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Mar 19, 2017

Moto2 And Moto3: Bad Weather Hinders Final Pre-Season Test, In Qatar

Takaaki Nakagami (30) ended up at the top of the time sheets. Photo courtesy of Dorna/

Moto2™ preseason finishes with Nakagami out front

On Day 1 it was rain, on Day 2 it was good running, and Day 3 ended in a sandstorm and thunder and lightning. High winds throughout the day gave way to rain and sand by the third Moto3™ session, with the final outing for Moto2™ preseason then cancelled.

Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) was therefore top overall after his 2:00.187 on Day 2, with EG0,0 Marc VDS rider Franco Morbidelli only 0.053 back. 2014 Moto3™ World Champion Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) ended his preseason in P3 after topping Jerez, 0.240 off P1.

Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia) was an impressive P4 only half a second back, with Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) keeping the new KTM chassis in the top five on a 2:00.861. His teammate - reigning Moto3™ World Champion Brad Binder - was 1.6 seconds off P1 as he returns from injury.

2016 contender Tom Lüthi (CarXpert Interwetten) was sixth, with rookie Fabio Quartararo (Pons HP 40) impressing in seventh. Xavi Vierge (Tech 3 Racing) added to the diverse chassis competition on the Tech 3 machine in P8, just ahead of the first Suter on the timesheets of 2015 Moto3™ World Champion Danny Kent (Kiefer Racing) with a 2:01.236. RW Racing GP rider Axel Pons debuted with his new team in P10, only 0.016 off Kent.

Moto2™ will next be on track for FP1 at Losail on Thursday as the first race weekend of the year gets into gear.

Fenati remains on top after shortened final day in Qatar

After a Day 1 that fell victim to rain followed by a more useful Day 2, the third and final outing for the Moto3™ grid at Losail International Circuit saw the weather return as a key protagonist. High winds throughout most of the day culminated in a sandstorm and a Red Flag in the third Moto3™ session, before thunder and lightning brought a definitive close to the preseason for the lightweight class.

That left the big names from combined times on Day 2 holding on to their places on the timesheets. Returning Romano Fenati (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers) keeps his throne, ahead of Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) by a tiny 0.039 margin. Martin suffered a crash at T15 on Saturday but escaped with only a small contusion to his hand. Third on the timesheets remained Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0), again incredibly close and only a further 0.020 in arrears.

Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA Boe Racing Team) impressed to take fourth overall with a 2:06.957, with Belgian Leopard Racing rider Livio Loi locking out the top five. Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) took sixth on combined to complete an impressive preseason, just in front of lightning rookie Ayumu Sasaki (SIC Racing Team). Sasaki has also raced at the track in the Asia Talent Cup on the Road to MotoGP™.

Niccolo Antonelli (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Juanfran Guevara (RBA BOE Racing Team) and Philipp Oettl (Südmetall Schedl GP Racing) completed the top ten, with Jakub Kornfeil (Peugeot MC Saxoprint) in P11 and British Talent Team rider John McPhee debuting the new outfit in P12.

That’s now a wrap on testing for the lightweight class, with the next time on track Thursday at Losail as FP1 gets underway at 18:00 local time (GMT +3) - and we prepare to go racing.

More, from a press release issued by SIC Racing Team:


Qatar – Sunday 19th March

Circuit: Losail International Circuit

Circuit Length: 5.4 km

Bike #7 Adam Norrodin – P22nd (Best time):2”07.894 (Total laps):10

Bike #71 Ayumu Sasaki – P7th (Best time):2”07.140 (Total laps):15

SIC Racing Team riders Adam Norrodin and Ayumu Sasaki concluded the final day of pre-season testing 22nd and 7th overall.

The arrival of high winds at the Losail Circuit today saw the majority of the Moto3 field opt to sit out of the first session, deeming conditions too risky for the smaller cylinder category.

Taking a chance in second practice, Adam Norrodin and Ayumu Sasaki used a limited window of opportunity to gather important information on the set-up of their Honda NSF250RW machines, finishing the session 15th and 16th respectively.

