Less than two weeks after wrapping up preseason testing at the Losail International Circuit, Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales are back for the Grand Prix of Qatar as the 2019 MotoGP season gets underway on March 10.
Rossi has four victories at the track to go along with four runners-up and two third-place finishes. The nine-time World Champion has finished on the podium in five of the past six years, including a pair of third places in 2017 and 2018.
The Urbino, Italy, native is geared up for the new campaign and ready for the chance to add to his success at the track. “Finally, the first GP of the season is about to start!” Rossi said. “The preseason tests were very important. Both in Sepang and in Qatar we’ve taken steps forward and we can say that we’ve done positive tests. We still have to improve a lot, but the road we’re on is the right one.
“This Friday we’ll begin the first 2019 race weekend and we’ll be able to understand many things better. We’ll have time to improve the bike during the free practice sessions and we’ll do everything to get ready for the race. I feel good, I have trained well this winter, and I’m ready to start this new season with my team and all the Yamaha staff. We will do our best!”
Viñales, who captured a victory in Qatar in his first race with the Yamaha team in 2017, is coming off a strong test session in Doha. The 24-year-old finished the three days at the top of the timesheets thanks to a spectacular 1’54.208s, clocking a 0.233s margin over the next-fastest rider.
“I‘m so excited to come to Qatar and start the new season,” Viñales said. “I can‘t wait! The conclusion of the winter tests was very positive. I felt I was going very fast on the three days of testing here in Qatar, so I come to the first race with a positive mindset. We have a good rhythm.
“The first round in Losail is going to be very important to see if all the work that was done during the winter has served us well. Our bike has many strong points at this moment. I felt very good riding the bike during all the winter, I pushed my M1 to the limit. We have taken a step forward compared to last season, I think I’m riding my M1 in a very good way again. There’s still a lot of work to do, but I feel strong enough to fight for the podium at this circuit this weekend. Above all, I feel very excited to start a new season with Yamaha. We just need to keep working and focus on improving the bike as much as possible to fight for the podium and, of course, for the victory. I can‘t forget that I won my first GP with Yamaha here, so I have very special memories of this circuit and that gives me extra motivation.”
About the track: 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 kilometer long, main straight that ends in a steep first corner, where fans can expect to see many classic Qatar overtakes. – Via Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP