Bo Bendsneyder has started the Qatar Grand Prix very well. The Dutch rider of NTS RW Racing GP closed the first day with the seventh fastest time: 1.59.089. Jesko Raffin had slightly more problems at the Losail International Circuit near Doha. The Swiss finished the day in 26th place with his time from the first practice session: 2.00.181.
Bendsneyder was in good shape, especially in the second training session. He opened the session with the third time (1.59.315) and improved that time later on. That improvement was initially good for third place as well, but a number of other riders were just a little faster in the final minute than the Dutchman, who was satisfied with seventh.
In the two tests that preceded the first racing weekend of the new season, Jesko Raffin missed a few costly sessions. This had consequences for the free practice sessions in Qatar, as the Swiss started a little behind. He could not improve his fastest time from the first practice in the evening session, although he came very close with 2.00.183.
Saturday afternoon is the third free practice, in which Bendsneyder will try to hold on to his Q2 position. Late afternoon, at 4 p.m. central European time, is the qualification for the Moto2 race of the Qatar GP.
#64 Bo Bendsneyder: “We finally started! Testing is fun and important, but it's all about racing weekends. We have certainly started the new season well. In the first practice we didn’t take too much risk and the focus was mainly on getting the good feeling back from the test. We’ve built up the pace with just one set of tyres. In the evening - at the same time as the qualifying and the race - the focus was on pace and time attack. This was a strong session: I was able to ride good laps and set some good times. I am certainly happy with this first day. We still have a few small changes to make for the race. Tomorrow we have to take a look at what the weather is like - more or less wind - and then we will prepare for the race and go all-out in qualifying.”
#2 Jesko Raffin: “It was not an easy day. In the first practice it didn't go too bad, with a time at a second from the top. But the second session was extra difficult, because we have never ridden under these conditions before - in the dark with lower temperatures. We are busy trying to find a better setting for tomorrow night, that gives me more confidence and a better feeling.”