Qatar - The Journey To Race One Of 2019
The 2019 season is underway and the time sheets in practice have been stellar across the board. There is fierce competition at the front and Marc Marquez still showcasing his ability to go faster setting a new lap record at Qatar. The rider is a genius and his fellow new teammate Jorge Lorenzo also sending shockwaves through the sport.
After a long winter break, the riders are more eager than ever to challenge and push one another. Consistency is key in order to take the most of the first half of the season and Marquez is the headliner act. Rhythm is the number one goal for the top contenders. If you find the zone, you can excel and not think about any negative points. In contrast, there was a lot of speculation about Repsol Honda signing Jorge Lorenzo and by the looks of things, they are the ones smiling whilst other teams clench their jaws. Lorenzo: “I am very happy today, very confident and comfortable with the bike. We have a lot of potential and working well and I believe we can arrive there. It’s a good sign, as was the ‘morning’, we were very fast but still need to understand the bike a bit more in colder conditions. I have the feeling we can be very competitive with the right setting.” Regardless of his injuries over the winter time, Lorenzo being positive and upbeat is a warning sign for the other teams. When the Spartan is mentally and physically in line with his bike, he is a force to be reckoned with out on the circuit.
Cal Crutchlow on the other hand struggled a little bit more with his Honda machinery and set up. The British rider is critical of the way in which the bikes responds and no doubt he will be working hard with his team to ensure when the race starts, he has the best chance of success. Crutchlow: “I used two soft tyres, the first one I was very happy with although I made a big mistake on my lap. I’m angry at myself, it’s my own fault, my own mistakes, but as my crew chief has just said to me, three months ago we didn’t think we’d be racing here so we have to take the positives. The positive for me is that I still think I can be competitive this weekend and get a good result, but I just wasn’t fast enough today through my own mistakes.” A strong mindset amongst the team is what makes a Championship season more rewarding and Crutchlow is a driving force within LCR Castrol Honda. We are really excited to see what he can bring to the table in 2019 because he is a worthy rider of winning events.
Australian rider Jack Miller was very happy on day one of practice at Qatar and had positive feelings being the top Ducati rider. Miller is aware that every opportunity to exceed the expectations of Ducati is a clear stamp towards his future at the Italian factory. Staying upright, finishing ahead of his teammate and also putting the likes of Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci on edge are crucial elements to his success in a fast paced sport. Miller: “The sensations are positive. In FP1 we have worked a lot with used tyres and we have had important indications. Also in FP2 we did a positive long run, then with the soft tyre I managed to set a good time that could be important for the direct qualification to Q2.”. The Australian jackass has everything in his tool kit to bring a top result at Qatar. He has to believe in himself and be hungrier 24/7.
The two riders expecting a fight are Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi. They look super cool in their leathers and bike livery, although it has been mixed emotions and results since the pre-season started and day one took place at Qatar. Vinales is aiming for consistent pace and Rossi trying to figure out how to avoid front tyre issues. Vinales: "It was really important to be inside the top-10 today, because the lap times were really fast. I was planning to do two time-attacks, but in the end I only had time to do one. I'm actually really happy about how the bike is working. We still have to improve, we are losing a lot on top-speed, but the bike is getting really great in the corners, so I'm very excited to work even harder tomorrow. We're going to try to make the last corner better, especially in terms of acceleration. We need to improve in that area, let's see if we can do it tomorrow. We now know the potential of our bike and we need to keep working hard."
In comparison, The Doctor is finding it difficult. Rossi: "It was a strange day because, maybe we aren't as good as this afternoon, but for sure we are not as bad as this evening. This evening, sincerely, we didn't modify the bike very much, but I had a lot of problems with the front tyres because we got out of balance and I suffered very much. I was slow. At the end, the track had a lot grip, so a lot of the top guys improved, and the best lap time is a new record, so they were very fast, but unfortunately it was a difficult practice for me. The big problem is that I'm out of Q2 at the moment. Tomorrow in FP3 maybe the conditions will make it hard to improve my best lap time, so it will be difficult to enter directly into Q2. We have to find a way to be faster." Regardless of his negative mindset, Rossi is a master of finding race pace and competing at the forefront.
Let the mind games begin especially with the red outfit of Mission Winnow Ducati ready to analyse data, strategy and tyre performance in order to go hard and beat their rivals! In a sport of two wheels, anything can happen and even rookies like Fabio Quartararo are digging their heels in and giving it their all to cement their position in the sport. We are excited to see how round one pans out given the changes in colours, teammates, technology and rules.