Bendsneyder and Antonelli make good start in Qatar


Dutch rider leads second practice session in Losail, finishing the night in 7th place. Teammate with Niccolo Antonelli also places in the Top 10.

Despite the weather forecasts, rain did not make an appearance on Thursday at the Losail International Circuit for the start of the first Grand Prix of the year. The Moto3 riders undertook their first two Free Practice sessions of the season, in which Bo Bendsneyder led FP2 and finished in 7th place on the combined timesheet. Niccolo Antonelli placed 9th at the end of a positive evening for both riders.

In the first free practice session the wind –which reached gusts of up to 15km/h– made the riders’ work somewhat difficult. However, it was Bendsneyder who started strongest, leading the way from the first ten minutes and holding the position for half an hour. Although he set his best lap in the last seconds of the session, the Dutchman’s 2:07.432 put him seventh, two places ahead of his teammate Niccolo Antonelli. The Italian also clocked his best time -2: 07.816- on his last lap.

Wind was again present in FP2, although the Red Bull KTM Ajo riders managed to overcome it and and shone during the session. Bendsneyder was in the Top5 during the first half of the session, and took a step up with 13 minutes remaining with a time of 2:07.955 for the top spot. Antonelli was also among the fastest riders, after improving his times during the final stretch and setting a best lap of 2:08.476 for fourth. The Italian suffered light crash just before the action concluded.

Tomorrow sees a single 40-minute practice session at 7pm local time.

Results (Combined practice time FP1-FP2)
1. Philipp Oettl (KTM) 2:06.763
2. Joan Mir (Honda) 2:07.239 +0.258
3. Gabriel Rodrigo (KTM) 2:07.380 +0.399
4. Juanfran Guevara (KTM) 2:07.388 +0.407
5. Romano Fenati (Honda) 2:07.414 +0.433
7. Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 2:07.432 +0.451
9. Niccolo Antonelli (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 2:07.816 +0.835


“Today has been a good day. We went out on track with the setup that we started work on last week in the test, although today it was quite windy. We completed many laps and that is very important. The conditions were difficult and at the end of the second session I suffered a slight crash when I was taken by surprise by the wind. I’m happy because we’ve done a good job with the team, but tomorrow we have to keep improving.”

“We’ve started the weekend and the World Championship very well. In FP1 we were very fast from the beginning; the base for the bike is good and I am happy with it. In the second free practice it was very windy and it was difficult to improve the time from the first session, but I was able to set a good lap time by myself. We still have to improve our braking with the front, so we will look at the data now. We will see if tomorrow we are lucky and can have a dry track again, in order to continue testing things. Overall I’m very satisfied with this first day.”