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Andrea Dovizioso (3rd) claims yet another podium at the Argentina Grand Prix

The Mission Winnow Ducati team stepped on the podium once again today at Termas de Río Hondo (Argentina) with Andrea Dovizioso, third on the finish line. The Italian, who started from first row, dictated the pace within the group of riders fighting for the podium while chasing Marquez, and held second position for most of the race to fend off his rivals valiantly until the very last lap before facing a drop in tyre performance. Dovizioso's third-place finish marks his second consecutive podium in 2019 after a thrilling victory in Qatar and puts him in second position in the championship, just four points behind the provisional leader.

Danilo Petrucci, who started from tenth position on the grid after a difficult qualifying session, mounted a strong comeback and climbed back up to fourth position before facing, like his teammate, a tyre drop in the final stages and finishing sixth.

Andrea Dovizioso (#04 Mission Winnow Ducati) – 3rd
"I'm undoubtedly happy with the podium, which was our goal ahead of this round on a historically difficult track for us. On the other hand, I'm not particularly satisfied with how the rear tyre performed, because we couldn't pull away towards the end of the race, which is the opposite of what we expected in light of what we've seen during practice. In the last lap, I couldn't shake off Rossi or pass him back, it would have been too risky and 16 points are still very important for us. For sure, we collected some interesting data, which we'll analyse in depth ahead of next race. Austin is yet another tricky track for us theoretically, so our goal in Texas will be to try to step once again on the podium."

Danilo Petrucci (#9 Mission Winnow Ducati) – 6th
"I'm happy because, after making some mistakes during qualifying, today we managed to give our best out there on track. Had I started a bit closer to the front, I probably could have fought for the podium until the very end, but I had to ask a lot to the tyres to climb back through the field and in the last couple of laps I was really struggling with the rear under braking, so I had to play defense. Still, I'm satisfied because we worked well here, improving day by day, and I want to maintain the momentum at Austin, where first and foremost I'll need to be stronger in qualifying. Our goal is to ride constantly at the front and score points, which will be crucial in such a long season."

The Mission Winnow Ducati team will resume action at Austin (United States) for the third round of the MotoGP World Championship, scheduled for April 12-14.

Monday, 01 April 2019 10:28 Published in Rider and Team Releases


MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA MOTOGP FIND FORM ON FRIDAY IN ARGENTINA

The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team took to the Termas de Río Hondo track today, to prepare for Sunday's Gran Premio Motul de la República Argentina. After a difficult FP1 session, Maverick Viñales' and Valentino Rossi's hard work paid off in FP2, when they secured third and sixth position respectively in the combined free practice results.

The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team had a testing start to this weekend's Gran Premio Motul de la República Argentina but changed it all around in the afternoon. Wheelspin prevented riders Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi from being able to push to the fullest in FP1, but they came back strong in FP2, securing third and sixth position respectively in the combined free practice timesheets.

This morning Viñales calmly prepared for Sunday's race at the Termas de Río Hondo track, steadily upping his pace. He tried various tyre specs and bike settings, to reduce wheelspin in order to be able to put in a good challenge during the important FP2 session. He set a best morning time of 1'41.657s for 18th place, 1.830s from first.

The young gun again displayed his patience in FP2. He used most of the session to make some further set-up changes, before pouncing at the right moment. With 15 minutes of the available time left, the game was on. He quickened his pace to the 1'39s, setting a provisional third fastest lap before the general mini time attacks took place. He responded in the final minutes, concluding the session with a 1'39.345s lap for third place in the FP2 and combined free practice timesheets, 0.164s from first.

Rossi started the Argentina Grand Prix weekend on a more positive note. He worked diligently on his bike's setting in FP1 in preparation for the race on Sunday. Focusing on bike improvement rather than lap times, he ended the morning practice with a 1'40.827s best lap for tenth place, 1.000s from the top of the timesheets.

