First and lasts for Mahindra at Valencia
Mahindra riders Danny Webb and Marcel Schrötter will be signing off a year of solid progress at Valencia, when they line up for the last time on their 125cc two-strokes to close the Indian manufacturer’s first season in the MotoGP paddock.
Each has a special aim. Eighteen-year-old German Schrötter needs just one championship point to secure his pre-season aim of a top-15 championship position. Webb (20, from England) wants a strong top-ten finish to make up for a year when luck often seemed against him.
The joint target, for riders and the whole team, is to get a first double top-ten to seal the debut season. They came very close three weeks ago, finishing tenth and 11th in Australia.
It is the last chance, in the last two-stroke class. From next year the traditional 125cc category is to be replaced by all-new 250cc Moto3 four-strokes.
Mahindra is ready for that challenge too. On the eve of the Valencia race they will unveil the Mahindra Moto3 machine to the MotoGP media, taking the new-this-year grand prix project to the next stage.
For the multi-national automotive industry giant, the two-wheel Grand Prix project is a vital part of its growing motorcycle business, providing not only publicity but also priceless research and development for the Mahindra brand. The Italy-based Mahindra team is the only one in the class to build its own chassis and engine.
“We always want more, but our first year has been exciting and encouraging,” said team principal Mufaddal Choonia. “The results show that our unique machine has improved a lot in speed and reliability. We will be putting everything into making out two-stroke racer’s last appearance one to remember.”
He added: “We will also race at our best to pay our respects to Marco Simoncelli. The team was hit hard by his tragic accident in Malaysia. He was not only a future star, but also a well-loved member of our racing community. All our condolences went out to his family and friends.”
Sunday’s race at Valencia is the 17th and final round in the last ever 125 championship, with the title yet to be decided between Spain’s Nico Terol and Frenchman Johan Zarco. Run on the twisty 2.49-mile (4.005-km) Ricardo Tormo circuit outside the city, the final event always attracts huge crowds.
Last chance to do something on a 125, and I’ll give it my best shot. The bike’s been getting better all year, so there’s no excuses. It’s a difficult track, really technical, but I’m looking forward to my last 125 grand prix. My whole GP career has been on 125 two-strokes.
My best GP result came at Valencia – fifth in 2009, and last year also in the points. So I am hopeful. I need at least one point to be sure of 15th overall – that is 15th in the race. The way things have been going the last races, I’ll be aiming for much more than just one point.
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