The Losail International Circuit in Qatar plays host to the opening round of the MotoGP World Championship for the tenth successive year this weekend and, as has been custom since 2008, the races will take place at night under floodlights. The teams and riders completed their preseason programmes at this very circuit just over a week ago but finally the long winter is over and the promise of a new season is about to be fulfilled. Major technical rule changes to the series look to have brought parity to the grid during testing, with a new maximum fuel capacity of 22 litres, the introduction of standard electronics and a new single tyre manufacturer in Michelin. Some of the riders and their machines have adapted better than others, with defending World Champion Jorge Lorenzo looking like the man to beat when the new season launches at 9pm on Sunday night.
The winter has seemed never-ending but finally the first race is in sight and the ASPAR Team riders can’t wait to get the 2016 season started. Yonny Hernández has worked hard throughout preseason, gradually building his pace in every session whilst following a strict physical training programme in between. The man from Medellín made big progress in the final test recently in Qatar and he is hoping to pick up where he left off when free practice begins later this week. Although he knows the Ducati well it seems like a completely different bike with the changes to the regulations, but Yonny is adapting well and he is confident of challenging for a top ten finish on Sunday. His team-mate Eugene Laverty is also aiming for points under the Losail lights, the Irishman now recovered from a series of injuries suffered throughout a tumultuous preseason that also ended with a positive test last week. Now he is ready to give his all on what is a new bike to him but one he feels has huge potential.
Yonny Hernández: “I am ready and excited for the GP of Qatar to get started. I am curious to see how development is progressing with the Michelin tyres. Hopefully we can do a good job. I have been working hard to get us to where I think we should be, which is inside the top ten or twelve riders. That is our objective for this season. On the final day of the test recently in Qatar we found the right way forward and that enabled us to maintain a consistent pace. Hopefully we can pick up where we left off and start the season off on the right foot, with a positive race at Losail. I quite like the track and I had a pretty good race there last season. Night racing is unusual and also not as hot as normal.”
Eugene Laverty: “I’m very excited to begin racing once again. Pre-season testing is a really important time of the year but racing is my real passion. I’ve endured a tough winter but when the lights go out on Sunday it will all be worth it. We made progress during the test in Qatar and I’m happy that we are returning to the same circuit again to continue our forward momentum. The Aspar team is working hard with me to get back to 100% and soon we’ll be able to display our full potential on the Ducati. We’re aiming for a points scoring finish on Sunday to start our season on a positive note and we’ll keep building from there.”