World superbike racing set for comeback in Qatar
April 05 2013 11:46 PM

Left to right: Commercial Bank deputy CEO Abdulla S al-Raisi, QMMF president Nasser bin Khalifa al-Attiyah, Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta and Alfardan Automobiles Group general manager Mohamed Kandeel at the press conference yesterday.

By Mikhil Bhat/Losail

Four years ago, in 2009, the World Superbike Championship made its last appearance in Qatar. With the championship falling under the control of Dorna Sports, the commercial rights holder of MotoGP, Losail International Circuit could well play host to the popular championship once again.

“World Superbike is under Dorna now. So maybe we can have SBK back at Losail,” Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) president Nasser Khalifa al-Attiyah told a press conference at the Losail International Circuit yesterday.

The World Superbike Championship was hosted in Qatar for five years between 2005 and 2009. In October last year, Bridgepoint, the private equity firm, which owns Dorna and Infront Sports, the World Superbike Championship organisers, decided to bring MotoGP and World Superbike Championship under one roof. Dorna now controls both the popular world championships.

Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta praised the organisation of MotoGP in Qatar by al-Attiyah and the QMMF, adding: “We are hoping Nasser and his team will keep surprising us more in the near future.”

When asked to elaborate on the surprises, al-Attiyah spoke about how he hoped that WorldSBK could return to Losail, adding that, “We are looking at further development of bike racing in Qatar, whether technology-wise or in the sporting aspect”.

The press conference was attended by Commercial Bank deputy CEO Abdulla S al-Raisi and Alfardan Automobiles Group general manager Mohamed Kandeel, along with al-Attiyah and Ezpeleta.

“We started the adventure back in January of 2002,” Ezpeleta told the press conference about the 10th anniversary of the Grand Prix of Qatar. “I must say that Nasser and his team have been very easy to work with. They have created one of the best circuits in the world and that too in a very fast time. No one must have thought early on that all this would have been possible.

“We also had an idea about having a night race in MotoGP, and when we came to know that Formula One is planning something similar in Singapore, we wanted to do so before they did. Eventually, we, along with Nasser and his team, managed to do that. In 2008, our first night race was held in March, while Singapore hosted the first F1 night race later in the year.”

Speaking about the QMMF Moto2 team, al-Attiyah said: “Our team is a young team and with the support of Dorna, it’s been great that Qatar is represented in the championship. We have invested a lot in the development of the team and the riders. Last year, we had Elena Rosell riding for us and this year, we have Rafid Topan Sucipto from Indonesia riding alongside a very experienced Anthony West.”

He added: “We would like to better our performance this year from the two good results that we had last year – Malaysia and Australia.”

West had managed to get second place finishes in Sepang and his home race in Phillip Island.  




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