-- MotoGP 2013 - Round One - Qatar
Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo started his MotoGP™ title defence in the best possible way, winning Sunday’s Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar in dominant fashion as his teammate Valentino Rossi showed the world he was back on song as he and rookie sensation Marc Márquez fought it out for the final podium spots.
As the lights went out, a scorching start by Dani Pedrosa saw the Repsol Honda Team rider shoot up into second place by Turn 1, hoping to challenge Lorenzo, who began to pull away on his Yamaha Factory Racing bike. The same could not be said for Pedrosa’s teammate Márquez, who endured a slow getaway and dropped to eighth.
On lap two, Cardion AB Motoracing’s Karel Abraham crashed out, whilst Márquez was making up positions, passing Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso and then Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow. At this point Lorenzo was already leading Pedrosa by 1.6 seconds, and would eventually stretch his advantage by half a second per lap as those behind him became engaged in a dramatic battle.
By the halfway point on lap 11, Márquez was very much involved in a duel with teammate Pedrosa, as Crutchlow looked to take advantage as he stalked the pair behind. Rossi, who had been a bit too eager at the start and run wide, loosing places, was at this point catching up to the battling trio, passing numerous riders on the way. Moves came on Dovizioso and LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl, who proceeded to crash while chasing down the seven-time premier class title winner. Also failing to make the finish were GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Bryan Staring, Tech 3’s Bradley Smith, Came IodaRacing Project’s Danilo Petrucci and NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards.
Márquez overtook Pedrosa on lap 17, leaving the latter to deal with Crutchlow as Rossi had caught up to the group. The Italian stormed pasted the Englishman in a move between Crutchlow and the pit wall, only for the Tech 3 man to misjudge his braking point and run off-track at Turn 1. Rossi’s charge continued with manoeuvres on Pedrosa and Márquez on Laps 19 and 20 respectively, only for the debutant to fight back as the pair went head-to-head. Rossi would come out on top by just two tenths of a second, with Márquez becoming the first MotoGP™ rookie to seal a rostrum result in his first race since Lorenzo finished second at Losail five years ago. Lorenzo’s eventually winning margin was 5.9 seconds.
Pedrosa and Crutchlow completed the top five from Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista, Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden on the pair of Ducati Team machines, Pramac Racing newcomer Andrea Iannone and his teammate Ben Spies. Power Electronics Aspar won CRT honours, with reigning class Champion Aleix Espargaró finishing 11th overall and leading home teammate Randy de Puniet by 6.6 seconds. Avintia Blusens’ Héctor Barberá rose from 22nd on the grid to 13th, in front of PBM’s Yonny Hernández, Avintia’s Hiroshi Aoyama, Forward’s Claudio Corti, PBM’s Michael Laverty and Ioda’s Lukáš Pešek who on Saturday had qualified 15th for his debut.
Race Result - Round 1
1 Jorge Lorenzo 42'39.802 SPA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
2 Valentino Rossi +5.990 ITA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
3 Marc Marquez +6.201 SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
4 Dani Pedrosa +9.473 SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
5 Cal Crutchlow +18.764 GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
6 Alvaro Bautista +22.148 SPA HONDA & FTR Go & Fun Honda Gresini
7 Andrea Dovizioso +24.355 ITA DUCATI Ducati Team
8 Nicky Hayden +24.920 USA DUCATI Ducati Team
9 Andrea Iannone +37.124 ITA DUCATI Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Team
10 Ben Spies +44.908 USA DUCATI Ignite Pramac Racing Team
11 Aleix Espargaro +49.809 SPA ART Power Electronics Aspar
12 Randy De Puniet +56.495 FRA ART Power Electronics Aspar
13 Hector Barbera +1'09.599 SPA FTR Avintia Blusens
14 Yonny Hernandez +1'10.742 COL PBM Paul Bird Motorsport
15 Hiroshi Aoyama +1'13.600 JAP FTR Avintia Blusens
16 Claudio Corti +1'29.444 ITA FTR-KAWASAKI NGM Mobile Forward Racing
17 Michael Laverty +1'34.341 GBR PBM Paul Bird Motorsport
18 Lukas Pesek +1'34.683 CZE IODA-SUTER Came IodaRacing Project
19 Colin Edwards DNF USA FTR-KAWASAKI NGM Mobile Forward Racing
20 Danilo Petrucci DNF ITA IODA-SUTER Came IodaRacing Project
21 Stefan Bradl DNF GER HONDA LCR Honda MotoGP
22 Bradley Smith DNF GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
23 Bryan Staring DNF AUS HONDA & FTR Go & Fun Honda Gresini
24 Karel Abraham DNF CZE ART Cardion AB Motoracing
Tuenti HP 40’s Pol Espargaró converted pole position into the opening Moto2™ race victory of 2013 after a spirited battled with Marc VDS Racing Team’s Scott Redding, whilst Italtrans Racing Team’s Takaaki Nakagami led in the opening stages before going on to achieve a career-first podium finish.
