Shaun Simpson: “I believe – a lot – that your ‘Sunday can come off your Saturday’ and, in this case, Friday was going well until we had our problem. I felt great on the bike and the speed was there. I was fastest in warm-up but just getting out of the gate today was always going to be hard work. I do genuinely believe that if I had got away well at the start then I could have been anywhere between sixth and tenth easily. I feel that I am riding well enough to be there. We’ll see if we can make it happen in Thailand.”
Christophe Charlier: “A hard night. It was so hard to pass on that track and I didn’t give myself much chance with the starts today. Also luck was not with me. In the second moto a rock smashed me in the face and I started bleeding. It took me a while to recover from that. Anyway, the series is very long and for sure we will have many better days.”
Luke Styke: “I’ve been struggling with a viral infection so I knew I was up against it. I did what I could but after ten minutes I was so weak and couldn’t see properly. It wasn’t safe to continue. I’ve seen the doctor and it is one of those things that will take a bit of time to recover from.”
Petar Petrov: “I’m not happy with the result but I managed to show the speed is there. I rode the fourth best lap-time in the first race, so that’s good. In the second race passing was so hard. It took me so long to get by Coldenhoff but by then the race was over. This really shows how the start is important. I hope next week in Thailand the track will be rougher, which will suit me better then these all-out fast races.”
Jeremy Van Horebeek: “Really solid today and I’m happy with the Grand Prix. I missed the starts this weekend. I had almost the same speed as the four guys in front of me but to go faster on this track was almost impossible. The bike is really awesome with how we set it up and it’s great for the rest of the season. The first one is done and I know where I am, which is near the front. Just a little bit more work to do on the starts and the podium is not far away.”
David Philippaerts: “It was difficult. Very hard. The track was strange. Some parts were very slippery and others had a lot of traction and in the second moto there were a lot of small bumps. I was not riding that well tonight. I need to work more with the suspension because we did not have the best set-up. We pushed hard to be here and the result didn’t come but we have seventeen more rounds ahead and to get near the front.”
Jeffrey Herlings: “I am still having problems with my starts, we’re working on them but I need to improve. But tonight I just wasn’t happy with my riding. All I can do is to keep working on it and hope to be better next weekend in Thailand. I just need a little more speed and way better starts. The bike is perfect, the team is perfect. Its all about myself and I’ll try to work on that, regroup and have a good race next weekend.”
Jordi Tixier: “I have a good bike and a good team and in Thailand the track is wide and nice. I just have to get used to the heat.”
Antonio Cairoli: “Last week I didn’t even know if I could put my foot down on the footpeg, I had so much pain. But with the work we did we made so much improvement on my ankle. I twisted it twice again on this slippery track, once in qualifying, when I had a small crash and once in the race when I tried to pass Bobryshev. I tried to do my best out there and to be on the podium. My goal for the season is to always be on the podium in every race.”
Romain Febvre: “I’m so happy to finish on the podium at the first race of the season. It’s a fantastic result for both the team and myself. We worked hard during the winter to be ready for Qatar and it’s showed. Unfortunately, I qualified 14th on Friday and had to work hard from an outside gate pick. But I was able to find some good lines and work my way inside the top five in both races. It feels incredible to leave Qatar with a podium result and I’m excited to try and improve next weekend in Thailand.”
Aleksandr Tonkov: “Fifth overall is a competitive start to the season. I’m really pleased with how I rode tonight. Despite a bad gate pick my starts were great and I was running inside the top five on the first lap of each race. I’m a little disappointed to have lost some pace during the midway stages in the motos, but towards the end I began to find a fast rhythm again and was able to finish strongly. Next weekend is the GP of Thailand and although it will be hot I’m confident I can do better.”
Todd Waters: “It’s been a rough start to my MXGP career. I had a massive crash during qualification and was lucky not to get injured. Coming through the wave section the rider in front of me made a mistake and I had to take avoiding action – resulting in one of the biggest crashes I’ve had in a long time. I was quite beat up after it but was determined to compete in my first ever MXGP race. In race one I was still hurting but toughed out a 14th place result.
