Baltus qualifies 16th for Valencia Grand Prix, Van den Goorbergh 20th as NTS returns with wildcard

Fieten Olie Racing GP started the final Grand Prix of 2023 well at Valencia’s Circuit Ricardo Tormo. Barry Baltus qualified 16th on Saturday while Zonta van den Goorbergh finished 20th, despite having an impressive race pace. The Dutch Grand Prix team will be on the grid with three machines this weekend as Japanese chassis manufacturer and partner NTS has been appointed a wildcard.

The race weekend at a sunny Circuit Ricardo Tormo started well for Fieten Olie Racing GP on Friday. Barry Baltus and Zonta van den Goorbergh were close to the top 14 while wildcard Héctor Garzó, riding the latest NTS machine, also had a strong start.

Saturday morning’s third practice session finally determined who would go straight through to Q2 and Baltus performed strongly with a twelfth lap time. Van den Goorbergh came just 0.029 seconds short of a place in Q2, forcing him to take part in Q1 together with Garzó.

In this Q1 session, Van den Goorbergh was among the fastest but just could not manage to string together a complete fast lap. With the sixth time he eventually qualified 20th on the grid, Garzó will start his wildcard appearance from 28th position. Baltus would later set the 16th time in Q2 despite being less than a second slower than pole position.

Barry Baltus – P16: “Once again it was not a bad day for us today. In the morning we managed to secure a place in Q2 but in the afternoon we had a few problems in qualifying. The pace is so fast but I think we can continue in this way tomorrow in the race. Our rhythm is good and we will see what we can do, I enjoyed it a lot today.”

Zonta van den Goorbergh – P20: “I’m not entirely happy with how today went, after a pretty good day yesterday I was expecting a bit more. We started reasonably well this morning only I couldn’t go straight through to Q2. I felt I had the speed for that but due to some problems with traffic I couldn’t make it happen. In Q1 we decided to go out on track alone and set our own pace but it wasn’t good enough. I made a few mistakes, including on my fastest lap. I expected it to still be good enough for a place in Q2 but it wasn’t the case. That means we will be quite far back on the grid tomorrow. Anyway, I feel good and everything is still possible.”

Jarno Janssen – Fieten Olie Racing GP team manager: “We had quite a difficult qualifying today. We are fast and are within a few hundredths of where we should be, however, that results in 16th and 20th place on the grid. It will be a very difficult race tomorrow but I am confident we can get a nice result with both riders. I expect we can end the season in a nice way tomorrow and start the new season on Monday fresh and in good spirits.”

Masahiro Namatame – CEO of NTS: “Unfortunately, our project in Moto2 ended in 2021. Because of the pandemic I wasn’t able to come to the circuit at that time. Now we are back at the track to show the potential of our bike. This weekend in Valencia is to finish what we have been doing until the end of 2021. It makes us proud to be here again. However, in the meantime we have developed new parts for the bike and we believe the performance is good. In 2021 our bike was still a development bike with all Japanese parts, such as KYB suspension. Now we have Öhlins suspension and Brembo brakes, the only difference compared to what the other chassis manufacturers use is the chassis itself. This gives us a good opportunity to compare the performance of our machine with the others on an equal playing field. During the tests and JuniorGP rounds we have already seen impressive lap times from Hector Garzó, our goal this weekend is to score one point.”

The 22-lap Moto2 race at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo will start at 13:15 on Sunday afternoon.