2019 Qatar Moto2 & Moto3 Preview Press Releases

Press releases from some of the Moto2 and Moto3 teams ahead of the first race of the season at Qatar:

Wait is over for Red Bull KTM Ajo

Last season's Moto2 Team World Champions ready for 2019, along with rider lineup of Brad Binder and Jorge Martin.

A new Moto2 season gets started this weekend at the Losail International Circuit with the Qatar GP, the first round of Red Bull KTM Ajo's third year in the intermediate class. The team's lineup for 2019 features two Moto3 World Champions in its ranks: 2016 title winner Brad Binder and reigning lower cylinder class champ Jorge Martin. After positive preseason tests at Jerez and Losail, the duo are ready for what promises to be an exciting year.

The winner of three races last year, Brad Binder is one of the candidates to challenge for the Moto2 title in 2019. The South African was third in the World Championship in 2018 and this will be his third season in Moto2, as well as his fifth campaign with Red Bull KTM Ajo. He also has previous podium experience in Qatar from his second place in 2016 in Moto3.

Whilst Binder is a familiar face for the team, Jorge Martin will debut both with the team and in Moto2 this weekend. Fully recovered from the injury he suffered in the first day of Moto2 testing back in November 2018, he has been making steady progress in preseason. The Spaniard has fond memories from Qatar as he took the victory in the Moto3 class last season, taking first of seven wins in 2018 on the way to being crowned champion.

Red Bull KTM Ajo -last season's Team World Champions- will get their title defence underway this Sunday at 6:20pm local time -4:20pm CET.


"I can't wait to start the first Grand Prix. We have trained hard during the winter, but I'm looking forward to starting a new season. This year will be interesting and fun at the same time, since we have a new qualifying procedure. Now it's time to be very focused, relaxed and, above all, give our best -as we always have done."


"I'm excited about the start of the season in Qatar. We have put in a great job during preseason and I'm very motivated to do well. I hope to have recovered from all of my injuries and perform at 100% in the first race, which will be important because in this class the level is high. I'm so happy with the KTM and the team and I'm sure we can do a great job."

Alex Márquez and Xavi Vierge ready for World Championship assault

The 2019 World Championship is all set to begin and Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS is ready to challenge with the firm promise to fight until the very end.

After a long and intense pre-season in which the team and riders have given their 100% to reach the arrival of the first race in the best physical, technical and mental condition, now it is the time for truth. The challenge ahead demands it with nine months of competition and 19 Grand Prix to be held in four continents and 15 different countries. As has been a tradition since 2007, the Losail International Circuit will stage the opening round of the World Championship, which is full of new innovations. The entry of the Triumph 765cc engine in the intermediate category is one of the main and most attractive novelties of Moto2, especially considering the increase in power and improvement in lap times. Another interesting dynamic for the intermediate category is the qualification format, which will now be the same as MotoGP.

Alex Márquez has prepared for his seventh World Championship season and fifth in Moto2 in very thorough fashion. With changes in the ranks of his team led this year by David Garcia, the Cervera rider has not neglected any aspect of his preparation. In very good physical shape, the number 73 has worked hard to be consistent on track, with special attention dedicated to his riding style and adopting smoother lines to suit the demands from the new engine. Márquez finished the last test in Qatar with a fast and consistent rhythm and the ideal feelings to go out looking for his first victory in Qatar. Alex has two podiums at this circuit, including last year when he was third from Pole Position and in 2014 when competing in Moto3 he climbed to the second step of the podium. Aware of being one of the favourites to win the title, Márquez is not feeling any pressure and his motto for 2019 is to enjoy riding the bike and taking everything as it comes during the season.

Xavi Vierge will compete in the Losail International Circuit for the fourth time this year. The Barcelona rider has experienced an intense pre-season in which, in addition to the usual preparation, Xavi has had to adapt to a new team. Persistent and hard-working, the number 97 has managed to improve his feeling with Kalex and advance with a firm step to challenge the fastest riders. Vierge’s previous best result in Qatar was the eighth position of last year, which is a classification he is confident of improving considering the good work and results achieved in the test last week. He demonstrated constant progression and rode in good lap times to set the sixth fastest time during the test.

