From a press release issued by JiR Team Scot Honda: Yuki Takahashi takes his Honda RS250RW close to the podium At the first race of the season Yuki Takahashi took 5th position at the flag and always attacked demonstrating that he can be battling with the best of the 250cc riders. With a good start from 8th on the grid, he took 6th at the first corner and rode a strong race to maintain contact with the leaders despite the gap in terms of performance, which held back Yuki on the straights. Yuki was improving every lap, so much so, that he was able to match the pace of the leaders from lap nine, gaining positions before the end of the race. Eventually Yuki finished the race and entered the pits where he was welcomed by the whole team cheering! Cirano Mularoni Team manager, JiR Team Scot “This was better than expected. We know that Yuki comes from a winter without a lot of testing but despite what he had suffered, we all knew Yuki was a fighter and in the race he gets a lot of motivation. In a way, this race could be something like training for the championship for Yuki. In fact he was attacking and maintaining a pace that was very fast. I want to congratulate all of the team, which did an excellent job of putting Yuki in the position to be competitive technically. We don’t have a very good top speed on the straight, but I think that we can be more than competitive at the tight and twisty race tracks that are coming up!” Yuki Takahashi Rider, JiR Team Scot 250GP HONDA RS250RW 5th position – 2′ 00.415″ “I’m very happy as I didn’t think I could be so fast! I did a good start getting two positions immediately, then I tried to keep contact with the leaders of the race but when we were half way through the race the rear tyre started to slide and to maintain that pace was not so easy. This is a very important race finish for us, and I want to thank the team for a good job! Although my lap rhythm was slower in parts and my physical ability was not 100%, I still tried very hard and I know the team and I will do better than this in the future.” Yutaka Hirano Chief Technician, JiR Team Scot “Over the last few days we did a good job on the overall technical package. The chassis was good and our carburettor settings were also very good for the strange climatic conditions that we would encounter tonight. Unfortunately out maximum speed was not so fast on the long straight and Yuki was not in a position to take advantage from any slipstreaming, but later he was able to push very hard on the twistier parts of the circuit. He finally arrived in a very good position at the end of the race but we all want so much better!” Grand Prix of Qatar 250GP Final result 1) Mattia Pasini Aprilia 2) Hector Barbera Aprilia 3) Mika Kallio KTM 4) Alex Debon Aprilia 5) Yuki Takahashi Honda More, from a press release issued by KTM: Mika celebrates first podium of the year like a victory Red Bull KTM 250’s maestro Mika Kallio succeeded in riding around problems he had with the feeling of his bike at the late night practice sessions for the Qatar Grand Prix and still finished the season’s opening race with a podium place. “After all our problems in practice, this is like a victory for us,” the Finnish rider declared after the race, his hundredth start in the world championship 125 cc and 250 cc series and the first ever night race held under floodlight. Kallio wound up the 2007 season in top form aboard his KTM FFR 250 when he won the final race of last season in Valencia. He had also been in excellent form during pre-season testing. Starting from the front row of the grid Sunday, the 24-year-old tucked in behind the front group of riders and with characteristic tactical savvy, waited patiently for the opportunity to make his move near the end of the race when some of his opponents started to run into tyre problems. Kallio’s race plan “We used exactly the same settings from yesterday’s last qualifying, including the same tyre compounds, and this turned out to be the right decision,” Kallio said. “The feeling for the bike still wasn’t perfect, but at least, it was a bit warmer today and the improved track conditions helped me to evaluate the grip limit. My plan was to stay with the front runners right from the beginning but in the early stages Barbera was too fast and opened a gap on me. Later on, I managed to do better lap times and started to catch up again about the time when Bautista ran into tyre problems and dropped back. I got really close to Barbera and Pasini on the final lap but getting ahead of them wasn’t