Weekend preview: MotoGP, Formula E, Indians in international races

Rachit Thukral

MotoGP (Qatar GP)

MotoGP (Qatar GP) Gold and Goose / LAT Images

Gold and Goose / LAT Images

Qatar will host the opening round of the 2019 MotoGP season and if testing was a reliable indicator, the pecking order has been shuffled over the winter.

Yamaha appears to be a more stronger force than it was in 2018, with changes made on the management/engineering side having seemingly got the desired effect.

Ducati should be challenging for wins again, while Suzuki could well be the dark horse.

Honda’s pace appears to be an unknown, with reigning Marc Marquez having made contrasting comments over the winter.

While it’s fair to the say the RC213V won’t be the fastest bike at the Losail International Circuit, Marquez’s speed means a victory for the Japanese marquee shouldn’t be ruled out.

The Qatar GP will be broadcast from 10:30 pm IST on Sony’s TV and online platforms.

Formula E (Hong Kong E-Prix)

Formula E (Hong Kong E-Prix) Joe Portlock / LAT Images

Joe Portlock / LAT Images

Mahindra heads to the Hong Kong E-Prix leading both the drivers’ and the teams’ standings, but also with the disappointment of Mexico weighing on its shoulders.

Pascal Wehrlein qualified on pole position in the previous round and was leading the race out at front, before energy management issues made him vulnerable to Audi’s Lucas di Grassi.

He ran out of usable energy just after crossing the last corner, crawling to the finish line in second place.

Later, a five-second penalty for cutting a chicane dropped him down to sixth and brought an end to Mahindra’s podium streak in the 2018/19 season.

While the race ended in bitter disappointment, it strengthened the belief that Mahindra has one of the best packages on the grid.

As such, expect Wehrlein and Jerome d’Ambrosio to be challenging for the top spot once again in Hong Kong.

Sony will broadcast the Hong Kong E-Prix on its TV and online platforms, with the race scheduled to start at 1:30pm IST on Sunday.

WRC (Rally Mexico)

WRC (Rally Mexico) McKlein / LAT Images

McKlein / LAT Images

The WRC season resumes this weekend in Mexico, the venue for the first gravel rally of the year.

Sebastien Ogier made a winning return with Citroen in Monte Carlo but suffered a huge crash weeks later in Sweden.

That allowed Toyota’s Ott Tanak, the star of the second half of 2018, to take the victory and with it the championship lead.

The battle between the two, as well as Hyundai star Thierry Neuville, will heat up once again this weekend.

Rajiv Sethu and Senthil Kumar, Honda India (Asia Road Racing Championship, Malaysia)

Rajiv Sethu and Senthil Kumar, Honda India (Asia Road Racing Championship, Malaysia) Two Wheel Motor Racing Photo

Two Wheel Motor Racing Photo

Rajiv Sethu and Senthil Kumar will represent India in the season-opening round of Asia Road Racing Championship in Malaysia.

Both will compete in the Asia Production 250cc category, riding for the Idemitsu Honda Racing India team.

2019 marks Sethu’s third season in ARRC and the Chennai native is targeting top 10 results on the back of improvements he showed in his pace in 2018.

Kumar, meanwhile, will be making his debut in the category, having raced in Thai Talent Cup last year.

Aishwarya Pissay (Dubai, World Baja Cup)

Aishwarya Pissay (Dubai, World Baja Cup) TVS Racing

TVS Racing

Factory TVS Racing rider Aishwarya Pissay will kick off her 2019 rally campaign with the Dubai International Baja in March.

The event is a part of the World Baja Cup and will run from March 7-9 near UAE’s most populous city.

It will mark Pissay’s second ever international outing following her maiden appearance in Baja Aragon last year.