MotoGP: Bagnaia Claims Pole With New Lap Record At Losail (Updated)

MotoGP: Bagnaia Claims Pole With New Lap Record At Losail (Updated)

© 2021, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. By David Swarts.

MotoGP Combined Qualifying Results

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Dorna:

Pecco pitches it to perfection for new lap record at Losail

The Italian puts in the first 1:52 in Qatar to head three Yamahas in the first qualifying session of 2021

 

Francesco Bagnaia (63). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Francesco Bagnaia (63). Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

Saturday, 27 March 2021

Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) has taken his maiden MotoGP™ pole position in serious style at the Barwa Grand Prix of Qatar, the Italian slamming in a 1:52.772 – the fastest-ever two-wheel lap of Losail International Circuit – to take the honour. Bagnaia beats second place Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) by 0.266s, with Quartararo’s fellow Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP rider Maverick Viñales. Fourth? Top Independent Team rider Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha SRT) as the Doctor made it a Yamaha armada just behind Bagnaia… in more ways than one.

 

Fabio Quartararo (20). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Fabio Quartararo (20). Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

Before the final battle though, there was Q1 to contend with. Reigning World Champion Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) found himself having to fight for his place in the pole position shootout at the season opener and it wasn’t a walk in the park as the number 36 faced some stiff competition from two rookies: Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) and Enea Bastianini (Esponsorama Racing). Both took turns leading the session, with Mir returning to P1 by just 0.005s with his best lap of the weekend.

 

Maverick Vinales (12). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Maverick Vinales (12). Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

Martin then crashed unhurt on his last lap and was out of contention, and Bastianini was unable to improve. Out of nowhere, Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) was then the man setting the timing screens alight though and the Japanese rider snatched P1 on his final flyer to demote Bastianini out of Q2 promotion. The Beast’s 0.005s deficit to Mir proved to be the difference. And so Mir edged through to Q2 by the skin of his teeth, and later received a fine and had his first but not fastest lap deleted for leaving pitlane early.

 

Valentino Rossi (46). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Valentino Rossi (46). Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

Nakagami and Mir then joined the fastest 10 riders from Free Practice for Saturday’s main course: MotoGP™ Qualifying 2. And in said session, it took Bagnaia just one lap to break the all-time lap record, a 1:53.273 coming in from the Italian to set us up for a phenomenal first pole shootout of 2021. Still, despite the P1 time being an all-time lap record, the timing screens were lit up with red sector times.

Bagnaia didn’t improve on his next lap, but teammate Jack Miller did and the Aussie took over at the top. Next was Quartararo and the Frenchman was an astonishing four tenths under at Sector 3, losing a little in the final sector but still talking over at the top, homing in on the 52s with a 1:53.038 – another all-time lap record. After the first couple of flying laps, it was a Yamaha and Ducati fest at the top, with Aleix Espargaro placing his Aprilia Racing Team Gresini machine next up in P6 ahead of Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing). Ahead of those two sat Quartararo, Miller, Viñales, Bagnaia and Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) as the grid rumbled back into pitlane and prepared for a final push.

This was it. Viñales was the leader on the road and the first to show us what he had left in his locker, the Spaniard making it a factory Yamaha 1-2. Attention then turned back to Bagnaia though, and he had Valentino Rossi in tow to boot. Pecco unleashed a mind-blowing lap to return to P1 by 0.266s, impervious and seemingly unbeatable, and Rossi’s effort put him P3 for the time being as The Doctor demoted former teammate Viñales off the front row. Top Gun then returned the favour though, taking third back and pushing Rossi down to fourth.

The front row would go unchallenged for the remaining seconds. Bagnaia said on Friday, “we will beat the record in Q2”, and he stuck to his word as the Italian to claimed his first premier class pole position in style with the fastest-ever two-wheel lap of Losail International Circuit. Quartararo and Viñales lock out the front row as The Doctor joins two of his three Yamaha counterparts inside the top four; a 1:53.114 by far the fastest Rossi has lapped Losail.

Joining the veteran Italian on the second row are Miller and Zarco. The two Bologna bullets will have been hoping for more in Q2 but the second row is a solid place from which to unleash Ducati’s holeshot device. Zarco is also the new MotoGP™ top speed record holder at 362.4km/h after FP4, and his last flying lap in Q2 was his best to knock Morbidelli onto the third row.