The Doctor used the second free practice to further fine-tune the balance of his bike, to match it to Termas de Río Hondo's layout, setting everything up for a final push at the end of the session. The Italian rider executed the plan to perfection. As various rivals were also trying to put in a hot lap, the Italian avoided traffic and posted a 1'39.441s lap, earning sixth position in both the FP2 and combined free practice results.

Friday, 29 March 2019 20:41 Published in Rider and Team Releases


Dovizioso tops the time sheets in Friday's free-practice at the GP of Argentina with the Mission Winnow Ducati team

The Mission Winnow Ducati team resumed action today at Termas de Río Hondo (Argentina) for the second round of the 2019 MotoGP World Championship. In Friday's free-practice – characterized by extremely narrow gaps, with 21 riders within less than a second – Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci initially focused on the race setup and then went on the attack in the final stages of the second and last session.

Dovizioso made the most of the soft rear tyre to post a 1:39.181, about 1.5 seconds faster than his previous best in FP1, to claim the top of the time sheets, further confirming the competitiviness already shown in Qatar. Petrucci faced a slightly more difficult task after suffering an innocuous crash that nonetheless limited his time on track in FP1, finishing the opening day in 13th position with a personal best of 1:39.740, about five tenths of a second behind his teammate.

Andrea Dovizioso (#04 Mission Winnow Ducati) – 1:39.181 (1st)
"I'm very happy, especially because we struggled quite a bit here in recent years and today, on the other hand, we found a good feeling with the bike right away. We are all extremely close so the lap time itself isn't too important, but I feel much better riding compared with last year here. I still don't know whether it'll be enough to fight for the podium, because there are many riders with a strong pace and this track is peculiar, especially in terms of grip, which is particularly low. Anyhow, we have an excellent base, we made some steps forward with the setup and I think we still have room for improvement."

Danilo Petrucci (#9 Mission Winnow Ducati) – 1:39.740 (13th)
"All in all, we're not far from the front, but it's been a bit more difficult than what we expected today. We started off based on the data from last year, but the track was really dirty in FP1 and the crash made me lose a bit of confidence and time. Still, we made a good step forward in FP2, even though a small mistake in the first flying-lap prevented me from making the most of the extra grip offered by the new tyre. Andrea has shown we can be really competitive here, we have room for improvement and some ideas to try, so I'm confident we'll bounce back tomorrow."

The Mission Winnow Ducati team will resume action tomorrow (March 30th) at 10:50 local time (CET -4) for a third free-practice session, while qualifying will start at 15:05.

Friday, 29 March 2019 20:36 Published in Rider and Team Releases


Marquez fast from first Friday run as Lorenzo builds his speed

A day of progress for the Repsol Honda Team in Argentina as Marc Marquez worked towards the race and Jorge Lorenzo made continual gains.

Clear skies welcomed the MotoGP World Championship to the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit for round two of the 2019 championship. With the circuit in a good and clean condition, riders were able to get straight to work preparing for the Argentina GP.

Marc Marquez was immediately fast, jumping to the top of the Free Practice 1 timesheets and remaining there until the end of the session with a lap of 1’39.827. Free Practice 2 saw the ground temperature remain at 32°C as clouds gathered but culminated in an explosive time-attack shootout in the last ten minutes. The reigning champion cut his time down to a 1’39.497 and concluded the day eighth fastest.

On the other side of the Repsol Honda Team garage, Jorge Lorenzo began the process of adapting his Honda RC213V to the Argentinian circuit. A 1’41.340 saw the five-time champion conclude the opening session in 14th. Finding over a second during Free Practice 2, Lorenzo set a respectable 1’40.159 to finish a Friday which saw 21 riders within a second of the fastest rider.

Both riders and their crews have already begun preparations for tomorrow’s Free Practice 3 session at 10:50 local time with qualifying kicking off at 15:05 local time later in the day.

Marc Marquez
8TH 1'39.497
"I’m very happy overall. This morning we were fast and then also this afternoon we managed the session in a good way. I did what we needed to try and we are focusing on finding the best pace for race distance. We worked in the same style as 2018, concentrating on our work and our pace and what we needed to do. Of course, we want to improve more as the track keeps changing. It’s still very early to say what will happen on Sunday."

