MotoGP Riders, Start Your Engines!
For the ninth year we visit Qatar and the man to beat is once again Stoner! He has won 3 out of the 4 night races.
I am sure we are all waiting to see what Ducati have managed to develop and if they have closed the gap to Honda and Yamaha. And of course we now have the CRT, how far back will they be?
Here’s what some of the riders had to say:
“After good pre-season Tests in both Sepang and Jerez, we head to Qatar feeling positive, but still have some work to do. This will be the first time with the new bike on this circuit so we will need to spend some time on the set-up to put ourselves in the best position. We’ve always enjoyed good results at the Losail circuit but this is a new season and there are more competitors contesting for victory this year. I’m excited to get the season started and fight for another World Championship.”
“Each year is different and there are always various obstacles to go through during a season. I’ve had good and bad races in the past, but a big part of these results are determined by how you have prepared yourself in the winter. I’ve worked very well this year, I had a good pre-season with the bike and with my physical training; I hope that luck is on my side this time, so we can have a good championship. Qatar is important because it’s the first race of the season, but you have to minimise risks. If you don’t win this race you can still win the championship, but on the other side, a mistake can complicate the year. I’m ready. Let’s see how everything goes and where everyone is.”
“I’m very excited to finally race and see how we are compared to our rivals. Qatar was a good race for us last year but I think this season we have a slightly more competitive bike so I am hoping for good things to happen. Because of my hand injury it has been a long time since I was in a race so I am really excited for Sunday. I have been training a lot for this season; I’m feeling very good and very happy with the bike as well.”
“Finally! I think testing can get a bit dull after a while so I’m happy we now get to go and do some racing at last. We’ve worked really hard over the winter; the Yamaha Engineers have done a great job so we’ve got a pretty good bike to race with at the weekend. Let’s get out there on Thursday and start finding a set up and see how it feels. It’s always special to race at night under the lights, we’re going to give it 100% and put on a good show.”
“We worked hard over the winter, and although we went the wrong direction at one point, we once again managed to find the good feeling with the GP12 that we’d had in the first test. With those settings, which we’ll start with in Qatar, I was able to get good feedback from the bike. At Losail it will be very important to work well during the sessions leading up to qualifying so that we can increase our confidence step by step as we approach Saturday, always trying to maximise our potential. I’m a realist, and I know well that our times are still a long way off and that there are still some things to fix. We won’t be able to address some of them right away, but it’s also true that both we at the track and the guys back home now have a direction to work in, and we must try to do as well as we can. We won’t completely re-do the bike during the season, but we’ll try to progress little by little.”
“This is my tenth season in MotoGP, and I’m looking forward to it. I have a really solid team and I think we have a good bike this year. With all the injuries from Valencia and my training incident, preparation obviously hasn’t gone exactly how you’d like it to, but Jerez was a good test for me to do a lot of laps at very close to 100 per cent. Qatar is pretty unique because we’re racing at night, but the truth is, after you get rolling, you don’t notice it by about the third or fourth corner. It really doesn’t change too much with things like lines and bike set-up, but as it gets later, you have to be careful with the condensation on the track, especially in Turn 2. I’d like to be going into the first race closer to the front, but hopefully we can do some steps. I’ve basically only ridden around by myself on this bike, so it will be nice to get in the race and really see how it stacks up against the others.”
“I am really looking forward to racing again because testing is pretty stressful with so much work to do in and out of the box, the days are endless. Now is the time for the real action, for us to give everything. This will be my first race with Team San Carlo Honda Gresini and it’s exciting because the guys are working well and I think we have made the connection we need for me to exploit my potential in Qatar. I like the circuit, it’s fast and flowing and has a nice long straight. Unfortunately I am still not keen on the idea of racing at night, even though the track is well lit it is still not the same as racing in the day. Anyway, it is an investing event and I have the machinery to be fighting at the front so I will be giving my best to do that.”
“I am feeling nervous but excited ahead of this new challenge. Obviously I know I don’t have the means to run at the front but I will be giving my all to be amongst the best of the CRT entrants. Unfortunately we only have 500km on the clock so we know we have a lot of work to do with the new bike but we know the potential is there and we will do everything we can to be as competitive as possible in Qatar.”
“I am very excited for the season to start because as usual winter has felt like a long time without racing. I enjoy training and testing but I am one of these riders that lives to race. I like Losail a lot because it is fast and that usually suits my style, so I am very much looking forward to starting the season there. I need to control my excitement and channel it into finishing as high up the order as I can. The weather has not been kind to us during preseason testing and we are perhaps short of a few kilometres on the bike but we start to put that right on Thursday night. I am really keen on the new concept and I think we’re in a position to get some great results.”
Randy De Puniet:
“After preseason we are ready for the first Grand Prix of the year. From a technical point of view we are ready to race and the communication and relationship within the team is excellent. Personally I am 100% fit and looking forward to getting out on the bike on Thursday. Testing went very well but I am looking forward to feeling the atmosphere of a Grand Prix. I really like the Losail circuit. There will probably be a lot of sand on the track at first so on Thursday and Friday we will have to be extra careful. It has a long straight which will cost us time against the factory bikes but our objective is to be the first CRT bike across the line.”