2020 runner up Morbidelli spearheads Row 3 and he’s joined by Aleix Espargaro in eighth place, an impressive feat given the top eight were all under Marc Marquez’s old lap record. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) is the final member on Row 3 in P9, with Mir being forced to settle for P10 – 0.910s back from pole position. Work to do on a Sunday for both Suzukis again, but if there’s one thing we learned in 2020, it’s to never discount the GSX-RR duo in race trim. Nakagami is the leading Honda ahead of the opening race of 2021 just behind them, he and Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) will fire off the line in P11 and P12. For full results, click here.

We were expecting fireworks, but we really did get some: a new all-time lap record and top speed record within an hour. It’s safe to say MotoGP™ is off to an astonishing start in the desert, as attentions now turn to race day. Bagnaia has done the hard work up until now, but can he help Ducati keep up their formidable Qatar record under the lights in 24 hours time? There’s a whole host of riders lining up behind him who are more than capable of winning the Qatar GP, and it’s going to be simply unmissable.

Make sure to tune in for the first MotoGP™ race of 2021 at 20:00 local time (GMT+3) in Qatar!

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Tech3 KTM Factory Racing:

Tech3 KTM Factory Racing duo progresses on Saturday in Qatar
Danilo Petrucci and Iker Lecuona will start the opening race of the 2021 season tomorrow at 20.00 local time (19.00 CET) from row seven on the grid.

Tech3 KTM Factory Racing’s new addition Petrucci made some steps forward throughout Saturday at the Losail International Circuit. With only four days of testing under his belt ahead of the start of the 2021 campaign, the Italian did well to improve his FP1 time from Friday by 1.787 seconds in Qualifying. In Q1 he eventually had to settle for P10.

At the same time, Lecuona refined his feeling back on the KTM RC16 as well. The Spaniard went more than two seconds quicker in Qualifying compared to his Free Practice one time yesterday and is eager to start the first competition of this season from row seven on the grid.

 

Danilo Petrucci. Photo courtesy Tech3.
Danilo Petrucci. Photo courtesy Tech3.

 

Danilo Petrucci
 

Position: 20th

Time: 1:54.443

Laps: 7

“I had my first Qualifying with the KTM RC16 and I’m happy about the progress we made, especially in terms of pace. For sure, we still need to improve and I don’t understand why I’m quite slow in some parts of the track, mainly in the final sector.”

“Sincerely, I wanted to be more in front, but anyway, I’m positive about the pace. Yet, we have to keep patience and try to upgrade the setup of the bike more and more. I already feel better compared to yesterday, but there’s still a lot of work to do.”

 

Iker Lecuona. Photo courtesy Tech3.
Iker Lecuona. Photo courtesy Tech3.

 

Iker Lecuona
 

Position: 21st

Time: 1:54.627

Laps: 6

“Today has still been difficult, we can confirm that this circuit is not the best track for us. We pushed very hard and tried everything. I also tried to manage my right arm to be fit for Qualifying. Finally, it was quite ok. I improved my lap time and I’m close to the other KTM riders.”

“I have to admit, that I’m obviously not happy about today’s result, but I feel more confident ahead of the first race tomorrow, because I could close the gap to Miguel and Brad a bit. Anyway, we still need to work on some things in order to be ready for round one on Sunday.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by KTM Factory Racing:

OLIVEIRA TOP QUALIFIER AS MOTOGP™ NEGOTIATES FIRST QUALIFICATION OF 2021

MotoGP 2021 – Round 01 of 19, Losail (QATAR)

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Miguel Oliveira will start the first round of the new 2021 season, and the first of two consecutive races at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar, from 15th position for the 22 laps of the Barwa Grand Prix of Qatar on Sunday evening.

-Oliveira the fastest of the KTM RC16s around the warm, flowing Losail layout

-Two KTM RC4s on the second row of the Moto3™ grid with Jaume Masia sitting 5th

-Raul Fernandez to start from P2 and the front row in Moto2™ debut

After five days of pre-season testing, MotoGP reconvened at the Losail International Circuit for the Grands Prix of Qatar and Doha in the space of a week for a nocturnal and frantic beginning to the 2021 campaign. The fast and weaving circuit has been a traditional home for the opening of the MotoGP championship – now 15 years as the first round – even if the premier class were unable to compete at the facility in 2020.

