Superbike leg ‘likely’ to return to Qatar

March 22, 2014 - 3:35:51 am
Nasser bin Khalifa Al Attiyah (second left), Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation President is seen along with Mohamed Kandeel (left), General Manager, Alfardan Automobiles, Abdulla S Al Raisi (right), Commercial Bank CEO) and Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna after a press conference at Losail International Circuit yesterday.

BY RIZWAN REHMAT

DOHA:  The imposing Losail International Circuit is ‘likely’ to host a round of the World Superbike Championship once again, if QMMF President and Dorna chief are to be believed.

Constructed in record time of just nine months, Losail Circuit hosted the world superbike family for five years but the last edition was staged in 2009.

“This is a key week for us because we have set up meetings with Dorna,” Nasser bin Khalifa Al Attiyah, President of QMMF, said during a news conference yesterday.

“We are confident we will reach an agreement but first we have to sit down and work out what we need to do and when,” he added.

“I am sure there will be good news soon,” Al Attiyah said. “We put Qatar on the world map with our MotoGP races and we are proud of that,” he said.

Fourteen rounds will be held in the 2014 World Superbike Championship, which is run by Dorna, the ruling body that manages the MotoGP show. However, the venue for 14th round is yet to be confirmed by Dorna.

“I am sure Losail Circuit can add value to the World Superbike Championship. The more world-class races we stage, the better exposure our circuit gets. We are happy with that,” Al Attiyah pointed out.

Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna, applauded the idea of Losail Circuit welcoming back the superbike riders to Qatar.

“We are willing to do what QMMF wants from us. We just have to sit down work things out. We are more than happy to be here,” Ezpeleta said at the same news conference. “Dorna and QMMF enjoy a strong relationship for many years now. 

“This is the 11th year of the Qatar Grand Prix. It is a very important relationship for us,” Ezpeleta said.

“Whenever the season ends in November, we basically wait for this time when Losail Circuit launches the new MotoGP season. We are always delighted to launch the season here,” Ezpelata added.

“We just need time to think and I am sure there will interesting news,” Ezpeleta said.

Al Attiyah said, further improvements will added to the circuit that was built at a cost of $75m in September 2004. Two years later, QMMF pumped in more money and Losail Circuit got its beam lights thanks to an agreement with floodlight experts Musco.

In 2007, Qatar hosted the first ever night race and has been welcoming the MotoGP family for the season opener ever since.

“We know that our track is in pristine condition but the asphalt has endured wear and tear. We have meetings with Dorna officials to see what all we need to do once the race ends,” Al Attiyah said.

“We have to look at the future also,” Al Attiyah said. 

“We know he asphalt is getting old. It is perfectly usable though,” he added.

“Once we sit down for our meetings, we will see what modifications we have to carry out. This will be decided after the race weekend,” Al Attiyah said.

Ezpeleta said: “Qatar race is one of the classics. We consider it to be one of the best races on the calendar. From the safety aspects to the improvements made by QMMF, Losail Circuit is a top circuit. I am anxious for the race to begin (tomorrow).”

Al Attiyah, who is Vice-President at FIM and FIA, said: “We are thankful to Mr Carmello for allowing us to host a pre-season test here (early March). That was very valuable to us as we got to advertise and promote our venue to wide audiences around the globe.”The Peninsula

 

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