Espargaró had delivered a last-gasp lap to grab pole on Saturday, but it was Nakagami who led Sunday’s race as the pack battled for the first time this year. Behind, Thai Honda PTT Gresini Moto2’s Ratthapark Wilairot jumped the start and was forced to take a ride-through penalty, whereas Tech 3’s Louis Rossi, Tuenti HP 40’s Axel Pons and QMMF Racing Team’s Anthony West were all early fallers.
More crashes came later into the race, with a coming together between JiR Moto2’s Mike de Meglio and NGM Mobile Racing’s Mattia Pasini, which left the latter out of the race. Pasini’s teammate Ricky Cardús was taken to the Medical Centre following an incident, as Wilairot became the sixth and final retirement.
Redding had settled in behind Nakagami at the front, but took his chance to shoot into the lead at the start of the ninth lap, narrowly avoiding contact with his rival’s left knee. Watching the battle unfold, Espargaró posted the fastest lap and quickly proceeded to dispatch with Nakagami, who was unable to maintain the pace of the pair in front but was still pleased with a his maiden podium finish.
Espargaró’s crucial move on Redding for the lead came with five laps to go, with the Englishman losing out on the start/finish straight but managing to keep up in the twisty infield section. There was almost contact between the duo as Redding strived to retake the lead on the final lap, but losing ground allowed the Spaniard to win in Qatar for the first time.
Fourth position went to Dominique Aegerter and Technomag carXpert, just edging ahead of second Marc VDS rider Mika Kallio and Italtrans’ Julián Simón. The top ten was completed by NGM Mobile pair Simone Corsi and Alex de Angelis plus Tuenti HP 40’s Esteve Rabat and Desguaces La Torre Maptaq’s Xavier Simeon. Anthony West failed to finish.
1- Pol Espargaró SPA Tuenti HP 40 40:31.782
2- Scott Redding GBR Marc VDS Racing Team 40:32.626
3- Takaaki Nakagami JPN Italtrans Racing Team 40:43.880
Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Luis Salom triumphed in an action-packed first Moto3™ race of 2013, winning the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar ahead of Maverick Viñales and Álex Rins.
As the red lights went out, it was Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Rins who stole the top spot as GO&FUN Gresini Moto3’s Niccolò Antonelli lost control and became the first retirement of the season. As the top five began to break away from the chasing pack, it was a tight affair between Salom, Rins, Team Calvo’s Viñales, Rins’ teammate Álex Márquez and Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3’s Jonas Folger. The lead would change on numerous occasions across the 18 laps.
Rins was in front by the halfway point, as Márquez shot ahead for the first time on lap 13. Over the remaining five laps, the Estrella Galicia duo would go head-to-head, but it was Viñales, having waited patiently, who looked to have seized the show at the start of the penultimate lap. But it was persistence that paid off for pole-sitter Salom at the start of the final lap, confidently taking the lead before opening out a gap.