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing duo Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder, as well as Tech3 KTM Factory Racing pair Danilo Petrucci and Iker Lecuona, worked diligently to set-up their 2021 machinery through Free Practice on Friday and Saturday afternoon and evenings. The characteristics of Losail were frugal with the strengths of the KTM RC16s in terms of one-lap pace but there was optimism in the KTM camp for the race rhythm and the 22-lap distance to come.

All four riders went into the Q1 qualifying session and it was Oliveira who headed the quartet with a time just 1.2 seconds from the eventual record-breaking Pole Position effort. The Portuguese had lodged inside the top ten and then the top four in the FP3 and FP4 sessions earlier in the day. He was three tenths of a second ahead of teammate Binder in 19th. Danilo Petrucci, who improved his speed in every ‘exit’ and was fractions of a second slower than Oliveira in FP3, was just behind the South African in 20th. Iker Lecuona ranked 21st.

 

Miguel Oliveira (88). Photo by Polarity Photo - KTM Images.
Miguel Oliveira (88). Photo by Polarity Photo – KTM Images.

 

Miguel Oliveira: “The starting position is a bit far from our target but we knew that Q2 would be tricky for us today. We still managed to make our best lap-time ever at Losail. The team really helped me for that in terms of making a step with our settings and allowing me to go faster. We’ll keep our heads up tomorrow because we had good pace in FP3 and FP4 and we just need to understand how we can use the front tire more to be set for a good race. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

 

Brad Binder (33). Photo by Polarity Photo - KTM Images.
Brad Binder (33). Photo by Polarity Photo – KTM Images.

 

Brad Binder: “A difficult day because we wanted to try and get through to Q2 but were just a couple of tenths shy of making the cut. I gave 110% and there was not much more I could do. We’ll sleep on it tonight, work hard in the warm-up and fight as hard as we can in the race.”

Danilo Petrucci: “I had my first qualifying with the KTM RC16 and I’m happy about the progress we made, especially in terms of pace. For sure, we still need to improve and I don’t understand why I’m quite slow in some parts of the track, mainly in the final sector.I wanted to be more in front but anyway I’m positive. We have to keep patient and try to upgrade the setup of the bike more and more. I already feel better compared to yesterday but there’s still a lot of work to do.”

Iker Lecuona: “Today has still been difficult. We pushed very hard and tried everything. I improved my lap time and I’m close to the other KTM riders. Obviously,I’m not happy about today’s result but I feel more confident ahead of the first race tomorrow because I could close the gap to Miguel and Brad a bit. Anyway, we still need to work on some things in order to be ready for round one on Sunday.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Repsol Honda:

Repsol Honda Team work towards Sunday in Qatar

Pol Espargaro and Stefan Bradl kept their heads down and focused on Sunday as the first Qualifying of 2021 got underway in Losail, the pair lining up on the fourth and sixth rows of the grid.

Saturday in Qatar started under an even more punishing sky as track temperatures pushed 50°C, the MotoGP field made the most of the track time in Free Practice 3 regardless but the temperatures meant there were no changes on the combined times. As on Friday, the conditions would steadily improve throughout the evening.

As a result, Pol Espargaro earned direct passage to Q2 and accomplished the first goal of his opening weekend with the Repsol Honda Team. Saturday overall proved to be a more complicated day for Espargaro as he continued to learn the Honda in the varying conditions of the day. Regardless of the final result, Espargaro is ready for a fight when the lights go out on Sunday after showing improvements during his final run in Q2. Espargaro will line up on the fourth row of the grid for his first race in Repsol Honda Team colours. He and his side of the Repsol Honda Team are eager awaiting returning to track for Warm Up.

Stefan Bradl put together an overall impressive day on the Repsol Honda RC213V, eighth in Free Practice 4 with consistent times before heading out in Q1. Times in the 15-minute session were incredibly close, seven riders within half a second of each other. Only 0.418s off Nakagami’s best time and only 0.267s off a transfer spot, Bradl earned 17th on the grid for Sunday’s race. The German feels his race pace should see him advance up the order during the race.

The flag will drop on the inaugural race of 2021 at 20:00 Local Time on Sunday, March 27. The 22-lap race looks set to be a thrilling one to open the new season.

