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MotoGP 2016: Round 1 - Qatar preview

The premier two-wheel championship gets underway this weekend under the spotlights in the Gulf. It's a spectacle alright, and a good way to get 2016 going.

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MotoGp of Qatar - Race Photo by Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images

How's your winter been?

Personally, between my other sporting loves letting me down, I've been bored senseless. This weekend seemed so far away after Valencia, where Jorge Lorenzo and Danny Kent joined Johann Zarco in your 2015 roll of honour.

2016 looks to be one of the most exciting years in MotoGP in a long time. If you haven't read our season previews, a) why not? and b) get reading them. They'll catch you up on all the differences.

But never mind the technical stuff, it's racing time!

Qatar

The Losail circuit is north of Doha, for fans of geography. The first GP race was held here in 2004, won by Sete Gibernau, and has been a night race since 2008. The most notable part of the track is the 1km home straight, with the rest being a fairly comfortable start to the season. It'll still be good though, because bikes at night.

The News

There's been far too much said and done over the winter to cover everything, so here's some of the highlights.

  • Valentino Rossi is in now way bitter about his feud with Marc Marquez last ye...oh no wait yes he is. He says he feels betrayed and the two can never be friends again. (Crash.net)
  • One of the interesting stories to follow this year will be the contract situation of the factory teams in MotoGP. Except for Maverick Viñales, all the factory riders are out of contract at the end of the season. This has fuelled the almost-annual rumour of Jorge Lorenzo going to Ducati - despite Lorenzo being happy at Yamaha. (Crash.net)
  • One guy who will definitely be looking for a job next year is Bradley Smith. Despite finishing ahead of a factory bike last year, Tech 3 have told him that the team is supposedly a "feeder team for young riders" meaning that Smith, the old man that he is at 26, will be leaving. He'll land somewhere in MotoGP, of that I have no doubt, but it's a strange decision. Read more here.
  • MotoGP's technical director has been forced to address accusations from KTM that Honda have been exceeding the set rev limit in Moto3. Who knows if they are actually overshooting, or KTM are worried about some lack of power in their own units. (Crash.net)
  • Crash also did a Q&A with Suzuki team boss Davide Brivio, outlining their goals and ideals for the year. Find it here.
  • If you want something related to the Qatar GP, visit MotoGP.com for their usual facts and stats pieces.

Your race weekend

Qatar is three hours ahead of GMT, yet is still a night race, which is lovely. Our US readers also don't need to get out of bed too early on a Sunday morning, which I'm sure they'll appreciate. Times given are in GMT.

Saturday Qualifying Sunday Race
MotoGP
Q1
17:35-17:50
Q2
18:00-18:15
18:00
Moto2 15:55-16:40 16:20
Moto3 15:00-15:40 15:00

How to watch

If you're in the UK, MotoGP is still on BT Sport 2, so adjust your schedule accordingly. Our North American viewers have a new channel to search for, though. English speakers should find BeIn Sports, while French Canadians can also tune in on RDS. For a full list of worldwide broadcasters, visit http://www.motogp.com/en/Inside+MotoGP/TV+Broadcasters.

Come back on Sunday, where we'll have a rundown of all three races.