Jorge Lorenzo
21ST 1’40.159
"We knew that coming to Termas would be difficult as it is a track I have not gone well at in the past because it is a very slippery circuit and still I am trying to catch up for the kilometres on the bike I lost. The position is not great, but we are still within one second of the top and improved a lot between the two practices. We will keep going and I will not lose concentration or focus, it is just a matter of time until we are there."

Friday, 29 March 2019 20:32 Published in Rider and Team Releases


The Mission Winnow Ducati team ready for a new challenge in Argentina for the second round of the MotoGP World Championship

After achieving a spectacular win in the opening race of the year with Andrea Dovizioso in Qatar, the Mission Winnow Ducati team is ready to resume action in Argentina for the second round of the 2019 MotoGP World Championship, scheduled for March 29-31 on the Termas de Río Hondo track, located in the North of the country.

The Grand Prix of Argentina, which reached its 15th edition, will take place in the track located in the Santiago del Estero province for the sixth consecutive year. Andrea Dovizioso achieved his best result there in 2015, when he finished second, while in the past two seasons the Italian finished sixth and fifth, first among Ducati riders. Danilo Petrucci claimed seventh place in 2017 as his personal best result on this circuit, and is particularly determined to rewrite the stats.

Ahead of the GP, the FIM Court of Appeal ruled that the appendix mounted on the swingarm of the Ducati Desmosedici GP 19 of Andrea Dovizioso, Danilo Petrucci and Jack Miller is complying with the technical regulations and therefore can be utilized again during the 2019 championship.

"We were convinced we fully complied with the technical regulations and therefore we were confident about the ruling by the FIM Court of Appeal, so we can only express our satisfaction for the decision made, which further underlies the regularity of our endeavors," said Luigi Dall'Igna, Ducati Corse General Manager. "Now we simply want to focus on the upcoming race, which is bound to be another tough and exciting challenge."

Andrea Dovizioso (#04 Mission Winnow Ducati) – 1st (25 points)
"We started the season in the best possible way, winning the opening race in Qatar, but the championship is long and we know by experience we cannot let our guard down. We have a great base, we're working efficiently and we were able to make the most of our strong suits at Losail, especially in terms of acceleration and top speed, but we need to improve our mid-corner speed. To this end, the upcoming race will represent a good benchmark and will allow us to try some new solutions. Our goal is to be on the podium also on less favorable tracks to be in contention until the very last race."

Danilo Petrucci (#9 Mission Winnow Ducati) – 6th (10 points)
"I'm ready to tackle the next race with even more motivation after finishing sixth in Qatar. I need to continue to be fast, but also to improve my overall approach ahead of the race. The Termas de Río Hondo circuit is somewhat tricky to interpret, its layout is quite peculiar and in the past it's been generally dirty in the early sessions, which increases tyre wear and doesn't help finding the right feeling. Things can change real quick also in terms of weather, it'll be crucial to start off on the right foot to maximize the track time during practice. I'm confident: last year we found a good setup for the race and we'll try to restart from there, our goal is once again to finish within the top five."

The Mission Winnow Ducati team will resume action Friday, March 29th, at 10:50 local time for the first free-practice session.

Wednesday, 27 March 2019 16:06 Published in Rider and Team Releases


MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA MOTOGP PUSH TO 5TH AND 7TH PLACE IN DOHA

Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP's Valentino Rossi gave another of his heroic MotoGP performances today in the VisitQatar Grand Prix, riding his YZR-M1 from 14th on the grid to a 5th place finish, just 0.600s from first. Maverick Viñales found a good rhythm late on in the race but wasn't able to challenge the front-runners. He took 7th place.

Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP's Valentino Rossi pushed to the limit in the 22-lap race at the Losail International Circuit today, making up nine places to finish in fifth position. Maverick Viñales wasn't able to challenge until the final stages of the VisitQatar Grand Prix and crossed the line in seventh place.

