The final preparations for the 2014 Moto3 World Championship are now complete and Mahindra Racing heads to the season-opening Qatar race in a positive mood.
Nineteen-year-old Portuguese rider Miguel Oliveira and new Australian teammate Arthur Sissis (18), finished the three-day group test with the tenth and 20th fastest times respectively. However, Miguel’s best lap of 1.46.612, faster than the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix pole time and a whole second quicker than his own 2013 best, is an indication that Mahindra Racing’s hard work developing the MGP3O is paying dividends and the team’s confidence is well placed.
Mahindra used the test to try and fine tune settings and mapping on its new 2014 bikes before they are shipped to Qatar for race one of the 18-race season.
“Testing has been positive,” explained Mahindra Racing CEO Mufaddal Choonia after the test. “This test isn’t about positions, but about fine tuning and developing our strategies for mapping and set up, not only for our Mahindra Racing bikes but also with our new customer teams. We’ve also made various changes within the team as well as adding a new track support team to work with the customer teams and everything has gelled well. I am feeling very positive about the season ahead and am looking forward to Qatar next weekend. Testing is one thing, but it is at races that we need to perform and produce results.”
The only Indian constructor in Grand Prix racing will field eight bikes on the 2014 Moto3 grid. Ambrogio Racing’s Brad Binder (RSA) and Jules Danilo (FRA), CIP Moto3’s Bryan Schouten (NED) and Alessandro Tonucci (ITA), and San Carlo Team Italia’s Andrea Locatelli and Matteo Ferrari will all take to the track in Qatar aboard Mahindra MGP3O bikes that are identical under the skin of their different team colours and sponsor logos.
“Preparing to supply eight bikes has been a challenge and a lot of hard work at the track and back at base, but we are working well with all of the Mahindra teams and we have a good package for 2014,” explained Mahindra Racing technical director Davide Borghesi. “The bikes are identical to the factory machines, and we have two track support staff at each race to work closely with the three customer teams. It is an impressive achievement for such a young constructor as Mahindra to be fielding the second highest number of bikes on the grid. But it is testament to the excellent results achieved last year that demand was so high for our bike. Our goal, of course, is that all eight riders will have the opportunity to fight at the front during the course of the season.”
The Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar takes place on Sunday 23 March and is the first of an 18-round MotoGP World Championship.
MIGUEL OLIVEIRA – best lap: 1’46.612
“It’s been a good test. We had a good base from last year and from the previous tests so no big changes to the bike, just small adjustments on the engine braking, clutch and other settings. Overall I am happy with all of the work this winter. I feel great physically and mentally and very prepared. We are closer to the front now and that makes me excited and motivated about getting to Qatar to start racing.”
ARTHUR SISSIS – best lap: 1’47.419
“We’ve been trying different things here and we’re getting there. The conditions have been a bit mixed, which hasn’t helped, but we’ve been working hard to get more rear grip and trying different settings to make me comfortable on the bike and I am leaving quite satisfied and confident I can keep getting faster. I am really enjoying working with this team and having a new challenge. I can’t wait for Qatar. It’s one of my favorite races on the calendar because it’s a night race, which is good for me having come from speedway and being used to racing at night.”