Press releases from some of the MotoGP teams ahead of the first race of the 2019 season at Qatar:
Repsol Honda Team ready for 25th year in the premier class
2019 marks 25 years of collaboration between HRC and Repsol as the iconic squad prepares for another year of competition with two champion riders.
112 days after the Valencia GP, the MotoGP™ World Championship is set to roar back to life under the unique Qatar floodlights. 2019 sees the Repsol Honda Team welcome five-time world champion Jorge Lorenzo alongside Marc Marquez and celebrate a 25-year partnership between Repsol and HRC.
During their 25 years racing at the highest level in motorcycle racing, Repsol and Honda have achieved 14 world championships, 168 victories, 427 podiums, 177 pole positions and 182 fastest laps. With 12 world titles between them, Marquez and Lorenzo form the most successful team on the MotoGP™ grid and begin another chapter in the Repsol Honda Team’s history.
Shoulder surgery in late December led to the most challenging off-season of Marc Marquez’s career and hundreds of hours of physiotherapy. Maintaining the mantra of ‘there are no points for testing’, the reigning World Champion had a, by his standards, subdued testing campaign but arrives in Qatar happy with the feeling of his Honda RC213V and with his physical condition. Since entering the premier class in 2013, Marquez has never finished outside of the top five in Qatar.
The Qatar GP will be Jorge Lorenzo’s racing debut in Repsol Honda Team colours. Having improved his lap time at the Qatar Test by 2.437 seconds, Lorenzo is looking to continue his adaptation to the Honda RC213V. Although Lorenzo was forced to miss the Sepang Test due to a broken scaphoid, his potential on the Honda is clear and the weekend will present him with more crucial bike time. With six wins and five podiums from 15 visits, the Losail International Circuit is amongst Lorenzo’s strongest.
The first MotoGP™ press conference of 2019 is set for 17:00 local time on Thursday, March 07 with both Marquez and Lorenzo in attendance after the traditional ‘class photo’. Free Practice One begins at 15:40 local time with the lights of the MotoGP™ race scheduled to go out at 20:00 local time on Sunday, March 10.
5x MotoGP World Champion
“Finally, it’s time to go racing once again! This winter has been different due to the surgery, I worked hard with five hours of physio per day with only one goal: arrive in the best conditions in the first race of the year. At the Qatar Test I felt much better than at the Malaysia Test and now I can say that I arrive almost 100%. Honda have done a lot to improve the bike and in the test we were feeling strong, especially for a circuit which usually isn’t the best for us, but we have to keep improving. Qatar is always a special round, not just because it is the first of the year but also because of the conditions. We will have to pay special attention to the temperature and consider everything before the race.”
3x MotoGP World Champion
“Lining up on the grid in Qatar is something I have been picturing during the entire off-season. It's a new era for me and for the team, it is a special moment to be riding for the Repsol Honda Team. I am ready to give everything to achieve the best results I can on the Honda. Unfortunately I am not yet at my maximum with the bike, but I still believe we can achieve a good result here in Qatar. As with every year, MotoGP is looking very competitive and we certainly have the package we need to fight with the best after some more time. I know we can achieve greatness.”
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Commence 2019 Campaign in Qatar
The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team is traveling to Qatar for the first MotoGP Grand Prix of 2019, held this weekend under the floodlights of the Losail International Circuit. Riders Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales return to the 5.4 km track - where they completed the final preseason test two weeks earlier - feeling ready to bring the heat to another highly anticipated MotoGP season.
Rossi is looking forward to riding at Losail, which is historically a good circuit for him. The Italian is a known fan-favourite and he plans on making the spectators cheer this weekend. At the conclusion of the Qatar Test he was feeling very comfortable aboard his YZR-M1. He is confident his – and his crews' – hard work this winter will pay off, as he aims to further improve his already great results in Qatar of four wins (in 2005, 2006, 2010, and 2015), four second places (in 2007, 2009, 2013, and 2014), and two third places (in 2017 and 2018).
Viñales doesn't need any time to adapt to the saddle after months of testing, he is already 100% into the racing mindset. Last year he fought his way to sixth place in Doha. This time he returns with full motivation and is looking forward to battling as one of the top contenders and return to the Losail podium. He previously secured a win in the premier class in Qatar in 2017 (his very first race with Yamaha). He also scored a first and second place there in the Moto3 class, in 2012 and 2013 respectively.