Rossi had his work cut out for him, lining up in P14. However, with Fabio Quartararo starting from pit lane, the Italian found himself in 13th place entering the first corner. He gained another position in the opening lap and soon moved past Francesco Bagnaia and Aleix Esparagró to enter the top-10.

His rise in the rankings spurred him on. The Yamaha rider scrapped with Takaaki Nakagami in order to follow team-mate Viñales towards the front group. Knowing that saving tyres for the latter stages of the race would be crucial, Rossi kept his cool, but he had to put his head down when Franco Morbidelli passed him with 12 laps to go. Two laps later the number-46 rider returned the favour, using the slipstream to overtake his compatriot going into turn 1.

It was time to charge. Rossi overtook Viñales after lap 15. He then fought his way past Joan Mir and, with three laps to go, Danilo Petrucci was next. Once inside the top-5, the Doctor put his head down and dropped mid-1'55s laps but fell just short of being able to put in a move. He took the chequered flag in fifth place, just 0.600s from first.

Viñales started from pole but dropped to sixth place in the first corners. As he tried to get into a good rhythm, he fell back to eighth, but he soon started to fight his way back towards the front group. With 18 laps to go, he picked off Nakagami whilst being followed by team-mate Rossi.

The number-12 rider had a first look up the inside of Cal Crutchlow four laps later but decided the better of it. He maintained his tyres to get a second wind with eight laps to go, flashing two red sectors. He connected with the front group but didn't get to enjoy it for long, as Rossi soon passed him. With four laps remaining he found his way through on Mir to follow his team-mate.

The Spaniard posted two personal bests three and two laps before the end, trying to close an over-1.3s gap. However, he wasn't able to challenge the front-runners in the final laps. He crossed the line in seventh place, 2.481s behind the winner.

The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team will be back in action in three weeks' time at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit for the Gran Premio Motul de la República Argentina, held from March 29th – 31st.

Monday, 11 March 2019 18:22 Published in Rider and Team Releases


STRONG SPEED SHOWN AT THRILLING QATAR GRAND PRIX

Red Bull KTM launched the 2019 MotoGP year with Pol Espargaro and Johann Zarco scoring 12th and 15th positions at the Losail International Circuit but with a vastly reduced margin to the race winner.

Temperatures improved and the windy conditions that blighted Practice and Qualification on Saturday were not so prevalent for the first round of nineteen. The fans and viewers that turned their attention to the rapid, floodlit corners of the Qatari racetrack – fifteen years as part of the MotoGP calendar – were rewarded with three entertaining races split by fractions of a second.

KTM fielded a bold line-up of the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team and Red Bull KTM Tech3: the first time that four KTM RC16s were present on the premier class Grand Prix grid. Pol Espargaro, Miguel Oliveira and Johann Zarco ran close together for most of the race in the second half of a field that was closely packed, and often with only ten seconds dividing the majority of runners. Hafizh Syahrin struggled to find an effective rhythm and classified outside the points.

Espargaro was finally able to overtake his Portuguese brandmate and finished in 12th position: just 12.7 seconds away from winner Andrea Dovizioso. The gap was more than half the distance achieved in 2017 and 2018. Zarco recovered from a tough Saturday period and a grid slot of 21st to notch his first point on the RC16 with 15th. Oliveira forged an impressive early pace but in the second half of the race had to slow due to tyre wear and passed the chequered flag in 17th.

Pol Espargaro: “A mix of feelings but we must be happy because the gap to first place is not so far. We were close…but we also finished twelfth. It feels like it’s good, but also that it’s not enough. When you are close to the top guys you start to look what is going on and thinking about where we lose such a small gap per lap. I think we are talking 0.3 per lap: it is not much. I think it is in some acceleration. We are so close but twelve seconds away.”