possible today.” Kallio was very happy with his third place. He did have some expectations that a podium might have been possible if all went well, even after some mediocre sessions during the testing and practice days in Losail. “To finally achieve it is fantastic,” he said. “I am really looking forward to the next round in Jerez, where we did well in testing and where we should have a true chance to fight for victory!” Not Aoyama’s lucky day Team-mate Hiroshi Aoyama was not so lucky. The Japanese ace started from the third row of the grid but saw his hopes of catching up with the leaders dashed when he ran into unexpected handling problems early in the race. Aoyama dropped back through the field as a result of a lack of rear wheel grip and some clutch problems but kept his cool and went on to finish in sixteenth place. “I was hoping to be able to turn things around in the race, but instead, things got worse,” Aoyama said. “I had a decent start, but then, almost from the very beginning, I didn’t seem to have rear tyre grip at all. It was like skating on ice. I dropped back further and further and later on, I also had a problem with the clutch. I managed to finish the race – but this is about the best I can say!” Repsol KTM rider Julian Simon also fell short of his own high expectations and finished in eleventh place. Kallio rode a perfect race, Bartol Says KTM Technical Director Harald Bartol said Mika made the best of his chances and rode a perfect race. “His race pace deserves respect considering his lack of feeling for the grip level and the tyres. He judged his moves very carefully, and waited for the right moment to attack. Results: 1. Mattia Pasini, Italy, Aprilia, 40:16.202 2. Hector Barbera, Spain, Aprilia, 40:16.759 3. Mika Kallio, Red Bull KTM 250, 40:17.231 4. Alex Debon, Spain, Aprilia, 40:17.620 5. Yuki Takahashi, Japan, Honda, 40:29.146 11. Julian Simon, Spain, Repsol KTM 250 cc, 40:57.659 16. Hiroshi Aoyama, Japan, Red Bull KTM 250, 41:27.233 KTM luckless in first 125 cc race of the season. KTM riders went into the first 125 cc GP of the 2008 racing season hopeful of good results but came away at the end of the first ever night race empty-handed. Team Onde 2000 KTM rider Raffaele de Rosa seemed set for a podium finish for the bulk of the 18-lap (96.84 km) race on the Losail Circuit in Qatar. But he pushed a shade too hard in the battle for second place and crashed out of the race with four laps to go. Unlucky day for de Rosa Best KTM rider at the end of the night race was de Rosa’s Onde 2000 KTM teammate Pablo Nieto of Spain who rode to eighteenth position. Red Bull KTM 125 rider Randy Krummenacher had also aimed much higher after a promising final practice session, but ran into handling and grip problems again to finish in twenty second place. Hard race for Krummenacher “That was a hard battle indeed,” Krummenacher said after the race. “It was tough enough to even stay on the bike. I really had a good feeling yesterday, and even in the warm-up session for the race, everything seemed to be all right. But after the start, I hardly recognized my bike because it was so difficult to keep the cornering lines, especially going into the turns!” Heat of the battle “Of course, we are all a bit disappointed about what happened in the 125 cc race,” KTM Technical Director Harald Bartol said. “Raffaele de Rosa rode very well within the leading pack. He defended himself and KTM against stronger opponents, because Aprilia was a bit stronger today. Then he had one of those accidents that can happen in the heat of the battle – that’s racing!” Results 1. Sergio Gadea, Spain, Aprilia, 38:09.444 2. Joan Olive, Spain, Derbi, 38:10.376 3. Stefan Bradl, Germany, Aprilia, 38:11.104 4. Mike Di Meglio, France, Derbi, 38:11.215 5. Scott Redding, Britain, Aprilia, 38:11.263 18. Pablo Nieto, Spain, Onde 2000 KTM, 38:42.335 21. Lorenzo Zanetti, Italy, ISPA KTM Aran, 38:46.140 22. Randy Krummenacher, Switzerland, Red Bull KTM 125, 38:46.198 Not Classified Raffaele De Rosa, Italy, Onde 2000 KTM at 3 laps Tomoyoshi Koyama, Japan, ISPA KTM Aran at 10 laps More, from a press release issued by Yamaha Racing: Lorenzo Shines in Second On Fantastic MotoGP Debut Fiat Yamaha Team rider Jorge Lorenzo sealed a weekend to remember in Qatar at the first ever MotoGP night race by finishing second on an impressive premier-class debut. The reigning double 250cc World Champion started from pole for the fifth consecutive year at this track, following three 250cc and one 125cc pole, and proved he will be a force