He would cross the line four tenths of a second ahead of Viñales, who was involved in a photo finish with Rins, as Márquez completed the top four. Some 16 seconds behind fifth-placed Folger, Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Zulfahmi Khairuddin beat Mahindra Racing’s Miguel Oliveira to seventh as Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Arthur Sissis, Avant Tecno’s Niklas Ajo and Mahindra’s Efrén Vázquez rounded out the top ten. In 20th spot, female rider Ana Carrasco impressed on the second Team Calvo bike, passing several rivals despite a distinct lack of track time this weekend.
After Antonelli, a further three riders fell in the shape of CIP Moto3’s Alan Techer, Ongetta-Centro Seta’s Isaac Viñales and Caretta Technology – RTG’s John McPhee, whose retirement came on the final lap of the race.
Arthur Sissis was 8th - "The start was very good and on the opening laps I was in the top group. We were going very fast, but with as the laps went on I did not feel so good and I could not keep up. I formed a group with Zulfahmi Khairuddin and Miguel Oliveira, fighting for sixth place, but in the end I was passed. I already feel like riding more races and seeing what happens at the next race in Austin."
1- Luis Salom SPA Red Bull KTM Ajo 38:26.859
2- Maverick Viñales SPA Team Calvo 38:27.276
3- Alex Rins SPA Estrella Galicia 38:27.282
-- Yamaha Report
Reigning MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo kicked off the defence of his title tonight in the best possible way, delivering a flawless ride under the floodlights of the Losail International Circuit to take a perfect victory in the Grand Prix of Qatar.
Lorenzo put the hammer down from pole position, taking the hole-shot into turn one and never looking back. He remained untouchable throughout, dispatching the 22 laps in isolation with trademark efficiency to claim his first victory of the season and add 25 Championship points to his 2013 title bid.
Valentino Rossi proved he still hasn’t lost his magic in tonight’s race, thrilling fans with a sensational run to claim second on the podium, completing a Yamaha Factory Racing one-two finish with his teammate Lorenzo.
Rossi made sure his first race back with Yamaha was one to be remembered, having started from seventh on the grid he quickly moved up to fourth only to mistime a pass on Andrea Dovizioso and drop back to seventh again. By lap eight he was charging back up the field, closing down a gap of over three seconds to catch the podium battle and join the fight for Qatar honours. The nine-time World Champion dispatched fellow Yamaha rider Cal Crutchlow and Honda rival Dani Pedrosa before entering into a fantastic duel with MotoGP rookie Marc Marquez in the final laps for second place. Rossi emerged from the battle the victor, crossing the line in second position just under six seconds behind Lorenzo to take 20 Championship points.
Jorge Lorenzo - 1st / 42'39.802 / 22 laps
“Half an hour before the race I felt a little bit nervous so I had to really concentrate and relax on the grid. I knew it was going to be difficult to open a gap but I had to try,
I made a good start and pushed more than 100%. In the beginning it was hard to open the gap as Pedrosa didn’t want to let me get away, he tried to stay with me but after six or seven laps I opened the gap which made me more confident to keep my pace. I’m very happy for Yamaha and happy for Valentino as he has now passed two difficult years.”
Valentino Rossi - 2nd / +5.990 / 22 laps
“I’m more than happy, very happy indeed because it was my dream to come back with Yamaha. To arrive on the podium at the first race was my target from November and I put all my effort to arrive at the maximum here. It was a difficult weekend, especially yesterday in qualifying, but I knew I had great pace so I tried to recover in the beginning but I made a mistake and I lost time. I had to do a great second part of the race and step by step I came close to my podium.
In the end there was a great battle, especially with Marc for the second place. I’m so happy for me, for my team, for my friends and all my fans who stay with me through two difficult years and also for Yamaha, to start the season with first and second place is not so bad!”
Yamaha Factory Racing Wilco Zeelenberg Team Manager
“What a terrific start to the season, we are of course very pleased with the result. There are 17 races to go and it looks like it will be a fantastic season. The first race is always quite important to get a little advantage and have a good feeling. To have your first win for Jorge and of course second with Vale is great for the team and for the spirit because it will be a long season as we know so for everybody it's a big boost. We go to Austin now where we struggled a bit in the test but we have improved the bike already quite a bit. Hopefully we’ll be able to close the gap and have a good race there as well.”
