The Losail International Circuit will light up this weekend for the opening round of the 2014 MotoGP World Championship: after two months of pre-season testing, both riders of the Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini, Alvaro Bautista and Scott Redding, are excited ahead the Qatar Grand Prix, the only race of the 18 on the MotoGP calendar to take place at night. This season sees the introduction of new technical regulations, with ‘Open’ machinery racing alongside the ‘Factory’ bikes: the Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini will race both configurations, with the 2014 version of the well known Honda RC213V for Alvaro Bautista and the brand new RCV1000R developed by HRC - the so-called “Production Racer” - for premier class debutant Scott Redding. The Qatar race marks the beginning of the third season of Alvaro Bautista as a rider of the Team: the Spaniard is looking stronger than ever after some highly competitive pre-season - topping the time sheets on two out of nine days of testing - and he will try to fight for podium finishes right from the beginning. His team-mate Scott Redding has also had an impressive winter testing: the 21-year-old Briton, runner-up in the 2013 Moto2 World Championship, has spent valuable track time familiarising himself with the bigger Honda RCV1000R. Moreover, the excitement of premier class debut will be double for Scott, as he’s set to make exactly his 100th Grand Prix appearence this Sunday in Qatar.
ALVARO BAUTISTA “During the three-day test in Qatar we have made several changes to the bike: during the first day of practice I was not feeling very comfortable, but at the end of the test the situation has undoubtedly improved, so we are confident ahead the first Grand Prix. However, we must consider that the Losail International Circuit for us is one of the most difficult tracks of the season ; unfortunately, here we are still not able to be as fast as we would like. Therefore I expect a tough weekend, in which we will need to work hard if we want to improve, but we will give 110% to try to be protagonists”.
SCOTT REDDING “Racing for the first time in MotoGP will be a great thrill, no doubt: after all, competing in the premier class is a dream for every rider. When I will line up my bike on the starting grid, for sure I will feel a little nervous, but also very curious to begin this new adventure and finally see what we can get. Our goal right now is to stay with Nicky Hayden and try to be the best Honda rider in the Open category, although it must be recognized that I still have to learn many things , from tyres behaviour to the electronics. I like a lot the Losail circuit, as well as racing at night: not being able to see anything else around the track is a strange but pleasant feeling, because it helps me to stay focused. Finally, it is very cool to think that my first MotoGP race will be exactly my 100th World Championship Grand Prix”.
FAUSTO GRESINI “Finally, we are ready to race! During the winter we worked well and we know that we are a strong team with a great potential, because we can count on an experienced rider like Bautista, and also on a young talented rider like Redding. In addition, we enjoy a great support from our main sponsor, GO&FUN : just like us, they are big fans of this sport and they are pushing hard on the accelerator. We are therefore ready to tackle a new season, characterized by new regulations that will surely contribute to add some excitement. From this point of view, we will race with both the available configurations: the Factory Honda RC213V is an extremely competitive bike, with which Bautista can be an absolute protagonist, while the new RCV1000R for Redding is developed specifically for the new ‘Open’ category. Regarding Scott’s bike, at the moment the performance is a little below our expectations, but we remain positive for the future. With regard to the three-day test recently held at Losail, although we have not been as fast as we wanted, we look at this first Grand Prix with confidence, convinced that we can be competitive if we will work well over the race weekend”.
FACTS AND FIGURES
18 - The 2014 season marks the eighteenth year of operations in the World Championship for the Team, which has been present in MotoGP since the birth of the new four-stroke category, in 2002.
100 - On the occasion of his MotoGP debut, in Qatar Scott Redding in Qatar will make his 100th Grand Prix appearence. So far, Scott has taken part in 99 races: 33 in 125cc and 66 in Moto2.
125cc - It's in the “old” lightweight two-stroke category, the 125cc, that Alvaro Bautista got his best ever result at the Losail Circuit. Back in 2006 the Spaniard won the Grand Prix starting from pole and setting the fastest lap of the race.
2004 - The Grand Prix of Qatar celebrates 10 years: the first edition dates back to 2004. Back then, the Team Gresini won a fantastic one-two, with the victory of Sete Gibernau and Colin Edwards in second place.
5238 - The kilometers covered by the Team during pre-season, adding the laps completed by both riders between Sepang and Losail: a distance equivalent to about 44 Grands Prix...
Thursday 20 March
19:55-20:40 - FP1
Friday 21 March
18:00-18:45 - FP2
20:55-21:40 - FP3
Saturday 22 March
19:55-20:25 - FP4
20:35-20:50 - QP1
21:00-21:15 - QP2
Sunday 23 March
18:00-18:20 - WUP
22:00 - Race (22 laps)