 

Pol Espargaro (44). Photo courtesy Repsol Honda.
Pol Espargaro (44). Photo courtesy Repsol Honda.

 

Pol Espargaro

12TH  1’53.930

“At the end our feeling was good but during the day we were looking for solutions, this is can happen when you are still new to a bike. FP4 was not a good session and we were working on stopping the bike better. But we reset, tomorrow we go again no matter what and we fight. I think we can be there in the race. It was not a good day today, but I feel ready for a good race. We need to have a good Warm Up, but I have the feeling it will be a good race and I am going to go for it.”

 

Stefan Bradl (6). Photo courtesy Repsol Honda.
Stefan Bradl (6). Photo courtesy Repsol Honda.

 

Stefan Bradl

17TH  1’53.995

“We have had a busy day today and made some more progress. In Free Practice 3 and 4 I was feeling quite good, and our race pace is looking better than where we have qualified. There is still some more performance to gain over one lap with a new tyre. No matter what, we will keep improving during Warm Up and fight forward in the race to gain as many positions as possible. The season has just started.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda Idemitsu:

TAKA FASTEST IN Q1 AHEAD OF QATAR GP

26 March 2021 | Qatar GP Qualifying

Takaaki Nakagami will start from the fourth row of the grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix of Qatar after topping the timesheets in Q1 on Saturday. The LCR Honda IDEMITSU rider held his nerve impressively to go fastest on his final flying lap in the first qualifying session for the 2021 MotoGP curtain-raiser.

With hot conditions in FP3 ensuring times from Friday evening weren’t bettered, Taka knew he had to step up in Q1 after showing encouraging race pace by finishing ninth in FP4. He produced when it mattered with a lap time of 1’53.577 to progress to Q2 and then secured 11th position in the final shoot-out for Sunday’s race.

 

Takaaki Nakagami (30). Photo courtesy LCR Honda.
Takaaki Nakagami (30). Photo courtesy LCR Honda.

 

Takaaki Nakagami – 11th

(1’53.577)

“Today we made quite a big step from yesterday so I’m quite happy about that. It was a tough qualifying session in Q1, I tried my best and with my last lap in the last minute I made quite a good lap time, 53.5, which is my best time here, so that’s really positive. We made a good adjustment from yesterday, the feeling on the bike was good especially in FP4 which is the race pace, so that’s the most important thing for this weekend. I’m quite happy and confident for tomorrow and always I’ll do my best until the end and if we can keep 54 lap times it means we’ll have a chance to get a great result. So hopefully we can make a good start and not make any mistakes.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by SKY Racing Team VR46:

18TH PLACE FOR LUCA MARINI IN QUALIFYING IN DOHA

Eighth time in the Q1 and sixth row for the rider of the Sky VR46 Avintia

Doha (Qatar), March 27th 2021 – First qualifying in MotoGP for Luca Marini and the Sky VR46 Avintia closed with the eighth fastest time in the Q1 and the 18th box on the starting grid.

After an excellent performance in FP3 with the third overall time (1’54.855), Luca has continued to work in FP4 before entering into the Q1 where he set a best lap time of 1’54.122.

 

Luca Marini (10). Photo courtesy SKY Racing Team VR46.
Luca Marini (10). Photo courtesy SKY Racing Team VR46.

 

Luca Marini: 

In the first attempt, the goal was to be able to get out on the track with someone to take advantage of the slipstream, but instead I found myself alone and was unable to make the most of the grip of the new tire. In the second attempt, I was better positioned, but I made some mistakes. I went long right away in the first and second corners. The feeling with the bike has improved and I can’t wait to get out on the track for my first MotoGP race.

Ruben Xaus:

I am happy with Luca’s QP: he is a young rider, he wants to work and today he took a good step forward. Very well in FP3 where he hit the third place and also in qualifying. We pay for a bit of inexperience but it is the first race and this is a lesson.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda Castrol:

ÁLEX MÁRQUEZ UPBEAT AHEAD OF LCR RACE DEBUT IN QATAR

27 March 2021 | Qatar GP Qualifying

Álex Márquez will make his first MotoGP start in LCR colours from the sixth row after an encouraging day of qualifying for the season-opening Grand Prix of Qatar. The LCR Honda CASTROL rider again showed flashes of his potential on board his new 2021 machinery, but ultimately had to settle for 16th position on the grid at the Losail International Circuit.