Team Estrella Galicia 00

Alex Márquez

"The goal is to win the Championship so you have to start well."

"I'm very prepared for this World Championship. We have tried many things and played with my position on the bike and my riding style. I think it's all more natural now and I've taken a big step in this direction, especially entering corners. Qatar is a circuit and a Grand Prix that I like very much because it feels different and very special. The conditions we had during the tests will change a little during the weekend because MotoGP will also be run on Michelin tyres, but we have everything very well prepared. We just have to be attentive and skillful to adapt to any situation. I am very motivated and eager to start and feel the tension and adrenaline of racing. The goal is to win the World Championship, so without losing your cool, you have to start well.”

Xavi Vierge

"We have to fight for the goal that is to be continuously in the front positions"

“We did a very good job both before we got on the bike and when we got on it. We always want more but we have done a great job preparing ourselves in all conditions. We’ve prepared for the new qualifying session with little fuel in the tank, done race simulations with a full fuel load, and tried different set-ups to be able to face different situations. We have a lot of information and that is key in a year with a new bike like this. We have done our homework and now we have to go out and enjoy and fight for the goal that is to be continuously in the front positions.”

Ayumu Sasaki and John McPhee head to Qatar to kick off 2019

PETRONAS Sprinta Racing riders take on Moto3 World Championship in optimistic mood after strong recent Qatar test.

Just days after an intense preseason came to a close, the start of the Moto3 World Championship is edging nearer and Ayumu Sasaki and John McPhee are in good form ahead of the opening round at the Losail International Circuit this weekend. The PETRONAS Sprinta Racing riders are looking forward to heading back to the circuit that hosted three days of tests last weekend, where they both enjoyed strong results.

Ayumu Sasaki heads into his third full season in the Moto3 World Championship, all of which have been with the Sepang Racing Team. The Japanese youngster, Rookie of the Year in 2017, boasts two seventh-place finishes as his best results in Moto3; at Australia in 2017 and Austria in 2018. For 2019, Sasaki’s aim is to continue with his development and improve on those results.

John McPhee is the new face in the PETRONAS Sprinta Racing line-up. The Scotsman is one of the most experienced riders on the grid, with 117 GP appearances to his name, and he has adapted quickly to his new bike, finishing the recent Losail test in sixth position. McPhee is also one of the few riders on this year’s Moto3 grid who knows what it is like to experience victory, having done so at Brno in 2016.

The 2019 Moto3 World Championship gets underway on Friday 8th March with the first free practice sessions. The Moto3 race takes place on Sunday 10th March at 5pm local time.

#71 Ayumu Sasaki

"We will arrive in Qatar with a good base setting that we found in preseason testing, although we will continue to try and improve it this weekend. This circuit holds good memories for me – last season I finished eighth and this year I want to be fighting for the podium. On Sunday I think there will be a lead group of eight to ten riders and we will try to be amongst it, fighting for those podium positions. I am really looking forward to getting the first round of the season started."

#17 John McPhee

"I feel ready for the start of the season - I have a good base set-up for the bike and everybody in the team is working hard. We understand the bike and we know what works and what doesn’t. I think I can be up there with the riders who have been winning races in the last couple of years, although it is difficult to say exactly where everybody is right now. I will give 100% and I think I can do a good job, but it is a long season so we have to take it race by race and see where we are at the end of the season."


After the good performance in the pre-season test, now it's time to be serious.

The purpose of the Snipers Team is ambitious but the Championship is 19 races long, tortuous and not always the rider who starts in the strongest way wins. Keeping a low profile, not getting too excited and keeping the focus at all times is fundamental to do well.

We could write a lot about Romano Fenati, about how this experience has completely changed him. The rider from Ascoli paid for his mistake and did a mental step that now wants to show even on track. Close to him not only his team but also an important company such as Octo Telematics that bet on the rider change.

‘’Reboot55 means a new start. A conscious reboot represented by a route that Romano, as a person, committed to pursue successfully. Octo mission is to help drivers to reduce the risk, we bet to do that even with Romano, who became one of our colleague. It's not a commercial sponsorship, but a challenge of growth that, together with Stefano Bedon, we decided to win", said Fabio Sbianchi, Octo Telematics CEO.

