Andrea Iannone has admitted that he wasted a chance for a strong result in the opening race of the 2017 MotoGP season, after the Italian replicated his 2016 performance at the Qatar Grand Prix by crashing out while battling for the lead.
Running at the front on his first ride on the Suzuki GSX-RR machine, he looked certain to be in the mix right until the flag dropped until an unfortunately-normal move that saw him make contact with Marc Marquez left him unceremoniously launched out of contention – to his disgust.
“I’m very sorry for the crash because I wasted a positive race. After the test, we continued improving, even here at the weekend. My feeling is not yet at 100% but we have room for improvement, which is a positive thing. The truth is that I made a mistake. I hit another rider which caused my crash. It’s a shame because I could be even faster and I had a good chance. I have to blame myself for the mistake. May this be a lesson to myself for the future.
“Although I didn’t feel totally comfortable, I have to wait for a better situation to pass a slower rider and not to be so impulsive. I made a mistake and I really hope it is my first and last time. Suzuki had worked really hard during winter for me. They are giving me a performing machine, they have trust in me, and I really want to pay them back in the best way with better results.”
However, team manager Davide Brivio says that there’s many positives that they can take not only from the pace that Iannone was showing when he fell but also from rookie Alex Rins’ performance, with the youngest rider on the grid coming home in a strong ninth place.
“Andrea’s crash is a shame as he was having a fantastic race. He was consistently at the head of the race in a podium position, showing clear confidence with the pace. Unfortunately, he had this slide. It’s something that happens when you are fighting hard, but I think we are able to maintain the important awareness that we can be competitive and we can be there fighting. We have to work to make races like this more-and-more frequent.
“We are supremely happy for the absolutely great debut of Alex: He finished ninth only 14-seconds from the race winner. He kept a good pace and was very fast at the end of the race. He fought hard and I think he was able to learn a lot and proved to be a real racer. We are exceedingly proud of him and I believe this experience has been useful for him as well. He will take advantage of this in the future. I can’t wait to go to the next race to see how we can maintain our competitiveness with Andrea and further improve with Alex. At this first race we seen good signs and have reasons to be positive.”