With riders unable to improve on Friday’s lap times in FP3, Álex found himself in Q1 with the likes of world champion Joan Mir and team-mate Taka Nakagami. The Spaniard was in the battle for the top two spots in the early exchanges, but ended the session in sixth spot – despite his best-ever time at the venue – which translated to 16th overall.

 

Alex Marquez (73). Photo courtesy LCR Honda.
Alex Marquez (73). Photo courtesy LCR Honda.

 

Alex Marquez – 16th

(1’53.958)

“Honestly, in general, it was a really positive day again and we came through a difficult test for us and will have good confidence. In FP4 I think we did a good job and then in qualifying we put everything together and did our fastest time in Qatar – 53 for the first time – but it was not enough to pass. Many riders are so fast on a one-lap time attack and we saw last year that it’s one of the weakest points we have, but in general we can be happy for the race tomorrow. The weather looks like it will be a little bit difficult, so we’ll have to adapt to the conditions.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Aprilia Gresini Racing:

GOOD PACE AND THIRD ROW ON THE GRID: ALEIX READY FOR THE FIRST RACE OF THE SEASON

LORENZO CONTINUES TO IMPROVE, CONSISTENTLY RECUPERATING PHYSICALLY

There are certain sessions where you have to look deeper into the analysis, without stopping at the final position. That was the case for the first qualifiers of the season today in Qatar, where Aleix finished with the eighth best time (1’53.315) and a spot on the third row. However, the timer also shows that less than one tenth separates him from the second row, whereas just over 2 tenths kept him from finishing on the first row.

These stats confirm both the extraordinary level MotoGP has reached, where riders are increasingly more often separated by incredibly small gaps, and the good form demonstrated by the Aleix/Aprilia duo.

On the other side of the garage, Lorenzo Savadori continues working hard, able to count on a consistently improving physical condition. The Italian is gradually making up the time lost during the winter tests, trying to improve the settings on his RS-GP. Tomorrow, he will be adding more, fundamental miles to his apprenticeship.

 

Aleix Espargaro (41). Photo courtesy Aprilia.
Aleix Espargaro (41). Photo courtesy Aprilia.

 

ALEIX ESPARGARO’

“I can confirm what I said yesterday in terms of feeling with the bike. I’m having fun riding the new RS-GP and I believe in its potential. We may still have some limits in qualifying. I did some very good laps without mistakes, but it wasn’t enough for a spot on the second row. Race strategies will be fundamental. Today we saw some incredible times, but tomorrow in the final laps, race pace will go up quite a bit. We’ll see how this will translate for us. Today we did a few long runs, but this bike’s true potential is still unknown.”

 

Lorenzo Savadori (32). Photo courtesy Aprilia.
Lorenzo Savadori (32). Photo courtesy Aprilia.

 

LORENZO SAVADORI

“Thanks especially to the good conditions of my shoulder, we are trying to work on the bike to make up for lost time during the winter tests, where I was unable to do more than 2 or 3 laps in a row. We are still lacking something, despite the fact that I could have improved my time in qualifying if I hadn’t made a small mistake. We’ll see tomorrow. Some of our rivals don’t seem so far away in terms of pace, but I’m curious to see how the RS-GP performs.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Monster Energy Yamaha:

DOUBLE FRONT-ROW START FOR MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA AT THE QATAR GP

Losail (Qatar), 27th March 2021

GRAND PRIX OF QATAR

QUALIFYING

The pressure was on during today‘s Q2 session in Qatar. Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Fabio Quartararo and Maverick Viñales withstood the pressure, both riding times under the previous all-time lap record and planting their YZR-M1s firmly on the front row in 2nd and 3rd place respectively.

2nd FABIO QUARTARARO 1’53.038 / 6 LAPS

3rd MAVERICK VIÑALES 1’53.088 / 7 LAPS

Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Fabio Quartararo and Maverick Viñales will start the first race of the season from the front row of the grid. Both riders set times in Q2 that were under the previous all-time lap record of the Losail International Circuit, and they secured 2nd and 3rd place respectively.

Quartararo and Viñales waited at the start of the Q2 session to be ensured of some clear space on track for their hot laps.

