Öncü and Rueda complete tough Friday at Qatar Grand Prix


The Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto3 duo finish fourteenth and sixteenth, respectively.

The Qatar Grand Prix began this Friday with the first Moto3 practice sessions of the weekend. The Red Bull KTM Ajo riders had a good feeling in the first session, although the track conditions made the second and final runout of the day a difficult one. Deniz Öncü and Jose Antonio Rueda improved their times and finished in fourteenth and sixteenth positions, respectively.

Practice 1 featured Öncü as one of the strongest riders of the session, occupying the top position. He showed great confidence and pace in Lusail, which allowed him to set the standout lap on the timesheets. Öncü’s 2:09.404 was clocked on his penultimate lap, and was more than 4 tenths quicker than his closest rival. Rueda had his first experience of the striking Qatari circuit and focused on adapting to the layout and track conditions. The Spaniard made steady progress and worked to find a good starting setup for the weekend. Rueda completed a total of 13 laps and finished in sixteenth place, with a time of 2:11.775.

Practice 2, under the lights of the Lusail International Circuit, was notable for a lack of grip on the track and a drop in temperatures, although both Öncü and Rueda were able to improve their times quickly. Öncü only needed 3 laps to cut tenths off his previous best, but nevertheless he did not have the same feeling as in Practice 1. The Red Bull KTM Ajo rider worked hard to take another step forward, although he could not make it into the upper reaches of the standings. His 2:08.421 on his third attempt of 13 put him fourteenth, making the provisional cut for Q2 overall. Rueda continued to progress on the first day and managed to improve his time by up to two seconds compared to Practice 1. He set a constant pace, although it was not enough to get a provisional place in Q2. Finally, he was sixteenth with a time of 2:08.515, from his eleventh lap of 14.

Moto3 qualifying will begin this Saturday at 5:50 PM local time.

Results (Combined practice sessions P1-P2)
1. Jaume Masia (Honda) 2:06.794
2. Romano Fenati (Honda) 2:07.340 +0.546
3. Collin Veijer (Husqvarna) 2:07.416 +0.622
4. Ivan Ortola (KTM) 2:07.425 +0.631
5. Matteo Bertelle (Honda) 2:07.602 +0.808
14. Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 2:08.421 +1.627
16. Jose Antonio Rueda (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 2:08.515 +1.721

“We have finished our first day in Qatar. Honestly, we didn’t make a good start despite me being the fastest rider in Practice 1. The track conditions today were very dirty but in Practice 2 they got better. Every session will clean the circuit and it will get better. Tomorrow we will try to enjoy ourselves, keep working and do our best for qualifying.”

“In Practice 1 the circuit was very dirty and it was difficult to ride fast, but it was good for us to get to know the layout and to continue improving. In Practice 2 we went out with hard tyres, and at the end of the session we changed them and it worked out better for us. I still have a problem that I cannot solve, although we have at least identified it. I think it is a circuit that is good for me, although I still lack something. Tomorrow we will continue working on improving that aspect and try to go directly into Q2. It will be hot and we will feel the lack of grip, but we will give it our best.”