Romano Fenati: “I deserved it but I had hard times with sensations I would not wish for anyone. My family, my friends, my team, they all stay close to me. Then Octo Telematics arrived, the company which was title sponsor of the San Marino Grand Prix. They wanted to meet me, I thought they wanted to grumble for having ruined their GP and they started the meeting by saying "we make you pay"! Instead, I met special people who decided to bet on me and support me in this system reboot. Now it's time to do my part: going fast on track, getting the best possible results and behave correctly".

With this press release Romano Fenati and the Snipers team, want to write the word END to this story and look ahead.

Totally different the position of Tony Arbolino. The good guy from Garbagnate Milanese, hasn't just studied to get his driving license during winter time but he also trained hard, as "navy sails style", imposed by Ivan Lopez, the trainer of Jorge Lorenzo. Grown up and determined, Tony could be one of the protagonists of the Championship, after having contended the record in the test with Romano.

Tony Arbolino: “I feel good and I am full of energy. Last year I have been strong at Jerez test but then I was lost in Qatar, due to the new bike. In this test, instead, I felt immediately comfortable and Honda is really fast. Anyway, I feel I can improve and I will do it starting form tomorrow. I don't have particular purposes for this season, it's important to be strong corner after corner, race by race and getting the best possible result".

The layout of the Losail International Circuit, in Moto3, smooths the differences and for sure, last week tests contributed to this direction. Getting the best times in all the three days, has not to create particular expectations and for us, getting them, it's already a victory.


Sama Qatar Ángel Nieto Team returns to the intermediate category as 2019 season fires up this weekend

The countdown is over and after fifteen race-free weekends the green flag will finally wave again this weekend to signal the start of another season of Grand Prix motorcycle racing. The new campaign will be a revolutionary one in the Moto2 World Championship, with the introduction of 765cc Triumph engines in the tenth year of the series. After six days of official tests in Jerez and Qatar a host of riders have staked their claim for victory in the opening round, with Sam Lowes, Tom Luthi, Remy Gardner, Augusto Fernández and Marcel Schrotter taking up the top positions at the most recent test but the likes of Iker Lecuona, Luca Marini, Xavi Vierge, Jorge Navarro, Álex Márquez, Lorenzo Baldasarri and Brad Binder also in the mix. Only one of them can be victorious in Qatar.

The Sama Qatar Ángel Nieto Team makes its return to the intermediate category this weekend - after an absence of four seasons - at the perfect venue, the home of Sama Global Investment in Qatar. Jake Dixon and Xavi Cardelús will both be racing in Moto2 for the first time at this track, although the Andorran rider did contest the World Supersport race there in 2017. Both riders enjoyed a satisfactory test recently although they both also recognise that they have work still do to on the set-up of their KTM machines during free practice in Qatar before they head into the first battle on Sunday night.

Jake Dixon: “We finished preseason last weekend and now finally we are in ‘race mode’. This is the moment I have been waiting for for months but I am still not ready to set an objective for this race. If we don’t improve the feeling we had on the last day of the test, we will be in more or less a similar position. If we can improve it, then we can start to set ourselves some higher goals.”

Xavi Cardelús: “After six days of official testing and the private test we did in Valencia, we still have to improve but we have moved forward with our adaptation to the new KTM and the Triumph engine. I am really excited to start the season, fight with my rivals and give it everything I have.”


Albert Arenas, winner of two races in 2018, and reigning Junior Moto3 World Champion Raúl Fernández taking on the challenge with ambition

Time is up for the Moto3 World Championship riders in terms of their preparations for the 2019 season, with the first race already upon them. The Losail Circuit in Qatar is the venue for the opening round for the thirteenth straight year and the floodlights will be lit once again on Sunday night for three exciting races to kick off the new season. Like Moto2, the Moto3 class will this year feature a new qualifying format, with the fastest 14 riders from free practice progressing directly to Q2, whilst the remainder fight it out for four further places in Q1. On Sunday they will do battle for the first victory of the season and, with it, early leadership of the championship.