Johann Zarco: “The beginning of the race was pretty good. I was controlling the bike well and the others were not much stronger than me. It was a good way to analyse the performance of the others. I’m happy because I expected to have some struggles but I saw other riders were also having problems: I know at the moment we don't have the package for winning, not even for the top five but with good work and good control I really trust that a top ten is possible and that is the target throughout the year. Let’s see in Argentina if I can catch it. I wanted it here but because of the up-and-down of Friday and Saturday finally I was not ready. That is part of experience, and doing 22 laps in a row was really important and the first time we do it. I have a factory team and I know they have the quality to make a strong analysis of this race.”

Miguel Oliveira: “The race was quite interesting. I was trying to keep up with this little group of Aleix Esparagaro and Taka Nakagami and after seven, eight laps to go I felt a big drop of tyre, I had a lot of sliding with vibration on the rear, so I honestly thought the tyre was going to explode. Obviously, I couldn’t do much. I’m disappointed, because I knew I could have finished in the points. It was quite hard to manage it, but anyway, I’m glad we finished the race, I had good fun and gathered some good information.”

Hafizh Syahrin: “It has been a difficult race for me. We have a big gap to the front and I don’t know how to explain it well. I couldn’t keep the pace and while I played with the electronics the gap got bigger and bigger. To be honest, I’m slow at the moment and I don’t have the confidence to push more. I try to learn from today’s race and improve further. I’m disappointed with myself, but we keep on working hard, we are patient and I hope it’s coming soon.”

Mike Leitner, Red Bull KTM Team Manager: “Round one and generally we are really happy to have four bikes on the grid and have all four finish: this sounds like something quite easy but it is not always like that. Both Pol and Johann were quite happy with the performance of the bike and we know we have to improve our package and continue to grow. When we first came here we were thirty seconds from the race winner and we have to be realistic. This was never an easy track for us but in the middle of the race we were only 5-6 seconds away and this is very motivating for everybody in the team to keep pushing. We have eighteen more races now and we will try often as possible to get into these top ten positions.”

Pit Beirer, KTM Motorsport Director: “The first Grand Prix is done and I’m happy. All four guys were back in the garage healthy and being just 12 seconds from the winner means just half a second a lap. We had doubts and struggles all weekend at this track and some critical questions but 0.5 is still not too far and I know we can still improve and it will bring us right into the middle of a serious game. Johann was perhaps struggling the most of the group but managed to have a good race. We’ll build on this.”

Moto2 & Moto3

Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Brad Binder finished in 12th position for the first Moto2 Grand Prix with a new single spec engine – only the second time in the history of the category inaugurated at the beginning of the decade. Moto3 World Champion Jorge Martin opened his account both with his new team and in the Moto2 category in 15th.

The 18-lap Moto3 race was the first of the day and was won by Kaito Toba with Aron Canet taking his KTM RC250 GP on the podium in 3rd place (the first of five KTMs in the top ten). Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Can Öncü completed his maiden Grand Prix in what is his debut FIM world championship season in 18th position.

The Gran Premio Motul de la República Argentina will represent round two of nineteen and will take place in three weeks time.

Monday, 11 March 2019 18:14 Published in Rider and Team Releases


Qatar GP: superb win by Andrea Dovizioso at Losail with the Mission Winnow Ducati team

Andrea Dovizioso seized a spectacular win in the Qatar GP, the opening round of the 2019 MotoGP World Championship, on the Mission Winnow Ducati team's Desmosedici. The Italian thus repeated the result achieved last year, once again beating Marc Marquez to the finish line for just 23 thousandths of a second. For Dovizioso, who scored five consecutive podiums at the Losail track, it's the 12th win with Ducati.

Starting from first row, Dovizioso led the race from the very beginning, battling with Marquez and Rins, then tried to pull away from the pack in the last few laps. Marquez tried a move at the very last corner but the Italian once again managed to answer back to cross the finish line in first position. Danilo Petrucci also rode a solid race, recovering several positions after suffering a non-optimal start from third row. After climbing back to third, Petrucci faced a small drop and finished the race in sixth, only two seconds behind his teammate.

