Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales are in great physical form and eager to kick off the 2019 MotoGP season, starting with the VisitQatar Grand Prix. The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team is traveling to Qatar for the first MotoGP Grand Prix of 2019, held this weekend under the floodlights of the Losail International Circuit. Riders Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales return to the 5.4 km track – where they completed the final preseason test two weeks earlier – feeling ready to bring the heat to another highly anticipated MotoGP season.
Rossi is looking forward to riding at Losail, which is historically a good circuit for him. The Italian is a known fan-favourite and he plans on making the spectators cheer this weekend. At the conclusion of the Qatar Test he was feeling very comfortable aboard his YZR-M1. He is confident his – and his crews’ – hard work this winter will pay off, as he aims to further improve his already great results in Qatar of four wins (in 2005, 2006, 2010, and 2015), four second places (in 2007, 2009, 2013, and 2014), and two third places (in 2017 and 2018).
Viñales doesn’t need any time to adapt to the saddle after months of testing, he is already 100% into the racing mindset. Last year he fought his way to sixth place in Doha. This time he returns with full motivation and is looking forward to battling as one of the top contenders and return to the Losail podium. He previously secured a win in the premier class in Qatar in 2017 (his very first race with Yamaha). He also scored a first and second place there in the Moto3 class, in 2012 and 2013 respectively.
Built on the outskirts of Doha, the Losail International Circuit was added to the MotoGP calendar in 2004 and became the first and only circuit in MotoGP to host a night-time Grand Prix four years later. The track’s flowing midsection suits the Yamaha, thanks to its mix of medium and high-speed corners (six left and ten right turns). It forms a strong contrast to the iconic, over a kilometre long, main straight that ends in a steep first corner, where fans can expect to see many classic Qatar overtakes.
As the VisitQatar Grand Prix is the only night race of the year, the schedule of the upcoming race weekend differs slightly from the usual. The MotoGP FP1 session will take place on Friday evening from 15:40 – 16:25, local track time (GMT+3) followed by FP2 from 20:00 – 20:45. On Saturday, FP3 and FP4 will be held from 15:15 – 16:00 and 19:20 – 19:50, before the qualifying sessions from 20:00 – 20:40. On Sunday, the warm-up is held from 15:40 – 16:00 and the race starts at 20:00.