Petronas Moto2 team-mates Xavi Vierge and Jake Dixon experienced contrasting fortunes during Sunday's Qatar season-opener.

While Vierge faded from fifth to ninth, Dixon struggled in the early stages before a stronger finish allowed himto move from 20th to 14th.

Vierge was one of a number of riders to hit unexpected front tyre problems in the race, ending his podium hopes. The Spaniard later revealed there was a 'burn' visible on the right-side rubber.

"We came here with the goal of finishing the race, but also to try to get a podium," Vierge said of his Petronas debut. "For half of the race we were in the position that we wanted to be in the lead group and were trying to save the tyres for the last laps.

"For the last laps I felt like there was something wrong with the right side of the front tyre and I couldn’t do anything about that. From there my goal changed to just finish the race in the best position possible.

"It was P9 and after the race we see that I have a burn on the tyre, so now we need to analyse what happened."

Team Director Johan Stigefelt added: "It’s a shame… we saw that other riders had a similar [tyre] problem, they went even more backwards than us, so hats off to Xavi for finishing in the top ten."

Dixon lost time during the opening lap but went on to set his fastest lap of the race on the penultimate lap.

"It was difficult in the beginning; I nearly got taken out by another rider on the first lap and it ran me off the track, I lost a good two seconds from that," Dixon said.

"As the race went on I became stronger and stronger. From eight laps in the bike started to feel better, the fuel tank started to get lighter and I just got faster, got into my rhythm.

"The last five laps I was doing 1min 59secs lap times, comfortably within that in fact. I just need to figure out how to improve the first part of the race with a full fuel tank."

The Englishman, who apologised for contact with Luca Marini at the final turn, added:

"Overall I just want to thank Razlan Razali, Johan Stigefelt and all of the team for giving me the opportunity this year to be able to develop and get better as the season goes on.

"I think as a team we’ll only grow stronger and this is only the start of good things."

"The test here last week was difficult [for Dixon], it was hard for everyone but we had a good meeting of how to improve for the race weekend and we did that," Stigefelt said. "It’s been a great job from the team and a great job from Jake. He’s been working hard and he’s shown that he has a great talent. Today he was riding smart and the target was points."

The next round is due to be held at COTA from April 3-5, but few would be surprised if the US race - like Thailand - is postponed.

"We do leave Qatar with uncertainty about where we are going next but the riders will just have to keep their heads down, focus and be ready for when the next race will be," said team principal Razlan Razali.

 

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