Despite wind speeds increasing for the final Moto3 session of the day, an eager Ayumu Sasaki attempted one last run on board his #71 machine, posting his fastest lap and ending the day in P2, before rapidly deteriorating conditions brought out the red flag.


“Today was very difficult with the strong winds; it was really hard to feel anything. It’s difficult to say much more on this last day as we didn’t have a lot of track time. Nevertheless I’m happy with the set-up we have now. We’ve done all the jobs we wanted to do here and we’ve gathered a lot of useful information. We may not have been able to push for the lap times as much as we would have liked but I feel comfortable and confident with my bike and this is the most important thing. We will be back on track on Thursday for the first Grand Prix practice of the year and I feel positive that after this test, we can start the season strong.


“The conditions today were very difficult! We couldn’t ride in the first session and then in the second it didn’t improve either but we didn’t want to waste more track time, so we tried to go out in the heavy winds. With the weather, the times were slower. There was no point to push at this point and risk a crash, so we just put in used tyres and focussed on gathering feedback on our set-up. In third practice we put in new tyres and immediately I could push a lot harder and make a good lap time. Unfortunately we were only on track for around ten minutes and then the weather got so bad the red flag had to come out to end the session. Although we have not had as much time on track as we would have liked at this test, we have worked well and done a good job. I’m confident about the set-up we have going into this first race weekend here.”

More, from a press release issued by RBA BOE Racing Team:

Top-10 for Rodrigo and Guevara in the last preseason test in Qatar


Losail, Qatar

The last preseason test ended today for the Moto3 class, just few days before the first Grand Prix of the 2017 World Championship.

The riders of RBA BOÉ Racing Team couldn’t take advantage completely of the time out on track because of the changeable weather: the first day was marked by unexpected showers and, on top of that, the strong wind on the third day limited the chances to move on with the initial plans. In spite of it all, the second day of testing was essential to adapt the setting of the KTM to the Qatari track and to continue developing the work that was started in the tests in Spain.

Rodrigo and Guevara finish this test in 4th and 9th position respectively, some positive results ahead of next week’s GP.

#19 Gabriel Rodrigo: 4th - 2’06.957 [combined classification]

“Today we had the last day of testing here at Losail and once again we had to deal with tricky weather conditions. The wind was really strong. It’s a shame because we only had one good day - the second - to work ahead of the Grand Prix. In any case these conditions could reappear next week, so maybe eventually these sessions could turn out to be useful. We managed to be very competitive: yesterday we had a strong pace and we finished fourth, very close to the fastest guy on track. Today, despite the wind, we managed to stay in the front. These results are very improtant, since they give us a safe starting point for the GP. We know that we have a valid set-up, which will help us to fight in the front. Now we have a couple of days off to rest and then to face the first race of the season with energy.”

#58 Juanfran Guevara: 9th - 2’07.162 [combined classification]

“We could take advantage of almost two days out of three here in Qatar: in any case we do finish the preseason with a good base for our KTM. We worked hard on the race rhythm, both at Jerez and in the other tests. We still have a couple of details to sort out, and we’ll do that throughout the Championship. Generally speaking we did a great job, we respected the plan that we had established since the beginning. We finish this test with a great feeling, and we look forwards to coming out on track soon for the first Grand Prix of the year. I believe we have a competitive pace for the race and we count on a set-up that allows us also to complete very fast laps. For sure in the GP the times will improve, we’ll have to be careful. We managed to improve on long runs: in the races of the previous year we had a good rhythm at the beginning, yet we ended up struggling in the last few laps. We achieved consistency. We now wait for the upcoming week in order to see where all the work done is taking us.”

More, from a press release issued by British Talent Team:

That’s a wrap: P12 for McPhee in Qatar

Bad weather on Day 3 as preseason comes to a close

The third and final day of the Official Moto3™ Test at Losail International Circuit in Qatar saw few improvements for the field, with high winds making life difficult for the lightweight class before thunder, lightning and a sandstorm brought out the Red Flag and the curtain came down on preseason.

