Morbidelli battles for the win but finishes seventh after penalty
Losail, Qatar – 20 March 2016: The opening race of the Moto2 championship delivered a demoralising outcome for Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Franco Morbidelli and Álex Márquez.
Both riders were confident of making a strong start to the season only to have their hopes cruelly crushed in bizarre circumstances at the Losail International Circuit.
The start to the Qatar Grand Prix was chaotic with nine top riders making a jump-start including Morbidelli who quickly settled into third place from fifth on the grid.
Morbidelli was in superb form and started the final lap in the lead when, after a long delay, a 20 second jump-start penalty was confirmed by Race Direction.
Morbidelli took the chequered flag in second place just 0.047s behind winner Thomas Lüthi only to learn the devastating news of his time penalty after the race.
After a superb debut performance for Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Morbidelli was officially classified seventh, 20.047s behind the winner.
The confusion at the start with nine top riders making jump-starts resulted in Márquez losing concentration and he dropped from 13th to 29th on the opening lap.
The former Moto3 World Champion crashed out on lap seven, to start the season with a disappointing DNF and zero points.
Franco Morbidelli: 7th
“I made a really good race and I was fighting for the victory for the whole race and led for nine laps. I'm very happy about this in my first race with a new team. Unfortunately I had a problem at the start, a lot of riders around me moved, and in that moment it is a reflex reaction so I also moved. I'm sorry for this but we must take the positives. I was fast and fighting for the win and we must take this to the next race in Argentina.”
Álex Márquez: DNF
“It was not a good start to the season, I made a mistake and crashed so I'm sorry for the team. The start was confusing and I lost concentration when nine riders made jump-starts. Now we must focus on Argentina and I am 100% motivated to go there, reset to zero in my head, and do a good job at a circuit I really like.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“Franco rode a fantastic race, leading more laps than any other rider and this performance justified our decision to sign him for this season. But for nine professional riders, not just Franco, to make a jump-start was a strange situation and we have to analyse this in more detail. For Álex it was disappointing to firstly run off the track and then crash when we know he was capable of a good result.”