenzo continued his dominant form from preseason testing, spending virtually the whole session at the top of the time sheets and finishing with a benchmark of 1'55.440. Intense wind and some rainfall over the past couple of days meant that the track was not in as good condition as the recent test, making for lap times that were around seven tenths slower. Lorenzo's advantage stands at three tenths over his team-mate Valentino Rossi and Ducati factory rider Andrea Iannone. It has been a competitive start to the new season throughout the grid, with just over 2.5 seconds separating first to last place around a circuit measuring over five kilometres.
Yonny Hernández and Eugene Laverty were glad to get back on track in Qatar after some important preseason testing work here almost two weeks ago. The ASPAR Team riders were able to take advantage of the information gathered during that test to establish a base setting for their bikes, clocking up 14 laps apiece in the limited time available tonight. The Colombian saved his best lap until last after a busy session that saw him swap bikes twice, as he overcame a problem with a traction control sensor and got his first feel for the new Michelin front tyre. Meanwhile the Irishman clocked his fastest time on his eleventh lap as he closed in already on his best effort from the test.
18th Yonny Hernández 1.57.192 (14 laps): “We have had some problems that made it a tricky session for us. The traction control sensor gave us a little work at the start of the session and I had to come in and change the bike. We were able to try out the new front tyre that Michelin have brought here but I didn't like it much and so I came back in to switch bikes again. After that I started picking up my pace when I realised that the front brake wasn't working as I like. Every now and again I had to let it cool so I could stay on track The positive thing is that we have set a decent lap but I am sure that tomorrow when we solve the little setbacks we've had today we will be able to improve a lot more.”
19th Eugene Laverty 1.57.421 (14 laps): "It was a really positive first night of the season for us. We have started the first Grand Prix with a new engine, which is the first time I am riding with the same engine as the other riders on the Desmosedici 14.2 and now I understand the problems I have had up to now - it changes so much on the bike. It is braking better and turning better, which are the areas I was struggling with, so now we have reason for optimism and we understand how we can move forward. Even with the rain yesterday the grip wasn't so bad tonight. It is hard to get up to speed in just one session but the lap time was similar to the test on an old tyre so that's good. We have some work to do because the change in characteristics of the engine means we have to alter lots of other parameters with the bike, so this will be our main focus tomorrow night."
SOLID START FOR CRUTCHLOW IN FIRST PRACTICE OF SEASON
The long-awaited first practice of the 2016 MotoGP World Championship took place at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar on Thursday evening, with Cal Crutchlow and the LCR Honda Team setting the twelfth fastest time of the 45-minute session.
This year sees a number of technical changes to the regulations, which include a new tyre manufacturer in Michelin and a standardised electronics package. This has meant a gruelling testing period before this first of 18 grands prix, with Crutchlow at the forefront of development for Honda on board his factory spec RC213V.
Having tested at the Qatar track barely two weeks previously, Crutchlow was already aware of the challenges facing him over this first race weekend, and in the first practice set about getting his bike in the best shape possible for Sunday’s 22-lap shootout.
#35 Cal Crutchlow – 12th (1’56.596)
“The first practice wasn’t too bad to be honest, we went through a few things that we needed to try, but nothing special. We used the hard rear tyre, but we were still struggling a bit going into the corners.”
“Overall we’re happy enough though, taking into account the sand on the track and a few people changing tyres at the end of the session. For us there was no real point to do that. We knew this race was going to be difficult, and though it wasn’t the best session, it wasn’t the worst either.”