Yamaha Factory Racing Massimo Meregalli Team Director
“I have to say that this weekend started very well and finished even better. We couldn’t expect anything more. We won the race with a big gap and we finished second with Vale after he made an incredible comeback. I think the team did a really great job since Sepang test one, making the bike better and better and I think this result is the icing on the cake. Everyone put in a lot of effort so I have to make a big thank you to then all. This is the best way to start the season and we won’t give up to until the end.”
-- HRC Report
Tonight in the Grand Prix of Qatar, Repsol Honda's rookie Marc Marquez, took a fantastic 3rd position to claim a podium finish in his first race in the premier class with teammate Dani Pedrosa finishing just three seconds behind him in Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda RC213V) made a stunning MotoGP debut under the Losail floodlights this evening, finishing the race in a fighting third position. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) crossed the line 3.2 seconds behind his team-mate in fourth place.
Alvaro Bautista (Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini RC213V) completed the season-opening race in sixth place, while Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda RC213V) slid off while contesting fifth position.
The race was won by reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo, ahead of his Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi.
Marquez and Pedrosa spent much of the race together, chasing Lorenzo who led from start to finish. Marquez – who afterwards revealed that he was more nervous than ever before the race – made his move on his team-mate with six laps of the 22 laps remaining. Three laps later it was Marquez’s turn to come under pressure as Rossi came past, having made up for a couple of mistakes he had made in the early stages. The pair stayed locked together during the final few laps, providing a thrilling climax to the race. Marquez refused to give in and fought with his more experienced rival all the way to the finish. At the flag he was just 0.221 seconds behind Rossi. It was a remarkable performance from a rider with zero race experience in the premier class.
Pedrosa came into the race following a strong qualifying performance which followed a difficult first two days of practice. The Spaniard had worked with his crew to fix a lack of rear grip but still struggled with the issue during the race. He rode as hard as he knows how but this time he didn’t have the grip he required to match his rivals.
Bautista had hoped for better than sixth but was forced to ease his pace after a few concerns with front-end feeling into corners. He was the only prototype rider to choose the softer option Bridgestone front slick (all riders ran the harder rear) but this was not enough to give him what he needed to attack the corners with full confidence.
His team-mate Bryan Staring (GO&FUN Honda Gresini FTR Honda) had hopes of learning plenty in his first MotoGP race, only to slide off his CBR1000RR-powered CRT bike on the second lap. He was unable to continue and will have to wait for round two at the Circuit of the Americas in Texas to go for his first MotoGP finish.
Bradl was racing with Rossi when he lost the front at Turn Seven on lap nine. He walked away from the tumble unharmed but hugely disappointed. During practice the German had struggled with lack of front-end feeling, but by yesterday evening he seemed to have solved the issue which then mysteriously returned for the race.
Pol Espargaro (Tuenti HP40 Pons Kalex) and Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex) had a thrilling duel in the Honda-powered Moto2 race, the outcome in doubt until the penultimate corner. In the end Espargaro had a fraction more speed than Redding, which took him across the finish line 0.844 seconds in front.
Takaaki Nakagami (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex) led the early stages before settling into a lonely third place for his first Grand Prix podium; some way behind the two leaders and some way ahead of a frantic 11-man contest for fourth place.
Starting from pole, Espargaro took the lead from Redding for the first time on lap 16 of 20. Redding tried everything he knows to get by, especially on the last lap when he had to close the throttle to avoid a collision with his Spanish rival. This was Espargaro’s fifth Moto2 win. Redding’s second place equalled his best result in the class.
Fourth place finally went to Dominique Aegerter (Technomag carXpert Suter) who took the flag a fraction of a second ahead of Mika Kallio (Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex), Julian Simon (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex) and the rest. Just 3.5 seconds separated the group, from fourth to 14th.
Danny Webb (Ambrogio Racing Suter Honda) and Brad Binder (Ambrogio Racing Suter Honda) were Honda’s best finishers in the Moto3 race, the team-mates crossing the finish line together in 11th and 12th positions. Alexis Masbou (Ongetta-Rivacold FTR Honda) crossed the line two positions down in his first Grand Prix since he broke a leg last September.
