MotoGP riders from around the world gather once again in Qatar and are now gearing up to compete for round one of Grand Prix of Qatar. Hosted by Losail International Circuit and in association with Visit Qatar, the 15th-anniversary edition of the race is happening from 16 to 18 March 2018.
It has been ten years since Losail International Circuit hosted the first floodlit MotoGP™ race. A lot of changes unravelled over the years but the core of the sport has remained the same. Foundations laid then and since have created one of the most spectacular eras of Grand Prix motorcycle racing since the Championship began in 1949. The reign continues as another season of rollercoaster is about to begin.
Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Marquez, the rider from Cervera, is now a six-time World Champion and he’s taken four premier class crowns in five years. Qatar is usually a more difficult venue for Marquez and Honda. And although both will want to begin another title defence on the offensive and at the front, it may be a case of good things come to those who wait for the number 93 and teammate Dani Pedrosa, who makes his 200th premier class start – as well as for HRC test rider and Independent Team challenger Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol).
Ducati begins the season with the statistics stacked the opposite way. Losail is a venue that suits the red machines, and Andrea Dovizioso has proven that with a good number of podiums in recent Qatar GPs. But that was then, and this is now. ‘DesmoDovi’ is a contender from the start in 2018, and it’s not just the podium that Borgo Panigale has in their sights – it’s the top step. That would make for a big opening statement from the Italian on the Italian machine. His teammate Jorge Lorenzo will be looking for similar headlines in his second year in red, too – and it’s his pole record that still stands from 2008 when he was a rookie in the premier class. With three wins to his name at the venue in MotoGP™, Lorenzo is the second most successful rider at the track on the premier class grid this year – added to another three wins in the lower classes.
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi has four MotoGP™ wins at Losail to Lorenzo’s three, and the rider from Tavullia always has some serious form for race day pace in the desert. It’s been a difficult pre-season and latter part of 2017 for the Iwata marque and questions remain – can Rossi answer them? And what of teammate Maverick Viñales? After an awesome pre-season ahead of 2017 and two wins to begin the year, the battle became more uphill.
Saud Al Attiya, Losail Circuit Sports Club President stated:
The Grand Prix of Qatar is always one of the highlights of the season, not only for being the very first round of this exiting championship but also for our night racing, making our event one of the most exclusive racing weekends of our calendar.’
‘Our event is also one of the most anticipated races of the season but this 2018 is a milestone and a very special event for us as it marks 15 years of being the Home of Motorsport in Qatar. We are very excited to celebrate this Anniversary in association with Visit Qatar, teams, riders, spectators, fans and all the international motorsport community as we are planning several activities for all those who come to visit us.’
Rashed Al Qurese, Chief Marketing & Promotion Officer at Qatar Tourism Authority commented:
Over the past 14 years, MotoGP has cemented its position as a key event on Qatar’s sporting and tourism calendars. Through our partnership with LCSC, we hope to help raise the event’s profile internationally to spread Qatar’s message of welcome to the world and attract more visitors. We look forward to welcoming all the riders in Doha and wish them all the success over the coming weekend and a great international race season ahead.’
Tickets are still available for the Grandstand, Losail Club Grandstand, Losail VIP Club and VIP Village for QAR 250, 2,500, 3,500 and 4,500 respectively. They can be purchased at Q-Tickets, Virgin Megastore’s in-store or online platforms and at the Losail Circuit Sports Club during the week of the event.
Note: For those who want to see the live action from the start, finish and podium ceremonies of the races, there will be a three-day grandstand ticket with access to the Fan Zone area at the grandstand with entertaining activities for families (go-karting, camel riding, falcons, Arabic coffee etc). Children under 11 years old accompanied by an adult will have free access to the grandstand.