On his first try Quartararo secured second place, but it was just the beginning. He showed it wasn‘t a lucky shot when he posted another impressive lap time, a 1‘53.038s, for provisional first place. The time remained unthreatened as all riders returned to the pits for a fresh set of tyres.

The Frenchman re-entered the track on his own again with slightly more than four minutes left on the clock. Unable to improve on his earlier time on his first try, he had hoped to be able to push for one more lap, but it wasn‘t to be. He missed out on the chance of another lap by just a second. Still, his 1‘53.038s kept him firmly in second place, 0.266s from first.

Viñales had found clear space on track and slotted his M1 into third place on his benchmark lap. The pace was increasing rapidly, with many sectors in the live timing flashing orange and red. The Spaniard responded by defending his position with a 1‘53.260s, to stay third, 0.222s from his teammate in first.

With exactly five minutes to go, the number 12-rider started his second run. He briefly secured second place with a 1‘53.124 before he was pushed back to fourth. He had one more try and made it count. He improved his time by 0.036s to a 1’53.088s and took third place, with a 0.316s margin to the fastest time.

MASSIMO MEREGALLI

TEAM DIRECTOR

Getting a good starting position is crucial for us in Doha, and we got the job done. We secured a double front row in today’s qualifying, even with dust picking up in Q2. The Yamahas are performing well, with three of them in the top 4. If they have a good start, they will be able to really push and make the most of the strong points of the M1, riding ‘Yamaha lines’. We have the pace to be front-runners. There are some little areas that we will try to improve during the Warm Up. The weather forecasts predict lower temperatures and stronger winds for tomorrow, so that is something to consider as we prepare for the race.

 

Fabio Quartararo (20). Photo courtesy Monster Energy Yamaha.
Fabio Quartararo (20). Photo courtesy Monster Energy Yamaha.

 

FABIO QUARTARARO

It‘s a shame that I couldn‘t do a second flying lap on my second run – I took the chequered flag by a second. But I‘m still quite happy. We did a great lap. In FP4 we tried something that I didn‘t like. I didn‘t feel good on the bike, but I feel like we have great potential for tomorrow. We will be using the qualifying bike, because that‘s the one I feel good on. I think we did a great job in qualifying. All that remains is the race. I can‘t wait!

 

Maverick Vinales. Photo courtesy Monster Energy Yamaha.
Maverick Vinales. Photo courtesy Monster Energy Yamaha.

 

MAVERICK VIÑALES

I‘m really happy because our objective was to be on the front row. On the last lap there was a lot of dust in Turn 1, so I didn‘t push the way I wanted, but in the end I rode a 1‘53.0s that I‘m quite happy about. The bike was working amazing this evening. I enjoyed the bike a lot in FP4, and I was riding well. But I think there are still some things that we can improve. I‘m happy that overall we are fast. This is good for us, and I just want to congratulate the team that in the end we have found a good bike and that we are ready for tomorrow.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Team Suzuki ECSTAR:

RINS AND MIR TOP 10 ON THE GRID FOR SCORCHING SEASON START

Grid positions for Qatar GP:

Alex Rins: 9th – 1’53.490

Joan Mir: 10th – 1’53.682

The first qualifying day of the season saw soaring temperatures during the day, making for a tough FP3. These conditions made time improvements impossible, with the entire field running around two seconds off their previous best times. Nevertheless, Team Suzuki Ecstar’s riders worked to improve their bike settings in order to be prepared for the night sessions.

In FP4, with the temperatures finally beginning to drop, the riders were able to turn their focus towards qualifying, with Joan Mir finishing this session sixth, and Alex Rins 10th.
An excellent effort from Mir in Q1 saw him drop his times and push for passage into Q2; he managed to achieve this crucial goal.

The pace was extremely hot in final qualifying with 11 riders covered by 1 second. Rins and Mir managed to set their best laps of the weekend so far and secure grid positions in the Top 10, with Rins starting ninth and Mir starting 10th.

Ken Kawauchi – Technical Manager:

“As we expected, the conditions in FP3 were very difficult, so nobody improved. This meant that Joan had to come through Q1, but he and his crew did a very good job and it allowed him to go into Q2. Alex and Joan ended up getting ninth and 10th on the grid, which of course isn’t optimum, but we know we can have a good race because we have done it many times before. We’ll work tonight to ensure we can prepare for the race in the best way.”

