The Monster Yamaha Tech3 team experienced a dramatic start to the season in Qatar with the all-new rookie line-up grabbing the headlines in their first premier class races despite the challenging weather conditions. Rain fell as the MotoGP bikes lined the grid, which caused the start to be delayed yet the sprint eventually began with a new and reduced distance of 20 laps. Johann Zarco produced a magnificent display to lead the field for the opening six laps before his race came to an unfortunate end when he fell at turn 2. Whilst, Jonas Folger mounted a notable recovery charge, after slipping back to 18th on the opening lap, to power around the track and meet the chequered flag in 10th. Both riders will return to the saddles of their Yamaha YZR-M1 MotoGP bikes in a fortnight for round 2 in Argentina.


Johann ZARCO
Position: DNF - Championship: Not classified


Johann Zarco - 2017"Despite the end result, I am happy and it was so good to lead the field in my first race. This morning, we had a longer warm up because there wasn’t any action on Saturday. The track was not perfect, but my feeling was very strong and my grid position, which was 4th, was close to the top. Just before the start, the procedure was disrupted because it rained twice and there was a delay. When the GP finally commenced, I was focused and I could see that I was not far from first so I wanted to take the opportunity to do well. I know that my starts are strong and I overtook some good riders at the first corner and I then got into a consistent rhythm. I kept pushing but on the sixth lap, I decided to relax, and maybe I went off the racing line a little bit and then I fell at the second corner. This is a shame but we are always on the limit and I still need to learn the category so this kind of mistake is part of my lesson as a rookie in MotoGP. I am happy in the end, it’s a pity about the result but it’s important for my confidence and I am excited for the Argentina round."


Jonas FOLGER
Position: 10th - Championship: 10th - Points: 6


Jons Folger - 2017"I am happy to finish my first MotoGP race inside the top ten but I still have a lot to learn for the future. The last part of the GP was good and I was able to recover well. However, the conditions were not great at the beginning, because of the rain as well as the waiting and this made me a bit nervous. Anyway, I have to take all the positives from this round and focus on the next event. I know that I need to work on myself more and also with the team so that we can go quicker at the beginning of the next GP and I can hold my qualifying position. I think that we have a solid pace, and now we know where I have to improve so I am confident for Argentina and I’m looking forward to the challenge."


Hervé PONCHARAL
Team manager


"Everybody was excited for the start of the season, and we were really confident that we could achieve two strong results here. Johann began the race in an unbelievable manner, and he overtook riders like Marquez and Dovizioso on his first lap, which was amazing. He then rode the fastest lap of the GP and was the only rider to run below the 1’56 lap times. On every lap he kept opening a gap of more than half a second to the next rider and I thought that we could witness something unreal which was him winning the first race as a rookie. The dream came to an end on the sixth lap, but when he fell, he was not pushing over the limit and he just went slightly off the line and lost the front, and this makes the pill harder to swallow. We will never know if he would have been able to hold the position, but he was fantastic and it has given him a big confidence boost. Now we realise that there will be a lot of surprises in 2017 and he will be strong. As for Jonas, I am a bit disappointed for him because he was fast throughout the winter tests. The fact that the riders had to sit on the grid for so long made a difference and when the race eventually got going, he didn’t have a good start and it took him some time to find a good rhythm. In the end, he made a lot of ground and finished inside the top ten. Jonas will have learnt a lot and no doubt he will be more relaxed in the future. We have to remember that both guys are rookies and what they showed throughout the winter and here is very exciting for 2017. We can’t wait for Argentina where hopefully Johann and Jonas can have two strong performances."

The Monster Yamaha Tech3 team riders did not experience any action today in Qatar due to continuous rain which prevented the riders from taking to the track because of safety concerns. Despite the efforts of the dedicated staff at the Losail International Circuit, it was not possible to clear the streams of water that crossed the track. The grid positions will be based on the combined practice times that were recorded in the three free practice sessions. As a result, Johann Zarco will kick off his first MotoGP race from 4th on the grid with Jonas Folger launching from 8th. There will be an additional ten minutes in each warm-up session, with the race schedule remaining as planned.


Johann ZARCO
Position: 4th


Jonas Folger - 2017"Today we didn’t do qualifying and our grid positions will be based on the combined practice times. As a result, I am happy about the work that I have completed since the first session on Thursday. We knew that the weather in Qatar this weekend could complicate things so I spoke with my crew about how to be as fast as possible in the practices. I am pleased that this strategy worked for me but I was lucky yesterday when I did my lap time because I followed Maverick and I learnt a lot of things. Tomorrow I will launch from the head of the second row and it’s a good opportunity to kick off the season in a positive way. My target is to finish the race in a strong position and I would like to start well from 4th and remain with the front guys like Maverick and Marquez so that I can gain some knowledge from them. If I stay close to the leading group for at least half of the race, I can achieve a solid result."


Jonas FOLGER
Position: 8th


Johann Zarco - 2017"It’s a shame that we couldn’t ride today, but I will begin the race in a good position after the positive lap time that I set in FP2. Having said that, it’s a shame that I have to wait a bit longer to experience the qualifying, but safety comes first and I think that race direction made the best decision. I’m really looking forward to starting my MotoGP career after such a successful winter test season so I will give my all to get a strong result tomorrow."

The Monster Yamaha Tech3 rookie pairing of Johann Zarco and Jonas Folger shone on the second day of action under the floodlights by producing two deeply impressive displays to both qualify for Q2 in their first MotoGP event. Johann Zarco kicked off the day with a superb run to 4th in FP2, and he then increased his pace in the third session to notably finish in 3rd and a mere 0.174 from the top with his time leaving him in 4th overall. Whilst Jonas Folger continued to highlight his quick adaptation and talent on the Yamaha YZR-M1 by completing FP2 in 3rd, which saw him clinch 8th in the combined times. Both riders now set their sights on sealing two strong qualifying positions tomorrow with FP4 taking place at 19:55 local time and then the all important Q2 shootout beginning at 21:00.

 


Johann ZARCO
Position: 4th - Time: 1'55.008 - Laps: 35


Jonas Folger - 2017"I am very happy with our performance today. The work that the team and I did was really good and going straight through to QP2, and being ready for it, is important for many reasons, but also because we can save some tyres. In all honestly, I was not completely confident on the first day due to the track conditions, even though my position was positive. However, today my confidence increased and I was a bit lucky because in the final session, whilst I was using the soft tyres, I followed Maverick and I learnt a lot from him, plus I improved my lap time. It was a job well done for today and now I will keep focused for the qualifying. Additionally, I will prepare for the race as much as possible because I think that if I am strong for 22 laps, then I can finish with a big smile on my face on Sunday."

 


Jonas FOLGER
Position: 8th - Time: 1'55.208 - Laps: 29


Johann Zarco - 2017"Today went very well for me and I was able to lower my lap time from the first practice. However, in FP3, I went out on used tyres and I tried to reach the limit but then I fell. This was a shame, but we are not far from the fastest time and we have a good bike for tomorrow so I am sure that we can do a solid job. I would be really happy if I could qualify in the top ten, yet my main target is to produce the lap time that I managed to ride in the test. This means that I have to improve by 0.4 of a second, but we will have to see what happens with the weather because there may be rain. However, it does not matter if it comes, as we are ready and I am happy with everything so far."

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