Andrea Dovizioso (#04 Mission Winnow Ducati) – 1st
"I'm super happy about this win, especially because after the tests I wouldn't have expected to be so fast. We stayed focused and we made progress in each session. Our strategy in the race was simply to preserve the tyre, and this made the difference, but it wasn't easy because I led for most of the race and I couldn't really study my opponents. Marquez gave it everything he could, as usual, and pushed me to the limit. We made the most of our strenghths, that is, acceleration and top speed, but we still need to improve our corner speed. This year there are plenty of quick riders and it'll be crucial not to lose too many points on less favorable tracks. We need to keep our feet on the ground and continue working in this direction."

Danilo Petrucci (#9 Mission Winnow Ducati) – 6th
"My sixth place is still positive because we scored important points for the championship. Unfortunately, I was hindered by a less than optimal start, but the race pace wasn't very fast and I was able to recover positions quite quickly. Still, I struggled to pass other riders and push hard in braking. In retrospect, choosing the soft tyre for both the front and rear was a gamble, but we expected the temperatures to drop further and we also weren't as fast as usual on the straight. That said, the championship has just begun and I'm confident we'll bounce back soon."

Claudio Domenicali, CEO of Ducati Motor Holding S.p.A.
"It's been a very exciting race. Dovizioso was simply brilliant, doubling up on the win scored here last year and keeping the streak open after taking the last round of 2018 in Valencia. This shows how hard the whole team worked during the winter break. The Desmosedici is even more competitive now but we've seen plenty of fast rivals and this was just the first race. We need to stay focused and keep working hard, but for sure we can say Ducati is competitive."

Luigi Dall'Igna, Ducati Corse General Manager
"We couldn't have started the season off in a better way. Hats off to Dovizioso, who rode a clever race, without making mistakes, preserving the tyres and managing the situation until the very last corner, where he played his cards wisely. Thanks also to the team, who worked hard all winter to make sure we were ready for Qatar. We'll keep putting in the same effort to allow both our riders to be protagonists in the next races."

The Mission Winnow Ducati team will resume action at the Termas de Rio Hondo track for the Grand Prix of Argentina, scheduled for March 31st.

Monday, 11 March 2019 18:10 Published in Rider and Team Releases


Winnowing the key stats: 10 things to know about the Grand Prix of Qatar

The Grand Prix of Qatar, as usual, marks the opening round of the MotoGP World Championship. Before the start of a new season, we selected 10 key stats about the Losail circuit and the Mission Winnow Ducati team:

• The upcoming race will be the 16th edition of the Qatar GP, and for the 13th time the Championship will begin at Losail

• Ducati won the opening race five times: with Loris Capirossi in 2006 (when the Championship started at Jerez), and both with Casey Stoner (in 2007, 2008, and 2009) and Andrea Dovizioso (2018) in Qatar.

• The first edition of the Grand Prix of Qatar took place in 2004, while 2007 marked the first race held at night
• The floodlights of Losail, the only permanent circuit in the world with artificial lighting, light an area as big as 70 soccer fields and require 5.4 million watts of power – enough electricity to supply 3,000 homes.

• Ducati won four times in Qatar: in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2018. The most thrilling victory probably is the most recent one, as Andrea Dovizioso beat Marc Marquez to the finish line by only 0.027 seconds last year.

• Andrea Dovizioso has an open streak of four consecutive podiums in Qatar (three second places and one win), and already stepped on the rostrum eight times overall at Losail – a personal record in terms of podium finishes on a single track, tied with Le Mans. Dovizioso's best grid position in Qatar, on the other hand, dates back to 2015 when he clinched pole position – his only first-row start at Losail so far.

• In 2004, in the 250cc class, Dovizioso finished the race tied with Lorenzo, with exactly the same time, and the win was assigned to Lorenzo based on the fastest lap during the race.

• Danilo Petrucci started the 2018 Qatar GP from first row, a qualifying performance he subsequently repeated at Le Mans and Sachsenring. His best race result in Qatar is fifth (2018).

• Danilo Petrucci clocked the highest ever speed at Losail in 2018, reaching 351.9 km/h on the main straight onboard his Desmosedici.

