Riders ready to shine in lights
TRIBUNE NEWS NETWORK
DOHA THE floodlit Losail International Circuit is all set to ‘switch on’ the 2012 MotoGP World Championship on Thursday. All riders across the three classes – Premier class, Moto2 and Moto3 – are having butterflies in their bellies ahead of the first free practice under the bright lights.
While Moto2 has the same capacity, more engine displacements in the MotoGP and Moto3, which replaced the 125cc class this year, are likely to produce a roaring start to the new season.
As has been a general trend in the past few years, the spotlight will again be on the Fabulous Five – defending champion Casey Stoner and his teammate Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda), Yamaha pair of 2010 world champion Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies, racing giant Valentino Rossi, the winner of nine titles, including six in the Premier category.
With all the teams now having got down to the vital task of giving final touches to their preparations at Losail, Stoner, who put his RC213V on the top of the time-sheets in the pre-season testing in the dominating ways he loves to do, is keen to get going but sounded a bit cautious about racing on the new 1,000cc bike with No. 1 plate.
Stoner’s record in Losail circuit is impressive: he’s the main reference with 4 pole positions and 4 wins out of six in the MotoGP class. Pedrosa has visited the podium 3 times in MotoGP and will be fighting, like the Australian, for a strong start to the season.
“After good pre-season tests in both Sepang and Jerez, we head to Qatar feeling positive, but still have some work to do. This will be the first time with the new bike on this circuit so we will need to spend some time on the set-up to put ourselves in the best position,” said Stoner in his team’s release.
Stoner appears to be concerned mainly about the chattering in his bike, an issue which his team would be able to resolve this week or as soon as possible.
But Stoner has been a dominant rider at Losail. Even with the problem in his machine, he can still go on to rule the open track. His record in Losail circuit is just too impressive – he has had 4 pole positions and 4 wins out of six in the MotoGP class.
3 podiums for Pedrosa Pedrosa has visited the podium 3 times in MotoGP and will be fighting, like Australians, for a strong start to the season. But the Spanish rider is thrilled with his preparations and hopes to have some luck on the track where he has finished third in the last six races.
“We’ve always enjoyed good results at the Losail circuit but this is a new season and there are more competitors contesting for victory this year. I’m excited to get the season started and fight for another World Championship,” the 26-yearold Australian added.
“Each year is different and there are always various obstacles to go through during a season. I’ve had good and bad races in the past, but a big part of these results are determined by how you have prepared yourself in the winter,” commented Pedrosa.
“I’ve worked very well this year, I had a good pre season with the bike and with my physical training; I hope that luck is on my side this time, so we can have a good championship.
“Qatar is important because it’s the first race of the season, but you have to minimise risks. If you don’t win this race you can still win the championship, but on the other side, a mistake can complicate the year. I’m ready. Let’s see how everything goes and where everyone is,” said Pedrosa, who will be riding with No. 26 plate.
Yamaha duo excited Both Yamaha factory riders, 2010 world champion Lorenzo and Spies, are excited about their YZR-M1 and its potential for the new season.
Both were quite competitive during the testing as well. Lorenzo has always started the Losail MotoGP class race from the first row and finished on the podium.
However, a victory in Qatar has yet to materialise for him.
“I’m very excited to finally make a race and see how we are compared to our rivals.
Qatar was a good race for us last year but I think this season we have a slightly more competitive bike so I am hoping for good things to happen.
“Because of my hand injury it has been a long time since I was in a race so I am really excited for Sunday. I have been training a lot for this season; I’m feeling very good and very happy with the bike as well,” said Lorenzo.
American Spies said, “Finally! I think testing can get a bit dull after a while so I’m happy we now get to go and do some racing at last.
We’ve worked really hard over the winter; the Yamaha Engineers have done a great job so we’ve got a pretty good bike to race with at the weekend.
“Let’s get out there on Thursday and start finding a set up and see how it feels. It’s always special to race at night under the lights, we’re going to give it 100% and put on a good show!,” said the Texan.
Steady progress After a not-so-good debut for Italian manufacturer Ducati last year in which he finished seventh on the general classification, Rossi will be trying to get the form which got him three victories in Losail. But his preparations had first hit some snags. Later, he began to find a good rhythm with his GP12.
“We worked hard over the winter, and although we went the wrong direction at one point, we once again managed to find the good feeling with the GP12 that we’d had in the first test. With those settings, which we’ll start with in Qatar, I was able to get good feedback from the bike.
“At Losail it will be very important to work well during the sessions leading up to qualifying so that we can increase our confidence step by step as we approach Saturday, always trying to maximise our potential. I’m a realist, and I know well that our times are still a long way off and that there are still some things to fix. We won’t be able to address some of them right away, but it’s also true that both we at the track and the guys back home now have a direction to work in, and we must try to do as well as we can,” said the Italian icon.