Built on the outskirts of Doha, the Losail International Circuit was added to the MotoGP calendar in 2004 and became the first and only circuit in MotoGP to host a night-time Grand Prix four years later. The track's flowing midsection suits the Yamaha, thanks to its mix of medium and high-speed corners (six left and ten right turns). It forms a strong contrast to the iconic, over a kilometre long, main straight that ends in a steep first corner, where fans can expect to see many classic Qatar overtakes.
As the VisitQatar Grand Prix is the only night race of the year, the schedule of the upcoming race weekend differs slightly from the usual. The MotoGP FP1 session will take place on Friday evening from 15:40 - 16:25, local track time (GMT+3) followed by FP2 from 20:00 - 20:45. On Saturday, FP3 and FP4 will be held from 15:15 - 16:00 and 19:20 - 19:50, before the qualifying sessions from 20:00 - 20:40. On Sunday, the warm-up is held from 15:40 - 16:00 and the race starts at 20:00.
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
"After months of testing, we're finally about to commence the 2019 season. The first race is always very interesting, because it gives us a more detailed impression of where we stand. The Sepang and Qatar tests have been very positive for us, so we're curious and excited to start racing. Vale and Maverick are in great physical shape. Their feedback has been very helpful over these last few months and we're happy both riders feel comfortable with the package we've prepared for them. Our findings have showed us that we're on the right track, but now it's time to really put it to the test and see where we can make further steps, as there is always room for improvement. We look forward to a thrilling race and will give our all to make a strong start to the season."
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team
"Finally, the first GP of the season is about to start! The preseason tests were very important. Both in Sepang and in Qatar we've taken steps forward and we can say that we've done positive tests. We still have to improve a lot, but the road we're on is the right one. This Friday we'll begin the first 2019 race weekend and we'll be able to understand many things better. We'll have time to improve the bike during the free practice sessions and we'll do everything to get ready for the race. I feel good, I have trained well this winter, and I'm ready to start this new season with my team and all the Yamaha staff. We will do our best!"
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team
"I‘m so excited to come to Qatar and start the new season. I can‘t wait! The conclusion of the winter tests was very positive. I felt I was going very fast on the three days of testing here in Qatar, so I come to the first race with a positive mindset. We have a good rhythm. The first round in Losail is going to be very important to see if all the work that was done during the winter has served us well. Our bike has many strong points at this moment. I felt very good riding the bike during all the winter, I pushed my M1 to the limit. We have taken a step forward compared to last season, I think I'm riding my M1 in a very good way again. There's still a lot of work to do, but I feel strong enough to fight for the podium at this circuit this weekend. Above all, I feel very excited to start a new season with Yamaha. We just need to keep working and focus on improving the bike as much as possible to fight for the podium and, of course, for the victory. I can‘t forget that I won my first GP with Yamaha here, so I have very special memories of this circuit and that gives me extra motivation."
The wait is over: the Mission Winnow Ducati team ready for the opening round of the 2019 MotoGP World Championship in Qatar
After positively concluding two three-day, pre-season tests, the last of which took place about one week ago in Qatar, the Mission Winnow Ducati team is ready for the opening round of the 2019 MotoGP World Championship at the Losail track, located on the outskirts of Doha.
Andrea Dovizioso, who enjoyed yet another successful season, in which he took four wins and finished in second position overall for the second consecutive year with nine podiums overall, is ready to begin his 12th year in MotoGP and seventh consecutive with the Ducati outfit.
Alongside Dovizioso, Danilo Petrucci is keen to make his official debut in factory colors after showing his competitiveness onboard the Pramac Racing Team's Ducati in the past four seasons, the last two of which saw him battle for top overall position among independent riders until the very end of the year.
The Qatar GP is the only one on the calendar to be held at night: the start is scheduled for Sunday night at 20:00 local time (CET +2).