The new season for the Sama Qatar Ángel Nieto Team starts at the home of new title sponsor Sama Global Investment, with high hopes for a top result. Albert Arenas and Raúl Fernández have both put together a perfect preseason, working diligently through their testing programme. Arenas heads into 2019 on the back of two victories last season, feeling comfortable with his KTM and ready to go into battle. His new teammate Fernández contests his full debut season as the reigning Junior Moto3 World Champion, looking to build on some encouraging performances in testing and gather experience at the circuits where he has not previously ridden.

Albert Arenas: “Testing is over and now it is the moment of truth – the first race of the season. This year we will have a new qualifying format, with Q1 and Q2, and it will be crucial to set a good lap in free practice to progress straight to Q2 and fight for a good position on the grid. We have been working on that during preseason and we know what we are capable of. I feel comfortable on the bike and I am enjoying riding it, so I am looking forward to the start of the season.”

Raúl Fernández: “My first season as an official Moto3 World Championship rider is finally here. We have been working well in preseason and I hope we have a big group race this weekend, although we have seen a couple of riders with really strong pace in testing. We have a competitive bike, especially under braking, that we can fight with. We have done a 10/10 job in preseason, it would be difficult for it to have gone any better.”

It’s showtime for Red Bull KTM Tech3

Hafizh Syahrin and Miguel Oliveira eagerly await their debut aboard their KTM RC16 machines in Qatar this weekend, when the 2019 MotoGP World Championship season kicks off under the iconic floodlights of the Losail International Circuit.

The track action for the first of 19 events this year commences with the First Free Practice at 15.40 local time (13.40 CET) and will mark a significant milestone for the Tech3 squad, which officially inaugurates their partnership with motorcycle manufacturer KTM as Red Bull KTM Tech3 team, following numerous days of testing in Valencia, Jerez de la Frontera (both Spain), Sepang (Malaysia) and Losail (Qatar).

Hafizh Syahrin

“I’m looking forward to the first race very much! We had some tough preseason tests, where we tried to adapt to the bike step by step. It was pretty good and I felt better and better with the bike, although we were still quite slow, but we believe that we can arrive at the top one day with this amazing group, so we keep on working hard, try to understand everything and keep the mind fresh to be ready for race day. Let’s see what we can do, I hope to be further up in the standings than during the preseason tests.”

Miguel Oliveira

“I think the approach for the first GP is always quite simple, it’s to do my best and try to do my job as always, plus making the team happy with my performance. I feel it’s important for me to finish the race, to get experience and to get to know where to improve my riding. The most important thing is to gather this experience in my first race in MotoGP, I don’t think about any result in specific. Of course, the outcome is always important, but as it’s the first race for me, I don’t focus on anything definite. My goal is to do a good job, give my maximum and to leave Qatar with a smile.”

Hervé Poncharal

Team Manager

“Finally, we are in Qatar and the 2019 MotoGP season is going to start. A new season beginning is always something very exciting, but clearly for the Red Bull KTM Tech3 team this year is even more thrilling than the previous because we are opening a new chapter, we will commence a new adventure, we have a new motorcycle manufacturer working with us with KTM, a new title sponsor with Red Bull and a new oil partner with Elf, so it seems we are almost starting from scratch. Of course, we were working really hard during off-season in Spain, Malaysia and Qatar, but we are also very eager and impatient to see what is going happen in first race. Clearly, we are not in a position at moment where we can challenge the top, but the mission this season is to reduce the gap to the fastest riders. I believe with Miguel Oliveira, we have an incredible rider with a huge potential and the strong desire to be part of this project and making it moving forward. Hafizh is in same spirit, he still has to forget a little bit about what he was doing on last years’ machine, but I think they get on very well together and they understand the importance of MotoGP for KTM, plus they can witness the level of commitment from the engineers in Austria, they can feel they are factory riders with a racing department behind them with evolution coming almost every test and this is what makes this new season very entertaining. Our target is to be as close as possible to the full factory KTM MotoGP riders and of course all together to race the level of performance of our KTM RC16 machine and the whole team is 100% dedicated to this mission. We can’t wait to start on Friday night in Losail!”

