Oliveira seizes front row position

11/04/2015

The Portuguese Red Bull KTM Ajo rider set the second fastest time in the Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas qualifying session. Binder and Hanika will start from the fourth and seventh row respectively.

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With the week’s earlier rain subsiding, the Red Bull KTM Ajo riders enjoyed a second dry day on the Austin track. The highlight of the day was executed by Miguel Oliveira, who achieved his first front row position of the season with a second place grid spot. This puts the Portuguese rider among the top three contenders, an accomplishment he had not achieved in the 2014 season. Brad Binder in eleventh place and Karel Hanika in twentieth will start tomorrow’s race from rows four and seven respectively.

The final free practice allowed the Moto3 class riders to lap on dry tarmac for the first time this weekend, a session that saw the Red Bull KTM Ajo riders lapping among the fastest in the class. Oliveira, the fastest of the team riders, ranked second in the lineup with a 2:16.736 and was followed closely by South African rider Binder, who was ranked fourth with a 2:17.302. Karel Hanika also made progressive steps, climbing up to the fifteenth position with a best lap of 2:18.316.

Later, in the same conditions, the Red Bull KTM Ajo riders had trouble to remain in the top group as they had planned to use the early part of qualifying to work on the set up for the race. It was in final outing, with just 10 minutes to go, when Oliveira set his flying lap of 2:15.829 and Binder his at 2:16.735. Meanwhile, Hanika had trouble finding a clear spot on the track and in the end settled with a best lap of 2:17.485.

At this second round of the year, Oliveira and Binder improved their grid positions over those made at GP of Qatar. Tomorrow the Moto3 race will be the first of the day, beginning at 11:00 AM local time.

Results (Qualifying practice)
1. Danny Kent (Honda) 2:15.344
2. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 2:15.829 +0.485
3. Andrea Locatelli (Honda) 2:16.090 +0.746
4. Niccolo Antonelli (Honda) 2:16.101 +0.757
5. Jorge Navarro (Honda) 2:16.144 +0.800
11. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 2:16.735 +1.391
20. Karel Hanika (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 2:17.485 +2.141

Miguel Oliveira,
“Qualifying today went well for us. Right from the morning we felt comfortable with the conditions and the bike. We found it a little hard to set a fast lap, because we didn’t know which tyre to use until the end of the session. It was a little difficult, but we tried some changes to the bike that worked well. It’s always good to start on the front row in order to avoid trouble on the first corner. We will try to do it as well as possible.”

Brad Binder,
“During the first session today I suffered some chatter, but on the last lap of the free practice I tried to push hard and complete a fast lap. I managed it, but knew I could not complete two laps without the risk of crashing. When we got back to the garage we saw part of the problem, and we have solved most of it. For qualifying we softened the suspension and I could lean over better under braking, but we still didn’t feel  entirely comfortable. It was a difficult qualifying session. On the final runs we changed some settings that helped us a lot. For tomorrow we know the correct direction to keep working in. It will be a difficult race, but now I have the confidence to do well.”

Karel Hanika,
“Today, both the final practice session and the qualifying session have been quite difficult for us because I suffered a bit because of my riding. I couldn’t find the ideal line through the corners. There were also some issues with the set up that we had to solve. In any case, the first thing I need to improve is my riding. Tomorrow morning in the Warm Up we’ll work on it. It will be important to have a good start tomorrow and try to hook onto the top group. It won’t be easy but I think we can do it.”

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