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Valentino Rossi at the 2017 Grand Prix of Qatar

Lights on, red light out: MotoGP is go for 2018

Mar 122018

For the twelfth year in a row the speed, power, glamour and clamour of MotoGP will start around the flat and fast curves of the Losail circuit in Qatar. Not quite in the dark though. For the first time the Grand Prix opener of the FIM World Championship will occur at dusk rather than the bright bath of the 3600 light bulbs around the venue outside of the capital of Doha.

Perhaps the slight variations on braking markers and apexes will still feel very fresh to the majority of the MotoGP grid with the third and final official test of the pre-season period having taken place just two weeks earlier. After the freak rain disruption of 2017 the decision to nudge the first round of nineteen a few hours earlier in the day should make for a spectacular setting in the desert landscape; a time of year when motorcyclists and racing fans all sign-in to watch the new colours and the form and potential of the fastest riders in the world.

What are the biggest questions for the 2018 campaign? There are more than just a few. Will Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi discover that competitive edge with the factory Yamahas that they missed last year? How long will Rossi take to announce an extension to his deal with the manufacturer to remain in the series until his 40th birthday? Further down the pitlane but on similar machinery will French flyer Johann Zarco grasp his first win for Monster Yamaha Tech3 after an immense breakthrough in 2017?


There are other players with a different set of parameters for ’18. LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow made history with his two victories in 2016 but last summer was trickier with the works Honda. The Brit has been particularly quick and consistent through the tests on the fresh HRC configuration and opens up some exciting possibilities for his competitiveness. In Ducati red Jorge Lorenzo has endured a diverse apprenticeship with the fierce Desmosedici and now is the time to deliver: will the Spaniard have the special feeling he needs with the Italian bike to aim for a sixth world crown? At the other end of the spectrum for age, experience and goals for 2018 is Moto2 World Champion Franco Morbidelli. The Italian rookie will be looking to learn the ropes and perhaps bounce-off and land a couple of his own jabs to rivals as part of the Marc VDS crew. How will he fare?

Of course MotoGP and those motorcycles that reach more than 350kmph (220mph) gathers the attention and opinions of millions of fans around the world but at each Grand Prix some of the juiciest action takes place in the support classes of Moto2 and Moto3; the latter virtually unmissable for the multi-rider tussles that go down to the final metres. Pecco Bagnaia, Alex Marquez, Joan Mir, Nicolo Bulega, Dennis Foggia and Aron Canet are just some of the athletes right at the heart of the mix.


Qatar will not only kick off a championship with plenty of drama and a hefty degree of unpredictability but also provide the first rays of ‘illumination’ for a compelling contest to stretch until November. Don't miss it.