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Qatar! The first event of 2018 has arrived and is ready to rock and roll with the teams and riders super excited to get racing. It is time to let the battle commence and the pressure is off Rossi’s shoulders in terms of the future as he resigns on for another two years with his factory Yamaha team. The reigning World Champion Marc Marquez has a new helmet lid, is feeling confident and has a determined look on his face as he approaches other fellow riders. He can also relax like Rossi with a more calculated mentality after signing on again with Honda. The Spanish Champion is one of the greatest already and we have no doubt that he will push the limits this weekend in Qatar. Marc Marquez: “I’m really excited that the first race to has finally arrived. It looks like it’ll be a very competitive season, starting from the first race here in Qatar. Having tested here so recently, we know there are several riders who are already very fast, within only 2-3 hundredths, so the race could be exciting, and anything can happen on Sunday.”  The goal is simple: go fast, be calculated in the approach during the race and stay on top of the time sheets with consistency. If there is any indication of negativity or the bike not responding in the way the riders hopes, the mental strength diminishes quite significantly. Marquez right now feels as though the pre-season has gone to plan, he is happy within Honda and feels important within the Honda garage and company. The psychological aspects of his career are right on point and having a good team is an essential ingredient in the bid to become another World Champion in this sport of competitive motorcycle racing.

In contrast, Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo are looking strong on paper and in reality, as they arrive at the Losail circuit. DesmoDovi had a nice winter and spent quality time on himself as a rider and person whilst away from the sport. He looks strong and you can see in his eyes that the hunger to win has been ignited more than ever. Dovi feels that the new materials they have tested over the winter break and also the structure of the Ducati bike in 2018 is more competitive than in 2017. Automatically, the positive energy and vibes go up and the rider becomes a title contender as he has the machinery and focus to charge forward for the number one trophy. Last year was an indication of how Dovi can chase and chomp away at his fellow competitors. Regardless of his confidence, Dovi knows the competition this year is ferocious! Andrea Dovizioso: “This year there are many very quick and competitive riders and I know the strong points of our bike as well as the aspects we still have to improve, but I’m very focussed and ready to start the season in a great way.” With the circuit extending for 5.4km and the main straight being more than kilometre long, the race is bound to shake up the grid and showcase the power of the Ducati manufacturers one again. Jack Miller will be aiming for greatness and to learn from the two key riders at the front. Jorge Lorenzo has focused on the bikes positive and negative points whilst figuring out where he is most comfortable. Jorge Lorenzo: “Finally the championship is about to start! It’s the moment of truth, and as always, the appointment in Qatar will be special because racing a MotoGP bike at night is something unique. During the last two tests, we have had some good and some difficult moments, but we must remain positive and follow the same direction as the Sepang tests. The bike has a lot of potential and we must concentrate on finding a setting that adapts better to my riding style, in order to be competitive right from the first practice sessions.” Could Lorenzo make this year a true success with a title? This question will be answered in the first half of the season.

Turning to Australian rider Jack Miller, he has lost a lot of weight, is in fine form and feels as though his home at Ducati is the right fit. The glove fits like it did for Casey Stoner. In the winter testing, Miller was super quick and confident even after a limited amount of time on board the bike. Jack Miller: “I am happy to be here. The countdown is now finally over. This is the week of the first Grand Prix and I am excited and very motivated to start the season. We have made a very good job with the team so far, and I can’t wait to fly to Qatar and do my best. I have great expectations in this new adventure with Alma Pramac Racing.” As with any motorcycle rider, he must stay on board and have top results to prove that he is Championship worthy and the rider to grow within the Italian team. All eyes will be on Miller and that includes the teams within the paddock.

The best news of the week was Valentino Rossi staying for an additional two years and of course potentially longer if you do the math of 41 to 46. Two years ago, Rossi thought his contract was potentially the last to sign. The key influential factor was his ability to race competitively and with progress. He feels comfortable, fast, strong and has the motivation to continue. The fire is burning brightly! Valentino Rossi: “I want to thank Yamaha – Lin Jarvis and Maio Meregalli in particular – for their trust in me, because the challenge is difficult: being competitive until I‘m 40 years old! I know it‘s going to be difficult and it requires a lot of effort from my side and a lot of training but I‘m ready, I am not lacking in motivation, that‘s why I‘m signing for two more years.”

The first initial race at Qatar is always full of nervous energy and excitement. The weather last year was rough and this year it looks clear. Starting every session with the right foot forward is essential to having the right grid position and therefore a chance at winning or obtaining a podium finish. As we prepare for the battle, let us see who comes out on top as the victor!

Credit: MotoGP.com

About The Author

Myanna Wedes

Myanna has an incredible grasp and knowledge of the sport in detail and continues to secure lead stories every week. She is in constant contact with team and rider media management. She is an admitted lawyer with two degrees and is currently writing a biography on Alan Jones MBE 1980 F1 World Champion. She is a fond lover of two wheel motorsport, predominantly MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3.