Andrea Dovizioso (#04 Mission Winnow Ducati)
"We worked positively and methodically during the winter break, and I'm confident we'll be ready to put up a fight from the very first round. The lap times from the tests, especially in Qatar, don't really show the whole picture since most riders mostly worked on race pace. As for us, we collected plenty of interesting data and we analyzed it into great detail to come up with the best possible strategy ahead of this round. We'll be able to assess our level and that of our opponents more in depth only once we take it back to the track, but what matters is that our feeling with the bike has been very good up to this point."
Danilo Petrucci (#9 Mission Winnow Ducati)
"I'm happy with the way the tests went and ready to begin a new season. From the very first outing with the team, I've been trying to further optimize my approach, both physically and mentally, to make the most of this opportunity. I've also made some important changes to my training and dietary regimes, and I feel as ready as ever for the upcoming battle. We managed to be fast in each session during the winter tests, but in the end it's the race that matters, and that's usually a different story. We have a lot of competitive rivals, especially on this track given the recent tests done here: it won't be easy to put them behind us, but I'm confident we have some good cards up our sleeve."
THE EXPECTATIONS OF RINS AND MIR AHEAD THE QATAR GP
Team Suzuki Press Office – March 6.
The unique and exciting night time atmosphere of Qatar is once again about to kick off a new season, and Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s riders Alex Rins and Joan Mir are ready to test their renewed competitiveness against a pack of 20 other fierce MotoGP contenders.
With the winter testing season finally having drawn to a close, the racing spirit of the riders sees them eager to get back on their bikes under the floodlights. The pair have differing expectations of the upcoming season; with Rins feeling ready to fight for a first victory, and Mir seizing his debut season with both hands, keen to learn and reduce the gap to the leaders race by race.
The tests in Malaysia and Qatar – the latter being just two weeks ago – brought the team positivity in terms of the competitiveness of the 2019 GSX-RR. As per the Suzuki philosophy the machine has not been totally changed, but the racing engineers have instead worked very hard on every aspect of the bike, introducing upgrades which when combined together provide an improved performance package.
Both Rins and Mir enjoyed the testing days, not only being able to place themselves often towards the top of the time sheets, but also finding solid improvements run after run. The new engine specification and chassis have proved to be effective updates, as well as the electronics package which has also been enhanced.
The riders have spent the winter undergoing intensive training, and are in prime physical condition to begin the 2019 season.
Davide Brivio – Team Manager
“In the winter testing we were able to go through several technical items that have been developed by the Suzuki R&D engineers, and finally we have put together the best possible bike package to start the season. The time sheets showed us that these improvements have been beneficial, but even more important was the feedback from the riders, who both felt confident and at ease on the improved GSX-RRs. Now we are excited to start the race weekend in order to fully understand and assess our winter work, and our real level, as we know very well that the only true test will be on Sunday with the first race. Alex Rins has improved a lot in the last two years, not only in his riding style but also in his approach to the races and his mental strength. He’s now able to showcase all his talent, and we believe he can continue the positive path he took at the end of last season. Joan Mir had a good winter preparation too and he is ready to start his first MotoGP season. He should not be under pressure, as the priority must be to learn and enjoy. He is certainly a talented rider, and he has already proven his skills in the winter tests, so we have to give him our best as a team to bring out his potential and see what we can achieve together. The objective is simply to improve consistently race by race.”
“Arriving for the Qatar GP is always very emotional because we can finally get into ‘race mode’ and blow away the winter cobwebs. The winter tests were positive, we found good improvements on the GSX-RR and I really enjoyed riding, but the race is something different and I definitely miss the adrenaline of nights out on the start grid. I’m very happy about how the bike has improved, the Suzuki engineers and technicians did a great job over the winter and I found positive feelings. Of course we still need to refine some things, and we still have some margins for development, in MotoGP the racing and development side is a never-ending challenge and we will work hard in all the sessions during every race weekend. Last year we ended the season in good shape, with many podiums, and the feeling that we can really go for the big prize! This is the objective that we’ve set for this season, to further improve our competitiveness and consistently put ourselves around the top of the sheets, trying to get one – or more – victories.”
“I’m really looking forward to starting the season because after the good testing that we’ve done I think we are ready to start. My biggest expectation for this 2019 Championship is to continue learning as much as possible and to constantly reduce my gap to the leaders. Learning and improving will be my absolute priority and it’s also a good way to get closer to the top guys. It will be very interesting to race with those more experienced riders. The Losail circuit is a layout where I feel confident and the GSX-RR has been improved upon consistently during the winter, in the test we did two weeks ago I had a lot of fun on the bike and found myself able to improve and be competitive. This gives me high hopes for a positive weekend in Qatar.”
