MotoGP – Grand Prix of Qatar, 20 March, 2016

Kick off in Doha

The first Grand Prix of the 2016 season lived up to expectations with with races fought all the way to the finishing line. While Jack Miller and Tito Rabat did not have it easy in MotoGP, Franco Morbidelli stole the show in Moto2.

MORBIDELLI Franco (ITA) EG 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex Moto2  Grand Prix Qatar (Circuit Losail) 17-20.03.2016 PSP / Mateusz Jagielski

PSP / Mateusz Jagielski

The Races

Struggling in the MotoGP free practice sessions as well as during the qualifying session with a bike he found difficult to turn, Jack Miller and Tito Rabat limited the damage done during the race, both of them scoring points. Respectively fourteenth and fifteenth to take the checkered flag, the two riders of the Team Estrella Galicia did a good job. Miller could have even finished ahead of Laverty and Bautista if it were not for a small mistake in the last lap.

“The positive point is that my injured leg was not a problem during the twenty-two laps.”

Jack Miller

In Moto2, Franco Morbidelli made the show by fighting for victory from start to finish for his first race wearing Total colours. In the fight with Lüthi, the Italian took the checkered flag in second position before being demoted to seventh with a twenty-second penalty for jumping the start, as did seven of his opponents. Distracted by the confusion of the start, Alex Marquez fell early in the race.

The Championship

Whereas Marquez got nothing in Qatar, Morbidelli, Miller and Rabat all began their 2016 campaign by taking place in the standings. Morbidelli left Doha in seventh place in the Moto2 championship, while in MotoGP Miller and Rabat hold fourteenth and fifteenth positions respectively.

The Background

Moto2 World Champion in 2013, third in the overall classification of the intermediate-class championship last year, Tito Rabat is making his MotoGP debut this season. With only three test sessions this winter, the rider of Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS unfortunately has not had much time to prepare for his new challenge.

“It is all the more regrettable because Tito is a rider who needs to ride a lot,”

Michael Bartholemy, Team manager

To make matters worse, the Honda rider has to cope with a RC213V that is still not fully developed at the beginning of the season. Adapting to the new Michelin tires and the unique electronic management system is creating problems for the Japanese engineers.

“All winter, we’ve been going around in circles to get our bearings,”

explained the only rookie this year in the premier class.

“I’m not yet fully confident in the front tire and the bike is difficult to turn”.

Struggling during the free practice sessions of his first MotoGP Grand Prix, Tito Rabat still managed to finish in the points.

“A just reward for all his efforts,”

Michael Bartholemy, Team manager

Superbike World Championship – Thailand, 12/13 March, 2016

Won by Two

Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes shared the wins on the Buriram circuit. The two Kawasaki riders now hold the first two places in the standings.

The Races

After clocking in the same lap time to within one hundredth of a second during the qualifying session, Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes were unable to settle the score during the races. The two Kawasaki riders each took a chequered flag. During the first round, Rea let his teammate take the lead for a good fifteen laps before attacking, and Sykes was unable to get it back.

photo cr

The next day, the reigning world champion tried his luck three laps earlier but Sykes stood firm and crossed the finish line first.

“In the first race I saw where Jonathan was faster than me,”

said Sykes.

“I knew where he’d try to overtake me in the second and I made sure he wasn’t able to. We also improved the behaviour of the bike between the two races.”

The Championship

With three wins and a second place in four races, Jonathan Rea is holding his own. The reigning world champion has even increased his lead in the overall standings of the Superbike World Championship since he now has a twenty-nine point lead over his teammate. Thanks to his second place in the first race and after winning the second, Tom Sykes has moved up four places.

The Background

Last year, Sykes had to wait until May to win a race. This season he’s in a much better position to challenge the supremacy of his teammate.

“I feel much better on the bike this year,”

said the Kawasaki rider.

“With the lighter weight of the crankshaft, the character of the engine is much more suited to my style of riding.”

For Marcel Duinker, his chief engineer, the 2013 world champion will be much harder to beat this season than last year.

“We’ve returned to specifications close to those that we used up until 2014,”

said the Dutch technician.

“Our engine has less inertia and the bike pushes much less during braking. It means Tom can brake harder before revving the bike back up to speed.”

The results show they’re right on course.