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Shining Start for Suzuki Ecstar on Day 1 in Qatar

Team Suzuki Press Office – March 16.

Alex Rins: 3rd – 1:54.458 (+ 0.097)
Andrea Iannone: 5th – 1:55.816 (+ 0.480)

• Alex Rins battling for top spot throughout FP2.
• Andrea Iannone consistently quick and improving pace.
• Successful day for Team SUZUKI ECSTAR with both riders inside the Top 5.

The opening day of the 2018 MotoGP season got underway in the heat of Losail Interna-tional Circuit. FP1 took place in the daylight, and FP2 was held after sundown under Qa-tar’s iconic lights. The track conditions were very different to those found during the pre-season test, with both riders reporting a lack of grip on the slippery track.

In the first session of the day both Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins completed 3 runs, al-lowing them time to try the feel with and without the aerodynamic fairing, and using both worn and new tyres. Rins completed the entire session on one set of tyres and kept in-side the Top 10, 8th at the flag. Iannone was impressive in the 3rd sector, where he set the fastest time. The Italian ended FP1 in 4th place.

As night fell and temperatures dropped it was a good chance to understand the likely conditions for Sunday’s race, and both riders showed impressive pace from the start of FP2 onwards.

Alex Rins fought it out for the top spot for much of the closing half of the session, setting the second fastest time in sectors 1&2 and looking comfortable on his GSX-RR. The young Spaniard became the first rider to drop under a 1:55 on his 14th lap, he then popped in a new tyre and ended the session in 3rd place with a 1:54.997, just +0.097 seconds from the leader.

Meanwhile Andrea Iannone, who had been consistently hovering around the Top 10 and was particularly strong on used tyres, picked up his pace in the closing moments of FP2 and earned himself 5th place, +0.480 from the front. The Italian had some catching up to do after missing a day of testing due to illness, but is showing good improvements and is feeling positive.

With both riders less than half a second from the head of the field in FP2, and also hold-ing 3rd and 5th on combined times, Day 1 in Qatar has been a highly successful start for Team SUZUKI ECSTAR and it bodes well for tomorrow’s practice and qualifying ses-sions.

Davide Brivio – Team Manager
“I would say it was a good start, of course it’s only Friday, but I feel we’re approaching these days with a different mood. I’m happy because the riders were quite quick during the sessions, not only in the fast laps at the end of FP2; this is what makes us happy about today, we’re aware it’s only Friday, but we know we just need to continue like this to be ready for the race.”

Alex Rins
“It’s nice to come back here, and this time for the race! In the morning the track was differ-ent to how it was during the test; there was a lot of dust and not much grip. In the evening session, however, the track was fine and I had the same sensations as in the test we did here a few weeks ago. Tomorrow we have to keep working with some small details that I believe we can still improve.”

Andrea Iannone
“We started this first day with a step in the right direction, with positive results and also a good feeling. Since we lost the last day of testing two weeks ago we had to finish off some of the work from there. But I have good feelings with the GSX-RR and we are going in the right direction. Today the track was a lot more slippery than in the test, so we need to find a better feeling with the grip. This is what we’ll focus on now to try and become even more competitive.”

Circuit: Losail International Circuit, Qatar
Air Temperature: 25°C
Track Temperature: 25°C

GP of Qatar – Combined Classification after Day 1:

1. Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati Team 1’54.361
2. Danilo PETRUCCI Alma Pramac Racing 1’54.367 0.006 / 0.006
3. Alex RINS Team SUZUKI ECSTAR 1’54.458 0.097 / 0.091
4. Jorge LORENZO Ducati Team 1’54.831 0.470 / 0.373
5. Andrea IANNONE Team SUZUKI ECSTAR 1’54.841 0.480 / 0.010
6. Marc MARQUEZ Repsol Honda Team 1’54.850 0.489 / 0.009
7. Dani PEDROSA Repsol Honda Team 1’54.851 0.490 / 0.001
8. Cal CRUTCHLOW LCR Honda CASTROL 1’54.852 0.491 / 0.001
9. Valentino ROSSI Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 1’54.853 0.492 / 0.001
10. Johann ZARCO Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1’54.912 0.551 / 0.059
11. Maverick VIÑALES Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 1’55.195 0.834 / 0.283
12. Aleix ESPARGARO Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 1’55.236 0.875 / 0.041
13. Tito RABAT Reale Avintia Racing 1’55.308 0.947 / 0.072
14. Jack MILLER Alma Pramac Racing 1’55.360 0.999 / 0.052
15. Takaaki NAKAGAMI LCR Honda IDEMITSU 1’55.694 1.333 / 0.334
16. Scott REDDING Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 1’55.718 1.357 / 0.024
17. Pol ESPARGARO Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 1’55.919 1.558 / 0.201
18. Franco MORBIDELLI EG 0,0 Marc VDS 1’55.965 1.604 / 0.046
19. Thomas LUTHI EG 0,0 Marc VDS 1’56.242 1.881 / 0.277
20. Bradley SMITH Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 1’56.260 1.899 / 0.018
21. Karel ABRAHAM Angel Nieto Team 1’56.394 2.033 / 0.134
22. Hafizh SYAHRIN Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1’56.454 2.093 / 0.060
23. Alvaro BAUTISTA Angel Nieto Team 1’56.528 2.167 / 0.074
24. Xavier SIMEON Reale Avintia Racing 1’57.765 3.404 / 1.237

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