Miller starts strong and Hanika learns the ropes in Qatar


Red Bull KTM Ajo team debut in 2014 Moto3 World Championship with Jack Miller setting the third best time of the day. Karel Hanika debuts in Grand Prix action at the Qatar circuit and improves session after session.


A new season of the Moto3 World Championship began on Thursday night in Qatar. The Red Bull KTM Ajo team and its new riders, Jack Miller and Karel Hanika, had their first runouts in two intense practice sessions –in which they worked hard on the development of the KTM bike. The Australian was third fastest in the combined classification –2:06.427– whilst young Czech debutant Hanika was twentieth –2:07.962. Both set their best times in the second session of the day.

Miller was the very first man out on track. Concentrating on finding a feel with his bike at the track and setting up the KTM, the Australian took a calm approach and was sixth fastest –2:07.905– without taking risks on an asphalt surface with less sand than usual. The first free practice for Hanika saw him twenty-seventh –2:09.579– and getting to know a completely new track. His initial 40 minutes were completely dedicated to learning.

Gradually the young Czech rider learnt the secrets of Qatari circuit and, in the middle of the second session, had improved on his previous lap. Hanika ended the day with a best lap of 2:07.962 –more than 1.5 seconds faster than that of Free Practice 1.

Also setting his fastest time on his last attempt was Jack Miller, who led the second session at various points. Third, with a 2:06.427 lap, he was one of seven riders to go round in under the previous circuit record.

On Friday, Red Bull KTM Ajo have only one final practice session to contest, held at 7pm local time.

Results (Combined practice time FP1-FP2)
1. Romano Fenati (KTM) 2:06.168
2. Jakub Kornfeil (KTM) 2:06.190 +0.022
3. Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 2:06.427 +0.259
4. Niccolo Antonelli (KTM) 2:06.551 +0.383
5. Alexis Masbou (Honda) 2:06.628 +0.460
20. Karel Hanika (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 2:07.962 +1.794

Jack Miller >> Audio
“So far things are going well here in Qatar; today was a good day. I’ve found good settings for the KTM. During the first session I did not feel comfortable, not with myself or with the bike, but in the second run we improved that. We still have work to do, but we also still have time. Undoubtedly it will be a very tough and difficult week, because there are many riders going fast, but I am confident that we can get better.”

Karel Hanika >> Audio
“I think we started very well considering it is the first Grand Prix of my life. I dedicated myself to completing as many laps as I could and put in around 30. Both sessions served as a learning experience for the track and its lines, and we were pretty fast to adapt to this circuit. We then had time to start playing around with the setup of the bike. Finally I was able to ride alone and complete a few hot laps, which is also important. I’m not worried about the position right now, as the race is on Sunday.”

*Audio solely for radio use