Qatar: MotoGP Opener
The long winter break draws to a close this weekend as the 2010 MotoGP season gets going under the floodlights of the Losail International Circuit. Fiat Yamaha Team riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo are fresh from the recent pre-season test and both last year’s World Champion and the runner-up are aiming to kick off their 2010 campaigns with a successful opening weekend.
Last year saw Rossi take his fourth MotoGP title for Yamaha and the ninth of his career and, with 103 race wins already under his belt, the Italian hero has nothing left to do to cement his place in the history of the sport. Despite 14 seasons in the World Championship the 31-year-old still has the same hunger and desire for victory as he did when he first started out and he claims that this year will be no different.
He has been in intimidating form during pre-season testing, finishing fastest on five out of six days, and he looks to have already found an excellent base setting for the 2010 Yamaha YZR M1. Rossi has won only twice before in Qatar, last year he finished second after starting from the same spot. He will be looking to go one better this time and take his first victory in a night race.
Lorenzo gave his more experienced team-mate an exciting run for his money last motorcycle racing season but the 22-year-old eventually settled for the runner-up spot, an impressive feat nonetheless in just his second year in the premier-class. This year the Mallorcan’s pre-season has been interrupted by a hand injury sustained in a fall with his motocross bike and he missed the second Sepang test, but he was back on board for the recent Qatar outing.
Although still not at 100%, he is well on the way back to full fitness after an intensive physiotherapy routine at home in Barcelona. Qatar will always bring back memories of his thrilling 2008 Moto GP debut, when he burst onto the scene with a fantastic pole position and a second-place finish, while last year saw him make a solid start to the season by finishing third behind his team-mate.
For the third time the opening MotoGP race of the year will be run under the floodlights at the desert circuit, although hopefully without the torrential rain which saw last year’s race delayed by 24 hours. The infrastructure features 3,600 light fixtures using 250, 1500 and 2500-watt bulbs and the system needs 13 megawatt generators to produce the required 5.4 million watts of power – creating enough light to cover an area equivalent to 70 football pitches. The bulbs are fixed on 1000 poles with mounting heights from 3 to 36 metres, all linked together by almost 500 kilometres of wire and supported by 300,000 kilos of concrete.
"Finally we’re at the start of the season and we are all very excited. The pre-season has gone well for me, our new M1 is good, Yamaha and Bridgestone have done a great job and we have been fast. We have only had six days on track so we still have work to do and things to learn about the new bike, but we are starting in good shape. I expect this season to be a big battle with many riders very strong, and I hope that we will show some good racing to the fans! Qatar hasn’t been one of the best tracks for our bike in the last few years but at the test we went well so I hope this will continue again for the race."
"I am not perfect yet, I still need more time to recover 100% from my injury, but at least I can ride in Qatar. I am very happy because we are so close now to the start of the season; it’s been a long winter! Unfortunately, I had some troubles in training and hurt my hand, but these things happen. Qatar is a very special track for me; it was the place where I got my first podium in MotoGP in 2008! I know this time it will be more difficult, but I will try to be close to the action. I hope this year it doesn’t rain like last year!"
"Our development in testing has gone very well and this is encouraging for us all. We were fast in Sepang but also in Qatar, more than a second faster than last year in fact, so we are going into the first race feeling confident that we can put up a fight. It hasn’t been the best race for us previously but everyone is very focused and we will be looking to make a strong start to the campaign. The waiting is nearly over and we’re ready – let’s go racing!"
"Jorge’s thumb is still not perfect but he was stronger than we expected at the last test and he has had some more time to recover since then so the situation is not too bad. It was a great shame for him that this happened and he missed one test but he has had good treatment and he is in the best shape possible, considering the injury. He felt good on the bike at the test and now we will just try to make some more small steps during practice this weekend. It’s a long season and this is just the first race."
Valentino Rossi : Information
Lives: Tavullia, Italy
GP victories: 103 (77 x MotoGP/500cc, 14 x 250cc, 12 x 125cc)
First GP victory: Czech Republic, 1996 (125cc)
First GP: Malaysia, 1996 (125cc)
GP starts: 227 (167 x MotoGP/500cc, 30 x 250cc, 30 x 125cc)
Pole positions: 58 (47 x MotoGP/500cc, 5 x 250cc, 5 x 125cc)
World Championships: 9 Grand Prix (1 x 125cc, 1 x 250cc, 1 x 500cc, 6 x MotoGP)
Jorge Lorenzo: Information
Lives: Barcelona, Spain
GP victories: 26 (5 x MotoGP, 17 x 250cc, 4 x 125cc)
First GP victory: Brazil, 2003 (125cc)
First GP: Jerez, Spain, 2002 (125cc)
GP starts: 128 (34 x MotoGP, 48 x 250cc, 46 x 125cc)
Pole positions: 35 (9 x MotoGP, 23 x 250cc, 3 x 125cc)
World Championships: 2 (250cc, 2006/7)
Losail: Record Lap
C. Stoner (Ducati) 2008, 1’55.153
Losail: Best Lap
J. Lorenzo (Yamaha) 2008, 1’53.927
Grand Prix Results: Losail 2009
1. C.Stoner (Ducati)
2. V.Rossi (Yamaha)
3. J.Lorenzo (Yamaha)