Still in the learning phase
Scott Redding was aiming a place in the top ten for his first Grand Prix with the Honda RC213V. Still not quite at ease with his new factory bike, the British rider had to be content with passing the finish line in thirteenth position.
Of the first test sessions, Redding struggled to find the good feeling he had during the last off-season tests in Qatar. A lack of confidence in the front end of his Honda and a lack of grip on the back of his bike… The Brit and his team improved the situation during the warm up, but not enough to make it to the top ten in the race as he hoped. “I find it hard to turn the bike,” regrets Redding, after finishing thirteenth in the first race of the season. “We need to focus on that because I have to do much better. The positive side of things is that we collected a lot of information during the weekend, and that should allow us to improve our performance in two weeks in Texas.” In Moto2, Tito Rabat didn’t start his season the best way. After qualifying for the front line of the starting grid, the reigning world champion fell early in the race after a clinch with Simone Corsi. Alex Marquez chalked up his first points for his debut in the Grand Prix intermediate class by finishing eleventh.
Thirteenth to cross the finish line, Scott Redding left Qatar in thirteenth place in the Moto2 World Championship. Alex Marquez is placed eleventh in the Moto2 standings while Tito Rabat will have to wait for the next Grand Prix of The Americas to score his first points.
Held in the evening under the spotlights of the Losail circuit planted in the middle of the desert, the Grand Prix of Qatar is like no other event in the MotoGP Championship schedule. And because it is the first event of the season, there is no point in drawing too many lessons from the results of the race. “Here, we work a little differently because of the race times,” says Michael Bartholemy, boss of the Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS. “On the other Grand Prix circuits, the riders start racing with soft tires in the morning and switch to harder tires in the afternoon when the track temperature increases. Here it’s the opposite: we go from hot to cold. That means tuning has to be different, especially as we lack experience with our new bike.” And around ten p.m. the humidity rate rises abruptly, creating a higher risk of falls. That’s also why the start of the MotoGP race was moved forward to 9 p.m. this year.
Kvyat and Ricciardo in the Top 10
At Sepang Sebastian Vettel scored his first victory in the Ferrari colours from Lewis Hamilton, who still leads the championship, and Nico Rosberg. Both Infiniti Red Bull Racing drivers finished in the points.
Red five wins!
Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel’s honeymoon has got off to a great start! Sunday’s race saw the Scuderia clinching its first win since the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix, as the-four-time world champion from Germany scored his last victory the same year in Brazil. The Italian team did a perfect job using a 2-stop strategy compared to three for Mercedes, and they also managed their tyres better. Proof of this was Kimi Raïkkönen’s stunning fight back to fourth place after the Finn suffered a puncture soon after the start.
Williams has slotted into the place of the third-best team early on in the season with Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa coming home fifth and sixth respectively.
Toro Rosso on a charge
Teenager Max Verstappen sliced past his teammate, Carlos Sainz, in the closing stages of the race to snatch seventh place. Toro Rosso’s encouraging overall result confirms the team’s potential as a regular top 10 contender as already glimpsed in Melbourne.
Daniil & Daniel
Despite a spin caused by being tagged by Nico Hülkenberg Daniil Kvyat saw the flag in ninth place in front of his teammate, Daniel Ricciardo. Infiniti Red Bull Racing was gunning for a better result after starting from the second and third rows, but both drivers had to cope with severe brake problems in the race.
Romain just outside the points
Romain Grosjean looked on course for a points-scoring finish, as he was especially quick in the early stages of the race pulling off some superb overtaking moves. A spin due to contact with Sergio Perez, for which the Mexican was penalised, meant that the Frenchman had to make do with 11th place.
Philippe Girard (Total Group Scientific Delegate): “Daniel’s and Daniil’s fourth and fifth times in qualifying boded well for the race. But they unfortunately had to cope with overheating brakes. Their positions at the flag didn’t reflect the potential of the Infiniti Red Bull Racing package this weekend at Sepang.”
China 11-12 April
First Twin-Win for Rea on Kawasaki
Winner of both races in Thailand, Jonathan Rea signed his first twin-win of the season on the brand-new Chang Thai circuit. The new rider for the Kawasaki KRT team has reinforced his position as Superbike championship leader.
After securing the Superpole position, winning both races and setting the lap record to top it all, Jonathan Rea left only crumbs to his opponents during the second round of the season. Leader of the pack as soon as the lights went out to the chequered flag, the Kawasaki rider outclassed the opposition from beginning to end. Tom Sykes took advantage of the new Thai event to make it to his first podium after the first race. The second was a little more difficult for the former world champion who had to settle for fifth place after being closed in on the first lap. “We’re moving in the right direction,” was Sykes’ analysis. “I’m pretty happy with the podium even if we still have work to do to adapt the new bike to my style of riding. I felt pretty good in the first race, but I had trouble in the second getting the bike to corner.” In the Supersport category Kenan Sofuoglu also won his first podium of the year, finishing second after a good fight with Jacobsen. During the free practice sessions, the Kawasaki rider confirmed his status as favourite for the title by brilliantly taking pole position. His teammate Marco Faccani has crossed the finishing line in seventh position. “I aimed to be in the top ten and finished seventh, so I’m happy,” commented the Italian.