British Talent Team rider John McPhee therefore remained in P12 on the overall timesheets following a best on Day 2 of 2:07.327, only completing four quick laps on the final day and times not nearing those of Saturday.

The Scotsman ends preseason happy with progress and ready to race, with a solid outing at the Circuito de Jerez backed up by another at Losail in the second and final Official Test ahead of lights out on 2017.

John McPhee – P12, 2:07.327: “Today was a bit of a nothing day with only a total of four fast laps. The weather turned too bad and the sessions were cancelled so there wasn't much we could do. I still feel like I'm heading into the race weekend in a good position and this is definitely the best shape we've finished pre-season testing in. I've got some things I'd like to try throughout practice next week but overall I'm happy."

Jeremy McWilliams, British Talent Scout: “It's been a bit of a mixed weather test for everyone, very weird weather for Losail so making it difficult for the team to gather as much data as they would like, but in general another positive test for John and the boys. He continues to improve with every outing and we are all confident that if we had to race tomorrow John has good race pace and he is full of confidence with the new bike."

More, from a press release issued by Forward Racing:

Rain in the desert didn’t prevent Marini and Baldassarri to progress

With lots of positive impressions after nine days on track in Spain Luca Marini and Lorenzo Baldassarri felt more than ready to fly out to Qatar this week for the last test before the start of the 2017 season, but the unpredictable weather conditions in the Arabian country hampered the track action on Friday and Sunday. However, both Forward Racing Team riders were able to assess their new 2017 Kalex machines as well as their feelings at the illuminated Losail International Circuit.

Although track conditions were far from perfect, Marini and his crew could work through most of their extensive schedule. Some setup changes and different parts increased the feeling for the 19-year old, who was mainly able to improve his race pace. Overall Marini completed 74 laps with a fastest time of 2’01.436.

After missing the first official IRTA test in Jerez, Baldassarri, who recovered from an inflamed tendon in his left arm, was back on track. The 20-year old started slowly to evaluate his physical condition. Encouraged by his good feeling Baldassarri soon started to work on the geometry of his machine together with his crew, before a slight crash without any consequences terminated his time attack. The young Italian lapped the 5.380 km circuit 51 times with a personal best of 2’02.035.

Now the whole Forward Racing Team eagerly awaits the opening practice of the first round in 2017, which kicks off on Thursday at under the floodlights of the Losail International Circuit.

Luca Marini – 15th (2’01.436)

“We had a positive test here in Qatar, which was unfortunately shortened because of the rain. Anyway, we tried diverse options for the race weekend and discovered new solutions, which is very encouraging. I went out with a different swing arm with which I felt a bit better, so we’ll for sure carry this to the race weekend. Our base is solid, but of course there is still a margin of improvement to be made in the Free Practices and Qualifying. For now, I’m happy with what we accomplished during our pre-season. I’m convinced we can do a great job for the Grand Prix here. Last year I finished the race in tenth position, which is hard to beat. But the goal for the first weekend is to improve on that placement. Let’s see what we can do.”

Lorenzo Baldassarri – 26th (2’02.035)

“This test was a really good opportunity to understand my physical condition and I can say, that I’m very happy to report I’m nearly back at my 100%. That’s the most important thing, considering we now have an additional three days of rest before the first free practice of the season. I was trying to stress my arm step by step on the bike without experiencing any pain, which is a fantastic sign. I’m serene, because we finished the test with good feelings overall, even if, to be honest, I was quite slow. Today the wind was really heavy, plus quickly changing directions and I decided not to take any risks. When I finally put in a new set of tyres and pushed a bit more I was surprised by a gust, so I went down. It’s a pity, because I wasn’t able to see where I would have ended up. But anyway, I feel great and full of confidence for the first race weekend of the year.”

