Husqvarna Motorcycles gets fast for 2024 MotoGP™ with strong Qatar Grand Prix opener

Promising speed and performances by the LIQUI MOLY Husqvarna IntactGP team at the Lusail International Circuit and the first episodes of Moto3™ and Moto2™ competition this season.

Collin Veijer was the standout racer for dual-class Husqvarna Motorcycles effort as the Dutchman manoeuvred his rapid FR 250 GP around the 5.4km Lusail International Circuit layout and scored 5th position in the Moto3 category. The youngster, starting only his second Grand Prix season, applied his usual bold and adventurous approach to the 16-lap chase as MotoGP began the first of 21 rounds at the Qatari site. Tatsuki Suzuki notched a fine comeback to 7th on his first ride for the team.

The 2024 campaign ignited around the fast curves of the track that hosted the penultimate fixture of 2023. Lusail International Circuit was back to its typical role as instigator of MotoGP and for what was the 20th anniversary welcoming the fastest motorcycle racing series in the world through the gates. In contrast to the MotoGP division – who had two days of pre-season testing as well as a Saturday Sprint – the Moto3 and Moto2 elite had to fine-tune their new models and 2024 modifications to the grippy but ‘dirty’ surface and get a hand on the limits of the fresh Pirelli rubber that supplies both competitions this year.

Veijer was one of best and brightest prospects to emerge from the 2023 championship. His victory in Malaysia, podium in India and two Pole Positions, meant he was a favoured rider for 2024 and he placed 10th in qualifying on Saturday in Qatar to roll onto the fourth row of the grid. Beside him in the pitbox was new recruit Tatsuki Suzuki who set the 19th best lap-time but is clearly still finding his boundaries and potential with the FR 250 GP.

Moto3 started in late afternoon/dusk conditions in Lusail. The 5pm local time slot gave the race an epic lighting backdrop and the swarming pack delivered close and unpredictable action as the laps rapidly clicked down. Veijer was permanently slotted inside the lead gathering of ten as the group were barely separated through the corners and on lap-times. The last and critical circulation was the moment of truth and Collin strained the cable to make the line; taking 5th place and less than four tenths of a second from victory. Suzuki cut the finish line in a plausible 7th after raiding the order in the first laps. The Japanese used his experience to time his moves, judge his tyre performance and was just over half a second away from his teammate. Overall, a worthy first appearance in Husqvarna Motorcycles’ white and blue. The duo brought the Husqvarna IntactGP – reigning team champions – their first points (20) of the year.

The Algarve International Circuit is the target for round two of 2024 MotoGP for what will be the Grand Prix of Portugal at the end of March.

Collin Veijer: “Happy but not completely because I think we could have done better. My feeling was quite OK at the start but when the grip started to drop a bit then I struggled more. A few people made some crazy overtaking moves on me so, overall, P5 was the maximum today. I didn’t have the best feeling here last year and I believe we’ll be better on the tracks to come.”

Tatsuki Suzuki: “A tough race. I missed Q2 by the smallest amount on Saturday so, as a consequence, I had to start from quite far back. At the beginning I pushed like crazy and used quite a lot of the tyres in the first five laps. It meant I was in the pack and with hardly any tyre left in the last part of the race. Anyway, the result is not so bad and something to build on. Every race I need to make a step forward. Considering everything this result is good.”

The Husqvarna IntactGP crew pushed into Moto2™ with renewed hopes for Darryn Binder (the South African in both his second season with the team and in the category) and European Moto2 champion and rookie Senna Agius. Binder qualified well: in 11th place and 0.7 of a second away from Pole Position while Agius (one of the youngest racers in the field and discovering Lusail for the very first time) was further back on the grid, in 21st.

Moto2 circled LIC for 18 laps as daylight turned to evening in Qatar. Binder was roaming top ten positions and Agius gathered all the lessons of his maiden outing as full-time Moto2 racer. Darryn’s lap-times slowed as he struggled with front grip and Senna continued to maintain his pace and the pair crossed the line in 17th and 18th.  

The Grand Prix of Portugal takes place on March 23-25.

Senna Agius: “We missed some extra track time and that meant we didn’t make the best tyre choice for the race. I could have adapted better but I lost so much time at the beginning, it also meant I had to learn to ride with almost no grip earlier than anyone else and that worked out well at the end! I salvaged 17th. If I had stayed further forward then I could have had points. The dynamic of the bike and the championship has changed so much for this year. Not such a bad race but knowing it could have been much better is pretty frustrating. We leave here with a lot of knowledge and hopefully we’ll be better prepared for race day in Portugal. A big thanks to the team for all the work. We’ll get it figured out!”

Darryn Binder: “After limited testing and track time here at nighttime in Qatar, after Friday’s session was wet, it meant we went into the race a bit blind. I chose the hard front and rear, thinking it would be the best for the full distance but I struggled. I had a good start and was in the front group but then it was a real fight and tough to end the weekend in this way. Disappointed…but it’s the first race and we need to learn and get sorted for the next one.”


Results Moto3 Qatar Grand Prix


1. David Alonso (ESP) CFMOTO 33:19.778, 2. Daniel Holgado (ESP) Red Bull GASGAS Tech3 +0.041, 3. Taiyo Furusato (JPN) Honda +0.143, 5. Collin Veijer (NED) Husqvarna IntactGP +0.338, 7. Tatsuki Suzuki (JPN) Husqvarna IntactGP +1.144, 10. Jacob Roulstone (AUS) Red Bull GASGAS Tech3 +10.626, DNF. Vicente Perez (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo, DNF. Jose Antonio Rueda (ESP), Red Bull KTM Ajo


World championship standings Moto3


1. David Alonso (ESP) CFMOTO, 25 points. 2. Daniel Holgado (ESP) Red Bull GASGAS Tech3, 20. 3. Taiyo Furusato (JPN) Honda, 16. 5. Collin Veijer (NED) Husqvarna IntactGP, 11. 7. Tatsuki Suzuki (JPN) Husqvarna IntactGP, 9. 10. Jacob Roulstone (AUS) Red Bull GASGAS Tech3, 6. DNF. Vicente Perez (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo, 0. DNF. Jose Antonio Rueda (ESP), Red Bull KTM Ajo, 0


Results Moto2 Qatar Grand Prix


1. Alonso Lopez (ESP) 35:45.595, 2. Barry Baltus (BEL) +0.055, 3. Sergio Garcia (ESP) +0.742, 9. Celestino Vietti (ITA) Red Bull KTM Ajo +10.710, 15. Deniz Öncü (TUR) Red Bull KTM Ajo +22.568, 17. Senna Agius (AUS) Husqvarna IntactGP +27.060, 18. Darryn Binder (RSA) Husqvarna IntactGP +28.515


World championship standings Moto2


1. Alonso Lopez (ESP), 25 points. 2. Barry Baltus (BEL), 20. 3. Sergio Garcia (ESP), 16. 9. Celestino Vietti (ITA) Red Bull KTM Ajo, 7. 15. Deniz Öncü (TUR) Red Bull KTM Ajo, 1. 17. Senna Agius (AUS) Husqvarna IntactGP, 0. 18. Darryn Binder (RSA) Husqvarna IntactGP, 0.