Qatar GP 2021 which will see the return of MotoGP. Let’s see the previous editions of an event that has been part of the MotoGP calendar since 2004.
Also this year the World Championship kicks off at the Losail International Circuit with the Qatar Grand Prix. This time again with all three categories, after the absence of MotoGP for the first time in the 2020 edition due to Covid. It will therefore be the 17th Qatari event for the premier class, the 18th for the two minor categories. This will be followed the following week by the ‘replica’ (with the name of Doha Grand Prix), given the (provisional) 2021 calendar again conditioned by the pandemic. Let’s review the previous editions of this event in the Qatari desert.
The Losail International Circuit is a track located in the city of the same name near Doha, Qatar. A track built in about a year and inaugurated in 2004, the season in which the first edition of a MotoGP Grand Prix also took place. Its overall length is 5380 meters, surrounded by artificial grass to reduce the presence of sand from the nearby desert. It has a long main straight of 1068 meters plus 16 curves in total, 6 to the left and 10 to the right. There are many changes compared to the first editions in terms of organization: from an event held in the second half of the season, it has become the opening stage, as well as being the only afternoon/evening GP of the World Championship. But initially, the races were held on Saturday, and then moved on permanently to Sunday.
The inaugural event was the 13th out of 16 GPs, and there were some curious episodes. In 125cc, for example, Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso crossed the finish line ex aequo, and only the fastest lap gave the Majorcan the victory. In the premier class, on the other hand, there is the case of the starting squares of Valentino Rossi and Max Biaggi: rubber marks for the first, washing with water for the second. Both are sanctioned and relegated to the grid (23rd and 24th). Sete Gibernau wins, the Corsair will limit the damage by climbing up to 6th place while the Doctor closes with a retirement. In 250cc victory for Sebastian Porto ahead of Pedrosa and Aoyama. The following year is the 14th event (out of 17): the only Hungarian champion, Gábor Talmácsi, triumphed in 125cc, followed by Casey Stoner in 250cc and Valentino Rossi in MotoGP.
The rider from Tavullia wins again in 2006, on the occasion of what has become the second GP of the season, reaching Doohan’s record of victories. In the intermediate class Jorge Lorenzo triumphs for 77 thousandths over Dovizioso, in the eighth of a litre, Alvaro Bautista wins his second success of the season, with attached pole and fastest lap. In 2007 the event in Qatar becomes the first race of the year. Casey Stoner scores the first of a trio of successes at Losail in three consecutive seasons, winning a great duel with a Valentino Rossi who had stolen pole for 0.005. Iberian victories in the other categories, respectively Jorge Lorenzo in the quarter-litre and Hector Faubel in the 125cc.
Two new features of the 2008 edition: for the first time the races are held on Sunday and under artificial lights, not without some protest from the drivers for low temperatures and shadows. The rookie Jorge Lorenzo gets the first podium after starting from pole, the triumph of Mattia Pasini in 250cc and Sergio Gadea in 125cc. In 2009, a violent downpour greatly influenced the performance of the GP: the races of the minor classes were held, but with fewer laps (just 4 for the 125cc, 13 for the 250cc after a long delay), while the MotoGP was postponed to Monday. Victory for Andrea Iannone in entry class, Hector Barbera triumphs in intermediate class, Casey Stoner sets a new seal in the higher category.
Goodbye to 250cc, welcome to Moto2. In fact, these are the first two seasons of the new intermediate category, which has the first winner in the late Shoya Tomizawa. All-Spanish podium in 125cc, with Nicolas Terol preceding Vazquez and Marc Marquez. In MotoGP, however, he soon ends up K.O. the poleman Stoner. With Valentino Rossi the winner in front of his box mate Lorenzo and Dovizioso. The Australian champion, however, makes a comeback the following year. He triumphs ahead of his Honda colleague Pedrosa, while in Moto2 Stefan Bradl wins ahead of Iannone. Finally, in 125cc Nicolas Terol repeats the success of the previous season, thus opening the year that will see him world champion.
Since 2012 we have all three current categories. The first winner in the newly formed Moto3 will be Maverick Viñales ahead of rookie Fenati. In MotoGP and Moto2, Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marquez respectively triumph. The 2013 event, on the other hand, is an Iberian-driven event: in the premier class, Jorge Lorenzo wins. In Moto2 the rookie Pol Espargaró takes care of it. In the entry class, it is a five-man duel. Luis Salom wins on Viñales, Rins, Alex Marquez and Folger. In 2014 we have the duel between Miller and Marquez jr for the Moto3 title. With the Australian starting at his best by triumphing over his rival. In Moto2 Tito Rabat wins, in MotoGP, it is Marc Marquez who wins ahead of Rossi.
Tris tricolour in the premier class the following year. With the Doctor’s success in front of the reds of Dovizioso and Iannone. Jonas Folger‘s first success in Moto2 (thanks also to a technical problem for Zarco, leading up to three laps from the end), Alexis Masbou wins in Moto3 ahead of Bastianini (21st on the grid!). Jorge Lorenzo, Thomas Lüthi and Niccolò Antonelli put their seal in 2016. The only podium of the season for Salom in Moto2. 2nd behind the Swiss, in the year that was his fate. Pole and MotoGP victory the following year for Maverick Viñales. In Moto2 and Moto3 then world champions Franco Morbidelli and Joan Mir win.
In 2018 Zarco risks the coup. He commanded most of the race in the premier class, only to finish 8th (tire trouble). Andrea Dovizioso will win by just 27 thousandths over Marc Marquez. In the intermediate class, a three-coloured double with Bagnaia and Baldassarri ahead of Alex Marquez. In Moto3 (the only race with natural light) Jorge Martín wins over Canet (for 23 thousandths) and Dalla Porta. In 2019 Andrea Dovizioso repeats himself in the premier class. Italian victory also in Moto2 with Lorenzo Baldassarri. In Moto3 history is written with Kaito Toba, the first Japanese winner in the new minor class.
LAST YEAR’S GP
Finally, in 2020 only the two minor categories run. Historic success in Moto2 for Tetsuta Nagashima 10 years after his friend Tomizawa, ahead of the Italians Baldassarri and Bastianini. In Moto3 it is the then champion Albert Arenas who starts off on the right foot.