MotoGP – Repsol duo ready for season opener

Losail circuit by night

Repsol Honda riders Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa are chomping at the bit to race at this weekend’s season opener in Qatar.

Both riders have enjoyed a positive pre-season test and reigning champion Marquez will be relieved to be arriving 100 per cent fit this year – at last season’s opening round he was still recovering from a broken leg, suffered during a training accident.

The Spaniard, who is chasing hat-trick of world titles, said: “I can’t wait for the season to begin! It’s been a long Winter and then testing was cut short in Qatar last week due to rain, which was very strange, but I’m confident going into this first race.

“This circuit isn’t one of my favourites but it’s still fun to ride and it marks the beginning of the Championship which is great. Let’s see how the conditions are after all the rain last week. As usual it will take a few sessions of the different classes on track to clear the racing line and then we will see how the grip level is.

“There are a lot of fast riders on fast bikes – as we saw during testing – so this first race weekend will be interesting for sure!”

Team-mate Pedrosa is also oozing confidence, which is largely down to a change of crew chief. He said: “Unfortunately, our testing programme in Qatar ended early due to the weather last week but overall I’m confident and happy to get the season started.

“Since Valencia the bike has improved a lot, so I thank HRC for all their work, and also my team – where we have some new members this year – have also clicked together more and we have a good working momentum. This first race weekend is always a little tough to get back into the rhythm and also with it being stretched over four days instead of three is quite tiresome. However, now we’re ready to get out on track and put all our hard work to the test.”

The Losail Circuit is a flowing layout of 5.4 kilometres, surrounded by artificial grass designed to prevent sand from the neighbouring desert from blowing onto the circuit. The main straight is over a kilometre in length and there is a good mix of medium and high-speed corners, including a couple of quick left-handers which has proved particularly popular with the riders. In 2008, it became notable for hosting the first-ever floodlit MotoGP race.

This first grand prix of the season is also the only race weekend that stretches over four days, with FP1 beginning on Thursday evening, FP2 and FP3 on Friday evening, Qualifying takes place on Saturday and the race on Sunday night.

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