In rescheduled race at Losail
San Carlo Honda Gresini Team rider Alex De Angelis produced a spectacular performance to take sixth place in the Grand Prix of Qatar yesterday night, whilst Toni Elias made it a double top ten for the team with a hard-earned ninth spot following
a difficult weekend.
After the postponement of Sunday night's race due to rain, it was an anxious 24 hours for the riders as they awaited the restart, scheduled for 9pm local time.
Thankfully there were blue skies above Doha today and the opening round of the season was able to take place as planned, with De Angelis starting from ninth and Elias right behind him in twelfth on the grid. The San Marino youngster, starting his second season in MotoGP, produced a typically combative display to pick off a series of opponents, at one stage inadvertently making contact with Dani Pedrosa on his charge through the pack.
“I'm so happy with this result because I think we deserve it after working so hard this weekend. I didn't get a great start but I knew my pace was okay so I just tried to stay calm, pass as many people as possible and make up positions”, he said. “We knew the podium was out of reach for us here but I always felt we were capable of a top result and sixth place falls into that category. I was called up to Race Direction to put forward my version of the collision with Dani but there was no complaint against me so it wasn't a big deal. This is just the start and even though we know this circuit suits my style of riding and my package, our aim is to be consistent and keep scoring results like this one. ”
Elias was more than happy to pick up ninth place after struggling with his bike set-up all weekend.
“Taking into account where we started from and the problems we had this weekend, this is a decent result for us and I'm satisfied”, he said.
“In terms of points it probably would have been better for us if the race was cancelled here because we knew it would be tough for us but the truth is that if you had offered me ninth place on Friday, I probably would have taken it! We know we have work to do and we know exactly where our problems are, so we'll work together with Honda to try and fix them as much as possible before the next race in Japan.”
The pair are now looking forward to the next round of the season, Honda's home Grand Prix at Motegi in Japan, in two weeks' time.
“I have to say that we're happy with the results today. We knew we could do well on race tyres and Alex did a great job. He made life difficult for himself at the start but he rode brilliantly and fully deserved the result. It was a shame about the collision with Pedrosa – I'm not sure exactly how it happened but I think it was clear that Alex didn't do it intentionally. Taking into account Toni's problems this weekend his result isn't bad either and I think it's a positive platform for us to build from now as we look to improve in the coming races”, commented Team Manager Fausto Gresini.