It was only about a week and a half ago that the riders were at the Losail International Circuit to complete the final pre-season test. Rossi and Viñales finished in second and fifth place respectively in the combined Day 1-2-3 results and find themselves in good shape for this season’s title challenge.
Nine-time World Champion Rossi is known for his love of close racing and he can’t wait to get the show started in Qatar. He holds an impressive record at the Losail circuit of four wins (2005, 2006, 2010 and 2015), four second places (2007, 2009, 2013 and 2014), and one third place (2017), but he feels there is room for more trophies. This weekend he will go all out to start the 2018 season fighting at the front of the pack.
After the intensive winter testing season, Viñales also arrives in Doha eager to fight for victory at the opening race. The young Spaniard knows his way around the track, not only due to the many laps he completed during the winter test at the Losail circuit, but also because of his previous racing experience and successes in Qatar. He added a Moto3 victory to his resume in 2012, he secured second place in the same class one year later, and he took a brilliant MotoGP win on his debut race with Yamaha last year.
The 5.4km-long Losail International Circuit is located on the outskirts of Doha and was added to the MotoGP calendar in 2004. Four years later the track became the first and only circuit in MotoGP to host a night-time Grand Prix, held under the floodlights. Besides the special mood of an evening-race, the Losail circuit also offers a mix of medium and high-speed corners (six left, ten right turns) and an over a kilometre long main straight, that are guaranteed to make for an exciting race, with many overtakes.
The Qatar GP time schedule for the upcoming race weekend slightly differs from the usual. The Free Practice 1 session will take place on Friday afternoon from 14:45 – 15:30 local track time (GMT+3) followed by FP2 at 19:05 – 19:50. On Saturday FP3 starts at 14:35 – 15:20 and FP4 is held at 18:40 – 19:10, before the qualifying sessions from 19:20 – 20:00. On Sunday the warm-up is held at 14:40 – 15:00 and the race starts at 19:00.