Baltus achieves first Moto2 podium finish with RW-Idrofoglia Racing GP after sensational season opener in Qatar

Barry Baltus finished second in the Moto2 race at the Lusail International Circuit in Qatar on Sunday. In the traditional season opener under the floodlights in Qatar, the 19-year-old Belgian rode a fantastic race in which he battled for victory all the way to the finish. Just 0.055 seconds from the winner, Baltus gave the RW-Idrofoglia Racing GP team their first Moto2 podium.

After strong performances in qualifying, Barry Baltus and Zonta van den Goorbergh were keen to get the new Moto2 season off to the best possible start. Both riders quickly made up several positions after the start and showed that their race pace made them among the fastest riders in the Moto2 class.

Van den Goorbergh suffered a loss of grip after a good opening phase, slowly but surely falling back and losing positions. The 18-year-old Dutchman kept giving everything but eventually finished 13th. It was the third time he managed to score points in the Moto2 class and with his performance throughout the weekend, Van den Goorbergh showed that he was one of the fastest riders in the entire field.

Due to a different choice of tyres, Baltus did not suffer from such problems and got stronger and stronger as the race progressed. With spectacular overtaking manoeuvres, the Belgian rider managed to move up further and further until he reached second place on lap 11. Baltus kept calm and prepared an attack in the closing stages of the race, but a small mistake on the last lap prevented him from making a real attack.

Just 0.055 seconds from the winner, Baltus eventually crossed the finish line in second place, giving him his first Grand Prix podium finish. It is the first podium in the Moto2 class for RW-Idrofoglia Racing GP and the first Grand Prix podium finish since August 2015.

Barry Baltus – P2: “This is an amazing feeling. I have been waiting so many years for this, the last time was in the FIM CEV championship. I knew I had these capabilities because back then I was on the podium with the guys who are on the podium here regularly. It was very hard to deal with during these past years because before this podium, my best result was a sixth place.

To be honest, it was not a difficult race for me because I was feeling so strong. During the last five laps I was struggling with the grip but I think this was the same for everybody. Our choice for the soft rear tyre was quite risky because we didn’t do a long run on them, we only used them for a couple of laps in qualifying. It ended up being the right choice because the harder tyre was dropping a lot.

Again, I am really happy and I cannot say anything else. It’s unbelievable, I’m so happy for Belgian motorsport and everyone at Zelos because they have supported me during all these years. Also for Jarno and the rest of the team, they have been fantastic over the last couple of years. I also want to thank my family because, thanks to them I have made it to here.”

Zonta van den Goorbergh – P13: “Normally I might have been happy with three points but that’s really not the case now. I felt so strong at the beginning of the race, I couldn’t even really push yet because I was behind some guys who were significantly slower. Once I passed them, I even did faster lap times than the guys in front. Then I had to deal with a big loss of grip which caused my pace to drop way down and this also seemed to happen to other riders who dropped back big time. In the last corner of the race I lost another position so this is a bitter pill to swallow.

This hits hard as we were so strong all weekend here, from Friday morning until a third of the race. Thanks to the team, they worked really hard and of course congratulations given Barry’s fantastic performance. Especially to Barry’s side of the box, Barry himself, Jarno and everyone involved in sponsoring the team, this podium finish comes at an important time at the start of the season.”

Jarno Janssen – RW-Idrofoglia Racing GP team manager: “It was a fantastic day. Barry rode a great race and he showed what we are capable of together. I am very proud of him and the team because it certainly wasn’t easy. This is a great result and a very nice boost for the whole team.

Zonta also started his race very well but ended up being a victim of tyre choice, unfortunately that didn’t work out well. Anyway, I am very proud of him for what he showed this weekend, he left a very strong impression and that gives us confidence for the upcoming races. I can well imagine he is very disappointed but he certainly doesn’t need to be. I’m sure he knows a big step has been made this weekend.”

The next Grand Prix will take place on the weekend of 22-24 March and will be held at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve in Portugal.