The Losail International Circuit was added to the MotoGP calendar in 2004 and became the first and only circuit in MotoGP to host a night-time Grand Prix four years later. Built on the outskirts of Doha, the track has a good mix of medium and high-speed corners, of which six are left and ten are right turns. The flowing midsection of the circuit forms a strong contrast to the iconic, over a kilometre long, main straight that ends in a steep first corner where fans can expect a lot of racing action as the MotoGP riders fight for the first win of the season.
Energized from the positive results during the winter tests, the MotoGP Champions’ riders are in great physical form and eager to take the 2016 YZR-M1 to the track. Both riders proved to be on the pace during pre-season testing and are expected to once again be key protagonists for this season’s title challenge starting with the Grand Prix of Qatar.
Returning to the premier class battlefield as the defending champion, Lorenzo looks forward to getting back into the racing mindset after months of testing. Last year he bravely fought his way to fourth place in Doha despite problems with his helmet impairing his vision. This time he returns with full confidence and is looking forward to battling as one of the top contenders for the victory. The triple champion previously secured a win in the premier class in Qatar in 2012 and 2013. He also claimed second place in 2008, 2010 and 2011, and secured third place in 2009.
Teammate Rossi is also looking forward to riding at the Losail circuit and plans on making a strong entrance to the season like last year when he secured a brilliant and hard-fought victory. The Doctor felt very comfortable with the new Michelin tyres and electronics during the winter testing and is confident his hard work will pay off as he aims to further improve his already great record of four wins in 2005, 2006, 2010 and 2015 and four second places in 2007, 2009, 2013 and 2014 in Qatar.
Repsol Honda riders Marquez and Pedrosa were on top of their game, after the recent test at the Losail track. Marquez broke under the 1:56 barrier on his second run, eventhough the twice champion crashed in the last corner. He also carried out a 14-lap run, where he posted several consistent lap timess in the high 1:55 to low 1:56 bracket, and finally set a best time of 1:55.402. “We have made some big changes that have allowed me to start gaining confidence, riding at a good pace both behind Jorge (Lorenzo) and alone, even despite the dew on track at the end,” Marquez said after the final pre-season test. “We are now fully prepared to face the new season and I’m eager to be able to challenge for the title, once again.”
Pedrosa tried several setting modifications on his bike and managed a best lap time of 1:56.142 on the final pre-season test day. The Repsol Honda camp is expected to input additional changes to both Marquez and Pedrosa’s RCV bikes at the start of the first race of the season.
Both Ducati Team riders Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso are excited to embark on the new season with the new Ducati Desmosedici GP. Both riders gradually improved their form and their feeling with the bike over the various test sessions, and they concluded the final test at Losail satisfied with their race pace.
The Qatar weekend, unlike the rest of the races in the calendar, begins on Thursday evening with the first Free Practice session, while the race is scheduled on Sunday at 9pm local time (19.00 CET).