Felice Monteleone – FMPhotoSport MotoGP News
Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar Preview – Honda HRC Repsol Team – Monday, 23 March 2015
Reigning MotoGP Marc Marquez and teammate Dani Pedrosa aspire to the title in the premier class. Fabio Quartararo, Jorge Navarro and Maria Herrera begin first full Moto3 campaigns in Qatar.
The Losail International Circuit in Qatar once again hosts the opening round of the MotoGP World Championship this weekend. Defending champion Marc Marquez and his teammate Dani Pedrosa will again be staking their claim for the title, in what will be their third season together in MotoGP. In Moto3, Fabio Quartararo and Jorge Navarro debut in the World Championship with the team that won the title in 2014. Maria Herrera will begin her first full year in Grand Prix racing, debuting with her team and bike.
After the good feeling obtained during preseason, Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa arrive in Qatar with the aim of transferring all the development work from the winter into results on track. In the race last year, both finished on the podium ‒Marquez first and Pedrosa third. That was the first of their 8 podium doubles in 2014.
In the lower cylinder class, the champion of the FIM CEV Repsol, Fabio Quartararo, makes his World Championship debut aged 15 years, 11 months and 6 days. The youngest rider in the series will try to maintain the level exhibited during preseason at the first of many circuits on the calendar where he has never ridden before. Alongside him, Jorge Navarro contests his first full Grand Prix season. The Spaniard closed the preseason in good form, heading the last test in Jerez. Likewise, Maria Herrera participates in her first full year in the class ‒and will debute both a new team and bike.
As tradition dictates, the action at Losail begins on Thursday evening with the first free practice sessions for the Qatar Grand Prix.
Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar Video Preview:
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93 – Marc Marquez
“I can’t wait for the season to begin! It’s been a long Winter and then testing was cut short in Qatar last week due to rain, which was very strange, but I’m confident going into this first race. This circuit isn’t one of my favourites but it’s still fun to ride and it marks the beginning of the Championship which is great. Let’s see how the conditions are after all the rain last week. As usual it will take a few sessions of the different classes on track to clear the racing line and then we will see how the grip level is. There are a lot of fast riders on fast bikes ‒as we saw during testing‒ so this first race weekend will be interesting for sure!”
26 – Dani Pedrosa
“Unfortunately, our testing programme in Qatar ended early due to the weather last week but overall I’m confident and happy to get the season started. Since Valencia the bike has improved a lot, so I thank HRC for all their work, and also my team ‒where we have some new members this year‒ have also clicked together more and we have a good working momentum. This first race weekend is always a little tough to get back into the rhythm and also with it being stretched over four days instead of three is quite tiresome. However, now we’re ready to get out on track and put all our hard work to the test.”
“The preseason tests have gone very well and helped me relax, because you feel more comfortable when you’re at the top. Therefore, I am now very calm. I go to Qatar highly motivated and very curious about riding at night. I’m excited to start the World Championship but I want to go slowly, learn and enjoy myself.”
“During preseason we could not do all the riding scheduled due to bad weather, but we’ve come a long way and managed to be amongst the top positions. The Honda works very well, the team are doing a great job and I still have plenty of room for improvement, so we face the first race in Qatar aware that we have to work hard. We know that with everything we have, we can fight to have a good race.”
“I’m looking forward to getting to Qatar and learning the circuit. During preseason we didn’t ride as much as we would have liked, but I felt very comfortable on the bike and I’m looking forward to action. I’ve been practicing a lot with the videogame and I think Losail is a circuit that I will like very much, because it is a very fast track and it could suit me. We’ll have to take it easy at first; we should accept that initially we might be a bit far off the top, but this is normal, you have to work all weekend and until the finish line nothing is said and done.”