It’s now tradition, since 2008 at least, that the Losail Circuit Sports Club will host the first round of our beloved MotoGP™ World Championship. Under those now-famous floodlights, the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar will once again make history as the only night race on the calendar. The fabulous Losail International Circuit lies on the outskirts of Doha, the capital city of Qatar.
The intrigue and drama of the 2015 season is still felt in the atmosphere among riders and fans, but now there are a plethora of new challenges and hurdles to focus on overcoming. Qatar is a favorite among fans as it kicks off the intense energy that still tingles in the air from the previous seasons and it’s the first look at how teams and riders have progressed during their off-season.
A Change Has Come
The 2016 season sees the most radical regulation changes since MotoGP entered the four-stroke era in 2002. A spec ECU and software package supplied by Magneti Marelli looks set to level the playing field and increase the importance of a rider’s right wrist, especially towards the end of a race with adaptive strategies removed. Michelin also stepped in as the official tire supplier of the MotoGP class, presenting an all-new challenge for riders and the factories to overcome.
Adapting to the new French rubber has progressed well after initial concerns about the front tire, riders are gaining confidence at each passing test and continue pushing for fast lap times.
Return of the King
No rider seems to have adapted quicker to the new MotoGP™ landscape than reigning World Champ, Jorge Lorenzo. The five-time champion led both the Sepang and Qatar Tests by over half a second, stamping his authority and intent to retain his crown. However, Lorenzo is yet to take back-to-back championships in the premier class and will be aiming to avoid the difficulties that plagued him in Losail in 2014 and 2015. Aside from those two years, Lorenzo has always finished on Qatar podium in MotoGP, winning in 2012 and 2013 from pole.
Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3
Valentino Rossi is gearing up to earn his fourth title in Qatar. Rossi has three well-known victories there, including his 2015 victory where he bested fellow Italian Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso after a race-long brawl. As the oldest and most successful rider on the grid, Rossi has little left to prove but continues to line up with as much passion and burning desire as in 1996 when he made his Grand Prix debut. Who am I to blame a star for doing his best to go out on top rather than to fade out?
Literally the personification of a chicken running without its head, Marc Marquez surely had a difficult 2015. The double MotoGP World Champion crashed six times as he attempted to override his RC213V, an overly aggressive engine haunting him throughout the year. 2016 is also foreshadowing another troublesome-filled year as he’s crashed multiple times during testing and was unable to find a comfortable setting with his bike. Honda continues to work behind-the-scenes but 2016 looks set to start with an uphill battle.
Don’t miss Qatar and be at the U.S. round of MotoGP™!
With the nine riders within a second of each other at the Qatar Test and the number of technical changes, the 2016 MotoGP™ World Championship is building towards another fiery year. 18 races across 15 countries will decide the 2016 MotoGP™ World Champion, but who will wear the crown come Valencia is anybody’s guess. Be there for the third and only U.S. race location on this year’s calendar with Circuit of The Americas’ Experiences!