Danilo Petrucci and Iker Lecuona eagerly await the 2021 MotoGP World Championship to begin this Friday with Free Practice one at 2340 on Friday night for us here on the east coast of Australia that are running daylight savings. Those of you over in WA have a far more friendly 2040 start time for MotoGP 2021.
Tech3 KTM boss Herve Poncharal is never short of a few words and always offers some of the best insights so best we let him take it away with his preview of the season opener.
Hervé Poncharal – Tech3 KTM Team Manager
“After a long winter, we are eventually back here in Losail, Qatar, where we had a five days test already a few days ago. We are very happy to restart another MotoGP season. I think this year is going to be another very exciting one for everybody, but also for Tech3 KTM Factory Racing.
“However, we have a new rider, Danilo Petrucci, who is a two times GP winner and who has been on a very competitive brand for a long time, plus we have Iker, who is entering his second season and is no rookie anymore. Clearly, our expectations are very high for these two guys.
“I would also like to point out, that we are extremely proud to wear the official KTM colors. I believe our entire setup; team uniform, colors of the bike and team complex looks really beautiful. It’s very easy to spot us on the track. As every year, there was a kind of a contest and I think we were elected by our team colleagues from the MotoGP grid for the best-looking bike. So, this is already something we won this year before we even start the Championship.
“On the other hand, we have to say and we saw, that we were not in the best form at this circuit, which has never been an easier one for KTM yet. Nevertheless, after the five days I believe there was a lot of brain-storming in Mattighofen, Austria and I think that we can trust, rely and have a high confidence, that they are coming back with some ideas in order to close the gap with the leaders.
“Another very important point is that the race is a lot later than usually in early March, so the weather is going to play an important role, because it’s clearly a lot warmer than what we are used to face.
“I don’t want to end this preview without mentioning the fact that Carmelo Ezpeleta and the entire Dorna crew managed together with the Qatar authorities providing the possibility to the whole paddock to get vaccinated against COVID-19. This is amazing for all of us! We know how tough it is to get vaccinated and this just shows the huge commitment of Dorna to our sport and their support for our paddock. I think it’s going to help the MotoGP in 2021 to be a lot safer and less risky.”
With just a few days of test experience aboard the KTM RC16 in his pocket, Danilo Petrucci aims to further adapt to his new machine throughout the first round of competition of the year in order to give a successful debut this Sunday at the Losail International Circuit.
“I’m obviously very happy to begin this new adventure with KTM and Tech3 Racing. Finally, we start this new season with two races in Qatar. We had some tests there some days ago and realized that the way is long, as the bike is new for me. I feel alright, I like the machine a lot, but I still need to discover it a bit more. Anyway, I want to be competitive from the first race, so I’m looking forward to continue my work together with my crew to setup the bike. For sure, it will not be easy, but it’s hard for everyone. I feel ready and can’t wait to ride my KTM again.”
Lecuona had to regain some confidence during the test, after he was forced to sit out the final three rounds of 2020. The Spaniard is likewise excited to kick off his second season in the premier class with the Grand Prix of Qatar this weekend.
“For the first GP in 2021 my goal is to finish the race. I want to continue to improve my performance from these five days testing here in Qatar. I was struggling a bit and didn’t ride the MotoGP machine for a long time after these final three races last year, which I lost. I think that ideally, I can finish the race, progress and enjoy riding my KTM RC16 again. Maybe we can finish close or inside the top 10. It’s obvious that we all can’t wait to kick off the action!”
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