• The braking at the end of the straight is the second hardest in the entire championship, requiring brake-lever pressures of 8 kg over 5.1 seconds crossing a distance of 290 meters.

Friday, 08 March 2019 07:01 Published in Rider and Team Releases


2019 MOTOGP: READY TO RACE?

The time for tests, talk and tentative speculation is over. MotoGP 2019 begins this weekend and will see KTM’s biggest and most ambitious assault on the FIM World Championship fire into life as the factory hopes to dazzle under the Losail lights.

For the fifteen year in a row the Losail International Circuit will welcome MotoGP. The Grand Prix paddock will gather again less than two weeks after the second IRTA test of the pre-season period took place at the same flat, pacey and demanding facility close to the ever-changing metropolis of Doha.

In those final rapid laps of experimentation and refinement of the Red Bull KTM RC16 Pol Espargaro got to within half a second of the best time while new teammate Johann Zarco – who will mark a notable career milestone after first gracing a Grand Prix circuit as a Red Bull Rookie in the 2007 inauguration of the series – continued his adaptation to the factory bike.

Red Bull KTM will tackle only their third year as part of the MotoGP grid and with memories of their maiden podium finish at Valencia for the final fixture of 2018 not yet faded. Espargaro boasts a best result of 7th at the Qatari circuit in five years of MotoGP competition while Zarco has a 8th: 2019 will be just his third term in the premier class.

KTM presented their full line-up in a comprehensive launch event in Austria last month, and will watch the first round of nineteen with interest through the categories. Like many race fans the ‘orange family’ and KTM followers will have their own questions: how far will Red Bull KTM Tech3 duo Miguel Oliveira and Hafizh Syahrin push into the pack? Will Brad Binder start the new Moto2 era with a trophy? Will Can Öncü make another immediate impression in Moto3?

2019 gets underway with the first Moto3 Free Practice sessions at 11.50 CET this Friday. The races themselves will occur at 15.00 (Moto3), 16.20 (Moto2) and 18.00 (MotoGP) CET on Sunday.

Pol Espargaro: “Losail is a strange track and pretty different to all the others; mainly because it is the first grand prix and everyone wants to start the season well. There is a lot of pressure. Racing in the night means the temperatures are usually quite low and the humidity is high, from one hour to the other or from the start of the race until the end the track can change a lot so you have to adapt fast. We’ll look to do our best and get the race set-up fixed as quickly as we can.”

Johann Zarco: “I first raced at Losail in 2009, so ten years ago. I remember leading race here in Moto2 and I had a mechanical problem and had to finish the race in third gear and missed the win! My first race in MotoGP was also nice. It is a fast track and of course what makes it special is to ride at night. It’s also the first race so it has a different kind of pressure: you start a long season here but then when you arrive to the end it always feels like it has passed so fast from this first moment.”

Miguel Oliveira: “I think the approach for the first GP is always quite simple, it’s to do my best and try to do my job as always, plus making the team happy with my performance. I feel it’s important for me to finish the race, to get experience and to get to know where to improve my riding. The most important thing is to gather this experience in my first race in MotoGP, I don’t think about any result in specific.”

Hafizh Syahrin: “I’m looking forward to the first race very much! We had some tough pre-season tests, where we tried to adapt to the bike step by step. It was pretty good and I felt better and better with the bike. So we keep on working hard, try to understand everything and keep the mind fresh to be ready for race day. Let’s see what we can do.”

Mike Leitner, Red Bull KTM Team Manager: “The target is to reach the top positions as much as possible but we have to be realistic and this is just the third year for us. We are still fighting against manufacturers with many more years in this business. We are pushing to improve our package on many different aspects and this will of course take some time but racing is racing and we will always look for good results. Doha has been a difficult track for us. We started our project here two years ago and that’s why we are really happy to see the test lap-times closer than they have ever been to the fastest. I think for the race we can be optimistic and find the good set-up in the four sessions. The challenge there is that the track conditions can change day-to-day. We just have to be open and adapt to what we find.”

Tuesday, 05 March 2019 15:47 Published in Rider and Team Releases


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