Estrella Galicia 0,0 start new and exciting Moto3 season with Qatar Grand Prix

Alonso Lopez will begin his second World Championship season, while underage Sergio Garcia Dols will sit out the opening round with Ryusei Yamanaka as stand-in.

After a successful final Official Test this past weekend at the Losail International Circuit, the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Moto3 riders remain in Qatar for the opening Grand Prix of the 2019 season. The same close action is expected in the lower cylinder class, with a change in the regulations coming with the addition of double qualifying sessions on Saturday.

Alonso Lopez is coming into his second full season in the Moto3 World Championship, following on from a year of learning new circuits and making solid progress at the end of his rookie campaign. The Spaniard has been working hard over preseason to take a step up on track and fight for consistent results in 2019. At last year's Qatar Grand Prix he started from 21st on the grid, his race ending prematurely due to a crash.

The team's second permanent rider, Sergio Garcia Dols (March 23th, 2003), will have to wait until he turns 16 to make his debut, and thus sits out the Qatari round. He will eligible for the second event of the season, in Argentina.

Ryusei Yamanaka (Chiba –Japan–, November 6th, 2001) will thus join Lopez in the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Moto3 garage this weekend. A part of the Monlau Repsol Technical School and set to compete in the Moto3 Junior World Championship in the FIM CEV Repsol with Junior Team Estrella Galicia 0,0, the Japanese rider will stand in for Garcia Dols. Yamanaka has a previous podium at Losail, since he finished second in an Asian Talent Cup race held at the circuit.

Alonso López

"I'm happy with our preseason; I can't wait to race again"

"I think the best strategy for this race should be devised on Saturday because you never know how practice will go -and this year we also have two qualifying sessions. I'm happy with our preseason, but in the end the moment of truth is this weekend and I don't think that I should set my expectations too high or low. It will be another race weekend in which I will have to work very hard, but I can't wait to race again."

Ryusei Yamanaka

"The most important aim is to finish the race"

"I'm very happy about this opportunity to ride in the Moto3 World Championship and I'm looking forward to racing in Qatar. I like the circuit and it's a familiar one, because three years ago I participated in the Asia Talent Cup round there and took second place. I'm optimistic, but I will take things step by step. Of course, I would like to win or get on the podium, but the most important goal is to finish the race. I would like to be among the top ten, so I will try to improve to achieve the best possible result."

Can Öncü and Red Bull KTM Ajo ready to go in 2019 season

The winner of the last race of 2018 makes his full Moto3 World Championship debut this weekend in Qatar.

After intense work in the recent Official Tests, Can Öncü and Red Bull KTM Ajo are prepared for a first full season for the Turk in the Moto3 World Championship. It gets underway this weekend in Qatar, under the floodlights of the Losail International Circuit.

The reigning Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup champion made a sensational impact on his Grand Prix debut last year, in the final race of 2018. Competing as a wildcard for Red Bull KTM Ajo at the Valencia GP, Öncü broke records by becoming the youngest ever winner of a World Championship race, and also the first Turkish rider to claim a victory in the class.

Coming into 2019, he is aware that this will be a year for learning many different tracks for him, adapting to his new KTM and becoming acquainted with a highly competitive class. The 15-year-old is the youngest rider on the grid, but he does have the experience of his team to help him. This will be his second year with Red Bull KTM Ajo, for whom he rode in the FIM CEV in 2018 and claimed three podium finishes.

The Losail International Circuit hosts the season opener, a track where Red Bull KTM Ajo have taken two victories and a further two podiums in Moto3 races in the past. This year's contest takes place on Sunday at 5pm local time -3pm CET.


"I'm very excited about the first race of the season. After all the training we have done during the winter, we are ready for action. I know it's my first full season, I'm a rookie, and I still have a lot to learn. We will have to work hard, especially in the opening races, but I am feeling better on my KTM all the time. We shall see how the season goes. I will do my best to get good results."

Khairul Idham Pawi and PETRONAS Sprinta Racing ready for Qatar debut

Malaysian rider and team head together into first round of 2019 Moto2 World Championship.

