Morbidelli and Márquez make quick start in Qatar
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Franco Morbidelli and Álex Márquez took their impressive winter testing form into the opening night of Moto2 practice under the spectacular Losail International Circuit floodlights in Qatar this evening.
Tonight’s action took place in cool conditions, with a strong gusting wind blowing sand and dust onto the 5.4km Losail International Circuit, which resulted in less than ideal grip levels.
Predicted rain though didn’t materialise, which gave Morbidelli and Márquez the perfect opportunity to work on their race settings in advance of Sunday night’s eagerly anticipated 20-lap season opener.
The two Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders have been a permanent fixture inside the top three in two official IRTA tests in Jerez and Qatar recently.
And that momentum gained during the pre-season inspired both to mount a serious challenge for the leading places in two practice sessions in Doha, as they made a successful start to preparations for the opening round of the 2017 World Championship campaign.
Italian Morbidelli was only 0.180s off the best pace to finish in a hugely promising fourth place on combined standings. That put him just 0.046s clear of Spanish teammate Márquez, who capitalised on a brilliant pre-season showing to continue his confident form to finish fifth overall.
Franco Morbidelli: 4th – 2’00.602
“It was a decent start tonight in both FP1 and FP2. My pace in the first session was good and at the end of FP2 we were trying some different solutions on the set-up and I was happy with what we discovered. We can be reasonably satisfied and I don’t think the wind had too much of an impact on the times. I usually notice the windy conditions but to be honest it wasn’t bothering me that much tonight. That was a surprise and now we must wait and see what the weather has in store for the rest of the weekend, but the early signs are we will be competitive on Sunday night.”
Álex Márquez: 5th – 2’00.648
“I have got to be satisfied with how tonight went and I am sure that my final position doesn’t show my true potential, even though it is positive to be inside the top five and very close to the top three. We tried some different settings tonight compared to the recent test and found some interesting ideas. I only used one soft tyre tonight, while many others used two thinking it will be raining tomorrow night. But we will have to see what happens because it didn’t rain like we expected tonight. I think we are competitive in all conditions and this was the positive start I was looking for to keep the momentum that we built up in the winter.”
Pete Benson: Crew Chief – Franco Morbidelli
“The fact that rain was forecast was at the back of our minds, which meant we did change our plan a little bit for this evening's second session. We've ended up having to do way more laps on a couple of tyres than we maybe wanted to, but I think it will benefit us by the time Sunday comes around if it doesn't rain before then.”