 

Alex Rins (42). Photo courtesy Team Suzuki ECSTAR.
Alex Rins (42). Photo courtesy Team Suzuki ECSTAR.

 

Alex Rins:

“Today was a good day, and in FP4 I was able to do a good pace even with a lot of laps on the tyre. I’m feeling quite happy with the first qualifying of the season, because I improved my lap time compared with FP3. I gave my all and that was important, so I’ll keep pushing for tomorrow and let’s see what we can do!”

 

Joan Mir (36). Photo courtesy Team Suzuki ECSTAR.
Joan Mir (36). Photo courtesy Team Suzuki ECSTAR.

 

Joan Mir:

“We improved a little bit today in terms of race pace, but I’m not happy with how my qualifying went. I tried my best, but the more I pushed the worse I felt, so we still need to improve more. We’re not too far off, but we’re missing a few tenths. Anyway, I feel confident that tomorrow I can have a good race, especially as we’ve started in lower positions in the past and done well. I was a bit disappointed after qualifying, but I’m really looking forward to racing now.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by PETRONAS Yamaha SRT:

Second row start for Rossi on PETRONAS Yamaha SRT debut

Valentino Rossi to start QatarGP as top independent rider from fourth on the grid with Franco Morbidelli on the third row in seventh

It was a strong Saturday for PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team, with both MotoGP riders lapping under the previous Losail circuit record. Valentino Rossi will start his 26th Grand Prix season from the second row of the grid after qualifying fourth, which made him the top independent rider. Franco Morbidelli will line up for the QatarGP one row behind in seventh.

Rossi was unable to improve upon his FP2 time during the third MotoGP Free Practice session, posting a 1min 55.834secs lap. However, he also joined Franco in Q2, courtesy of his fastest time from Friday. The Italian showed good speed during qualifying, which saw riders separated by the smallest of margins for the majority of the session. At the end of Q2 Vale’s fastest time of 1min 53.114secs placed him fourth, just 0.026secs shy of the front row and 0.342secs away from pole.

Team-mate Morbidelli was once again the rider to watch, as he ended FP3 at the top of the times with a 1min 54.676secs lap. Although, with the hot conditions on track, it was his lap from yesterday that saw him into Q2. Franco was the first rider to take to the circuit for Q2 and stayed close to the top riders in the times. After posting a best time of 1min 53.313secs, the Italian will line up for the first race of the year on the fourth row of the grid in seventh place.

Rossi and Morbidelli will be back on track tomorrow at 3.40pm local time (8.40pm MYT) for Warm Up, with the first Grand Prix weekend of the 2021 season culminating in the MotoGP 22-lap race at 8pm local time (1am MYT).

 

Valentino Rossi (46). Photo courtesy PETRONAS Yamaha SRT.
Valentino Rossi (46). Photo courtesy PETRONAS Yamaha SRT.

 

Valentino Rossi

4th (1’53.114)

I’m very happy and it’s a great way to start the season, because I did a very good lap. The second set of tyres had very good grip and the lap time is fantastic. It’s a little bit of a shame to start behind the front row, but P4 for tomorrow will be very important and I’m happy with this. I think during the weekend we have worked very well, yesterday we were able to stay inside the top-ten, but today we struggled a little bit in FP3 and FP4 with the tyres. It looks like the conditions will be different and difficult for the race because we expect strong winds, which can put a lot of sand onto the track. We hope we have good conditions for a good race though.

 

Franco Morbidelli. Photo courtesy PETRONAS Yamaha SRT.
Franco Morbidelli. Photo courtesy PETRONAS Yamaha SRT.

 

Franco Morbidelli

7th (1’53.313)

I was hoping for something better but it was a difficult qualifying because I didn’t have the speed for a good time attack, even though I had a good pace in FP4. I tried anyway and I think I could have done a little bit better, but unfortunately I didn’t cross the finish line in time for a second time attack. It looks like we are missing some speed in the evening, so for tomorrow we will try to balance our performance across the day and night. The start of the race is going to be important to try and gain position in the early laps, but we also know there is tyre degradation so we should not see the very fast laps at the beginning.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Ducati Lenovo Team:

Qatar GP. Stunning pole position and new all-time lap record for Pecco Bagnaia. Fifth time for Jack Miller

Bagnaia takes his maiden pole position in MotoGP and signs the new all-time lap record at Losail Circuit in 1:52.772. Miller closes qualifying for the Qatar GP in fifth place.

