Losail, Qatar, 26 March 2017: Mahindra Racing's hopes of scoring points in the first GP of 2017 were dashed under the Qatari floodlights, when big-hearted class rookie Marco Bezzecchi crashed out after fighting his way to the front of a fierce group. He had started the last of 18 laps in 12th place, leading the second group.
The 18-year-old Italian rookie, riding for the French CIP team in his first GP as a full-time rider, had overcome some fast company in the tight chasing pack, which was circulating at the same pace as the leaders. He had been the best-placed of the six Mahindra-mounted riders, dropping to the back after a fall. Bezzecchi would remount to finish 25th.
Back in action after the sole Indian constructor’s best season in 2016, other Mahindra Racing riders suffered various difficulties. This was largely due to poor starting positions, after all qualifying sessions had been cancelled due to rain and circuit flooding on Saturday. As a result, grid positions were taken from Free Practice times, denying riders the chance to concentrate on fast lap times rather than machine set-up.
The best finisher on an MGP3O was Jakub Kornfeil, who crossed the line in 20th on the SaxoPrint Peugeot, wearing the badge of Mahindra’s sister-company.
New-for-2017 Aspar Mahindra Team rider Lorenzo Dalla Porta finished 23rd, one place behind second CIP Mahindra rider Manuel Pagliani. The second Aspar Mahindra rider, Albert Arenas, crashed out unhurt on the fifth lap after joining the battle for points and setting his personal best lap of the race.
There was encouragement for the team in spite of the disappointing results. The Mahindra MGP3O has been completely revised, and has proved both fast and reliable in preseason tests and at the first GP, showing the core strength of the package.
Marco Bezzecchi, CIP – 25th
"It was great to be fighting with Bulega and Bastianini. I was able to stay with them through all the corners. If I am with the group, I can stay and fight with them – no matter who. A shame to crash, I was first in the group and I went for the inside. At this track the kerb is a little bit down, I touched it and went off. It’s a disappointment to fall, but I know I can now fight with these guys. I just need to qualify better."
Mufaddal Choonia, Mahindra Racing CEO
"We know where we need to work, and we need to work fast. At least the bike has shown that it is strong, as Marco proved. He was in a group with a similar pace to the leaders, but they got split due to bad grid positions. The bike is promising – a clear step forward from last year. I hope that we can now help the riders to make the most of it."
About Mahindra Racing
In 2017, Mahindra Racing is competing as a constructor in its sixth year in the Moto3™ class of MotoGP™ and remains the only Indian constructor in the series, having first participated in 2011. Mahindra Racing supplies the Mahindra MGP3O single-cylinder, 4-stroke, 250cc motorcycle to the factory Aspar Mahindra Team and customer teams. Mahindra also supplies an official Peugeot Motocycles derivative of the MGP3O to the factory Peugeot MC Saxoprint Team.
The 2016 Mahindra Racing line-up includes: Aspar Mahindra Team Moto3 – Albert Arenas (SPA), Lorenzo Dalla Porta (ITA); Peugeot MC Saxoprint – Jakub Kornfeil (CZE), Patrik Pulkkinen (FIN); CIP-Unicom Starker- Manuel Pagliani (ITA), Marco Bezzecchi (ITA).
Mahindra Racing made history in the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix taking the first-ever podium for an Indian constructor. The MGP3O recorded top-five finishes in 10 of the 17 rounds in 2013 as well as a pole position, three circuit lap records and third in the constructors’ rankings. The 2014 season saw a further three podium finishes for the Indian motorcycle, including second place at the Sachsenring. In 2015, the Mahindra regularly fought at the front of the ultra-competitive Moto3™ class and recorded a podium finish at Le Mans.
2016 got off to a strong start for Mahindra Racing with Aspar Mahindra Team Moto3 rider Francesco (Pecco) Bagnaia securing a third place podium finish at the opening round in Qatar. The podiums continued in Jerez and Mugello before Pecco made history with victory in Assen, Mahindra's first in the World Championship. It was a historic day for everyone involved and proved the high level performance capabilities of the MGP3O. Two more victories followed with John McPhee dominating the field in a wet Czech GP before Bagnaia took a wonderful seven-second win in Sepang.
As well as its commitment in the World Championship, Mahindra continues to supply MGP3O machines to Team Aspar to compete in World Championship feeder series, the FIM CEV Repsol Moto3 Junior World Championship in 2017. Grand Prix legend Max Biaggi will spear head Mahindra’s effort in the CIV, the Italian Championship.
Mahindra's bold decision to take on the world’s best at the highest level of motorcycle racing has won the team a number of prestigious awards in India, including: the NDTV Car and Bike Awards - 'Mobil 1 Motorsport Award of the Year', 2012 and 2013; the Bike India Magazine - 'Motorsport Award', 2013; and 'ZigWheels Motorsport Award of the Year', 2012. Mahindra also won 'Racing Bike of the Year' at the Zeeignition Auto Awards, 2016.
For further information please visit: www.mahindraracing.com.
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