Oliveira and Binder set for Moto2 season start with high ambitions14/03/2018
Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto2 riders get the intermediate class season underway this weekend in Qatar, targeting the top positions.
A new Moto2 World Championship season gets underway this weekend, with the Qatar Grand Prix the curtain raiser for 2018. For the second consecutive year, Red Bull KTM Ajo will be fielding a rider lineup of Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder. Following a spectacular end to the 2017 season, in which the pair took three wins and three podiums in a row, both riders arrive at the Losail International Circuit convinced that they can challenge for the title this year.
Third overall in 2017 and the winner of the last three Grands Prix, Oliveira is one of the favourites for the Moto2 crown. This will be his third season in the class, and his second onboard a KTM. He placed fourth in Qatar last season, in one of the few Grands Prix in which he has yet to take a podium.
Binder is also aiming to start the season with an excellent result this Sunday. The South African was on the podium three times in his rookie season, but is still looking for an elusive first victory. The 2016 Moto3 World Champion (with Red Bull KTM Ajo) has had an excellent preseason, setting the third fastest time at the last Jerez test. Although he placed outside the points in Qatar last season, he finished second there in 2016 -missing out on the win by just 0.007s.
The Qatar GP takes place at 5:20pm local time -3:20pm CET- this Sunday, in daylight after 10 years of night racing.
Circuit information – Losail International Circuit
Length: 5.380 metres / 3.343 miles
Width: 12 metres
Left corners: 6
Right corners: 10
Longest straight: 1.068 metres / 0.664 miles
44 MIGUEL OLIVEIRA
“It has been a winter in which we have not ridden much -or at least not as much as last year. Even so, I feel prepared. When you finish a preseason, you always have that extra motivation knowing that the really important things, the races, are starting. Last year we came into the season waiting to see what we would find. I didn’t know what position in the World Championship I could end up in. During the weekend we set a goal, which we met in each practice session, and in the end we finished in the Top 5, which was a pretty good start. This year the objective is similar but we are already confident that practice will go well, that we can do a good job and that in the race I will be in a position that allows me to fight for the podium. We have a good setup from last year and from preseason, so I’m sure that at least the start of the season will go well for us.”
41 BRAD BINDER
“We haven’t been able to have many full days of testing, but after the final day at Jerez I think we can say that we are ready, as we found a setup that allows us to go fast over a single lap and maintain a good pace. In addition, in contrast to last season I feel 100% fit. I think that for the first time I’m stronger than I was before my arm injury. I’m sure that both the season and this first race at Losail will be very competitive, because the lap times are very close. The aim for this weekend is to work hard and feel happy with the bike, so that we can try to get the same feeling as at the end of last season. If I can do that, it will be a good start -whether I get on the podium or not.”