Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Eagerly Await Friday’s Season Start in Qatar

Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP's Maverick Viñales and Fabio Quartararo return to the Losail International Circuit to kick off the 2021 MotoGP season this weekend, starting with the Grand Prix of Qatar.
Losail (Qatar), 24th March 2021
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.
Massimo Meregalli

Massimo Meregalli

Team Director

All motorsports fans have been looking forward to this week, because MotoGP is back in action. The first race of the season is always especially thrilling: it’s the first time we really get to measure ourselves against our competition. We’ve made good steps during the Qatar Test, and we’re feeling confident. A lot of hard work from Yamaha’s engineers and our test riders went into this. Both Maverick and Fabio felt comfortable with the package we've prepared for them during the test, so now it’s just a matter of starting the show!
Maverick Viñales

Maverick Viñales

Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Rider

This year’s winter testing wasn’t very long, but we still got a lot of work done and the Qatar Test was very positive. This is important. We are about to start the new season and we’re on a good level. We know our strengths. We have a good rhythm and we’ve also worked hard on the areas that we know we could further improve. Now it’s time to start racing!
Fabio Quartararo

Fabio Quartararo

Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Rider

Finally, the season is about to start! I did a lot of laps during the preseason test, and even though we were not able to ride on the last day, we still ended the test feeling positive. I’m very curious to see if the track conditions have changed much since the MotoGP Qatar Test, but most of all I just want to ride my M1 again and start the 2021 season!