DOHA, March 8 (NNN-AGENCIES) — Qatar will continue to host a round of the MotoGP world championship until at least 2031 after agreeing a five-year extension to a contract that already ran to 2026, organisers said.
The Gulf state hosts the opening round of the 2019 championship at the Losail circuit this weekend, with Spaniard Marc Marquez chasing his sixth crown in the top class with Honda.
Qatar made its debut on the calendar in 2004 and became the first night race under floodlights four years later.
It remains the only round of the championship in the Middle East.
Meanwhile, leading MotoGP riders urged safety officials at this year’s traditional Qatar season-opener to move the race’s start time forward an hour amid ongoing concerns over Doha weather conditions.
Defending champion Marc Marquez, challenger Jorge Lorenzo and Alex Rins are among those calling on a safety panel to push Sunday’s race to 7pm (1600 GMT) to combat heat, humidity and wind in the desert state.
“Last year the race started at 7 and it was really good, it’s less risk,” said Marquez, speaking at a press conference.
He was backed by other riders, including fellow Spaniard Rins.
It is forecast to be a maximum of 24 degrees Celsius in Doha on Sunday, though several degrees cooler by the evening.
There are also concerns over the gusty conditions especially on some exposed parts of the Losail track.
Whatever the conditions, the race should herald the beginning of one of the most competitive MotoGP seasons, which takes place over 19 races. — NNN-AGENCIES