to reckon with in 2008 with a mature ride to the runner-up spot behind Casey Stoner. Lorenzo made a tentative start and dropped several places from his starting position, crossing the line after the first lap in fourth. The first eight laps were something of a dog-fight with the front six riders trading places back and forth several times, but the Yamaha rookie kept his head through the melee and gradually worked his way forward, eventually passing Rossi to take second behind Stoner on lap 9. He hung on to the World Champion for a while but gradually the stress of the first part of the race took its toll and the 20-year-old began to tire and suffer pain in his arms. He eventually crossed the line 5.323 seconds behind Stoner but the same distance clear of third-placed Dani Pedrosa. Jorge Lorenzo – Position: 2nd Time: +5.323 “For sure I couldn’t have expected a better debut than this and I am very, very excited to be on the podium. Second place is an amazing result for me and I had great fun. The start and first few laps were a bit crazy and really a bit of a scary time for me, but anyway I managed to make it through and get past some riders to get to second. I started to go with Stoner but after a while I became very tired and I started to have a lot of pressure and pain in my arms, so I really couldn’t push any more! Anyway he was faster than us and I want to say congratulations to him because he deserved to win tonight. I think if I could have got a better start, maybe I wouldn’t have got so tired later on and I would have been able to keep a better rhythm, but anyway I don’t think I can ask for more than this tonight. I want to thank Yamaha and Michelin for all the hard work they have put in over the winter to get me to this point, and of course my team for all of their work. I don’t want to start talking about the championship yet because this is only my first race, and now we will go to Jerez and do our very best again there and see what happens!” Daniele Romagnoli – Team Manager “What a weekend! After a long winter it was great to finally arrive at the race and all of us in the team really enjoyed watching Jorge make such a fantastic debut. We couldn’t have asked for more and to do what he’s done here is really fantastic. From now on it will be easier for him because he will know what to expect from a MotoGP race, and of course we’ve also collected some important information about his race performance to help us to improve his package. Thank you to the team, to Yamaha and to Michelin for doing a great job throughout the winter and tonight and well done once again to Jorge.” Masahiko Nakajima – Team Director “The biggest problem here has been the track temperature but Michelin did a very good job here to counteract a difficult situation and their tyres have worked very well. We managed to find a good set-up for Jorge and we are very pleased with his first race. It’s impressive that such a young rookie can do so well in such a tough race so a big congratulations to him for a brilliant second place.” Valentino Rossi finished a disappointing fifth tonight, after struggling for pace on the cold track throughout the 22 lap race. Racing on Bridgestone tyres for the first time, Rossi made up two places on the opening lap and for the first few laps looked like he might be a contender for the top spots as he picked his way through the field. On lap five he took the lead and held onto it for three laps, but he was unable to ride his M1 as he wanted to and surrendered first place to Casey Stoner just three laps later. It was downhill for the Italian from then on as his pace dropped off and he began to slip back, unable to keep up with the leaders. Dani Pedrosa passed him for third and Rossi eventually became embroiled in a close battle for fourth with Andrea Dovizioso, with the rookie eventually running out the winner by just a fraction of a second. Valentino Rossi – Position: 5th Time: +13.305 “We expected a difficult race here, but actually not as difficult as this! We haven’t been fast here in Qatar since last week’s night test but, despite this, I thought we might be able to fight for the podium. Tonight however it was really difficult and now we have to understand the reason for this result. After five or six laps I started doing 56.4 and 56.5 and from then on I couldn’t improve on that pace until the end. I was very fast in braking, but not so fast in the corners. We know that we can make our Bridgestone tyres work better than this, because they are winning tyres and tonight they