New Delhi, April 13, 2018: After winning the 125cc world championship title in 2005, the Swiss rider moved up to the intermediate category (250cc/Moto2) and by the end of the 2017 season, he had accumulated 47 podiums including 11 wins. Last year, Lüthi staged a fierce championship battle with Franco Morbidelli, but due to a leg injury during a practice session at the Malaysian Grand Prix, which sidelined him from the race and the season finale in Valencia,concluded the season 2nd.
According to reports published in global.honda Lüthi would have joined the MotoGP class in the 2018 season to ride for EG 0,0 Marc VDS team earlier, but having to concentrate on recuperating, missed two tests in November for the upcoming season. In January’s Sepang test, he rode the RC213V for the first time. Despite his delayed start and adaptation to the premier class, the former 125cc world champion kept his composure and said that he would be able to catch up to the other rookies eventually.
“The first time I jumped on the bike in Malaysia at the end of January, I knew I already had this delay that I had missed two tests in November,” Lüthi said.
“So, it was for me like, going on the bike, take it easy, and learn step by step, because I know it’s quite a big change from Moto2 to MotoGP. Anyway, I could catch up a little bit and started to understand the bike. But now after the end of the testing, I know it’s still a big gap [with the other rookies]. I still need to see the first races like a test. Just going on the bike, keep working, and keep learning all the laps to understand, then I will try to minimize the gap to the front.
Global.honda further added that “It’s difficult to say [when I can catch up with them], but I hope it doesn’t take too long as some people are thinking! I think that now we can make some big steps forward during this weekend, but, I cannot tell you it will be this day or this race, you know.”
After Free Practices 1 and 2, Lüthi set the 19th quickest lap time of all 24 riders. The following day, he clocked the 8th fastest in QP1, contested between 14 ridersIn the preseason tests, one of the key issues he had to adapt to was the front tire. Having finished four free practice sessions and the qualifying practice, Lüthi said that he was satisfied with his adaptation.
“Especially in qualifying, I could push much more with the front. I had a better feeling, and it is a positive step for me.
“For tomorrow’s race, everything is new for me. It will be a lot of tactics. Maybe you need to think about the rear tire because you need to save it so that you will be able to set a little bit better lap time toward the end. Using the electronics is also important. There are many things to think about for a MotoGP race. Everything is absolutely new for me, so, I just go into the race to try to be clever, and we will see what happens.”
Lüthi was on 18th grid for the 22-lap race. He lost some ground in the opening laps, but the Swiss rider regained positions lap after lap, then crossed the finish line in 16th place, just short of a points-scoring finish.
“I’m happy, although I have mixed feelings, because even though I’m out of the points, 16th is a good result in my first race and closer than I thought I would be after the winter tests.”
Lüthi, as he said before the season, is catching up with other MotoGP rookies faster than some people anticipated.
“I was able to use a lot of things we learned in testing. Now we need to analyze everything and work to improve for the next race in Argentina.”For a calm and collected MotoGP rookie, it is just a matter of time for Thomas Lüthi to start earning championship points