Franco Morbidelli is confident that he can challenge at the front in this weekend’s Qatar Grand Prix after what he described as his “best pre-season” since moving into Moto2. The Italian was second fastest in this weekend’s Losail test behind Takaaki Nakagami having also shown impressive pace in Spain earlier in the winter.
Although he thinks it’s too early to be talking about a championship challenge, Morbidelli expects to be in the group of riders fighting for victory in the season opener.
“This has probably been the best pre-season for me since I started racing in Moto2 and it’s been really encouraging ahead of the first few races of the season. I’m very happy with the job we’ve done, but now we need to focus on the racing, starting this next weekend in Qatar. People always talk about potential championship contenders going into a new season but there is some competition this year, so we won’t really get a feel for this until we’re four or five races into the championship. There are probably four or five riders who I’ll be keeping any eye on, including my teammate, as Álex has been very fast during testing this season. But testing is one thing and racing is another, and I’m looking forward to the weekend ahead here in Qatar.”
Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS team-mate Alex Marquez was third fastest to complete a strong winter for the former Moto3 champion. The Spaniard is still chasing his maiden rostrum in the intermediate class but believes that is a realistic goal in Qatar.
“I’m really happy with how the preseason testing has gone; I was quickest in Jerez, third here despite the weather and my pace was also good at the two private tests in Spain. I feel really confident, I feel comfortable on the bike and the lap times seem to come easily, but we know we can improve further during practice for the first race. I’m looking forward to this weekend, because race weekends are more enjoyable than testing, and I’m completely motivated to fight for a good result. Of course, to finish on the podium in Qatar would be the perfect way to start the season, but I’m sure there are plenty of other riders who are thinking exactly the same!”