ÁNGEL NIETO TEAM RETURN TO THE PROMISED LAND2018-04-04 07:12
The Spanish MotoGP outfit returns to Argentina, venue of their best result for the past two seasons
The MotoGP World Championship returns from what will be its longest break between now and summer, ready for a run of eight straight races with just a week off between each. A breathless few months kicks off this weekend in Argentina, where Italy's Andrea Dovizioso arrives as the series leader after his opening night victory under the lights of Qatar. An advantage at the chequered flag of just 0.027 seconds over Marc Márquez was enough for the first win of the season for the Ducati rider and a five-point lead over the Spaniard in the championship, although both have bad memories of the Termas de Río Hondo circuit, having failed to finish there in 2017, when Maverick Viñales took the win.
The Ángel Nieto Team are eager to return to Argentina, venue of their best ever results in the MotoGP class: respective fourth positions for Álvaro Bautista in 2017 and Eugene Laverty in 2016. For 2018, the team is aiming for a return to the leading positions, with Bautista, who enjoyed his best result of last season at Autódromo de Termas de Río Hondo, travelling to Argentina in determined mood after his spirited ride in Qatar, where he recovered from 21st on the grid to finish 12th+1. His team-mate Karel Abraham also has fond memories of the Argentinean race in 2017, when he qualified on the front row before battling to a creditable top ten finish. The Czech rider adapted well to the circuit in Termas and is hoping for another strong qualifying performance this weekend, which along with a good start should propel him to a standout result in the race.
Álvaro Bautista: “Last year's race in Argentina wasn't bad for us, fourth place was the best result of the season and it is a circuit that on paper looks quite easy and fun – I like it. This year we arrive in a different way. We were better prepared in 2017, whereas this season we are still facing some issues. In Qatar, after all the work we did in practice, we saw an improvement in the race, which was positive if you look at where we started, the lap times we put together and the gap at the finish to the winner. So I can take plenty of motivation to Argentina, which is a track that suits my style well. It will be difficult to repeat the result from last year but if we are able to build on the feeling from the race in Qatar we can certainly be closer. That is our objective now: to close the gap to the top until I am able to enjoy myself properly and give my maximum on the bike. Let's see if we can get another good result in Argentina.”
Karel Abraham: “I like the Termas de Río Hondo circuit and also last year it was good for us, especially on the Saturday when we qualified second on the grid. I am looking forward to going back there and I want to give my maximum in qualifying to achieve another strong starting position that we can build on with a strong race. I think that if I can make a good start and put some fast laps together at the beginning of the race we can fight for an interesting result. We will give it our best shot. I'm ready.”
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