The DRIVE M7 SIC Racing Team endured a difficult qualifying session today, that saw riders Jakub Kornfeil and Zulfahmi Khairuddin finish in twentieth and twenty eighth place, ahead of tomorrow’s Grand Prix de la República Argentina.
Consistently lapping at a good pace on his own, Jakub Kornfeil provisionally held thirteenth place as he broke into the 1m49s lap times. Despite dropping to twentieth position in the final minutes, just two tenths separate the Czech man from tenth place.
Teammate Zulfahmi Khairuddin faced a more trying session as he struggled to find a good rhythm on his #63 KTM machine. Battling to pick up the pace he continued to chip away at his lap time, but unable to make a significant improvement, was left to settle for twenty eighth position as the chequered flag came out.
Argentina – Saturday 18th April
Circuit: Termas de Río Hondo
Circuit Length: 4.8 km
Bike #63 – Zulfahmi Khairuddin
Qualifying: P28; 1’50.122 – 16 laps
Bike #84 – Jakub Kornfeil
Qualifying: P20; 1’49.675 – 17 laps
Johan Stigefelt – Team Manager
“Up until qualifying we were doing well and had made a very good step with the bike. We have been working hard with both riders and have been within the top ten and top fifteen for most of the sessions. For qualifying the track conditions became a lot warmer, but this is not an excuse for our results today because it was the same for everyone. I don’t think our riders really dug in like the others did, so now we need to sit down together and understand why. I’m not happy with this qualifying because again we are starting from the back and that’s absolutely not what we want or where we should be; we just keep making it hard for ourselves. On the positive side both riders have the pace and I know with Jakub he could be competitive in the top ten easily, but starting from twentieth is going to be difficult. For Fahmi he was also doing good lap times in practice and could have been in the top fifteen but he’s starting from twenty eighth position, which will be very hard. For the race we just have to encourage our riders and hope they do the best that they can and bring home some points.”
#63 Zulfahmi Khairuddin
“It’s been a disappointing qualifying because I have had the pace all weekend and was quite fast throughout the practice sessions. I’m happy with the set-up of the bike it’s just that in the qualifying I couldn’t find the best group to follow. At this track I cannot make the lap time alone and with the slip stream it makes such a big difference. Unfortunately I was with a bad group during QP and I couldn’t get the best lap behind a fast rider. Overall I’m pleased with my bike here in Argentina, it’s just the qualifying that is very disappointing. I expected more for today because I knew that I could at least be in the top twenty. However if you look at the times it’s not so far away. I will keep working on the bike to try and improve. I hope tomorrow I have a strong start; I want to be in the top twenty within the first lap and then I can fight for the points.”
#84 Jakub Kornfeil
“Today in the beginning of qualifying we were struggling a lot with the rear grip because the temperature was much higher. Our target was to push from the very first lap but unfortunately I could not do this. We stopped in the box and changed to a new harder tyre but the problem was although it worked very well in FP3, in the hotter conditions it was chattering and moving so much when I was opening the corner. My last chance was then at the very end of qualifying when we put both new tyres in, but being so late into the session, I didn’t have enough time to do it alone. I had to really slow down and try and wait for some riders so that I could use the slip stream because here it is so important. I was able to find Quartararo with Navarro and with these two new tyres, it started to work much better. I could push more and whilst following them I did my best lap time. I was around thirteenth place but then unfortunately I stayed behind Navarro for the last two laps and he was not improving his time; I didn’t know this because I was just staying in his slip stream. Many of the other riders then started to go a little bit faster and I ended up missing the fourth row by two tenths of a second. We are not happy about this but we know the gap is very small and we know we have potential here.”