Team Suzuki Press Office - March 18.

Andrea Iannone: 9th - +12.957
Alex Rins: DNF.

• Andrea Iannone performs well in opening race of the season.
• Unfortunate DNF for Alex Rins after strong start.
• Team SUZUKI ECSTAR still look ahead with positivity.

The first race of the 2018 MotoGP calendar took place in hot and windy conditions under Qatar’s famous night lights. Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins took to the start with confidence after a positive morning Warm-Up in which they took 5th and 10th respectively. Although Alex Rins suffered a small crash during this session, there were luckily no consequences.

Choosing the medium front and soft rear combination, the riders took the grid and attacked early on as the lights went out. Andrea Iannone managed a great start from his 11th place grid position and he was able to slot in ahead of many competitors. He kept in touch with this lead group for the first half of the race despite struggling with front end feel, and he picked up a few places as the laps ticked by. Andrea hovered consistently between 8th and 10th for the duration of the race and despite a late charge from some of his rivals he held on to 9th place over the finish line.

Alex Rins managed to set two fastest laps (a 1:55.675 on Lap 3, and a 1:55.331 on Lap 6) during his time in the leading pack, and was running a very high pace, responding to over-taking manoeuvres quickly, matching the pace at the front, and keeping himself in contention for at least a Top 5 finish. However, with 10 laps to go, Alex drifted wide in the second corner and found the dirty part of the track, he lost the front and unfortunately crashed out of the race. Despite this, the young Spaniard felt he learned a lot and enjoyed the feelings.

Ken Kawauchi - Technical Manager
“Today’s results were not what we wanted, this is a big pity. In the middle of the race Alex’s pace was good, he was with the top group and chasing. But in the end he crashed, and that was a pity. Andrea’s pace was not quite what we expected and he was struggling a bit, but he tried to manage the situation and he finished the race quite well. We have shown our potential for Argentina, where we’ll try again. And although this race has been disappointing, we are not too worried and we are looking forward to the next race.”

Davide Brivio - Team Manager
“Of course we’re not happy about today in general, but there are some good things which we can take away from this weekend. It’s a pity how the race ended for Alex, but I feel we have definitely made a step forward with him. So I think we’ll have many other chances to try again to be in the front group and we’ll try again in Argentina. In Andrea’s case, he had a good start but then he was struggling with the front end. So we have to work to try to improve his feeling on the bike as he couldn’t push so hard. In the end he finished 9th. I see positive things coming, so we look forward to the next one.”

Andrea Iannone
“Well, if we compare this race to last year we did improve, which is the main positive of today. I’m not really satisfied with the result but I’m not unhappy either. I felt confidence with the GSX-RR and feel it has a potential. My start was good and I kept the pace with leading group. Unfortunately after some laps I started to lose confidence with the front, the same problem as yesterday. I think this is mainly due to the track conditions being so different from the test, so I believe it’s a small issue we can fix easily. As I couldn’t find this confidence I didn’t want to push too hard and risk a crash, it was important to finish the race. We are working well, I’m feeling confident for the next races and I can’t wait for Argentina.”

Alex Rins
“I had a little bit of bad luck, but I still think we had an incredible weekend. The race was quite good, I didn’t have the best start, but when I was behind Dovizioso I was feeling great. It was quite difficult for me to fight on the straight and when I was fighting with Petrucci I was trying to keep the advantage and hold the position, and I crashed. Despite all this, I have learned a lot of useful things for the future, such as being more competitive from the start. We now know that we have the potential, and in Argentina it will be better.”

GP of Qatar - Race Classification:
1. Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati Team 42'34.654
2. Marc MARQUEZ Repsol Honda Team +0.027
3. Valentino ROSSI Movistar Yamaha MotoGP +0.797
5. Danilo PETRUCCI Alma Pramac Racing +3.821
6. Maverick VIÑALES Movistar Yamaha MotoGP +3.888
7. Dani PEDROSA Repsol Honda Team +4.621
8. Johann ZARCO Monster Yamaha +7.112
9. Andrea IANNONE Team SUZUKI ECSTAR +12.957
10. Jack MILLER Alma Pramac Racing +14.594
11. Tito RABAT Reale Avintia Racing +15.181
12. Franco MORBIDELLI EG 0,0 Marc VDS +16.274
13. Alvaro BAUTISTA Angel Nieto Team +19.788
14. Hafizh SYAHRIN Monster Yamaha Tech 3 +20.299
15. Karel ABRAHAM Angel Nieto Team +23.287
16. Thomas LUTHI EG 0,0 Marc VDS +24.189
17. Takaaki NAKAGAMI LCR Honda IDEMITSU +24.554
18. Bradley SMITH Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +31.704
19. Aleix ESPARGARO Aprilia Racing Team Gresini +34.712
20. Scott REDDING Aprilia Racing Team Gresini +37.641
21. Xavier SIMEON Reale Avintia Racing +46.706
Not Classified
44 Pol ESPARGARO Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 7 Laps
42 Alex RINS Team SUZUKI ECSTAR 10 Laps
99 Jorge LORENZO Ducati Team 10 Laps

MotoGP World Standings 2018:
1 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati 25
2 Marc MARQUEZ Honda 20
3 Valentino ROSSI Yamaha 16
4 Cal CRUTCHLOW Honda 13
5 Danilo PETRUCCI Ducati 11
6 Maverick VIÑALES Yamaha 10
7 Dani PEDROSA Honda 9
8 Johann ZARCO Yamaha 8
9 Andrea IANNONE Suzuki 7
10 Jack MILLER Ducati 6
11 Tito RABAT Ducati 5
12 Franco MORBIDELLI Honda 4
13 Alvaro BAUTISTA Ducati 3
14 Hafizh SYAHRIN Yamaha 2
15 Karel ABRAHAM Ducati 1
16 Thomas LUTHI Honda
17 Takaaki NAKAGAMI Honda
18 Bradley SMITH KTM
19 Aleix ESPARGARO Aprilia
20 Scott REDDING Aprilia
21 Xavier SIMEON Ducati
23 Alex RINS Suzuki
24 Jorge LORENZO Ducati

Story issued by: Team SUZUKI ECSTAR.

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For more stories about Alex Rins, Click Here. For photos, Click Here.

For more stories about Andrea Iannone, Click Here. For photos, Click Here.

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