showed it once again. Throughout the winter, at all tracks, we were very fast and this is the only one where we were not. Now our task is to understand why this happened. We had a couple of ideas to try but in the end we decided to stick to what we know because we need some more time to understand how to improve and how to be faster. We know we can do better than this and so we just need to gather all the information and use it in the best way for the next race. Finally I want to say congratulations to Lorenzo for a great debut tonight; honestly I’m not surprised because I knew he was fast and talented, but he did very well tonight in a hard race so well done to him.” Davide Brivio – Team Manager “We expected a difficult race here, but actually not as difficult as this! We haven’t been fast here in Qatar since last week’s night test but, despite this, I thought we might be able to fight for the podium. Tonight however it was really difficult and now we have to understand the reason for this result. After five or six laps I started doing 56.4 and 56.5 and from then on I couldn’t improve on that pace until the end. I was very fast in braking, but not so fast in the corners. We know that we can make our Bridgestone tyres work better than this, because they are winning tyres and tonight they showed it once again. Throughout the winter, at all tracks, we were very fast and this is the only one where we were not. Now our task is to understand why this happened. We had a couple of ideas to try but in the end we decided to stick to what we know because we need some more time to understand how to improve and how to be faster. We know we can do better than this and so we just need to gather all the information and use it in the best way for the next race. Finally I want to say congratulations to Lorenzo for a great debut tonight; honestly I’m not surprised because I knew he was fast and talented, but he did very well tonight in a hard race so well done to him.” Masahiko Nakajima – Team Director “This was our first experience of a night race and it’s been clear that the low track temperatures make controlling the tyre situation quite difficult. Added to that the low air temperatures mean that fuel consumption is also a worry. We spent a lot of time working with Bridgestone to try to find a good package but unfortunately we couldn’t do enough tonight. Now we need to investigate exactly what’s happened and act on it before the next race.” The MotoGP circus heads to Lorenzo’s homeland next for the Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez on 30th April. Toseland Shines on MotoGP Debut as Tech 3 Yamaha Start with Double Top Ten James Toseland kicked off his MotoGP career in superb style tonight, the British rider claiming a well deserved top six finish in the historic first night race in Qatar. Brimming with confidence after he secured a maiden front row grid position yesterday, the 27-year-old showed no signs of any first race nerves with a flying start. Third at the end of a hectic lap one, he then climbed into second on lap two with a daring overtake on Jorge Lorenzo. Toseland briefly lost touch with the leading bunch, but showing great determination he clawed his way back into contention for the podium, setting the fifth fastest lap of the 22-lap race in the process. Riding at a fast and consistent pace throughout, Toseland kept the pressure on Valentino Rossi and Andrea Dovizioso right up until the last lap, and he only finished 0.7s behind Rossi at the finish. Edwards was seventh after he too was involved in the thick of the frantic early action. The American, who had started next to Toseland on the front row, lost touch with the leading group shortly after the halfway stage, but his solid performance ensured Tech 3 Yamaha claimed fourth place in the coveted Team World Championship standings. James Toseland – Position: 6th Time: +14.040 “To start off with this result is just great for me. I’ve realised now that with everybody’s support, which I’m getting from the Tech 3 team, Yamaha and Michelin, it is possible to be competitive. To finish just behind Valentino in my very first MotoGP race is surreal. The first couple of laps were pretty hectic and I put a move on Jorge that was quite close. That’s just a lack of experience racing against these guys. I’ve raced against the same boys for seven years and know exactly what they do and when they do it. Jorge put his bike over my nose just as I was committed for the pass. I’ve just got to get used to how these guys take the