Van den Goorbergh and Baltus both straight to Q2 with promising pace in Qatar

Zonta van den Goorbergh and Barry Baltus qualified in 14th and 16th place respectively on Saturday for the Qatar Grand Prix. Both Fieten Olie Racing GP riders started the race weekend well at the Lusail International Circuit in which an impressive performance on Saturday afternoon allowed them to go straight to Q2.

The nineteenth and penultimate Grand Prix weekend of 2023 started well for Fieten Olie Racing GP. After already showing the pace on Friday, they proved it in the third practice session on Saturday afternoon in which Zonta van den Goorbergh finished seventh and Barry Baltus tenth. This allowed the Dutchman and Belgian to go straight through to Q2.

Meanwhile, under the artificial lights in Qatar, grip levels had increased further as the track continued to be cleaned from sand and dust from the desert. As a result, the pace continued to increase and lap records were broken. Despite both riders performing strongly, the maximum result was not achieved. Van den Goorbergh eventually qualified fourteenth, with Baltus close behind in sixteenth place.

Zonta van den Goorbergh – P14: “I started well this morning with the seventh lap time in the third practice, I was very happy with that. I felt good on the bike and managed to do this lap by myself with a rear tyre that was already over 20 laps old. That allowed us to go straight through to Q2 and I went into qualifying feeling good. The track conditions had changed quite a lot and I struggled to adapt to it at the beginning of the session. It was difficult to feel how much grip the asphalt offered and that’s another bit of experience I lack at a time like this. I’ve never been to a track where you go a second and a half faster every session and that’s the case here. It’s a bit of a shame for now but at least a lesson to take away for the future. With fourteenth place I’m not quite where I want to be but it is what it is, tomorrow is the race and then we’ll do everything we can to get a nice result.”

Barry Baltus – P16: “To be honest I am really disappointed about qualifying because I think we could have done better. I had a very good feeling with the bike and we made an improvement compared to yesterday. It isn’t the best result in qualifying but for the race we have a very strong pace. We will need to fight and continue working in this way. I feel like I’m coming back but it’s not easy. The gaps are very small but tomorrow we will need to show what we can do.”

Jarno Janssen – Fieten Olie Racing GP team manager: “As I said yesterday, we had the speed but it didn’t quite come out. Both riders showed in the third practice this afternoon that we had that speed with a great performance that allowed them both to go straight through to Q2. Then you are dependent on that one 15-minute session and in Q2, unfortunately, things didn’t quite fall into place for both riders. The red flag didn’t help either as they were both still on a good lap, but that doesn’t mean it would have made all the difference. Anyway, I think we can be satisfied with 14th place for Zonta and 16th place for Barry. If we are right there from the first lap tomorrow, a good result is achievable for both of them. That’s what we are going for because we would like to take points with us to Valencia.”

The 18-lap Moto2 race at the Lusail International Circuit gets underway on Sunday at 18:15 local time, 16:15 Central European time.