The Losail International Circuit will light up this weekend for the opening round of the 2012 MotoGP World Championship. The Repsol riders, present in the three Grand Prix categories of MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3, are excited about the challenge ahead after an excellent two months of preseason. The Qatar Grand Prix will be the only race of the 18 on the MotoGP calendar to take place at night.
Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa arrive in Doha with their homework done and with their 1000cc machines set up for a fight for the title –won by Stoner last year. Stoner has taken victory in Qatar at four of the past five races and will be looking to extend his enviable record at the track. He was also the winner of the most recent race, the Valencia GP at the end of 2011. Teammate Dani Pedrosa is looking for a first Qatar GP win and to go one closer to the 100 podium mark –he currently has 97 to his name. In the intermediate class, Marc MÃ¡rquez will return to racing after almost six month out from competition –his most recent race being the 35 position comeback on raceday for a podium at Phillip Island. Now recovered from an injury suffered last year, the Repsol rider will be onboard his Suter at the 5380 metres long track where he failed to finish last season.
This Grand Prix also marks the debut of a new category. The 125cc two-strokes make way for the four-stroke Moto3 machines this year. Maverick ViÃ±ales and Miguel Oliveira both made their World Championship debuts in Qatar last year, taking ninth and tenth place, respectively. Now is the turn of Ãlex Rins to ride his maiden competition on the world stage. 2011 Rookie of the Year ViÃ±ales will be eyeing a victory in the desert, whilst Oliveira and Rins will be looking to place as high up as possible in the first event of the year.
Dani Pedrosa (MotoGP Rider)
“Each year is different and there are always various obstacles to go through during a season. I’ve had good and bad races in the past, but a big part of these results are determined by how you have prepared yourself in the winter. I’ve worked very well this year, I had a good pre season with the bike and with my physical training; I hope that luck is on my side this time, so we can have a good championship.
Qatar is important because it’s the first race of the season, but you have to minimise risks. If you don’t win this race you can still win the championship, but on the other side, a mistake can complicate the year. I’m ready. Let’s see how everything goes and where everyone is”.
Casey Stoner (MotoGP Rider)
“After good pre-season tests in both Sepang and Jerez, we head to Qatar feeling positive, but still have some work to do. This will be the first time with the new bike on this circuit so we will need to spend some time on the set-up to put ourselves in the best position.
We’ve always enjoyed good results at the Losail circuit but this is a new season and there are more competitors contesting for victory this year. I’m excited to get the season started and fight for another World Championship”.
Marc MÃ¡rquez (Moto2 Rider)
“I’ve been waiting for this week to arrive. We are heading to Doha this Tuesday, where we will be starting a new Moto2 season and hoping to achieve a much better result than last year. The entire team have worked very hard this winter to be ready for this moment and I only have words of thanks for them and the sponsors. The injury is less and less of an issue now, something that is a very positive sign for the start of the World Championship.
These have been difficult months, but once we arrive in Qatar there is no looking back and we must try to enjoy ourselves. The Losail track is one that I like: It’s fast, very unique and a place where I hope that the Suter can give maximum performance”.
Maverick ViÃ±ales (Moto3 Rider)
“I am very excited about the start of the World Championship. Of course, you are always a little nervous when the first race comes around, because it’s when you really find out the true potential of the teams and riders. It’s more curiosity than nerves. I am keen to find out if we are going to see the same battles in Moto3 as in 125cc and which riders will adapt best to this category.
These bikes are a little easier to ride, which might bunch things up even more than in 125cc. We’ll see. It is definitely going to be a close class. The preseason has been good for us though, so we are heading to Qatar in high spirits. We have a competitive bike and I am feeling strong ahead of this first race. I like the track and riding at night makes it a special race”.
Miguel Oliveira (Moto3 Rider)
“The first Grand Prix of the season is one that I am facing enthusiastically but with a cool head. The Qatar track is very long and different to all the others, being run at night. I am starting the season with a lot of motivation, as it is the debut of a new category and my debut in this great team. I hope that everything goes well and that together we do a good job”.
<Ãlex Rins (Moto3 Rider)
“To tell the truth, I’m a little nervous about the start of the season. I’ve never been to Qatar, but I have played the track on the Playstation to get used to it a little. I have the feeling that it will be a rather difficult track –even more so with the race taking place at night. Riding there for the first time will be an experience. I have to thank FermÃn, Cristina and Dani, my physios, for their great help in getting me to 90% for Qatar. The entire team have made a huge effort to get everything ready for my debut”.
LOSAIL (Qatar) circuit information
Length: 5.380 metres
Left corners: 6
Right corners: 10
Longest straight: 1.068 metres
Width: 12 metres
Fastest Lap: 1:53.927 (Lorenzo ’08)