Earlier this year, at the season-opening MotoGP round in Qatar, Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) president Nasser Khalifa al-Attiyah had assured that the motorcycle road racing series will remain at the Losail International Circuit even after the current contract runs out in 2016.
“I guarantee you that I will grab him (for contract extension),” al-Attiyah had joked, referring to Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta. “We are strong partners and we need to continue this. We will renew our agreement for the future for sure. We are proud of hosting MotoGP.”
Yesterday, ahead of the Catalunya Grand Prix, the two administrators confirmed a new 10-year contract which will ensure that Qatar features on the MotoGP calendar until at least 2026.
Al-Attiyah and Ezpeleta penned a 10-year deal from 2017 onwards, meaning the event will run for at least 23 consecutive editions since its addition to the calendar in 2004.
Over the last decade, the Qatar GP has become a key point of the Championship. It has acted as the season-opener since 2007 and further strengthened its position on the calendar when it switched to a night-race format, a first in the history of MotoGP, in 2008.
The circuit saw Casey Stoner and Valentino Rossi win the MotoGP race four times. Rossi’s Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo won the MotoGP race at Losail in 2012 and 2013 to tie Stoner for most wins across the categories with five victories. Stoner had won the 250cc race in 2005, while Lorenzo the first ever 125cc race in 2004, and the 250cc events in 2006 and 2007.
“We are very excited about continuing our partnership with MotoGP and securing our place in the calendar for another decade. The night race is a spectacular event that we’re proud to host and we aim to keep perfecting this partnership,” al-Attiyah, who is also the deputy president of Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme (International Motorcycling Federation), said.
Expeleta said: “Since its first edition in 2004, the Qatar GP became a trademark of the MotoGP World Championship and continues to provide a unique set-up for racing, so we’re pleased to seal this agreement and extend our relationship beyond 2016. Losail International Circuit always creates a magic atmosphere and the brotherhood of the two companies has grown throughout the years.”
QMMF and Dorna share a comfortable equation ever since Qatar hosted the first MotoGP race. The relationship also ensured that World Superbike Championship (WSBK) returned to the 5.38km circuit last year for the first time since 2009 after Bridgepoint, the private equity firm that owns Dorna and Infront Sports, the then event organisers, decided to bring MotoGP and WSBK under one roof. Published by Gulf Times