The wait is over and the fastest track motorbikes on the planet are back doing what they do best - going stupidly fast! And what better place to start than under the night-time desert circuit of Losail, Qatar? Not only do these prototype bikes (or 'two wheeled rockets' to be more accurate) achieve a massive 218mph down the straight, they also spit fire and smoke their wheels during this spectacular race!
This track is highly unique in almost every way. It's located in a desert, about a mile from the Persian Gulf sea, is almost entirely flat and takes place at night because temperatures are too hot during the day. Of course there are implications to this track that teams and riders have to overcome. Because of the highly dynamic environment whereby temperature changes are dramatic, there is only a narrow window of opportunity for the bikes to perform at their best. During practice and qualifying, this results in riders having to balance warming up their tyres and brakes, with getting in a good time before the track gets cold. During the race a bike can perform quite differently between the start and finish, although this did not appear to be an issue this year. The track can also change day by day when dust is carried by the sea breeze making for a slippery surface and often only giving riders a very narrow grip racing line. With Michelin taking up the tyre supply duties for the first time this year, they certainly had their work cut out to provide riders and teams with something they can work with. But it seems they've done a very good job according to riders following the race, with even some riders commenting on how grip improved even more towards the end of the race.
I was expecting a highly entertaining race, considering new tyres, new standard electronic control units making for a more even field, and qualifying not really giving a clear idea of who could be fighting at the front. To start with it looked like that sort of race, as the leading pack of six bikes were closely matched. Even though the Ducatis of Dovizioso and Iannone seemed to look like they would dominate with their 10KPH advantage on the straight, they couldn't seem to shake off the factory Hondas and Yamahas. Riders positioned after the first half a dozen laps seem to dictate the outcome. Early action saw Lorenzo take the lead following an initial overtake from Dovi's Ducati on the straight. Lorenzo seemed to learn quickly where he would need to position the bike to maintain a lead and from that point never looked to miss an apex, taking his first win of the season without drama.
Valentino Rossi opted for the harder rear tyre option which may have played in to Lorenzo's hands, with Rossi commenting on not having the opportunity to battle with the leaders. Although Rossi was not convinced this was a contributing factor, Lorenzo credited his race win with his choice of the soft tyre. And after seeing an on track dispute between the two riders during FP4, perhaps there is more to these conflicting words than at first glance. Nevertheless, he seemed content overall with his fourth place finish considering he was only 2 seconds behind Lorenzo. However, it's not clear where this confidence comes from, given Lorenzo's relentless consistency and comfort with the new bike, tyres and electronics. To me Lorenzo looks stronger than ever. But either way one things for sure - the battle has begun.
#JL99 starts as he means to go on... The #MotoGP champion wins in Qatar. 🏆 https://t.co/3Z8oKG14k7 — BT Sport MotoGP (@btsportmotogp) 21 March 2016
With all rider contracts expiring at the end of the season I suppose talk of next year was inevitable, but I wouldn't have predicted any deals would have been made. And with Rossi stating he would not be making plans prior to the first few races, who would have guessed he would have signed before the start of the season. Could it have something to do with Lorenzo openly expressing his strong desire to sign with Yamaha ahead of the season? I'm interested to know how Lorenzo feels about Yamaha offering Rossi a new contract without delay and not him. It seems to me increasingly likely that the blue garage is going to feel more tension between the two title contenders this year.
Also Bradly Smith has announced his move to the all new KTM MotoGP team in 2017, following a clear statement that he will not be able to continue with Tech 3 another year. Although KTM face a great challenge building from the ground, they have an impressive past success rate with full focus on achieving at the highest level (ie winning). With a rider of Bradley's quality, they will surely be more motivated than ever to provide a top class bike to kick off 2017. And let's not forget how well Suzuki have done in their first year, with a very strong package already on display. It seems MotoGP is becoming less predictable as the years pass, which of course is great for us fans.
It's now officially Spring and the weather is clearly in tune with this offering warmer temperatures, more light and more sun. There's only one thing Spring says and that's 'Get on your bike' (and of course I'm not referring to the wimpy push version!). Spring is also the time to plan your summer, and with so many drying out sticky roads soon to be on offer, this is not a task to be taken lightly. Of course the biggest question is not where your going but how. There's never been a better time to get that bike that you've always wanted.
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So what are you waiting for? There's two weeks until the next race which is plenty of time to get your dream bike - visit Creditplus now!