An 'extreme' bike setting provided a promising start with sixth position in opening practice for the Doha MotoGP weekend, but Danilo Petrucci's race would be undone by an old enemy; acceleration and top speed, exacerbated by fading grip.

"Danilo was suffering mainly down the straight," confirmed Tech3 KTM team boss Herve Poncharal.

After crashing due to contact with Alex Marquez on lap 1 of the first Qatar race, Petrucci had gone for a longer bike in search of more stability during the second event, where was classified inside the top six twice during free practice.

"We need to adjust my weight over the bike and put the right weight in the right moment on the right tyre. When we brake we need to put a certain weight on a certain tyre," Petrucci had explained.

"It is a matter of physics, just adapting the bike to my weight. We cannot change the engine, so we decided to try to be more aggressive on braking and try to stabilise the bike to be more fast on entry to the corner."

17th in qualifying wasn't anything to celebrate, but it was at least three places higher than the week before and made Petrucci second quickest of the KTMs.

But the double Ducati race winner remained concerned about performance down the 1km main straight and, like all the KTMs, also felt he had to gamble on running the medium front tyre rather than the soft used by the rest of the grid.

19th at the end of the first lap, Petrucci dropped to a low of 21st in the middle stages before two retirements ahead put him back where he had been on the opening lap.

“It was a very difficult race," Petrucci said. "I started not bad, but I was too slow on the first lap and was not able to stay with the big group in front of me. At the middle of the race, it was ok. But I never had a really good feeling to push.

"I struggled a lot with the front and rear grip. Then, we lost a lot on the main straight, so I couldn’t defend myself. I’m so sorry, because I thought to be faster, but in the middle of the race I couldn’t pass the rider in front of me [Valentino Rossi].

"Still, we gained some experience and collected some data, so we are looking forward to the next race.”

With team-mate Iker Lecuona (17th in the first race) crashing out on Sunday, Tech3, like LCR Honda, returns to Europe without any points to show for the opening rounds.

“It was a difficult opening of the championship for the entire team," said Poncharal.

"The only thing is, we could see the Factory guys doing well… Brad Binder did an incredible race and managed to end up in eighth position, just under five seconds to the winner. So, we should take the positives out of that.

“We still have a long way to go, but fortunately we will go to circuits, that should be a bit easier for us.

“We need to carry on working and take the highlight from Brad to show our guys there is more to come. We can’t wait to be at the next round in Portugal, where we have sweet memories, of course.”

Tech3 celebrated a perfect weekend of pole position, fastest lap and race victory with Miguel Oliveira at Portimao last November.

 

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