The lights were on at the Losail Circuit in Qatar where the first two free practice sessions for the Moto3 World Championship season were held on Thursday. Niklas Ajo and Danny Kent were two of the main protagonists, riding a Husqvarna for the manufacturer’s first time in this category. After improving their times in the last session of the day, the Red Bull Husqvarna Ajo and Avant Tecno Husqvarna Ajo rider were eleventh and nineteenth overall, respectively.
The first 40 minutes of free practice for the year were set aside for relearning the Qatar track and adapting to the characteristics of this Grand Prix. That was precisely what Danny Kent and Niklas Ajo did. The Red Bull Husqvarna Ajo rider was always amongst the top riders on the timesheet and finished with the eighth best time of 2.08.032. However, Ajo preferred to be more cautious on a less sandy asphalt surface than usual, and was twentieth with a 2:09.437 lap.
In the last session the strategy was the same, involving trying all sorts of configurations for the Husqvarna to find the best possible setup for the race on Sunday. Kent improved on his morning time to go eleventh, with a 2:07.315 lap, whilst his Husqvarna project-mate Ajo took an important step forward. In the first 20 minutes the Avant Tecno Husqvarna Ajo rider lowered his best lap of the opening session and, on his penultimate lap, he did it again to finally go 1.5 seconds quicker. That put him nineteenth, with a best lap of 2:07.861.
Tomorrow will see the second night of action at the Losail circuit, where the Husqvarna riders and the rest of the Moto3 grid have one more practice session at the first event of the year.
Niklas Ajo – Avant Tecno Husqvarna Ajo:
”These two sessions have been positive and I’ve felt good on the bike with no problems. During the first session we did not put new tyres on, so the lap time was not very good. I’m quite surprised by the level generally -I have never seen such a high level from everyone. I feel good, but we are still far from the fastest, so we still have to work and see where we are losing time. In any case, our feeling is good so maybe the difference is not in the bike but with my riding.”
Danny Kent – Red Bull Husqvarna Ajo:
”We’re not entirely happy with how the day went. We had some problems with the bike; we endeavored to set it up well but, when cornering, when I eased off the brakes we went too wide. We have to sit down and work hard to try to rectify the problem for tomorrow. I am convinced that we will solve the issue, so I feel confident. We have the bike and team to get a good result, so we just have to keep fighting.”
Results (Combined practice time FP1-FP2)
1. Romano Fenati (KTM) 2:06.168
2. Jakub Kornfeil (KTM) 2:06.190 +0.022
3. Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 2:06.427 +0.259
4. Niccolo Antonelli (KTM) 2:06.551 +0.383
5. Alexis Masbou (Honda) 2:06.628 +0.460
11. Danny Kent (Red Bull Husqvarna Ajo) 2:07.315 +1.147
19. Niklas Ajo (Avant Tecno Husqvarna Ajo) 2:07.861 +1.693