Honda riders ready for Qatar MotoGP

Sajith B Warrier

Bengaluru, March 5: Exactly 112 days after the Valencia GP, the FIM MotoGP World Championship is set to roar back to life under the unique lights of the Losail International Circuit in Qatar on Sunday (March 10).

The lights of 2019 MotoGP season opener is scheduled to go out at 8pm local time (9.30pm IST) in the venue, which is in the outskirts of Doha on Sunday.

2019 sees the Repsol Honda Team welcome five-time world champion Jorge Lorenzo alongside defending champion Marc Marquez and celebrate a 25-year partnership between Repsol and HRC.

During their 25 years racing at the highest level in motorcycle racing, Repsol and Honda have achieved 14 World Championships, 168 victories, 427 podiums, 177 pole positions and 182 fastest laps.

With 12 world titles between them, Marquez and Lorenzo form the most successful team on the MotoGP grid and begin another chapter in the Repsol Honda Team's history.

Challenging off-season

Shoulder surgery in late December led to the most challenging off-season of Marquez's career and hundreds of hours of physiotherapy.

Maintaining the mantra of 'there are no points for testing', the reigning world champion had a, by his standards, subdued testing campaign, (where he also had a crash), but arrives in Qatar happy with the feeling of his Honda RC213V and with his physical condition.

Special round

"Finally, it's time to go racing once again! This winter has been different due to the surgery, I worked hard with five hours of physio per day with only one goal: arrive in the best conditions in the first race of the year," said Marquez.

Since entering the premier class in 2013, Marquez has never finished outside of the top five in Qatar.

"Qatar is always a special round, not just because it is the first of the year but also because of the conditions. We will have to pay special attention to the temperature and consider everything before the race," the Spaniard added.

Honda debut

The Qatar GP will be Lorenzo's racing debut in Repsol Honda Team colours. Having improved his lap time at the Qatar Test by 2.437sec, Lorenzo is looking to continue his adaptation to the Honda RC213V.

Although Lorenzo was forced to miss the Sepang Test due to a broken scaphoid, his potential on the Honda is clear and the weekend will present him with more crucial bike time.

Strongest venue

With six wins and five podiums from 15 visits, the Losail International Circuit is amongst Lorenzo's strongest.

"Lining up on the grid in Qatar is something I have been picturing during the entire off-season. It's a new era for me and for the team, it is a special moment to be riding for the Repsol Honda Team. I'm ready to give everything to achieve the best results I can on the Honda," Lorenzo said.

(Source: Repsol Honda Media)

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