Tech 3 Racing Team riders Xavier Simeon and Bradley Smith will start tomorrow's Sachsenring Moto2 race from fourth and ninth respectively after both challenged for pole position in a rain-affected qualifying session.
Simeon and Smith demonstrated the high potential of the French-built Mistral 610 machine in tricky conditions to occupy the top two places on the timesheets in an exciting qualifying session.
The Moto2 field ma naged to avoid the torrential rain that played a key role in the earlier Moto3 and MotoGP sessions but the surface was still treacherously wet and posed a difficult challenge for Simeon and Smith.
A maiden front row start looked to be within the grasp of Belgian rider Simeon when he began pushing in improving conditions in the closing stages of the session. He was on course to better his time of 1.34.908 but ran off track at the fast Turn 8 and after wrestling to keep control of his Mistral 610 machine, he suffered a low speed tumble in the gravel trap.
Simeon still equalled his best ever qualifying performance with fourth and he was only 0.047s away from Mika Kallio in third.
British rider Smith also saw an opportunity to score his first front row start of 2012 slip f rom his grasp when he succumbed to the tricky conditions while aiming to improve his best pace of 1.35.238.
A small crash cost him precious track time and Smith slipped down to the third row. Having finished third quickest in practice though the 21-year-old is optimistic that he will be competing for a second successive top six finish in tomorrow's 29-lap race.
Xavier Simeon 4th 1.34.686 – 23 laps:
“That was a very difficult qualifying session because the track was changing all the time and it was making it hard to understand where the limit was. Nevertheless I was very fast right from the start and I had a very good feeling with the Mistral 610 machine. At the end of the session I put in a new rear tyre but didn't feel comfortable with it, so I came back in for an old tyre with five minutes remaining and I felt I could push again with the same confidence as before. There was a dry line on the track and it looked like I might have been able to get pole position but I lost the rear at Turn 8. It was unfortunate to make that mistake because I am sure I would have been at least on the front row for the first time in my career. Fourth still equals my best ever grid position and with this track being so tight and hard to pass on, I have given myself a great chance of getting a positive result tomorrow.”
Bradley Smith 9th 1.35.238 – 16 laps:
“I've got mixed emotions because I missed a lot of track time at the end because of the crash but I am still on the third row and that means I have a chance of a good result tomorrow. Overtaking on this tight track is very dif ficult and any further back makes it very difficult to go with the leading group in the early laps. But I'm also disappointed because today was a great opportunity to be on pole position. I am sorry to my Tech 3 Racing crew because it was my mistake and we missed a great chance to be the fastest rider today. It can happen when you are pushing hard in tricky conditions like that and I am confident that in the wet or dry tomorrow I am going to be very competitive. Making a good start will be crucial to stay out of trouble at the tight first corner and hopefully we can be battling close to the podium again like in Assen last weekend.”
The Tech 3 Racing Team is anticipating a tough battle in tomorrow's Indianapolis Moto2 race after Bradley Smith and Xavier Simeon qualified in 14th and 18th respectively in gloriously sunny conditions this afternoon.
Refreshed and raring to go after a long summer break, Smith and Simeon were unable to find a comfortable set-up with the Mistral 610 machine on the slippery track surface at the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
After his fantastic podium challenge at the last round in Mugello, Smith arrived in America in high spirits and looking forward to building on the confidence gained in Italy.
The British rider though couldn't find the ideal set-up in practice to finish higher than 16th, but modifications for qualifying helped him gain two places.
His best time of 1.44.061 was 0.7s faster than his previous best lap over the weekend and he was only just over 0.5s away from the top six in yet another fiercely contested Moto2 qualifying session.
Simeon was only 0.2s behind Smith's pace and he will start from 18th but is confident he could have secured a much higher grid position had he not repeatedly encountered slower riders as he pushed for a fast lap time in the closing stages.
The Belgian rider ended with a best of 1.44.291 but he is optimistic that he can mount a challenge for a top 10 finish in tomorrow's 26-lap race.
Bradley Smith 14th 1.44.061 – 19 laps:
“We arrived here with confidence high after a positive race in Mugello but for some reason we just haven't been able to find a good set-up with the bike here in Indianapolis. I haven't felt anywhere near as comfortable on the bike as I did in Mugello and we need 0.5s to be in the battle for the top six tomorrow. It will be a long night because we have to try and find some solutions that will help me be faster and more competitive in the race. We will work hard and as always I will be giving it 100% in the race to get another strong finish.”
Xavier Simeon 18th 1.44.291 – 21 laps:
“My goal for qualifying was to be inside the top 15 and unfortunately I wasn't able to achieve that. This morning we made some changes to the bike that didn't work as we had hoped, so for qualifying we went back to yesterday's setting and I could at least push. But at the end of qualifying there was a lot of traffic on the track and I couldn't get a completely clean lap. I know I have some margin to improve for the race and the target will be to reach the top 10.”
