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.
Position: DNF - Championship: Not classified
"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."
Position: 10th - Championship: 10th - Points: 6
"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."
"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."