TECHNICAL HIGHLIGHTS OF QATAR
Manuel Cazeaux – “The thing is that the riders are very motivated to do well, and that usually means that everything is closer than in the other races later in the season. The Losail circuit is very peculiar for the weather conditions and this is one of most crucial aspects from a technical point of view. The temperature can vary a lot from one hour to the next. Sometimes the humidity or dew can arrive in the evening - around eight or nine o’clock - and this can have an impact on grip. Tyre degradation is also a key point, it’s one of the most demanding tracks, so you have to find a good balance within the set-up of the bike to help the tyres last race distance.”
MOTOGP 2019 BEGINS
APRILIA STARTS OFF WITH THREE RIDERS IN THE OPENING RACE OF QATAR
THIS IS A FIRST IN THE HISTORY OF THE NOALE-BASED BRAND, A SIGN OF RENEWED COMMITMENT IN THE PREMIER CLASS
By now, we are counting down the hours to the start of the 2019 MotoGP World Championship, one of the most anticipated of recent years.
The artificial lighting of the Losail International Circuit is ready to illuminate the opening race on Sunday, but the engines will already be rumbling from Friday for the first free practice sessions.
For Aprilia, it will be a true “first time” with three RS-GP machines on the grid for the first race. This is something that has never before happened in Aprilia history and it is a sign of the revamping that the Italian manufacturer carried out on their MotoGP project during the winter break.
Revamping that included changes in Aprilia Racing both in technical terms and with regards to the staff, with the clear goal of substantiating their ambitions in the premier class.
Dressed in an attractive new black livery, which is a clear reference to Aprilia tradition, the RS-GP tackled the pre-season tests with good feedback both from confirmed rider, Aleix Espargaró and new entry Andrea Iannone, assisted by the work Bradley Smith and the test team carried out. It is a three-point offence that will be complete in Qatar, thanks to the English rider’s first wild-card of the season.
"Preparation for the season was positive overall. The new bike is definitely a step forward in the right direction. I found a good feeling and I think there is still margin to work with. Especially in a few areas, we can definitely improve. The data collected in the simulations during the tests helped us to understand a lot in terms of the strong and not-so-strong points of the new project. Like every year, I can't wait to get on the track and start getting down to business."
"During the last tests on this track, we worked well, focusing on our priorities in anticipation of the race. At the end of the three days, we reached a good base to start from for this weekend. I am feeling positive, although keeping my feet on the ground. This is all new to us, so it won’t be a walk in the park, but I am confident that, if we are able to take 100% advantage of the available potential, we’ll be able to start on the right foot."
2019 MotoGP: Ready to Race?
2019 MotoGP Preview Quotes
The time for tests, talk and tentative speculation is over. MotoGP 2019 begins this weekend and will see KTM’s biggest and most ambitious assault on the FIM World Championship fire into life as the factory hopes to dazzle under the Losail lights.
For the fifteen year in a row the Losail International Circuit will welcome MotoGP. The Grand Prix paddock will gather again less than two weeks after the second IRTA test of the pre-season period took place at the same flat, pacey and demanding facility close to the ever-changing metropolis of Doha.
In those final rapid laps of experimentation and refinement of the Red Bull KTM RC16 Pol Espargaro got to within half a second of the best time while new teammate Johann Zarco – who will mark a notable career milestone after first gracing a Grand Prix circuit as a Red Bull Rookie in the 2007 inauguration of the series – continued his adaptation to the factory bike.
Red Bull KTM will tackle only their third year as part of the MotoGP grid and with memories of their maiden podium finish at Valencia for the final fixture of 2018 not yet faded. Espargaro boasts a best result of 7th at the Qatari circuit in five years of MotoGP competition while Zarco has a 8th: 2019 will be just his third term in the premier class.
