The Repsol Honda Team start their journey back to Europe with a stop at the Lusail International Circuit, Marc Marquez and Joan Mir preparing for another intense weekend.
Intensive circuit renovations saw the Qatar Grand Prix moved from its traditional home at the start of the calendar to round 19, the night race prepares to welcome MotoGP once again. The 5.38 kilometre long the circuit has been a night race since 2008, a unique spectacle on the calendar but one which always presents a stiff challenge for Honda riders. A newly resurfaced track will give all the riders something to contend with when practice starts on Friday evening.
Marc Marquez is the most recent Honda winner under the floodlights just north of Doha, winning the 2014 edition to kickstart his sophomore title defence. Alongside the win, he has taken four podiums but is aware that this year’s race will be another big challenge. The tactics for the weekend continue along the familiar path of understanding the situation fully, taking a risk when there is a reward to be had.
A Grand Prix weekend devoid of falls and focusing on a strong Saturday will be key to Joan Mir’s success in Qatar. Able to show strong race pace in recent rounds, the #36 is aiming to capitalise on that speed this weekend and return to battling his teammate again. Mir has taken four top-ten finishes in the premier class around the Lusail International Circuit from his previous four appearances.
With night-time racing, the Qatar GP offers a unique schedule. Free Practice 1 will start at 15:45 Local Time on Friday, November 17 with the Sprint scheduled for 20:00 Local Time the following day and the Grand Prix set to commence at 20:00 Local Time on Sunday, November 18.
The fabulous Lusail International Circuit lies on the outskirts of Doha, the capital city of Qatar. Built in little over a year, the track cost $58 million USD and required round-the-clock dedication from almost 1,000 workers in order to get it ready for the inaugural event – the Marlboro Grand Prix of Qatar on the 2nd October 2004.
The track itself 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 Qatar celebrated the first night time Grand Prix in history, following the construction of permanent outdoor lighting. The switch to night time racing was a success and has continued to be so, with the Qatar event now established as one of the most spectacular on the MotoGP calendar.