2011 MotoGP Preview: Qatar Stats & Facts

2011 MotoGP

Tonight's opening round of the 2011 MotoGP Championship will occur under the floodlights at Losail International Circuit, Qatar.

Starting from the pole will be the man who rode his Repsol Honda RC212V in dominating style throughout every Qatar session this week, Casey Stoner. Joining the Australian on the front row are his teammate, Dani Pedrosa, and the reigning MotoGP Champion, Jorge Lorenzo aboard the Yamaha Factory Racing M1.

As for Valentino Rossi, the nine-time World Champion will be starting from ninth aboard the Ducati Gp11.

Here's a list of stats and facts compiled from MotoGP; the list also includes some stats in the Moto2 and 125cc MotoGP class.

• Casey Stoner starts from pole for the third successive year at the opening race of the year in Qatar. This is the first MotoGP pole for Honda at the Losail circuit since Stoner was on pole on his non-factory Honda in 2006.
• Second on the grid is Dani Pedrosa; his first front row start in the MotoGP class at the Losail circuit.
• This is the first time that Honda riders have taken the top two qualifying places in the MotoGP class since the Grand Prix of Valencia in 2005 when Sete Gibernau was on pole and Marco Melandri was second on the grid.
• If a Honda rider wins here in Qatar it will be the first time that a Honda rider has led the MotoGP championship standings since Pedrosa after the Dutch TT in 2008. No Honda rider has won the opening race of the year since Valentino Rossi at Suzuka in 2003.
• Jorge Lorenzo starts from the front row for the MotoGP race in Qatar for the fourth successive year. He has finished on the podium in Qatar in all seven starts at the circuit across the three Grand Prix classes, but is still looking for his first MotoGP win in Losail.
• Marco Simoncelli has not finished in the top seven here in Qatar since he took the final podium place in the 125cc race in 2005.
• Ben Spies finished fifth last year in Qatar, after qualifying down in eleventh place on the grid.
• Hector Barbera has qualified as the fastest Ducati rider on the grid, taking the final place on the second row. This is the first time in the 800cc era of MotoGP that the fastest Ducati on the grid is non-factory machine.
• Andrea Dovizioso, who heads the third row of the grid, finished third last year in Qatar – the only Honda rider to finish in the top five.
• Cal Crutchlow has qualified in eighth place on the grid in his debut MotoGP race. This is the best qualifying result in the MotoGP class by a British rider since James Toseland was fifth on the grid in Valencia in 2008.
• Valentino Rossi starts from ninth place on the grid on his debut ride on the factory Ducati. This is his lowest grid position since he was tenth fastest qualifier at the final race of 2008 at Valencia.
• The last time that there was a premier-class race with no Suzuki lining up on the grid was at the 1974 German GP at the Nürburgring. This was a race boycotted by the leading riders on safety grounds and had just seven starters.

• The pole position lap time is an improvement of 1.736 seconds on last year and the top sixteen riders on the grid have qualified faster than the pole time set last year by Toni Elias.
• Stefan Bradl starts from pole for the first time in his Grand Prix career. He is the youngest ever German rider to start from pole in the intermediate class of Grand Prix racing, taking the record from Martin Wimmer.
• Bradl is the first German rider to start from pole in the intermediate class of GP racing since Ralf Waldmann was on pole at the Dutch TT in 2000.
• Marc Márquez is the second fastest qualifier on his debut in the Moto2 class. He will be aiming to duplicate the achievement of Dani Pedrosa, of winning on his debut in the intermediate class as reigning 125cc world champion.
• Thomas Lüthi, who set the fastest lap of the Moto2 race last year in Qatar, is in third place on the grid which equals his best qualifying results of 2010 at Catalunya and Sepang.
• In fifth place on the grid is Jules Cluzel, who has finished on the podium in Qatar for the last two years; second in the 250cc race in 2009 and third in the Moto2 race last year.

125cc MotoGP
• Nico Terol, the winner in Qatar one year ago, has qualified on pole for just the second time in his
GP career; his other pole was at the French GP last year.
• Sandro Cortese, who will be starting from second place on the grid, was third in the 125cc race in Qatar in 2009 which was his first ever GP podium finish.
• This weekend Sandro Cortese will become the second youngest rider of all-time to reach the milestone of 100 Grand Prix starts – only Jorge Lorenzo has reached this milestone at a younger age.
• Efren Vázquez has qualified in third place on the grid, equalling his best ever qualifying result, which he achieved at Jerez last year.
• On his return to the 125cc class, Sergio Gadea is heading-up the second row of the grid. Gadea won the 125cc race at Qatar in 2008 – the first ever Grand Prix to be held under floodlights.
• Fifth on the grid, Hector Faubel won the 125cc GP in Qatar in 2007 which was the last year that he competed in the 125cc class.
• Jonas Folger will be starting from sixth place on the grid, his best qualifying result since his only front row start at the Catalunya GP in 2009.