KTM presented their full line-up in a comprehensive launch event in Austria last month, and will watch the first round of nineteen with interest through the categories. Like many race fans the ‘orange family’ and KTM followers will have their own questions: how far will Red Bull KTM Tech3 duo Miguel Oliveira and Hafizh Syahrin push into the pack? Will Brad Binder start the new Moto2 era with a trophy? Will Can Öncü make another immediate impression in Moto3?
2019 gets underway with the first Moto3 Free Practice sessions at 11.50 CET this Friday. The races themselves will occur at 15.00 (Moto3), 16.20 (Moto2) and 18.00 (MotoGP) CET on Sunday.
Pol Espargaro: “Losail is a strange track and pretty different to all the others; mainly because it is the first grand prix and everyone wants to start the season well. There is a lot of pressure. Racing in the night means the temperatures are usually quite low and the humidity is high, from one hour to the other or from the start of the race until the end the track can change a lot so you have to adapt fast. We’ll look to do our best and get the race set-up fixed as quickly as we can.”
Johann Zarco: “I first raced at Losail in 2009, so ten years ago. I remember leading race here in Moto2 and I had a mechanical problem and had to finish the race in third gear and missed the win! My first race in MotoGP was also nice. It is a fast track and of course what makes it special is to ride at night. It’s also the first race so it has a different kind of pressure: you start a long season here but then when you arrive to the end it always feels like it has passed so fast from this first moment.”
Miguel Oliveira: “I think the approach for the first GP is always quite simple, it’s to do my best and try to do my job as always, plus making the team happy with my performance. I feel it’s important for me to finish the race, to get experience and to get to know where to improve my riding. The most important thing is to gather this experience in my first race in MotoGP, I don’t think about any result in specific.”
Hafizh Syahrin: “I’m looking forward to the first race very much! We had some tough pre-season tests, where we tried to adapt to the bike step by step. It was pretty good and I felt better and better with the bike. So we keep on working hard, try to understand everything and keep the mind fresh to be ready for race day. Let’s see what we can do.”
Mike Leitner, Red Bull KTM Team Manager: “The target is to reach the top positions as much as possible but we have to be realistic and this is just the third year for us. We are still fighting against manufacturers with many more years in this business. We are pushing to improve our package on many different aspects and this will of course take some time but racing is racing and we will always look for good results. Doha has been a difficult track for us. We started our project here two years ago and that’s why we are really happy to see the test lap-times closer than they have ever been to the fastest. I think for the race we can be optimistic and find the good set-up in the four sessions. The challenge there is that the track conditions can change day-to-day. We just have to be open and adapt to what we find.”
PETRONAS Yamaha SRT in Optimistic Mood for Historic first MotoGP Race
The dream of the PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team is about to become a reality. After ten months of intense hard work since the birth of the team back in May 2018, all of that effort will pay off at 3:40pm local time this Friday at the Losail International Circuit. After an excellent preseason, that will be the moment that Franco Morbidelli and Fabio Quartararo take to the track for the Grand Prix of Qatar and the official MotoGP debut for the Malaysian team will be underway.
Franco Morbidelli is ready to contest his first Grand Prix with PETRONAS Yamaha SRT after a positive preseason that has seen the Italian rider finish inside the top ten in all three official tests at Valencia, Malaysia and Qatar. With a year of MotoGP experience already under his belt, Morbidelli is hoping to take that consistency from testing into racing this year aboard his new Yamaha YZR-M1.
On the other side of the box, Fabio Quartararo will make his MotoGP debut as the youngest rider on the grid in 2019. The PETRONAS Yamaha SRT youngster has defied his lack of experience with a stellar preseason, spending a period of adaptation at Valencia and Malaysia before a stunning final preseason test in Qatar, where he set the second fastest time overall and finished just 0.233 seconds off the top. That result gives the Frenchman plenty of reason for optimism and certainly makes him a strong contender for the Rookie of the Year title captured last year by Morbidelli.
A new adventure gets underway this weekend for PETRONAS Yamaha SRT in MotoGP, as the Losail International Circuit in Qatar hosts the opening round of the 2019 MotoGP World Championship, with the race due to start at 8pm local time on Sunday 10th March.
PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team
"I am looking forward to starting the first GP of the year. We can be there ready to fight. We won’t set any objectives until we start work at Losail and put everything we have tested, and which has produced such good results, together. We established a strong pace on the second day of the test in Qatar and I think everything is very close between all the riders. At this first race we have to try and take advantage of the fact that the Yamaha bikes are working really well at this track."
PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team
"I am feeling confident about my first challenge as a MotoGP rider. It is always good to arrive at a circuit where you have already tested. For me, a good result would be to score points in the first round of the season but looking at how I felt in the Qatar test I want more than that. I also know that I have to stay calm and focused to have a good race and see what result we can manage."
NAKAGAMI FEELING GOOD AS SEASON STARTS IN QATAR
PRESS RELEASE: 07 March 2019| Qatar GP Preview
LCR Honda IDEMITSU rider Takaaki Nakagami is in confident mood ahead of the new MotoGP season which gets underway in Qatar this weekend. The Japanese star is starting his second campaign with Lucio Cecchinello’s team and will be looking to build on his eye-catching performances at the end of last year and throughout the winter testing schedule.
Taka signed off in 2018 with a superb sixth placed finish in last November’s Valencia Grand Prix and then topped the timesheets at the subsequent Jerez test. He has been inside the top 10 at both pre-season test sessions in Malaysia and Qatar and says he’ll now be looking for a similar result in the 2019 curtain-raiser this weekend.
“Winter testing went very well, we have a new bike and also a new crew chief in Giacomo (Guidotti). We have done four tests with the new package and test by test we have improved a lot and we’re a lot more confident than we were last year. Our first priority will be to target the top 10”.
“The new bike has more potential than last year with more top speed which helps a lot. The chassis side is almost the same, but the engine is quite different which is an improvement and it’s easier to ride. I’m really happy to stay with this team and with the new package and I’m really looking forward to this weekend”.
CRUTCHLOW EXCITED TO BE COMPETING AGAIN IN QATAR
PRESS RELEASE: 07 March 2019 | Qatar GP Preview
LCR Honda CASTROL rider Cal Crutchlow is relishing the opportunity to renew old rivalries on track as the 2019 MotoGP World Championship kicks off in Qatar this weekend. The Briton missed the final two races of last year after sustaining a nasty ankle injury at Phillip Island which, at one stage, made him a doubt for the season-opener at the Losail International Circuit.
But having proved his fitness, Crutchlow is looking forward to competing once again and wants to maintain the standards he set in 2018. Although the final pre-season test in Qatar saw him some way down the timesheets, he believes the team have gathered valuable data and are now well-placed ahead of this weekend’s race.
“I’m looking forward to it, it’s good to be back here in Qatar, at the end of last season it was doubtful I was going to be here at one point. But we’ve had a good test here and got some useful information. I have no idea where we’ll end up on Sunday evening, but I’m really excited to be getting back on the bike this weekend. We’ve got a lot of modifications from the test (in Qatar) as we didn’t have the final package there, for sure”.
“I’m looking forward to starting the season, I missed two tests at the end of last year so have not had as much time on the bike as I would have liked, but I think we’ll be able to push more this year than last year. I’m excited to see what this season brings. My expectation this weekend is to ride a solid race and start the season well and then look to carry that on throughout the year.”
MICHELIN IS READY FOR THE LIGHTS TO ILLUMINATE THE START OF A NEW SEASON
Michelin has completed all its pre-season testing and is now fully prepared for the 2019 MotoGP™ World Championship to get underway with the first round under the floodlights of the Losail International Circuit in Qatar for the VisitQatar Grand Prix.
Following winter development in Clermont-Ferrand and testing at Sepang in Malaysia and recently at Losail, the Michelin team has introduced some new compounds for the slick tyres and is now equipped for the demands that the 19-event season has in store. With these new introductions to the range, Michelin has presented the full tyre allocation for the season to the organisers and teams, to give them advance notice of the compounds the French company will supply at each circuit.
Qatar is now the customary first Grand Prix of the MotoGP season and still the only night race on the calendar, giving it a very unique feel that presents its own special characteristics. The sand that blows off the surrounding desert can make the track very abrasive and when the temperature drops in the evening, the ensuing dew point can make the surface quite slippery and reduce grip levels. Despite these issues, Michelin has had a very successful relationship with the circuit since its return to MotoGP in 2016 and holds all the existing lap and race records for the 5,380m track.
