Ducati Team on the starting-blocks for opening round of 2018 MotoGP World Championship in Qatar
After three pre-season testing sessions in Malaysia, Thailand and ten days ago in Qatar, the Ducati Team is now arriving in the Gulf state again for the first round of the 2018 MotoGP World Championship, which takes place on Sunday at the Losail International Circuit on the outskirts of Doha.
Coming off the back of an extraordinary year in which he won six races and finished runner-up, Andrea Dovizioso begins his sixth successive season with the colours of the Borgo Panigale squad, becoming one of the ‘longest-lasting’ riders in the Italian manufacturer’s MotoGP history. 2018 will be Andrea’s eleventh consecutive season in the premier category, the Italian having commenced his MotoGP career exactly ten years ago, on 9th March 2008, right here in Qatar.
Jorge Lorenzo, who finished his debut season in 2017 with the Ducati Desmosedici GP in seventh place, also began his MotoGP career ten years ago like Dovizioso. The Spanish rider finished the 2008 GP of Qatar in second place, after setting pole position.
In their ten seasons in MotoGP, Andrea and Jorge have taken part respectively in 178 and 174 races.
Unlike the other races on the calendar, the GP of Qatar will be held under floodlights, but this year the race will start two hours earlier on Sunday evening than in previous years, at 19.00 local time (17.00 CET).
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04)
“I’m actually very satisfied with the feeling that I have reached with the Desmosedici GP18 during the last three test sessions: we have always been very quick and I’m happy with the work done in Ducati over the winter. At Losail our bike has always worked well and this year it seems it’s going even better, so I’m very confident for the first GP of the season. We still have to improve some aspects for the race and a lot will depend on the conditions we will find during the weekend, because in Qatar things can change rapidly, but I believe I have the right experience to manage every situation. This year there are many very quick and competitive riders and I know the strong points of our bike as well as the aspects we still have to improve, but I’m very focussed and ready to start the season in a great way.”
Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team #99)
“Finally the championship is about to start! It’s the moment of truth, and as always the appointment in Qatar will be special because racing a MotoGP bike at night is something unique. During the last two tests, we have had some good and some difficult moments, but we must remain positive and follow the same direction as the Sepang tests. The bike has a lot of potential and we must concentrate on finding a setting that adapts better to my riding style, in order to be competitive right from the first practice sessions.”
The Losail International Circuit
The Losail Circuit, which extends for 5.4 km, is situated close to Doha, the capital city of Qatar. The main straight is more than one kilometre long and the rest of the track is a mixture of fast and medium-fast curves. The 2018 race will be the fifteenth edition of the GP of Qatar: the Losail circuit was in fact inaugurated in October 2004, and since 2008 the racing has taken place in the fascinating night-time scenario of artificial lighting, which has made the opening round of the championship one of the most spectacular of the entire MotoGP calendar.
Fastest Lap: Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’53.927 (170.0 km/h) – 2008
Circuit Record: Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’54.927 (168.5 km/h) – 2016
Best Pole: Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’53.927 (170.0 km/h) – 2008
Top Speed: Iannone (Ducati) 351.2 km/h – 2016
Race Distance: 22 laps (118.4 km)
Curves: 16 (6 left, 10 right)
Race Start: 19.00 local time (17.00 CET)
Podium: 1. Viñales (Yamaha), 2. Dovizioso (Ducati), 3. Rossi (Yamaha)
Pole Position: Viñales (Yamaha) 1’54.316 (169.425 km/h)
Fastest Lap: Zarco (Yamaha) 1’55.990 (166.979 km/h)
Bike: Ducati Desmosedici GP
Race Number: 04
Age: 31 (born on 23rd March in Forlimpopoli, Italy)
Residence: Forlì (Italy)
Races: 276 (178 x MotoGP, 49 x 250cc, 49 x 125cc)
First GP: 2001 Italian GP (125cc)
Wins: 17 (8 x MotoGP, 4 x 250cc, 5 x 125cc)
First Win: 2004 South African GP (125cc)
Poles: 18 (5 x MotoGP, 4 x 250cc, 9 x 125cc)
First Pole: 2003 French GP (125cc)
World Titles: 1 (1 x 125cc)
Bike: Ducati Desmosedici GP
Race Number: 99
Age: 30 (born on 4th May 1987 in Palma di Mallorca, Spain)
Residence: Lugano (Switzerland)
Races: 268 (174 x MotoGP, 48 x 250cc, 46 x 125cc)
First GP: 2002 Spanish GP (125cc)
Wins: 65 (44 x MotoGP, 17 x 250cc, 4 x 125cc)
First Win: 2003 Brazilian GP (125cc)
Poles: 65 (39 x MotoGP, 23 x 250cc, 3 x 125cc)
First Pole: 2003 Malaysian GP (125cc)
World Titles: 5 (3 x MotoGP, 2 x 250cc)