NTS RW Racing GP leaves Qatar with positive findings
On Sunday early evening, both Steven Odendaal and Joe Roberts rode an encouraging season opening race to bring home the team’s all-new NTS Moto2 machine in its debut at world level in 22nd and 25th position respectively.
Starting time for the first points hunt in 2018 was scheduled for 5.20pm local time which means that the race got started under day light though with the continuation of the competition, the sky darkened above Losail and the meanwhile traditional first Grand Prix at the desert track in Qatar became as in recent years a night race under the circuit’s massive floodlight installation.
NTS RW Racing GP’s Steven Odendaal and Joe Roberts qualified for P22 and P27 respectively on the starting grid, both delivering a brilliant start as soon the lights went out for this year’s championship. However, it got a tricky race for the young talented riders when Californian Joe Roberts suffered finding confidence with his bike whereas former Moto2™ European Championship Steven Odendaal nearly crashed in the opening laps. Fortunately, South African Odendaal could master the situation very well and as soon as he got back into his rhythm, he underlined lots of potential of the entire package with a speedy and consistent pace.
The Grand Prix of Qatar was another thrilling season opener as the series moves onward now to Argentina for the next round in three weeks.
#4 Steven ODENDAAL (NTS RW Racing GP, NTS), 22nd:
“It was quite a difficult race for us even if I made a good start and I could gain positions immediately. But then, I made a small mistake which resulted with a huge high-side. This of course did cost a couple of positions. But in the end, I could salvage it and we finished 22nd. Ok, it’s not where we want to be, but it was an ok start for us into the season. The most important fact is that we definitely found some room for improvements throughout the weekend to get into the top 15 soon.”
#15 Joe ROBERTS (NTS RW Racing GP, NTS), 25th:
“Obviously, this outcome doesn’t match where we want to be, but it was the first race and we were able to finish it. About the race itself it is to say that my start was really good, and I could catch up quite a lot of positions. I think, I went into turn one in 23rd position. The feeling with the bike was really good. But as you know, our bike is still new and sometimes if you try to go around to find out which will be a good direction, it ends up thus, that it will not be the right way. Of course, it’s a bit unfortunate that we figured out this during the race because I think we had a lot of potential to be quite far up this weekend. Anyway, we move on and go to the next race which again is a new track and a new challenge for us too. But I’m still very confident for this year that we can be very competitive.”
Jarno JANSSEN (Team manager):
“It was not an easy race for both our riders, for sure we can say this. But actually, the race started really well because Steven and Joe left the line in a great way. This was why both could find the connection with the top 20 in the first lap already. However, Joe suffered some problems with his bike as he wasn’t able to keep the pace he wanted to do. On Steven’s side, it was different, he did a very good race which brought him to P22. So obviously, this is a good starting point for us for the upcoming races. Most of all, we are happy that both riders brought their bike back home which is positive. For sure, we have a lot more to learn and we need to build up more experience with the entire package. This is the same for our riders to gain more experience with our bike. So, we go from here to the next round to try to do it a little bit better.”
Moto2™ GP of Qatar – Race Classification after 19 Laps:
1 Francesco BAGNAIA / ITA / SKY Racing Team VR46 / KALEX / 40´19.802
2 Lorenzo BALDASSARRI / ITA / Pons HP40 / KALEX / +0.112
3 Alex MARQUEZ / SPA / Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS / KALEX / +5.625
22 #4 Steven ODENDAAL / RSA / NTS RW Racing GP / NTS / +42.545
25 #16 Joe ROBERTS / USA / NTS RW Racing GP / NTS / +56.077
Moto2™ World Standing:
1 Francesco BAGNAIA / ITA / KALEX / 25
2 Lorenzo BALDASSARRI / ITA / KALEX / 20
3 Alex MARQUEZ / SPA / KALEX / 16