The allocation for the race weekend will continue as in past seasons with soft (white band), medium (no band) and hard (yellow band) MICHELIN Power Slick tyres for the front and rear. The front for Losail will be a symmetric design, while the rears will have an asymmetric finish with a harder right-hand-side, this selection is designed to work at optimum performance through the circuit’s 10 right-hand and 6 left-hand corner configuration. The front hard will be a new compound that was tested so successfully prior to the first race, whilst the rear soft will be one of the new technology tyres that Michelin has added to the range and was met with such a positive response by the riders in pre-season testing, it is a tyre that is designed to give greater consistency and improved grip. In case of wet weather, and if Race Direction deems it safe to ride, the MICHELIN Power Rain tyres will be available in soft (blue band) and medium (no band) compounds for front and rear, with the rears also having an asymmetric design.
Michelin and this year’s field of 22-riders, which features four racers new to the class in Francesco Bagnaia (Alma Pramac Racing), Joan Mir (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR), Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) and Fabio Quatararo – of the also new Petronas Yamaha SRT – will head out on track on Friday afternoon for the first Free Practice session, followed by the opening Free Practice under lights later that evening. Saturday will see more daylight practice, before qualifying gets underway beneath the floodlights. The first event of the 2019 MotoGP season will see the riders line up at 20.00hrs local time (17.00hrs GMT, 18.00hrs CET) on Sunday 10th March for the 22-lap race.
Piero Taramasso – Michelin Motorsport Two-Wheel Manager:
“We have had a very successful off-season, as we introduced some new slick compounds that we had been developing and the riders were very pleased with the performance, so these have been added to the range for 2019. These are aimed more at European tracks, but we have added them to the allocation at Losail as we believe they are ideal for what that track has to offer. We are looking forward to the new season, there are new riders, bikes, and teams that have changed manufacturers, so there is a huge amount for all of our technicians to work on. We are up for the challenge and everyone is ready to get back into the racing environment. Losail has been a good track for Michelin since we returned, even though it is a very unique circuit with particular demands, so we are determined to push the performance on again this year, as we plan to do at every track we visit.”
Winnowing the key stats: 10 things to know about the Grand Prix of Qatar
The Grand Prix of Qatar, as usual, marks the opening round of the MotoGP World Championship. Before the start of a new season, we selected 10 key stats about the Losail circuit and the Mission Winnow Ducati team:
• The upcoming race will be the 16th edition of the Qatar GP, and for the 13th time the Championship will begin at Losail
• Ducati won the opening race five times: with Loris Capirossi in 2006 (when the Championship started at Jerez), and both with Casey Stoner (in 2007, 2008, and 2009) and Andrea Dovizioso (2018) in Qatar.
• The first edition of the Grand Prix of Qatar took place in 2004, while 2007 marked the first race held at night
• The floodlights of Losail, the only permanent circuit in the world with artificial lighting, light an area as big as 70 soccer fields and require 5.4 million watts of power – enough electricity to supply 3,000 homes.
• Ducati won four times in Qatar: in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2018. The most thrilling victory probably is the most recent one, as Andrea Dovizioso beat Marc Marquez to the finish line by only 0.027 seconds last year.
• Andrea Dovizioso has an open streak of four consecutive podiums in Qatar (three second places and one win), and already stepped on the rostrum eight times overall at Losail – a personal record in terms of podium finishes on a single track, tied with Le Mans. Dovizioso's best grid position in Qatar, on the other hand, dates back to 2015 when he clinched pole position – his only first-row start at Losail so far.
• In 2004, in the 250cc class, Dovizioso finished the race tied with Lorenzo, with exactly the same time, and the win was assigned to Lorenzo based on the fastest lap during the race.
• Danilo Petrucci started the 2018 Qatar GP from first row, a qualifying performance he subsequently repeated at Le Mans and Sachsenring. His best race result in Qatar is fifth (2018).
• Danilo Petrucci clocked the highest ever speed at Losail in 2018, reaching 351.9 km/h on the main straight onboard his Desmosedici.
• The braking at the end of the straight is the second hardest in the entire championship, requiring brake-lever pressures of 8 kg over 5.1 seconds crossing a distance of 290 meters.