Morbidelli and Lüthi primed for MotoGP in Qatar
With confidence boosting qualifying performances Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Franco Morbidelli and Tom Lüthi are set to make their MotoGP debuts in Sunday's Qatar Grand Prix.
Morbidelli, the reigning Moto2 World Champion, will start from fourteenth position after an impressive run in QP1 with a time of 1.55.169, his fastest lap of the weekend so far aboard his Honda RC213V.
The Italian rider missed going through to QP2 by just half a second.
Despite the tricky conditions because of wind and sand on the circuit both Morbidelli and Lüthi remained composed as they continued their rookie adaption to the premier class.
Having missed some winter testing through injury Lüthi was just as impressive as his teammate in setting his fastest lap so far to qualify 18th in the 24 rider field.
Lüthi's qualifying run was almost two seconds faster than his time in FP1 in his first official practice session in MotoGP. Importantly Lüthi was 13th fastest with his Honda RC213V in race trim in FP4.
The Qatar Grand Prix under floodlights will start at 7pm local time on Sunday.
Franco Morbidelli: 14th – 1.55.169
“My first MotoGP qualifying session was a nice feeling, it was a good adrenaline rush. I replicated the times I did in the winter test here so I'm happy for that although I am still struggling a little with corner exit acceleration but I am sure the team can find some solutions with our set-up. On my race pace I feel I can fight for some points which would be a good result for my first MotoGP race.”
Tom Lüthi: 18th – 1.55.381
“This first MotoGP qualifying is very positive for me especially in terms of the improvement in my lap time. It is not so easy because you have just 15 minutes so you need a good plan for a fast time and my team has a lot of experience for this so I could just focus on my riding. I am starting to feel more of the limit especially on the edge of the tyre so this is a good step as I continue to adapt and be ready for my first race in MotoGP.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“I am very happy with both Franco and Tom, this qualifying performance is better than we could have anticipated from two guys at their first MotoGP race. Franco is the fastest rookie in the field and was very close to making Q2. Tom made a big improvement and I think he even surprised himself with this performance. I feel it is possible to leave Qatar tomorrow night with both our riders scoring points.”