Creditable second row for Salom


Luis Salom places fifth, despite heavy morning crash. Zulfahmi Khairuddin and Arthur Sissis to set off from rows five and seven, respectively.


The starting grid for the fourth GP of the year was decided today. The weather conditions were good for the final practice sessions and the riders enjoyed a dry track at Le Mans. Luis Salom took fifth in qualifying, despite suffering a heavy crash in the morning. His Red Bull KTM Ajo teammates, Zulfahmi Khairuddin and Arthur Sissis, placed fifteenth and twentieth, respectively.

The day began with a final free practice session. Zulfahmi Khairuddin and Arthur Sissis used these final 40 minutes to carry out the work that they were unable to complete yesterday, and were two of the only riders to better their times on a track that had dropped to 10ºC in temperature. Luis Salom had a late, heavy crash, when exiting the final corner.

Despite pain in his back, the Red Bull KTM Ajo rider made a tremendous effort in qualifying. He took fifth place with a time of 1:44.178.  Zulfahmi Khairuddin came out strong and was immediately amongst the top ten. His final lap of 1:44.836 was his best of the day, putting him on the fifth row, whilst Arthur Sissis took twentieth with a time of 1:45.381 —a second better than his previous best.

Tomorrow’s race takes place at 11am, with rain forecast for the Moto3 contest.

Results (Qualifying practice)
1. Maverick Viñales (KTM) 1:43.696
2. Miguel Oliveira (Mahindra) 1:43.806 +0.110
3. Jonas Folger (Kalex KTM) 1:43.969 +0.273
4. Alex Rins (KTM) 1:44.123 +0.427
5. Luis Salom (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:44.178 +0.482
15. Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:44.836 +1.140
20. Arthur Sissis (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:45.381 +1.685

Luis Salom >> Audio
“I arrived from the hospital five minutes before qualifying started, so it has been a non-stop day. Despite this, and the fact that my back hurts a lot, I am happy because I think that we have a good pace. I was able to go round in under 1’44 at the end of the session, which is what is really important. The best thing is that we aren’t too far off the fastest time, and that is promising. Before my crash I was on a very fast lap, close to today’s pole, but I went wide on the last corner and touched the grass.”

Arthur Sissis >> Audio
“It was a very tough qualifying session. We made a big change with the setup that made it like we were starting with a completely new bike. It was much better and I was much faster. When we put the new tyres on, I was on a great lap, but another rider got in my way and I ran wide under braking. That was my hot lap and I wasn’t able to improve afterwards, but I feel good with the bike. If it is dry tomorrow then we will have to finish off adjusting the setup in the warmup, and I will have the bike well prepared for my riding style. If it rains, then anything can happen.”

Zulfahmi Khairuddin >> Audio (English) // Audio (Malaysian)
“The feel today wasn’t all bad. We kept up some very consistent lap times, but it wasn’t enough to be up in the top ten. I am happy with the job that we are doing with the bike, because I feel comfortable. In qualifying I couldn’t find a good reference, but at least we are working well and the bike is excellent. Let’s hope that tomorrow we have  good weather and can give 120% in the race. I am confident that if the race is dry, then all the better. In the wet everyone will have to fight a lot. I hope that the weather holds out.”

*Audio solely for radio use