I felt a bit better for race two but was struggling with confidence in the track. Finishing 11th overall was a good improvement. Hopefully next weekend things will go smoother and I can finish inside the top 10 like I know I’m capable of.”
Matiss Karro: “I was surprised how I was riding in pre-quali as I was putting in some good times. My qualifying race was OK, I stayed on both wheels, with no crashes. First race I had a bad start but found my rhythm and started to come through more strongly. Then my bike had a problem and I had to stop which ended my race. In the second race I was really happy to take holeshot, I felt really good and strong until I was taken out. Still, I had some real positives to take away from this weekend, especially the holeshot as well as increasing my confidence knowing I can ride in the top 10 .”
Jake Nicholls: “I am pleased with how my first race of the year went this weekend in Qatar. Just three weeks ago I broke a bone in my back and coming into the weekend I was genuinely unsure whether I would even be able to ride the bike. The first couple of practises were very steady but the qualifying heat went alright and I realised that my back would in-fact hold up.
I rode very cautiously but to come away with 10 points on a track as rough as it was is really good. It’s the hardest 10 points I’ve earned as I had to ride through a lot of pain. But I’m pleased and I feel I will be back stronger next weekend after a weeks rest. Thanks to the team and my mechanic for a great first race together.”
Max Nagl: “The last win was a long time ago for myself so to win the first race today makes me really happy. I got a good start and managed to get out front. Up until the last lap I wasn’t that tired, just maintaining my pace, but then I had to really push at the end when Toni was behind me as I knew he’d be giving it everything he’s got.
I’m just so pleased for Roger, my chief mechanic, and the whole team for this win, and it was the perfect way to start the season. I was happy all weekend with my riding, and the bike was always working perfectly. Every session we made some small changes to setup and we always could improve it a little bit and that’s the best way to work. It’s important to start the season this way, not like last year, and to be taking points.”
Evgeny Bobryshev: Really I was fighting twice today – once with the race itself, and also with my ankle injury. I have the speed and everything but I could not handle the track and the slippery ground. There were many right handers and I couldn’t use my injured leg properly. In the second race I twisted it twice again, and I had a big battle at the start of the race and a few times my ankle was hit which caused me so much pain. I had to continue so I squeezed my teeth and finished. The season is long, but at the moment it’s really tough.
Clement Desalle: “Not such a nice GP; very difficult. Yesterday wasn’t so bad in the timed practice but I had a bad start and then again in the first moto. It was not easy to pass and the track was different compared to last year. It was not nice. The hard-pack was getting loose in some places, so I was not feeling confident or comfortable. I did what I could do. I’m disappointed with my mistakes in the first laps. I lost too many positions. Second moto I just tried to finish and sixth was it. I am coming back from a big injury and we all say I am ready but maybe I need a bit more time. I’m working on this.”
Kevin Strijbos: “When I said I had the best bike ever for this season I really meant it; the power is so strong. It helped at the start of that first moto but when I made a few mistakes and got tight I could not really do much any more. I was just hanging on. In the second moto I did not get the start I wanted or needed. We’ll work some more and hope for better in Thailand because there are some good signs that we can take from Friday.”
Glenn Coldenhoff: “It didn’t happen tonight. A bad start in both motos. I came back quite well and my riding was good; the speed was there. I just got passed by Jeffrey on the last lap but in the beginning I was struggling to overtake Butron and also Ferrandis. I was quicker than those guys but it was hard to make a move. In the second moto I didn’t have a rear brake after 10 minutes and that was it.”
Julien Lieber: “The first race, well, the first laps, were pretty good. I was fourth but then Ferrandis was making some mistakes in front of me and he crashed also. I went down shortly afterwards and I lost a lot of time re-starting because the bike was on a slope and I had to go in the pits as the clutch lever was bent downwards. In the second race the start was not so good. My speed was OK but then I lost the flow and positions also. Another crash later on. There were some things to be happy about.”
Jeremy Seewer: “After yesterday I was sure that my speed was good enough for the top 10. I was not focussed on the result or setting myself an expectation but instead having fun on the track. My speed was good in the first moto even if my start wasn’t. I was 10th but then after three laps I crashed into Gajser; it was a racing incident. I was at the back and came through to 14th and had one small crash.
