By Joe Koraith/Doha
After all the winter training and testing, it’s finally time for the riders to attack the dirt and put all of that practice into action. The 2016 MXGP season kicks off today at the Losail circuit with the free practice sessions and, later on, the all-important qualifying race. This is the fourth successive year that Qatar is hosting the season-opener and each year a single rider has dominated both the races.
Some of the riders soaked in the sights at Katara yesterday.
Last season, it was Max Nagl who won both the races. Before that, it was Gautier Paulin and in the first MXGP event in Qatar it was Belgian Clement Desalle who did a clean sweep. All three will be on the starting grid this year too, though Desalle is recovering from an arm surgery and will be taking it easy.
And then there’s the 2015 defending champion Romain Febvre! He finished 6th and 7th last year but went on to produce a spectacular season thereafter. But he too is recovering from an injury and might not be at his 100 percent here. “I was injured two weeks ago but I missed only one week of riding so I am happy to be back. I feel good and ready to go and we will see how it goes,” said Febvre during the press conference yesterday.
The opening press conference held at the Losail Circuit Sports Club, saw the presence of the new QMMF president Abdulrahman al-Mannai, vice chairman and secretary general of Losail Circuit Sports Club Khalid al-Remaihi, Youthstream president Giuseppe Luongo and FIM/CMS director Tony Skillington. They were joined by eight riders representing factory teams and the MX2 winner Jeffrey Herlings.
“We welcome the riders and the Youthstream officials. It is a big challenge for us to stage this race but I would call it an exciting challenge,” al-Remaihi said yesterday.
The QMMF president reiterated his federation’s stand to improve the popularity of motorsport in the region. “We want to promote motorsport and we want to increase its popularity in the region,” said al-Mannai.
Luongo said that he was happy with the high level of organisation at this event. “I thank the organisers of this event and would like to add that the level of the organization is very high. The track is perfect and ready for the MXGP. The organisers have put in great efforts to ensure that everything is perfect and this is taking into account that next week there is the MotoGP Test and the MotoGP race in two-week’s time,” said Luongo.
And thus it begins. Lots of dirt and expectations will rise and fall tomorrow as the riders hit the track looking to get into prime position for the race. Last season’s double winner Nagl summed up the start of the season perfectly. “Every new season, we start from zero. We have had a good preparation in the winter. There were great memories last year but like I said, everyone starts new.”
LEAVE A COMMENT Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*
Asian Cup champions inspire Qatar U-20 players: al-Minhali
Federer, Nadal threaten Djokovic bid for historic Slam
Captain Kohli seeks WC stamp to emulate batsman Kohli
Humbled Warner set to march into World Cup cauldron
Lauda remembered in tributes at Monaco
Torres, Yankees down Orioles again
Al Sadd will bounce back, says forward Afif
Barca, haunted by Anfield nightmares, eye Cup title
All eyes on Mbappe as PSG’s rivals prepare for summer of change