Qatar. One of the booming countries in the Middle East. Blessed with an abundance of natural resources. But for every motorcycle racing fan, this country rings a different bell – it is the home of the inaugural race of the fastest two wheeled machines on the planet – MotoGP.
Marc Marquez, having won the 2013 championship in a spectacular fashion will start the defense of his crown against a group of very talented riders, lead by 2012 champion, Jorge Lorenzo. Lorenzo is keen to regain the glory he lost knowing that he has been riding his best since last year. Alongside Lorenzo, is another Spaniard, Dani Pedrosa, who has played second fiddle to the top guns since entering the premiere class. Pedrosa knows that the window for him to win the championship is slowly closing as each season passes. This is his make or break year and may spell the difference between him being signed by the factory Honda for next season or not.
Valentino Rossi, although time is working against him, is also keen to regain the championship form which has made him the most feared rider of the last decade. All riders in the premiere class knows that the Doctor still has the speed and skills to duke it out at front, but they have also seen the chink in the Italian’s armor. Exploiting this weakness is on every rider’s race plan.
Andrea Dovizioso who has already a year under his belt taming the Ducati may have been given a leash as Ducati has opted to go into the Open category, allowing their team more fuel allocation, more engine development, better tires to use and more time for testing. Although it still remains to be seen whether having these advantages could bring Ducati back to its glory.
Dovizioso’s teammate, Cal Crutchlow, who has been spectacular battling it out in the front last year using a Yamaha has found his transition to the factory Ducati a bit harder than expected. His riding style needing to change to adapt to the red beast finds himself lagging in the time sheet. It would certainly take a little more time for the Brit to gain confidence on his new team.
Top Open Class rider, Aleix Espargaro is showing a lot of promises in the early parts of the free practices, topping the timesheets consistently in a bike that is much slower than the factory machineries. Although still a long shot to win the first race of the season, many cannot undermine the courage exhibited by this rider to push hard and battle it every race.
Alvaro Bautista has also seen some resurgence, after being more consistent in the latter part of last year and adopting better to the shocks and brakes on his Honda machinery. He has shown some finesse during the practices, but still remains to be seen whether he can continue with some consistency to finish each and every race.
A lot of excitement is up ahead for every MotoGP fan this season, and this culminates at the start of the grid in the Commercial Grand Prix of Qatar.