Qatari GP: Series preview

Spectacular Qatar night race to kick off MotoGP season The floodlit desert circuit will host the opening round of the 2010 MotoGP World Championship on Sunday, April 11th. The 154-day long wait for the start of the new MotoGP season will come...

Spectacular Qatar night race to kick off MotoGP season

The floodlit desert circuit will host the opening round of the 2010 MotoGP World Championship on Sunday, April 11th.

The 154-day long wait for the start of the new MotoGP season will come to an end on Sunday, when the 17 riders who will battle it out for the 2010 World Championship line up on the grid at the Losail International Circuit for the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar.

Little over three weeks have passed since the riders finished their pre-season preparations at the track, and it was Casey Stoner who signed off the third and final pre-season Test at the circuit as the fastest rider of the field. In doing so the Ducati Marlboro man broke reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi's pre-season dominance, and will be aiming for a magnificent fourth straight season-opening race win at the track.

Fiat Yamaha rider Rossi starts the campaign with the aim of securing a tenth World title -- an eighth in the premier class -- and his form in the Tests indicates that he remains the man to beat. He is still seeking as first win under the floodlights (he has won daytime races at Losail in 2005 and 2006) and finished second last year, and the factory YZR-M1 has received a glowing assessment from the Italian in the lead-up to the first race, as it has done from team-mate Jorge Lorenzo.

The Spaniard, who finished last year's Championship as runner-up to his team-mate and rival, will arrive at the first round still carrying the after effects of an injury that saw him at less than 100% at the Test three weeks ago. Nevertheless he still managed to maintain a competitive check on the timesheet, and Lorenzo's physical condition will no doubt be further improved.

Dani Pedrosa, last year's third-placed Championship rider, has struggled in pre-season with his factory RC212V of the Repsol Honda team, but will be in much better physical shape for the opening race than last year, when he finished 11th after an injury affected pre-season. His team-mate Andrea Dovizioso was in good form at the Qatar Test with the third best time, and other factory riders Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro) and Loris Capirossi (Rizla Suzuki) will also be in the hunt for strong starts to their respective campaigns.

Monster Yamaha Tech3 duo Colin Edwards -- who finished fourth in Qatar in 2009 -- and Ben Spies have both enjoyed good pre-seasons, with the latter the best performing rookie and causing great excitement at his debut season in MotoGP.

A host of other newcomers are making their premier class bows, as 250cc World Champion Hiroshi Aoyama (Interwetten Honda MotoGP), Alvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki), Hector Barbera (Paginas Amarillas Aspar), and Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini) make up an exciting group of rookies on the grid. Randy de Puniet of the LCR Honda team, Marco Melandri (San Carlo Honda Gresini), and Pramac Racing pair Mika Kallio and Aleix Espargaro complete the 17-strong list.

The first hour-long practice of the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar begins at 10.30pm local time on Friday evening, with the race due to commence at 11pm local time on Sunday.

-source: motogp

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Series MotoGP
Drivers Nicky Hayden , Loris Capirossi , Valentino Rossi , Colin Edwards , Ben Spies , Randy de Puniet , Marco Melandri , Hector Barbera , Alvaro Bautista , Jorge Lorenzo , Casey Stoner , Mika Kallio , Hiroshi Aoyama , Aleix Espargaro , Dani Pedrosa
Teams Pramac Racing