Tech 3 Racing Team riders Bradley Smith and Xavier Simeon will launch their bid for the top 10 in tomorrow's AirAsia Australian Moto2 Grand Prix from 15th and 16th place on the grid respectively.
The Tech 3 Racing pair have had to battle constantly changing weather conditions at the fast and flowing Phillip Island track, with gusting winds, cold temperatures and rain showers all playing a part in this weekend's action.
Looking to build on a promising 13th position at t he end of practice, Smith was just about to commence his attack on soft rubber when he suffered a high-speed fall at Turn 8 on his 11th lap in this afternoon's qualifying session.
The 21-year-old was able to walkaway unhurt in the spill but with his Mistral 610 extensively damaged, Smith was unable to take any further part in a session that was disrupted by a short and sharp rain shower.
Smith's best time of 1.35.169 left him 15th on the grid, but despite missing precious time on track, he was less than 0.5s away from the top seven and he remains confident he can fight for a top six in tomorrow's race.
One place further back on the grid is Belgian teammate Simeon, who was only 0.141s behind after he set a personal best time of 1.35.310.
He has overcome niggli ng technical issues that have cost him precious time on track and disturbed his bid to find the optimum set-up with his Mistral 610 machine. But each time he tried to push for a fast lap time in the closing stages of qualifying, he encountered slower riders cruising close to the racing line and he is certain that had he found clear track in front of him he would have been challening for a much higher starting position.
Bradley Smith 15th 1.35.169 – 10 laps:
“First of all I want to say sorry to my Tech 3 Racing Team because it was an unfortunate mistake on my part. I had just put a new soft tyre in and I saw that it was starting to rain a little bit, but I wanted to do at least one or two laps. The soft tyre would definitely have improved my lap time and my grid position, so I made a mistake and I really feel s orry for it. The positive is that I didn't get hurt because that part of the track is very fast. It is a shame because we have been improving the bike in every session, but it has been a tough weekend. We still have some ideas for tomorrow to try in the warm-up, even if I'm afraid that the front group is not catchable. I believe that a realistic target for tomorrow might be an eighth place but of course I will be aiming for even better. Hopefully we will find some small improvements in the warm up, especially in the last sector where we lose a lot, and that section is really important for the race.”
Xavier Simeon 16th 1.35.310 – 15 laps:
“We have improved a lot since yesterday. The bike felt really good after I had an engine failure after just four laps yesterday and this morning we had a small problem and I spent quite a lot of time in the box. I didn't ride too much during the practice sessions, so we lost a lot of set-up time and a chance to build up my rhythm. We tried a new direction this afternoon and it definitely worked. It is a shame I couldn't capitalise on how good the Mistral 610 felt because at the end of the session when I was ready to push and take profit of the changes we had made, there were so many riders waiting to follow somebody that it was impossible to get in a clear lap. That's why I'm a little bit disappointed to be only 16th on the grid because I think my potential was higher. I'm still confident I can get in the points and finish this long trip with a positive result at this fantastic track.”
Tech 3 Racing Team rider Bradley Smith stormed into the top 10 for the eighth time this season after the British rider played a starring role in a thrilling battle in today's 20-lap Moto2 race at the Brno circuit.
Under grey and gloomy skies, Smith immediately surged into contention for the top 10 from 15th on the grid.
In a typically pulsating Moto2 battle, Smith became locked in a group of eight riders battling for fifth position and the fight continued right until the chequered flag in front of a huge crowd in the Czech Republic of almost 140,000 fans.
The 21-year-old had fought his way superbly into ninth place starting the final lap and he then conjured up another masterful overtake to seize eighth from Mika Kallio. Smith finished just over 0.5s away from Simone Corsi in fifth and just 2.5s split the eight-rider group at the end.
Xavier Simeon looked well set to score World Championship points for the fifth time this season when he capitalised on a stunning start from 21st on the grid to move into the top 15 on lap nine.
The Belgian rider then continued his charge through the field and he was challenging for 13th place when he crashed out of contention on the 12th lap. He was unhurt in the crash.
Bradley Smith 8th – 77 points :
“Sitting on the start line today I was a little bit worried to be hone st. I was 15th on the grid and not 100% sure the direction we had taken with the set-up was the right way. It wasn't too bad and throughout the whole race I was involved in a really exciting battle. There was lots of overtaking but I lost a bit of time when I tried to pass Zarco and on the next lap I had a problem with the clutch and that cost me some more tenths. I think if I could have got to the group battling for fifth a little bit earlier I might have had a chance to gain some more places. But I'm still pretty satisfied with the outcome of the race and it was important to bounce back quickly from the bad weekend we had in Indianapolis. Being back in the top eight is a strong result and now we can look forward to Misano to try and build up some momentum for the final part of the Championship.
