Niccolo Antonelli shrugged off his practice crash to finish a superb fifth on Thursday at the Losail International Circuit. The GO&FUN Gresini rider was comfortably the leading FTR-Honda rider and was delighted with the performance of the powerplant despite the dominance of the KTMs.
“I am happy because our Honda engine is performing really well and if we can sort the chassis set-up out we should be very competitive. I am a bit disappointed about the crash but it’s all part of the process. I think we can be more than satisfied with this for a first outing and we need to keep working because we can only improve.”
Teammate Lorenzo Baldassarri had a difficult start to his Grand Prix career, ending the night in 30th place, and is keen to put today behind him and move up the leaderboard tomorrow.
“I’m not too happy with my debut. It’s true that I don’t know the track and this is my first time under the floodlights but that doesn’t explain the result. I could definitely have gone quicker if I didn’t have a problem with my boot in the first part of the second session, which meant I couldn’t ride the bike how I wanted and I almost crashed a couple of times. I got nervous and couldn’t ride to my potential. We’ll try and make up for it tomorrow.”
Team Manager Fausto Gresini was satisfied with the start his riders have made but expects them to get even better before the weekend is over.
“Niccolò did a really good job and should get even better from here by working with his mechanics to improve the performance of the bike. The fall wasn’t what he needed and he got held up by some traffic that probably stopped him from going even faster in the end. But still, he went really well. Lorenzo paid for his inexperience and was put off by a problem with his boot but he’ll make up for it because he has the potential.”