Rabat smashes the lap record to claim pole position in Qatar

Rabat smashes the lap record to claim pole position in Qatar

Losail, Qatar – 22 March 2014: Tito Rabat smashed the lap record during tonight’s 45-minute qualifying session in Qatar, to claim pole position for the opening race of the 2014 Moto2 World Championship. Mika Kallio will start from the second row of the grid in sixth, after surviving a big crash on his final flying lap.

Rabat was on top form at the Losail International circuit tonight, topping the timesheet halfway through the session and then seeing off a challenge from Sandro Cortese to secure a third career pole position. Mika Kallio looked set to join his teammate on the front row, but was lucky to walk away uninjured after hitting Sandro Cortese’s bike after the German crashed in the final minutes of the session.

Livio Loi was disappointed to qualify only 20th, after targeting the front four rows of the grid tonight. The 16-year-old Belgian had only one lap to put in a qualifying time on the soft rear tyre, but was baulked by Philipp Öttl crashing in front of him and a slower rider on his line through the final sector.

Tito Rabat // 1st // 2’00.081
“I’m happy to be on pole position for the first race and on my first weekend with a new team. We were missing rear grip in the first free practice sessions, but we worked together on the problem and we improved the situation; that’s important. It was enough to see me on pole position for the first race, which is a good feeling, but the work isn’t done. Tomorrow we need to see how we go in warm up before making a decision on our strategy for the race.”

Mika Kallio // 6th // 2’00.621
“Qualifying went well, right up until the last lap! My pace was good, with a run of consistent laps, but none of them were without incident, as there was a lot of traffic on track. I knew I could improve and I had one chance to do it, but then I saw the yellow flags on my final lap. I saw a bike and rider on the outside of the track as I was turning in, but then I saw Cortese’s bike on the line and I couldn’t avoid it. I’m fine, but the same can’t be said of the bike. The team are assessing the damage now, but I think I will be starting warm up on a completely new bike, which is never good. But, my race pace is good and I’m starting from the second row, so I remain confident for tomorrow’s race.”

Livio Loi // 20th // 2’08.177
“I’m obviously not happy with my qualifying position today. The session started badly when I stalled the bike right at the end of pit lane and my mechanics had to run 500 metres to get me restarted. It meant I was on my own on track for the first part of the session. My lap times during the second two exits were good, but the time lost at the beginning of the session left me only two laps to try and put in a qualifying time on the soft tyre. My last flying lap was looking good for a top 16 start, but then a crash and a slower rider in front of me lost me time. Starting from 20th makes things harder, but we know my race pace is good, so I’ll just have to push hard from the start.”

Michael Bartholemy // Team Principal
“It’s been an expensive season, as we’ve destroyed three bikes and we haven’t even started the first race yet. But that’s what happens when you’ve got two riders pushing the limit and the positive side of that we saw tonight, with Tito taking pole for tomorrow’s race. Mika was also on the pace until the crash, and I expect him to be up there chasing his teammate in the race tomorrow. Livio was a bit unlucky today, as the problem right at the start of qualifying lost him the time he needed to get the best from the soft tyre. He has good pace here so, with a good start tomorrow, I’m confident he can finish in the points.”