Xavier Simeon DNF – 17 points :
“It's a big pity because I made a really good firs t lap and I was battling for some points when I crashed out at the middle of the race. At that point I was gaining some places and feeling really confident with the Mistral 610 machine. I had a good rhythm but while passing Aegerter I had lot of chattering and unfortunately lost the front. I'm very sorry for the Tech 3 Racing Team because this weekend they did a really good job to prepare the bike and we could have fought for the top 10. That's two races in a row now without points and that doesn't reflect our true potential in both.”
Herve Poncharal – Team Manager :
“After the disappointment of Indianapolis I am pleased to see the whole Tech 3 Racing Team has bounced back strongly with a good race today. Both Bradley and Xavier showed a lot of determination and it was great to see Bradley involved in such an exciting battle. I think if he had been a bit higher up the gri d he might have been able to battle with the leading four because his lap times were as fast and consistent as those at the front. Eighth position is still a positive result and he was very close to the top five, so it seems we have quickly got our season back on track. Bradley again showed the high potential of the Mistral 610 machine and I think it is realistic to think he can be on the podium before the end of the season. Xavier was doing a fantastic job and it was unfortunate he crashed because he showed he has the potential to be a regular inside the top 15. He made a small mistake passing Aegerter but that can happen when you are pushing and fighting hard for the top 10. It's a pity because he could have scored some important points and that would have been good for his confidence going into the last six races.”
Starting from 13th place on the grid, the British rider spent the entire 23-lap race battling inside the top 15 in cloudy but warm conditions.
A brilliant overtake on Alex de Angelis on lap 21 ensured Smith secured 11th position and he has now scored points in each of the opening five races of the season to remain inside the top 10 in the overall World Championship rankings.
Jordi Torres enjoyed a positive afternoon too on his first race on board the Mistral 610 machine.
Replacing the injured Tech 3 Racing regular Xavier Simeon, Torres was locked in an exciting battle with Smith in the early stages and he rode aggressively to put himself in a position to score the first World Championship points of his career.
Torres eventually finished 15th, which secured him his best ever World Championship result and he was able to give the Tech 3 Racing Team vital information that will help development of the Mistral 610 in the future.
Bradley Smith 11th – 28 points:
“Looking at the positives I have finished inside the points again and kept my place inside the top 10 in the Championship. But the gap to the front is still too big and we have to keep working hard to reduce that in the future races. I had a quite good start and put myself in a position to fight for the top 10 but the bike was nervous in the braking area at the beginning of the race and at the end I was not able to do the lap time of the group led by Corsi. I'm quite disappointed about that because I expected to fight for sixth place. We learned a lot once again and we will try and improve our situation to be more competitive at Silverstone, which is obviously a huge weekend for me being my home race.”
Jordi Torres 15th - 1 points:
“I'd said before the race that I have to make an aggressive start to stay with the fast guys bec ause I am not used to competing in the World Championship. The first corners were quite tricky and a few riders touched me and I was afraid I was going to crash out. I just decided to fight as hard as possible and I really enjoyed it. After four laps the tyres started to drop and I had some problems to adapt to this situation, as I'm not used to it from the Spanish Championship. At the beginning it was a bit easier to stay with the guys like Smith, de Angelis and Corti because what I lost on the straight because of my weight I could recover it in the braking zone where I was aggressive. But it got more difficult as the grip continued to drop and I risked crashing out a few times, so I decided to slow down a little bit and finish the race. I'm completely happy with the result because I wanted to be in the points but I am very happy with the work we did during the weekend. The Tech 3 Team is very professional and I learned a lot. I really enjoyed this experience and I want to stay a big thanks to the Team for this opportunity.”
Herve Poncharal – Team Manager:
“We expected a little bit more from today's race but at least Bradley and Jordi finished and we gained some more crucial information on the Mistral 610 machine. Bradley was in the points again and he never gave up, but clearly his potential is higher and we need to work together to try and be closer to the front. I want to thank Jordi also because he did a fantastic job in difficult circumstances. It is never easy jumping on a new bike against this level of competition but he quickly adapted to the Mistral 610 machine and he was very professional in his approach. He didn't make any mistakes all weekend and he gave us a lot of feedback on the bike. He qualified very close to the top 10 and it's fantastic that we could help him to score his firs t World Championship points with us. It has been a pleasure working him and I think everybody in the Tech 3 Racing Team enjoyed the experience.”