Márquez and Mir fired up for season opener in Qatar
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Álex Márquez and Joan Mir head into this weekend's Grand Prix of Qatar determined to get their 2018 Moto2 World Championship campaigns off to a flying start.
Márquez, who this year will race for a fourth season in the intermediate class with Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS, starts in Qatar as one of the clear favourites for championship honours. However, the former Moto3 World Champion is under no illusions as to the calibre of the competition he faces this season.
Márquez faces stiff competition from the likes of Pecco Bagnaia and Mattia Pasini, who will race the same Kalex Moto2 machinery as the Spaniard, but the biggest threat to Marquez's title ambitions is likely to come from the factory KTM riders.
Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder finished strongly in the final three races of 2017 and this season they will be joined by Sam Lowes and Iker Lecuona, who will also represent the Austrian manufacturer.
Mir, who is now fully recovered from the training injury that forced him to sit out the final preseason test in Jerez, arrives in Qatar confident that he can mark his Moto2 debut with a strong result. The reigning Moto3 World Champion heads into the weekend with no expectations and with an open mind, but determined to make his presence felt in the opening race of the 2018 season.
“We have worked so hard this preseason to improve our performance and our rhythm and I think we did quite well, so I can’t wait to get to the first race. It will be an interesting weekend because Qatar is a completely different track to those where we’ve tested and it will be important to learn how the harder rear tyre works with the bike in Qatar. I really like the track, it’s great fun to ride because it’s fast and it really flows. We go there with maximum motivation for the new season. We will try to finish the race on the podium and hopefully continue with a regular rhythm at all the races. I will give my all, along with my team.”
“I've been training really hard over the winter, but then I had this minor injury just two weeks before the start of the season, which wasn't ideal. But the important thing is that now I feel good, I feel strong and the shoulder won't be a problem on the bike this weekend. As for the race, yes it's my debut in the intermediate class, I'm here for the first time with a new bike and a new team, but I'm feeling confident. I don't have any expectations; I am going into this first race with an open mind, but based on preseason testing I think there's a good chance we can start the season with a good result on Sunday.”