Qatar MotoGP: Will Bagnaia get off to a flying start under the Losail lights?


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The Losail International Circuit once again hosts the MotoGP season opener and will without a doubt begin another exhilarating year of racing.

Located just outside the Qatari capital, Doha, the 3.3-mile track has hosted the opening round of the MotoGP season since 2007, except from in 2020 when MotoGP running was cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns.

The Moto2 and Moto3 classes ran their events as they had been testing at the circuit a week prior, seeing Tetsuta Nagashima and Albert Arenas winning their respective rounds.

In 2008, the Losail International Circuit became the first race to be held under floodlights, something which is unique about this race.

However, that come with it’s disadvantages, after the 2009 season opener was postponed to Monday night as opposed to the scheduled Sunday due to the weather.

The first race held at Losail was in 2004 which saw Sete Gibernau take glory ahead of his Telefónica Movistar Honda teammate Colin Edwards, with Ruben Xaus coming home in third shortly ahead of Repsol Honda duo Alex Barros and the late great Nicky Hayden.

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With 16 corners (10 right and six lefts), varying speeds and radii culminated with a kilometre-long main straight, Losail has been home to some incredible battles through the years. Marc Marquez has been involved in thrilling duels with Andrea Dovizioso in 2018 and 2019 and Valentino Rossi in 2013.

Rossi and Casey Stoner are the most successful riders in Qatar with four premier class wins apiece. Rossi’s latest Losail win came in 2015, meanwhile, Stoner scored his fourth win at the Qatar Grand Prix in 2011 on course to winning his second MotoGP title.

Yamaha are the most successful MotoGP manufacturer on Qatari soil with 10 wins shared between Rossi, Maverick Vinales, Jorge Lorenzo and Fabio Quartararo who won the 2021 Doha Grand Prix.

2022 Championship challenger Francesco Bagnaia set the two-wheel lap record last year with a blistering 1:54.491.

It was eventual champion Quartararo who won the previous race at Losail as he came through the pack late on to clinch his first victory with the Monster Energy Yamaha Team in only his second race, ahead of Pramac Racing duo Johann Zarco and Jorge Martin.

A week prior, it was the Frenchman’s teammate who took glory in the season opener in a similar fashion. Vinales, a then-Monster Energy Yamaha rider, converted third place on the grid to his second Qatari Grand Prix victory, beating Zarco and Bagnaia.

Top Five Prediction

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1. Francesco Bagnaia

The Italian will get 2022 off to the perfect start by taking a comfortable pole to flag victory. The frightening straight-line speed helped Ducati in Qatar last season and will once again power them to success at Losail.

Bagnaia will break his own lap record in qualifying and will put his mark on this season’s title challenge.

2. Jorge Martin

Martin will have another enjoyable weekend aboard his Pramac Racing GP22 Ducati. The Spaniard will be once again proving to senior Ducati bosses why he should be given a shot at the helm of works machinery.

Qualifying second, the 24-year-old will execute the perfect race strategy and be within touching distance of Bagnaia for the duration of the race.

3. Jack Miller

The Australian is a rider fighting for his ride as his contract with the Factory Ducati outfit comes to an end at the end of this season.

Miller will struggle in qualifying, starting fifth in the middle of the second row, but a storming opening lap will see him climb to third where he will eventually finish. The 27-year-old will also clock the race’s fastest lap early on when in the slipstream of Martin.

4. Joan Mir

The 2020 champion will get his season off to a good start with another impressive result that will give him the benchmark to string together positive and consistent results.

Starting third, Mir will be overtaken by Miller on lap one and enjoy a race-long battle with Quartararo.

5. Fabio Quartararo

As mentioned, Quartararo will just lose out to Mir in the first race of his title defence. Despite Losail being a happy hunting ground for Yamaha, the Frenchman will certainly feel the losses on the straights due to a lack of development.

The reigning champion will qualify fourth ahead of Miller and compatriot Zarco.

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