Johann Zarco hits 364.2km/h with the Pramac Racing Team’s Ducati Desmosedici, a new all-time MotoGP top speed record.

It was a great Saturday of Qualifying for the Qatar GP, the first round of the 2021 MotoGP season, scheduled for tomorrow at the Losail International Circuit in the outskirts of Doha for Ducati.

After finishing FP3 in second place, Francesco Bagnaia took a stunning pole position in his second outing in Q2, signing a new all-time lap record with a fastest lap in 1:52.772. For the Ducati Lenovo Team rider, this is his maiden career pole position in MotoGP since his debut in the premier class in 2019. Teammate Jack Miller, who had topped the combined timesheets after the first three sessions, will start from the second row instead tomorrow with the fifth fastest time (1:53.215).

Completing the Borgo Panigale manufacturer’s excellent day, Pramac Racing Team rider Johann Zarco achieved another historic milestone with his Ducati Desmosedici in tonight’s FP4. On the long straight of the Losail International Circuit, the Frenchman hit 364.2 km/h, a new all-time MotoGP top speed record. He will start from the second row of the grid, with the sixth fastest time alongside Jack Miller.

 

Francesco Bagnaia (63). Photo courtesy Ducati.
Francesco Bagnaia (63). Photo courtesy Ducati.

 

Francesco Bagnaia (#63 Ducati Lenovo Team) – 1:52.772 (1st)

“I feel comfortable with the Desmosedici GP, and I’m pleased with the work we were able to do today. Starting on pole position in tomorrow’s race is a great way to begin this new chapter of my career with the Ducati Lenovo Team. However, I’m not particularly satisfied with the result obtained in the FP4 session, but I think that’s entirely due to a wrong tyre choice. I’m sure that we will be strong and fast tomorrow in the race. It will be crucial to have a consistent pace from start to finish”.

 

Jack Miller (43). Photo courtesy Ducati.
Jack Miller (43). Photo courtesy Ducati.

 

Jack Miller (#43 Ducati Lenovo Team) – 1.53.215 (5th)

“I’m pretty happy with my performance in qualifying: I went under the previous circuit record again, and I’ll start from the second row with the fifth fastest time. Unfortunately, in my second outing with the soft tyres, I took some risks and made a few mistakes. We’ll see what the track conditions will be like in the race: the forecast says it will be a lot windier, and the presence of sand on the track will mean faster tyre wear. In any case, I feel I’m ready, and I’m looking forward to the first GP of the season”.

The Ducati Lenovo Team will be back on track tomorrow, 28th March, at 3:40 pm local time (CET +1.00) for the warm-up ahead of the first Grand Prix of the 2021 MotoGP season scheduled for 8:00 pm local time on a 22-lap distance.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Pramac Racing:

Qatar Qualifying – Johann tomorrow will start from the second row and Jorge from the fifth row

 

Johann Zarco (5). Photo courtesy Pramac Racing.
Johann Zarco (5). Photo courtesy Pramac Racing.

 

Qualifying day at the Losail Circuit that tomorrow will see for the first GP of the 2021 season the Pramac Racing riders Johann Zarco and Jorge Martín starting respectively from the second and fifth row.

Johann Zarco in FP4 touched with his Desmosedici the 362.4 km/h setting a new all time speed record. The French rider with a time of 1:53.268 during  the second run of Q2 conquered the sixth position on the grid.

Jorge Martin also did very well in Q1, after making a masterful first run and finishing in P2 with a best time of 1:53.840, on the last lap of the second run the Spanish rider crashed and finishes in fourteenth position overall.

Jorge Martín

I am happy and satisfied, my goal for now is to improve as much as possible and to get more and more confident with the bike. I have a good pace and I improved since yesterday, at the end I was missing some experience but that will come with time. On the last lap of the second run I was pushing hard and unfortunately I crashed but I’m happy with how the day went. Tomorrow is my first race and I’m going to give it my all.

Johann Zarco

I am very pleased with this day, sixth place is a very good position to start tomorrow. I’m happy for Pecco who did an impressive lap and this will motivate me even more to do better. I know we have a chance to do a very good race, i will do my best tomorrow.

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