Honda’s best Moto3 qualifiers had a tough time in the race, with Alan Techer (CIP TSR Honda) crashing out on lap three the day after he had qualified a promising sixth fastest. Niccolo Antonelli (GO&FUN Gresini FTR Honda), who also went well in qualifying, slid off on the first lap.
Romano Fenati (San Carlo Team Italia FTR Honda) took the final point in 15th place, a fraction ahead of Jack Miller (Caretta Technology – RTG FTR Honda).
The MotoGP World Championship continues with the Grand Prix of the Americas at the new COTA circuit in Austin, Texas, on April 21.
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda: 3rd
“To tell the truth, I was pretty nervous on the grid because it was my first MotoGP race. I do not think I’ve ever been so nervous before. I found it hard to keep calm and I was not as focused as I used to be in Moto2. However, I regained my concentration at the last moment. The start was important and we knew that we were taking off from the dirty part of the track. I did not get off well, but I was able to attack on the opening laps and overtake many riders. I think that this was the key. When I rode behind Dani I learnt a lot; also later on with Valentino. Fighting against him is always nice to watch, but it’s always tough at the same time. Valentino was a tough rival to try and overtake on the final laps. He beat us this time, but we hope to learn from him and from everyone who went faster than us.”
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 4th
“Today’s race was good, in part. I rode strongly and at a good level, although I had to slide around a lot during the entire race to combat a lack of rear grip. I saw from the opening lap that Lorenzo was going much faster and I tried to keep my position, because I knew that in the corners the traction issue came into play. I tried as hard as I could to keep my position, but then Rossi came through at a blistering pace and, to tell the truth, I could not stop him. I did all that I could, but it was not enough. Maybe there was a set-up issue with the rear, because I had problems with it all weekend and we did not have enough grip tonight. In the end I was off the podium, which is a shame considering that we had some good preseason tests and that the set-up was good in those tests. For some reason, it just did not work for us tonight.”
Alvaro Bautista, Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini:
“We had the same problems in the race as we had in practice. I tried to push hard at the start and stay with the lead group but I didn’t have the feeling or stability under braking. I stayed with them for a while but I was taking too many risks so I just had to try and make it to the end and defend my position. We’re hopeful that the problems we have had here, which were also the same problems as last year, are down to the track conditions and won’t be as bad in the coming races. We will keep working, but I am happy with the job the team is doing and I expect us to make big progress in Texas.”
Bryan Staring, GO&FUN Honda Gresini:
“I am disappointed because I didn’t want to finish my MotoGP debut in this way. We made progress throughout practice but then I ruined it all with a stupid crash. I am disappointed for myself and for the team, who have helped me out so much. Hopefully I can make up for it in Texas.”
Stefan Bradl, LCR Honda MotoGP:
“From the beginning of the race I didn’t have a confident feeling with the front tyre and I had the same issue we had on Friday, probably even worse. The bike didn’t feel so bad in the warm-up session, when I was lapping consistently fast. Unfortunately in the race I could not push the front too hard and so I couldn’t do anything to improve my pace. Rossi passed me and I was not able to follow him because of the issue – I was losing the front in every corner. Honestly, I didn’t make a mistake, so I cannot exactly explain why I crashed. Now we will check the data together with my technicians.”
Moto2 rider quotes
Pol Espargaro, Pons 40 HP Tuenti: race winner
“Starting the season with a victory is a great relief, especially after a difficult weekend that included a crash during qualifying. The team did a great job and the race went well – I even learned a few secrets while I was behind Redding and Nakagami. In the early stages I could run the leader’s pace and then luckily I had the speed to catch Redding. On the last lap I had to try very hard to make sure I won – at one point I even saw Redding’s front wheel on my left. We worked hard and gave it everything we had this weekend, so to come away with a win and pole position is great, the joy is huge!”
