The new season is almost upon us, and it can’t come soon enough!
It’s exactly one week until first practice for the Moto2 World Championship gets underway at the Losail International circuit in Qatar.
The opening race of the season is unique, in that it’s run at night under massive floodlights. Here are a few facts and figures about the circuit and the race.
Located in the desert just outside the capital city of Doha, the Losail International circuit is 5.380km / 3.434 miles in length and features ten right and six left-hand corners. At 1.068km / 0.664 miles in length, the main straight is one of the longest on the MotoGP calendar, it’s also one of the flattest.
To allow the race to be run at night the circuit is illuminated by 3,000 light fixtures burning a massive 5.4 million watts of power, creating enough light to cover an area equivalent to 70 football pitches.
The 2004 Grand Prix of Qatar was the first Grand Prix to be run under lights at night.
While burning so much electricity is hardly ‘green’ the sides of the track are. To stop sand blowing onto the racing line the entire circuit is surrounded by artificial grass.
The Losail International Circuit was built in just 12 months, by 1000 workers and at a cost of US$58 Million. It opened in 2004.
In the history books
The 2004 Grand Prix of Qatar was the first major event to be hosted on the new circuit, with Sete Gibernau taking the race win in MotoGP. Sebastian Porto took the honours in the 250cc class, while the winner of the 125cc race was none other than two-time MotoGP World Champion, Jorge Lorenzo.
The recently retired Casey Stoner is the most successful rider at the Losail International Circuit. The two-time MotoGP World Champion has won four times at the circuit in MotoGP, on both the Ducati and the Honda, and once in the 250cc class. Stoner has also started from pole position more times than any other rider, heading the grid on four occasions, including during his MotoGP debut season in 2006. Although Stoner is the most successful rider, Jorge Lorenzo is the only rider to have won in all three categories in Qatar, which be did from pole position each time.
Previously in Qatar
Qatar hasn’t been a great track for the Marc VDS Racing Team in the past, with both Scott Redding and Mika Kallio only once finishing in the points since joining the team. Prior to that, Redding qualified on the front row and finished fifth in his first ever Grand Prix outing in the 125cc class in 2008, while Kallio has finished on the podium three times in Qatar, twice in the 125cc class and once in the 250cc category.