The big day has finally arrived. After an intense preseason with PETRONAS Sprinta Racing, Khairul Idham Pawi is ready to officially go racing this weekend, as the Malaysian rider takes on his biggest challenge yet. The Grand Prix of Qatar – the opening round of the 2019 season – gets underway this Friday and culminates with Sunday’s race.

With preseason under his belt, the floodlit circuit of Losail in Qatar is ready to welcome Khairul Idham Pawi back for the start of his fourth season at Grand Prix level, and his third in Moto2. The Malaysian has two victories to his name, both in Moto3 during the 2016 season, when he stood on top of the podium in Argentina and Germany. This season he is taking the next step in his career, starting at a circuit where he already tested last weekend and established a consistent race pace for this Sunday.

When the red lights go out for the opening race of the season at 6:20pm local time, Khairul Idham Pawi and PETRONAS Sprinta Racing will officially kick off their 2019 Moto2 World Championship adventure together.

#89 Khairul Idham Pawi

"Finally the start of the official season has arrived. This is the moment I have been waiting for ever since the first test with PETRONAS Sprinta Racing back in November. We have had a good preseason and now it’s time to go racing. We still have a lot to prove and we have the potential to do better, but I want to say thanks to the team for all the hard work and improvements we have made so far. Now it is time to switch to race mode and go for it."


Lights on in Losail for the first race of the new season. Confirmed the double commitment in Moto2 and Moto3: Marini and Bulega close to the fastest riders, Foggia and Vietti ready to show their potential.

Doha (Qatar), March 7th 2019 - It will be a new season of challenges and continuity the one that will open Friday evening for Sky Racing Team VR46 in Doha.

After a long pre-season and a first approach to the new Triumph engine, the new couple formed by Luca Marini and Nicolò Bulega, on the Kalex Moto2, will try to keep the pace of the strongest guys from the beginning. Luca, not yet at 100% of his physical condition due the surgery on his left shoulder of the last December, has been constant and competitive in all the testing sessions and will aim to improve the sixth place of 2017, currently his best result in Qatar. Debut in the new category for Nicolò, one of the best rookies in the off season and ready to face for the first time the long run of the race.

Positive atmosphere, desire to give their best and adrenaline even in Moto3 with the very young couple composed by Dennis Foggia and Celestino Vietti Ramus confirmed on their KTM and both in the group of the strongest riders. After a complicated debut in Losail in 2018, Dennis is motivated to show all his real value and achieve important placements. First weekend at Losail for Celestino who has started taking confidence of this demanding track from the last week's testing session.

Pablo Nieto

The off season is over: finally we are in Qatar for the first race of the year. After a long winter the desire to test ourself is incredible. Adrenaline increases and the curiosity to see the real values. It will be a year of hard work, but we are ready. Luca is not at 100% yet, but he was strong and very fast at the testing session in Jerez. Nicolò was the protagonist of an excellent pre season, but it is time to understand exactly how he can manage the race distance. Dennis can be there with the strongest guys while for Celestino the goal is to learn and making experience, but it is not far from the top group.

Luca Marini

It was a long pre-season: a first approach to the new bike and the new engine and the surgery into the shoulder. Positive feelings, both physical and on the bike and a great desire to start the new season. We did a lot of work in the garage, but the road ahead us is still long and we have to continue to stay focused and not leave anything to chance to be competitive and fast from the first session.

Nicolo Bulega

As a rookie, it was a good pre season: I was fast at Jerez, but even here I was able to do a lot of work on the pace and with used tires. We focused on the pace to be able to better cope with the entire length of the race. I can not wait for Friday’s FP!

Dennis Foggia

Instinctively I would say that I hope to do better than last year: as a rookie, I was in trouble on this demanding track and I closed out of the points. After a year, I have more confidence, but it will still be a long and hard race. The new qualifying procedure has to be managed: many riders have shown that they can be competitive on the flying lap, but not everyone has the pace to finish the race.

Celestino Vietti

The first time here in Qatar will be special! After three days of testing on this track, I can not wait to face the race. We have worked hard, but we can still improve. We will try approach the top group and keep their pace.

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