Scott Redding, Marc VDS Racing Team: 2nd
“I’m happy to get the season started with a podium here in Qatar. I lost the clutch on the sighting lap, which is a problem we had in practice and qualifying. The guys managed to fix it on the grid, but it was not right for the first few laps and the bike was really aggressive on corner entry. In the end I just feathered the clutch going into the turns until it sorted itself out. I was not expecting to lead here, so I did not really have a plan once I got to the front, other than to keep a good rhythm and maintain my pace. It was a good battle with Pol. I thought I had him on the last lap, but he’s a tough rider and I could not quite make it through. Next time I know to try that little bit harder to push him into a mistake. Thanks to the team for their hard work, and thanks also to Marc van der Straten for his support.”
Takaaki Nakagami, Italtrans Racing Team: 3rd
“My plan was simple: push at the maximum from the start and try to open a gap. We knew from experience that when tyre performance dropped we would have some chattering from the front, but being fast from the start was our plan for pursuing victory. Anyway, I’m happy – this is my first Grand Prix podium, the bike is working great and I feel in really great shape. The feeling I had with the bike during the first laps was amazing.”
Honda Moto3 Rider quotes
Danny Webb, Ambrogio Racing: 11th
“The race didn’t go so badly for us. I think we need a bit more top speed but in the end I think it was a good start to the season in my first race with a new team on a new bike. Qualifying didn’t go so well yesterday, but I was more confident for the race. The best thing is that we scored some points and finished top Honda.”
Brad Binder, Ambrogio Racing: 12th
“It wasn’t the best weekend, but it’s a solid start. The track was so slippery all weekend; if you stepped off line at all it was like dirt tracking or something. I obviously wasn’t super happy with qualifying and I think we could have been a lot higher up with a better grid spot. The race was good, hard, but still good. Danny and I being top Hondas is also good and that is what we’re aiming for this year, other than consistent top-ten finishes.”
Alexis Masbou, Ongetta-Rivacold: 14th
“I’m pleased to have scored some points in what was a difficult race, especially because my leg is still not 100 per cent. Now we must work to improve our bike so we can be fully competitive as soon as possible. I struggled a lot throughout the race but the good thing is that we stayed focused and scored some points. Now I go to home to continue working to return my leg to full strength.”
-- Ducati Report
The season-opening MotoGP race saw Ducati Team riders Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden finish in seventh and eighth places, respectively, under the floodlights at Losail International Circuit.
After starting from the second row in his debut race for the Italian factory, Dovizioso ran in third place in the early laps and was then involved in battles with Valentino Rossi, Cal Crutchlow, Alvaro Bautista, Stefan Bradl, and teammate Hayden. Meanwhile, the American quickly advanced from the eleventh spot on the grid to ninth place, and after pushing hard the entire race, he crossed the finish line in eighth.
Andrea Dovizioso - Ducati Team, 7th
“Before coming here, this is about the best result we could have hoped for. It’s true that we had hoped to do better following the exceptional qualifying session, but this is the reality. Races are different than practice, and I knew that. In fact, I was really curious to see how I’d go in the race. Doing a race weekend is an important experience, so we go on from here. We knew there were limits, but in my opinion we couldn’t have done any better. We improved on the times from last year, so that’s positive. Still, of course we always want to do better, so we don’t go home happy.”
Nicky Hayden - Ducati Team, 8th
“We knew it was going to be difficult. We made a little improvement in the warm-up session, and I felt a bit better. I have to give credit to my guys because we made one more change before the race, and my bike was better than it’s been since we got here. I did my best time of the weekend by two tenths and basically ran at my qualifying pace for the first part of the race. I worked really hard to close that gap and get onto that little group in front of me, and things started feeling better. It would have been nice to pick up one more spot, but I couldn’t get past Dovi because he was better than I was on the brakes.”
Bernhard Gobmeier – Ducati Corse General Manager
“We’re happy that all four Ducati riders finished the race without any specific issues, and the result was as good as we could have expected in the current circumstances. With the progress made over the testing season, we were able to improve our speed, but nevertheless, we don’t yet have the consistency to run at the front, especially toward the end. We’re looking forward to the next races and the tests, where we’ll have some new things to try out.”