Giovanni Cuzari – Team Owner

“To be really honest, personally I can’t wait to kick off the new season in just a few days. It’s been the first time for me on track this year here in Doha and I have to admit that I’m more than proud of the job my team did. In my opinion we made a huge step forward compared to 2016 and I have to thank everybody who made that possible. On the other hand, it goes without saying that these three days didn’t go according to plan, because who would ever expect two days of rain in the desert. Yet, after the strong preseason schedule, which we worked through in Spain, we feel very well prepared for this opening round and I am looking ahead to the upcoming weekend which will be full of emotion.”

More, from a press release issued by Team Federal Oil Gresini Moto2:


Team Federal Oil Moto2 Gresini have made the most of an otherwise weather-affected three days of testing at the Losail International Circuit: Jorge Navarro and his crew worked hard to find the best set-up for the Kalex machine #9 of the young Spaniard, who is now ready for his Moto2 debut at the Qatari track.

Navarro, who could lap consistently around the 5.4km fast-flowing Middle Eastern circuit only on Saturday and Sunday, dedicated most of his track-time to familiarise with the track while finding a base setup for his motorcycle. The young Spanish rider also tried different combinations in terms of fuel levels and tyre choices.

The 21-year-old from Valencia completed the test with the 12th fastest time of 2’01.296s. In less than a week’s time, it will be all about racing as the traditional floodlit Qatari season MotoGP season opener will get underway.


“This test was really useful to get a better understanding of the bike and especially on this track. We tried different things in order for me to find the best position on the bike: we are still missing something, but I am quite sure it’s me who has to adapt a bit better to my Kalex machine. The strong winds of the last day have complicated things a little bit, but we were able to work with these conditions nevertheless. Results were not too bad, but we’d hoped we could work with different weather. Now it’s time to concentrate fully on the season opener, though!”

More, from a press release issued by Tech 3 Racing:

Tech3 pair ready for 2017 after confident close to shortened final test in Qatar

Xavi Vierge and Remy Gardner keenly await the highly anticipated round one fight in less than a week after taking positive steps forward at the last pre-season test. The opening day was abandoned due to rainfall, yet the young riders made the most of the track time on day two which was uninterrupted by the weather. Here, Vierge built up his speed and he focused on some final setup adjustments, as well as his race rhythm before he sped to his fastest lap of the test in the 6th session. This saw him positively end up 8th in the overall standings and just 0.699 back from the top three, thus leaving him confident for the forthcoming campaign.

Whereas Remy Gardner made solid headway as he worked tirelessly with the Tech3 Racing Team. He set his quickest lap in the penultimate practice, as he finished the day in 13th, with this performance placing him 25th overall, before a storm hit that caused the final session to be cancelled today. Nevertheless, this time was 0.615 quicker than his opening best, and seven-tenths of a second back from the top ten, which leaves the Australian rookie encouraged and fired up for the opening battle.

With testing completed, both riders eye up the season opener full of motivation as they intend to kick start their 2017 campaigns with two successful results.

Xavi Vierge

Position: 8th - Time: 2'01.126 - Laps: 86

“I’m very happy with how this last test went for us and I am excited to be getting back on the bike and starting the season soon. In the end, the outcome of this track appearance is pleasing because every day we made a good step forward plus, the team worked really hard during the winter and it’s easy to see the positive results on the track. In addition, I am so happy with the rhythm that I managed to ride during this test in Qatar and I also managed to improve my lap time for qualifying. This leaves me fired up and confident for next weekend and I have to say thanks once again to the team for their work."

Remy Gardner

Position: 25th - Time: 2'01.967 - Laps: 99

“We had a positive final day and I am very happy with the advances that we made in the second session. The team and I still need to make some progress but we are certainly on the right path. It was a shame that we missed out on some valuable track time on Friday and also today due to the weather, but these things happen. Anyway, now I am looking forward to getting back on the Mistral and starting the season in only a few days time. Thanks to the guys for their efforts and I will do my absolute best when we return to the asphalt."

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