The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team can’t contain their excitement for the first MotoGP Grand Prix of 2021, coming up this weekend. Riders Maverick Viñales and Fabio Quartararo are looking forward to starting the racing action under the floodlights of the Losail International Circuit - where they both completed the preseason test two weeks ago with top-3 results, filling them with confidence.

With the MotoGP class not having been able to compete in Qatar in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Viñales is all the more keen to see some action at the Losail track. He is in luck, because this year not one, but two races will be held in Doha, a circuit that holds special memories for him.

The Spaniard previously secured a win in the premier class in Qatar in 2017, which was his very first race with Yamaha. He also scored a first and second place there in the Moto3 class, in 2012 and 2013 respectively. Throughout the 2021 Qatar Test, the number-12 rider completed a total of 252 laps to get to the first race of the season in the best shape possible, with his eye on a place on the rostrum.

This weekend’s race will be a special event for Quartararo, who is now tantalisingly close to making his MotoGP dream come true: Friday will mark his official debut with the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP team. The youngster already showed his eagerness during the Qatar Test, when he put in 242 laps, and he is feeling ready to tackle the first round of the 2021 MotoGP season.

The Losail circuit hasn’t historically been a good circuit for him, but the Frenchman is keen on changing that this year. Having shown good pace and confidence with the Factory YZR-M1, he is determined to make his, the team’s, and Yamaha’s hard work during the winter break pay off.

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). However, the track is best known for its iconic over a kilometre long main straight followed by a steep first corner – a combination that offers plenty of overtakes.

As the Grand Prix of Qatar is a night race, the schedule for the upcoming race weekend slightly differs from the usual. MotoGP's FP1 session will take place on Friday afternoon from 15:40 - 16:25, local track time (GMT+3) followed by FP2 from 20:00 - 20:45. On Saturday, FP3 and FP4 will be held from 15:15 - 16:00 and 19:20 - 19:50 respectively, before the qualifying sessions from 20:00 - 20:40. On Sunday*, the warm-up is held from 15:40 - 16:00, and the race starts at 20:00.

*Please note that for some countries Daylight Saving Time will begin on Sunday, 28 March 2021.