As the team heads home to prepare for the championship’s next round, in Texas, its members extend their warm support to Team Manager Vittoriano Guareschi, whose father Claudio passed away on Sunday.
-- Bridgestone Report
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft & Hard; Rear: Medium & Hard (Asymmetric)
Weather: Dry. Ambient 22-22°C; Track 23-23°C (Bridgestone measurement)
Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo led from start to finish at the Qatar Grand Prix to start the defence of his MotoGP™ title in the best possible fashion.
Starting from pole, Lorenzo got an excellent start and led into the first corner and was never headed, going to cross the finish line 5.990 seconds ahead of his teammate Valentino Rossi who made a valiant charge through the field to claim second place. The final rider on the podium was Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez, the MotoGP™ rookie losing out to Rossi by just 0.211 seconds. Claiming CRT honours at Qatar was Power Electronics Aleix Espargaro, the reigning CRT champion placing eleventh ahead of his teammate Randy de Puniet.
Track temperatures were cooler again today with a peak of 23°C and though the wind reduced in intensity compared to yesterday, there was still a significant amount of sand on the tarmac. As track conditions were quite dusty for the race, all riders opted for the softer rear slick to ensure maximum edge grip in the tricky conditions, while all but two riders – Bautista and Pesek – selected the harder front slick. Despite the less than ideal track conditions, the overall race time was five seconds faster than last year and Marc Marquez’s quickest race lap of 1'55.445 was just three-tenths short of the race lap record.
Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
“The tyre combination that was most popular during practice and qualifying proved to be the best choice for the race, with all but two riders selecting the harder front slick paired with the softer rear. The track temperature was cooler than yesterday and this combined with the dusty track made the softer rear slick the option that would ensure the best combination of edge grip and rear drive. The softer rear slick still offered enough durability for a race distance and it was pleasing to see that despite the less than ideal track conditions, the overall race time was almost five seconds quicker than last year. Overall, I am happy with tyre performance over the first race weekend of the season and it was excellent to get the season started with such an exciting contest.”
Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha Factory Racing – Race Winner
“Before the race I felt nervous and had to concentrate as I knew it was very important to get a good start. I had to try to build a good gap and after a good start I pushed more than 100%, but in the first laps it was hard to get away. Little by little it got easier and I was finally able to get away. This was a very good result for me, for my teammate Rossi and for Yamaha.”
-- Marc VDS Racing Report
The Marc VDS Racing team got their 2013 World Championship campaign off to a flying start, with Scott Redding riding a superlative race to second place and Mika Kallio bringing his Kalex Moto2 machine home in fifth position.
Once early race leader Takaaki Nakagami had been despatched, Redding and Pol Espargaro put on a racing master class, going wheel to wheel on the Losail International Circuit until the final lap, when Espargaro held on to take the win.
Kallio was forced wide by another rider in the opening laps and was pushed back to tenth as a result. The 30-year-old Finn fought his way back through the field, only to lose the slipstreaming battle for fourth place to Dominique Aegerter at the finish line.
Redding is the heaviest rider on the Moto2 grid, while Kallio is the lightest. Proof, if any was needed, that the combined minimum weight limit introduced for this season has levelled the playing field for everyone.
Scott Redding #45: 2nd Position
"I'm happy to get the season started with a podium here in Qatar. I lost the clutch on the sighting lap, which is a problem we had in practice and qualifying. The guys managed to fix it on the grid, but it wasn't right for the first few laps and the bike was really aggressive on corner entry. In the end I just feathered the clutch going into the turns until it sorted itself out. I wasn't expecting to lead here, so I didn't really have a plan once I got to the front, other than to keep a good rhythm and maintain my pace. It was a good battle with Pol; I thought I had him on the last lap, but he's a tough rider and I couldn't quite make it through. Next time I know to try that little bit harder to push him into a mistake. Thanks to the team for their hard work, and thanks also to Marc van der Straten for his support."
Mika Kallio #36: 5th Position
"The chance of a podium for me was gone in the first few laps, unfortunately. I got pushed wide in one turn and, in Moto2, it's not just one rider than goes up your inside when that happens. After that it took a while for me to find my rhythm and start moving back up through the field. It was hard to overtake, because our engine doesn't seem to have the push we need out of the turns, but I eventually fought my way through to fourth, only to be pushed wide in the final turn by Aegerter. I tried to slipstream him to the line, but I just didn't have the power from the engine to do it. It could have been better today, but fifth will do for the first race."
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
"What a race, and what a start to the season for the team. Scott rode a superb race, from lap one until the end. He closed down the early leader and then fought out a fantastic battle with Pol Espargaro, only to lose out on the final lap. It was a real spectacle, and one I hope we'll see time and again this season. Mika isn't too happy with fifth, because he was also looking for a podium here, but he should be pleased with such a good result. He lost out in the early stages, but rode a good second half of the race to finally finish inside the top five. So, a great job by everyone in the team, a fantastic start for both riders and now we just need to carry this momentum into the remaining rounds, starting in Texas in two weeks time."
-- KTM Report
Red Bull KTM Ajo factory rider Luis Salom of Spain rode a masterly last two laps to break away from a hard fought pack of five KTM-driven Moto3 bikes to steal victory in the opening GP of the season fought under lights on the Losail Circuit in in Qatar.
Salom’s move was a copybook performance in the closing stages of the race reminiscent of last year’s World Champion Sandro Cortese of the same factory team. Cortese has now moved up to Moto2 and Salom has slipped very comfortably into his place with teammates Fahmi Khairuddin of Malaysia and Australian teenager Arthur Sissis.
Spanish talent Maverick Vinales was second, riding a great race having to deal with the pain of a yet to heal hand injury. He lost the top of his finger in a training crash recently and had to have corrective surgery. He only had the stitches removed in Qatar. Alex Rins and Alex Marquez completed the four way, all Spanish, all KTM sweep, underlining that this year’s Moto3 series is set to deliver the same thrilling racing action as the debut series did in 2012.
It was clear from the moment that the riders accelerated off the start grid that this was going to be a battle between a handful of riders who quickly made their presence felt. Salom started on pole, the first of his career but right alongside him was Vinales, who this year is also riding a KTM. Rins, also on a KTM, joined the battle at the front in the opening phase along with Jonas Folger of Germany on the very competitive Kalex-KTM.
These riders jockeyed for position swapping the lead back and forth during the middle phase of the race and while Folger lost a little ground, running wide into the dusty part of the track, Marquez, brother of Marc and Rins’ Spanish teammate joined the action at the front of the pack.
While Marquez and Rins battled for the lead in the final laps it was clear that it was going to go down to the wire and that a good slipstream action in the closing stage could decide the winner. Salom made the break in the closing stages of the second last lap and immediately put enough distance between him and the others to make it stick.
Salom’s victory meant that the Red Bull KTM Ajo Factory Team has begun the season with the same winning ways as it closed 2012. Khairuddin finished sixth and Sissis was eighth to underline the team’s strength.
Pit Beirer, Head of KTM Motorsports was in Qatar to watch the opener. “This year we made another big step with the bike and clearly this has paid off. There has been a tremendous amount of work by the mechanics and engineers both at the Mattighofen factory and with the teams and I have to thank them for that. It looks like this year KTM has really arrived back in the road racing scene.” He said all indications are that there will be a lot of competition between the teams running the KTM Moto3 bike and KTM-drive Kalex. “Competition is going to be tough and it’s going to be a very exciting year,” he added.
Moto3 Results Rd. 1 Qatar
1, Luis Salom, Spain, KTM, 38’26.859
3, Maverick Viñales, Spain, KTM, +0.417
2, Alex Rins, Spain, KTM, +0.423
4, Alex Marquez, Spain, KTM, +0.701
5, Jonas Folger, Germany, Kalex-KTM, +0.916
6, Zulfahmi Khairuddin, Malaysia, KTM, +17.489
7, Miguel Oliveira, Portugal, Mahindra, +17.566
8, Arthur Sissis, Australia, KTM, +19.355
9, Niklas Ajo, Finland, KTM, +28.966
10, Efren Vazquez, Spain, Mahindra, +28.995
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