With three wins in four races, Rea got his fill of points before the championship returns to Europe. The Kawasaki rider now occupies first place in the overall standings, ten points ahead of Leon Haslam. Tom Sykes is third, thirty points behind the Aprilia rider. In the Supersport class, Sofuoglu’s podium place means he has climbed to second in the standings, six points behind Wilairot. Faccani is eleventh with thirteen points.
“A twin-win doesn’t happen often, especially that clear after securing the Superpole position. I’m going to take my time and enjoy this one.” On the evening after the second event of the Superbike season, Jonathan Rea was understandably delighted. Solid leader in the overall classification, the British rider seems at his best behind the handlebars of the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R. “From the first practice session on the new Chang Thai circuit, everything worked perfectly,” says Rea. Even if a bike can always be improved, we started the weekend on a really healthy basis. I was immediately riding at a good pace without having to change much in the settings. And everything else fell perfectly into place.” Before his triumph in Thailand, Jonathan Rea only had two twin-wins since his debut in Superbike, the first in the Netherlands in 2010, the second last season in Italy. Given the supremacy he’s displayed since the start of this season, the Kawasaki rider could notch up a few more by the end of the year.
Ricciardo in the points…
The 2015 F1 World Championship got off to a difficult start in Australia for both Infiniti Red Bull Racing and Romain Grosjean.
Lewis Hamilton scored a hat trick with pole position, victory and the fastest lap in the race getting his title defence off to a flying start in Melbourne. The Mercedes team is still the benchmark by which the rest of the field is judged as it clinched a double with the help of Nico Rosberg who never posed a threat to the world no. 1.
Sebastian Vettel made his debut in Ferrari red with a convincing third place. In the last eight grand prix of the 2014 season the Scuderia failed to score a top-3 finish.
On home turf Daniel Ricciardo would have liked to have given his Australian fans something to cheer about, but his RB11 proved inconsistent and difficult to drive and he had to make do with sixth place. Russian Daniil Kvyat in the second Red Bull was let down by his gearbox on his way to the grid.
Romain Grosjean was unable to display his skills on the Albert Park circuit. On the formation lap his car suffered a sudden loss of power and he was unable to complete the first lap of the race.
Rookies Felipe Nasr (Sauber) and Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso) finished in fifth and ninth places respectively scoring points in their first grand prix.
Guillaume Biondi (Total F1 technical coordinator): “Our start to the championship wasn’t what we were hoping for with our partners Infiniti Red Bull Racing and Renault Sport F1. Only one solution: continue to work!”
Grand Prix of Malaysia: March 28-29
Citroën Total’s clean sweep in the opening round
The Citroën C-Elysées dominated the first two races in the 2015 world championship.
José Maria Lopez, the reigning world champion, won race 1 while Sébastien Loeb clinched victory in race 2 – a clean sweep for Citroën Total!
A triple and a double
Lopez-Muller-Loeb gave their team an all-Citroën podium in the first race followed by a Loeb-Lopez double in the second. It’s a similar result to the first meeting in Marrakech in 2014 and bodes well for the future.
The Argentinean, the reigning world champion, got his 2015 campaign off to a perfect start on home turf as he leaves the Termas de Rio Hondo Autodromo leading the world championship.
Loeb season 2
The nine-time world rally champion boosted by what he learned in his first year is tackling 2015 with raised ambitions: “It’s great to start the season like this”, exclaimed a delighted Frenchman at the end on the second race.
Philippe Girard (Total Group scientific delegate): “It’s a fantastic result for the Citroën Total team. In suffocating heat that’s always very hard on the mechanical components, it’s worth underlining the excellent performance/reliability ratio of the C-Elysée WTCCs. It’s a great reward for our work on the lubricants in partnership with Citroën Racing.”
Marrakech (19th April)
First 2015 podium!
The Citroën Total team puts the Ostberg-Andersson DS3 WRC on the second place.
On the initiative of the FIA the crews raced in the final stage of the rally, the daunting 55.82-km Guanajuatito special that really sorts the men from the boys, without receiving any split times from their teams.
First top-3 finish of the season for the Citroën Total team.
There was an all-Norwegian duel between Mads Ostberg and Andreas Mikkelsen. The Citroën driver fought off his fellow-countryman and clinched a superb second place, which has got his season off to a flying start. Kris Meeke came home in 16th spot at the wheel of the second DS3 WRC after an off on Friday forced him to restart in Rally 2.
Hats off to Sébastien Ogier victorious in Léon. The double world champion has won the first three rallies of the 2015 season.
The Citroën Total team set four fastest times in the 21 stages in Rally Mexico.
Marek Nawarecki (Deputy Team Principal Citroën Racing):“The rally ends on a very positive note. The car has proven once again that it is competitive and Mads has shown consistency in managing to keep out of trouble on this tricky Mexican course. We are a bit disappointed with Kris, because he made a mistake at the start of the rally. Overall, the performances were good, although we would have liked to score more points. It nevertheless augurs well for the rest of the season!”
Rally Argentina (23-26 April)