By Lisa Lewis
Champions in last year's final 125cc Championship, the Aspar team put in an understated performance by its usual standards in the inaugural Moto3 grand prix under the Qatar floodlights, with Hector Faubel and Alberto Moncayo just twelfth and 14th respectively.
Jorge Martinez's men struggled all weekend relative to the front-running pace, but achieved better times in the race than practice after making progress to eliminate chassis issues.
Faubel, the oldest rider in Moto3 at 28 and multiple former 125cc race winner, found his issues accentuated by contact on lap three:
“I am happy with my start today, which took me up to the second group straight away. It's a pity that on the third lap I ran wide after coming into contact with another rider, as that lost me places.
“I was part of a group who put up a huge fight and I couldn't break away. It was a tough race but I leave Qatar with plenty of hope for the future, because we found some solutions.”
Faubel went on to say “We know that we still have work to do in order to find a better chassis setting and be able to open the throttle earlier” a problem he had also alluded to after qualifying, saying: “Our main handicap is chassis flexibility, which is costing us a lot of time in the fast corners.”
Moncayo felt he had not been attacking enough during the season opener.
“The start didn't go as well as I wanted and I found myself in a group hungry for a fight. I had trouble getting comfortable and I made a mistake at the start that dropped me down the order. I was just lacking a little aggression. This wasn't the result that we were hoping for, but the championship has only just begun and we will be working hard to be stronger at Jerez."
Moncayo had been more “satisfied” with the Kalex chassis during the race than his team-mate, but had also experienced difficulty with its set-up during practice and qualifying, a problem he puts down to concentrating on engine development.
“We have improved the engine since yesterday but the chassis needed more work and that is to be expected because we have spent so much time focusing on the engine.”
The Aspar team had previously won the opening round of the old 125cc championship between 2006-2011, with the exception of 2009, when Julian Simon finished second in the season opener.
The only Kalex-KTM rider to finish in front of Faubel on Sunday was Luis Salom (RW Racing) in fourth.
The Moto3 championship continues in Jerez on the 27th April for Friday practice at the Spanish grand prix in Jerez.