3rd and 5th row starts for Red Bull KTM Ajo riders


Miguel Oliveira, in eighth, will start from the third row for the first Grand Prix of the year in Qatar. Brad Binder and Karel Hanika will do so from row five.


The first qualifying session of the season took place this evening at the Losail International Circuit. In a closely contested battle for the top spots, slipstreams proved decisive in deciding the grid positions for tomorrow’s race. Miguel Oliveira placed eighth –taking a spot on the third row– and Brad Binder and Karel Hanika were thirteenth and fourteenth, respectively. The latter duo will take off from the fifth row. The top 17 riders were separated by less than a second.

After a first three laps used to test the waters, the trio of Red Bull KTM Ajo riders returned to the pits to change tyres and went back out together. Like last year, the riders worked together to achieve the best grid positions possible. Oliveira led the timesheets after seven minutes and, at the midway point of the session, the three Red Bull KTM Ajo competitors were all running inside the Top 10. With 10 minutes of track time remaining, a final runout enabled Binder to improve his lap time. Oliveira was on pole position pace on his last lap, 0.5s quicker than anyone else at the second sector, but he missed out after slowing at the end.

After almost five months away, racing returns tomorrow at 6pm local time. The Qatar Grand Prix will be the first race of the year for the Moto3 riders, with the Red Bull KTM Ajo team fighting for a place on the podium.

Results – Qualifying practice
1. Alexis Masbou (Honda) 2:06.170
2. Isaac Viñales (Husqvarna) 2:06.237 +0.067
3. Niccolo Antonelli (Honda) 2:06.245 +0.075
4. Francesco Bagnaia (Mahindra) 2:06.253 +0.083
5. John McPhee (Honda) 2:06.254 +0.084
8. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 2:06.378 +0.208
13. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 2:06.729 +0.559
14. Karel Hanika (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 2:06.815 +0.645

#44 Miguel Oliveira

“Today’s qualifying session was a bit difficult. It was hard to go faster than the other riders because today it was much windier than yesterday, and the wind blew towards you on the main straight. Today a slipstream would have given us much more advantage, but I think we did a good job. We have been consistent with our times and I felt comfortable on the bike. It is still a little frustrating to know that the lap time could have been better than what we did. Tomorrow we will concentrate on getting a good start and getting to the front at the start of the race. I’ll try to push and see what happens.”

#41 Brad Binder

“Unfortunately the qualifying session did not go too well. We worked hard and we were able to do a fair amount of laps consistently, but I could not manage to set a time 3 or 4 tenths faster than I had done before. I was also unable to take advantage of any slipstream, and this hurt me a bit. The position we have for tomorrow is not very good and I am somewhat disappointed, but I’m a raceday rider and tomorrow is the day that I like most.”

#98 Karel Hanika

“Today we took an important step forward with the team. Yesterday we tried to improve the bike a little and went in the right direction. Today we used a good team strategy and it worked rather well. At the end we all did our job alone. I rode on my own and I tried to catch a slipstream to go quicker. Most importantly, we know we can ride alone tomorrow. Unfortunately we are fourteenth on the grid, but I think we can have a good race tomorrow. I want to thank the team for the great work they have done today.”