corners so I can pass them a bit safer. But he left the door open a bit and I went for it. There was no harm done and after that I was trying everything I had to pass Andrea and Valentino. I was catching up fractions of time all lap and I’d just get with them at the last corner and they’d stretch away from me on the straight. There is nobody bad on the brakes so you can’t catch it up really. You can chip away and chip away but the times I got close they were side-byside and it was like a wall for me. And I wasn’t prepared to take two of them out in my first MotoGP with sixth place in the bag I’m a bit emotionally drained to be fair but what you learn in 22 laps around these guys is priceless and I can’t wait for Jerez.” Colin Edwards – Position: 7th Time: +15.150 “I didn’t leave anything out there tonight. If you paid me a million dollars I couldn’t have gone any faster. I was riding my hardest but at the end of the day it just wasn’t fast enough and to be honest I’m not sure why. We’ll have to check the computer but I just didn’t have the same feeling as I did yesterday. We had a great day yesterday and going into the race I was confident about getting on the podium. But from the second lap it became a race of adapting to cope with the different feeling I had from the tyres. I was at the back of the group and while they weren’t really pulling away, I couldn’t get any closer. I just didn’t have the confidence to push and then I ran wide at the last corner while trying to keep close to the back of James. I lost a bit of time and I couldn’t catch back up. Thanks to my guys for they’re hard work and we’ll try and move closer to the front in Jerez.” Herve Poncharal – Team Manager “It was a great way to start the championship. The highlight of the weekend was our two riders on the front row which was a very emotional moment and something you dream of to start the championship. It didn’t happen to us since 2002 with Olivier Jacque and Shinya Nakano at the Sachsenring. We had great expectations but we knew it would be difficult to get on the rostrum. James showed an incredible fighting spirit and he made a made really aggressive move on Jorge. The whole race he was losing a bit in some parts and catching back to Valentino and he ended up very, very close to beating him. Colin had a great and steady race also and I’d have settled for sixth and seventh before the first race. We know the new engine is coming in Estoril and it won’t be such a handicap in Jerez on a track without a long straight. Michelin showed great potential and we look forward with a lot of confidence to Jerez.” Losail: Lap Record C. Stoner (Ducati) 2007, 1’56.528 Losail: Best Lap V. Rossi (Yamaha) 2007, 1’55.002 Race 1 – 22 Laps Pos., Rider, Manu., Nat., Total Time 1, Casey Stoner, Ducati, AUS, 42’36.587 2, Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha, ESP, 0’5.323 3, Daniel Pedrosa, Honda, ESP, 0’10.600 4, Andrea Dovizioso, Honda, ITA, 0’13.288 5, Valentino Rossi, Yamaha, ITA, 0’13.305 6, James Toseland, Yamaha, GBR, 0’14.040 7, Colin Edwards, Yamaha, USA, 0’15.150 8, Loris Capirossi, Suzuki, ITA, 0’32.505 9, Randy De Puniet, Honda, FRA, 0’33.003 10, Nicky Hayden, Honda, USA, 0’38.354 11, Marco Melandri, Ducati, ITA, 0’44.284 12, John Hopkins, Kawasaki, USA, 0’49.857 13, Shinya Nakano, Honda, JPN, 0’49.871 14, Toni Elias, Ducati, ESP, 0’58.532 15, Sylvain Guintoli, Ducati, FRA, 0’58.930 16, Anthony West, Kawasaki, AUS, 1’5.643 17, Chris Vermeulen, Suzuki, AUS, -1 Laps Rider Standings 09/03/2008 Pos., Rider, Manu., Nat., Points 1, Casey Stoner, Ducati, AUS, 25 2, Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha, ESP, 20 3, Daniel Pedrosa, Honda, ESP, 16 4, Andrea Dovizioso, Honda, ITA, 13 5, Valentino Rossi, Yamaha, ITA, 11 6, James Toseland, Yamaha, GBR, 10 7, Colin Edwards, Yamaha, USA, 9 8, Loris Capirossi, Suzuki, ITA, 8 9, Randy De Puniet, Honda, FRA, 7 10, Nicky Hayden, Honda, USA, 6 11, Marco Melandri, Ducati, ITA, 5 12, John Hopkins, Kawasaki, USA, 4 13, Shinya Nakano, Honda, JPN, 3 14, Toni Elias, Ducati, ESP, 2 15, Sylvain Guintoli, Ducati, FRA, 1 Team Standings 09/03/2008 Pos., Team, Points 1, FIAT Yamaha Team, 93 2, Tech3 Yamaha, 84 3, Ducati Marlboro Team, 69 4, Repsol Honda Team, 49 5, JIR Scot Team, 31 6, Rizla Suzuki MotoGP, 28 7, Honda LCR, 27 8, Honda Gresini, 22 9, Kawasaki Racing Team, 12 10, Team Alice, 5 Manufacturer Standings 09/03/2008 Pos., Manufacturer, Points 1, Ducati, 25 2, Yamaha, 20 3, Honda, 16 4, Suzuki, 8 5, Kawasaki, 4
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