MotoGP Preview: Round 1 – Qatar

Finally, I can stop writing about where the riders have been, speculating about what the bikes are like, and who’s going to beat who – we can see it for ourselves. For the first time this year, it’s race day!

We start as we always do, with a trip to the super-rich Qatar.

The circuit

qatar

Picture from HRT website

Losail has always been a strange start to the year in my eyes. It’s in the middle of a desert, and held at night. There’s only one viewing point around the entire track – the big grandstand on the home straight – and it isn’t much of a spectacle, aside from the bikes looking very shiny in the dazzling spotlights.

That said, it’s a decent enough racetrack. Being the first test of the year, you get a feel for where the bikes are good and bad – the long straight tests the speed out, while the corners are a decent challenge and show you how the bikes handle.

Here’s an on-board lap from the 2015 title-winning Yamaha.

Last year at Losail

Jorge Lorenzo started 2016 the way 2015 finished, top of the tree. Here’s a recap:

Talking points for the weekend

  • How will Maverick Viñales fare on his first outing on a championship-capable bike, up against his legendary team mate?
  • Are the KTMs going to be competitive?
  • Will Jonas Folger be able to follow his testing form up with a strong showing on race day?
  • Will Marc Marquez lay the foundations for another championship run?
  • Who’s going to come out of the clustermesses that are Moto2 and Moto3 smelling of roses?

Race times

All times given are local to the circuit. Qatar is three hours ahead of GMT, so -3 on all these if you’re watching in the UK. If you’re in North America, take 7 hours off if you’re on the eastern seaboard, 10 if you’re out west.

 Round 1 – Qatar MotoGP Moto2 Moto3
Saturday Qualifying Q1 – 20:35 18:55 18:00
Q2 – 21:00
Sunday Race 21:00 19:20 18:00
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