I had good pace but too many mistakes! In the second moto it was almost the same. I struggled on the first lap and from then it didn’t go so well. I got some dust in my eyes and crashed again. Everything went wrong and I’m not so happy with 18th. I have to put everything together now. I know I can make the top ten.”
Max Anstie: “On Saturday I was very sick, I did not think I was going to have the energy to do as well as I could not eat anything on Sunday but I just got out there and did what I had to do to win, unfortunately the bike stopped with about 3 laps to go, but that’s racing. I have the most amazing bike I have ever ridden and these things happen in motorsport. The next race I made an awesome pass on Butron as I was the first rider to do the double jump.”
I held a comfortable lead until 3 laps to go when I just stalled it into a corner and then I just didn’t have the energy and composure to fire the bike straight away and lost like 18 places and then I got back to 17th. Whilst it was disappointing as I should have had 50 points and a podium, I know I have the speed and the bike to finally prove I can be at the top.”
Rui Goncalves: “The track was a little tricky with the loose surface, I have ridden a lot of sand lately to get my base fitness up, I felt I needed to make the bike less powerful for this type of surface, myself and my mechanic Victor are getting the bike dialed in and you will see a fast Rui soon, but I am happy we are working towards a good plan for the season”.
Dylan Ferrandis: “I’m disappointed with my result in the second race; I was riding smoothly but got some mud on my goggles and I had vision troubles. I lost a few positions and that cost me the overall GP victory after I had won the first moto. The last few laps of the first race were intense as Jeffrey was just behind me; it was stressful but I beat him and I am now even more determined to do it more often.”
Arnaud Tonus: “Unfortunately I had a crash after the second corner in the first moto. I got into a slide, another rider hit my rear wheel and we both crashed. The track was slippery and there were not so many lines but I came back to tenth. I rode tight at the beginning of the second race as I didn’t want to make the same mistake again but after ten minutes I found a better rhythm and charged back to second. It’s great to see that I have the speed for podium results.”
Tommy Searle: “I struggled with the track yesterday and never felt confident, but today was much better and, even if I didn’t got good starts, I enjoyed riding there. I had a better feeling with the track and the bike today and, although the results are not fantastic with a sixth and a seventh position I know what I can expect in the next GPs.”
Alessandro Lupino: “It was not a great weekend for me; already during the practice sessions I was struggling with the track. Today I crashed in the first race with some other riders; it took time to recover and to finish eleventh. The second race was even worse as I got sick after a meal; I had cramps in my stomach and couldn’t ride as I usually do.”
Gautier Paulin: “The goal this season is to get good results at every GP. The entire team has worked a lot this winter to achieve this, and to start the season with a win at the first GP is a great reward for all of us. We will have the red plate next weekend in Thailand, even if the most important thing will be to have it at the last GP. But it’s already good for the team spirit that we are leading the championship. My second start was better than the first one; I nearly got the holeshot and then led every lap of the race without any mistakes.”
Steven Frossard: “It was a good weekend for me. The first start was not so good but I recovered to fourth and was happy with this result. In the second race Gautier and I both had a good start and we led the race after I had passed Bobryshev and Cairoli on the first lap. I rode smoother in the second moto, but that’s normal as I had many injuries during the last two seasons and didn’t do many races so I need to get used to racing regularly again.”
Thomas Covington: “It’s been a crazy weekend, in the first heat I couldn’t do many laps as I had a technical problem with the bike. But the team did an amazing job to solve the problem and I can’t thank enough the team to give me this opportunity to do some races in Europe. The track was awesome for the second race, I got a good start and had fun fighting for the podium.”
Natalie Kane: “I wasn’t feeling that well coming here but everybody has their own problems to deal with. We obviously haven’t been here before so I was watching videos beforehand and it still feels weird to race in floodlights! They made a mistake by watering the track so much before our first moto. It was like it had rained in the night and everybody was sliding everywhere. Anyway I quite enjoyed the track generally; it was tough, it was something different and I’d definitely like to come again. The goal now is to keep injury-free and get some more bike time ahead of the next race.”