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History-making Qatar test gets underway on Thursday

History-making Qatar test gets underway on Thursday

MotoGP history will be made this Thursday in Qatar, as the Losail International Circuit plays host to the World Championship's first ever full night test.

MotoGP history will be made this Thursday in Qatar, as the Losail International Circuit plays host to the World Championship's first ever full night test. Two days of premier class testing from February 28th-29th will be followed by a further three of lower cylinder class action concluding on March 3rd, all under the history-making floodlights of the Qatari track.

The MotoGP Official Test marks a visit to uncharted waters for the riders, although several have had fleeting experiences of similar conditions. The only participants to have seen the lighting project in action thus far –Ducati Marlboro's Marco Melandri, San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Alex de Angelis, Anthony West from Kawasaki and Tech 3 Yamaha representative James Toseland- did so back in November, at a test with streetbikes limited to just three fully illuminated corners.

Five-time MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi and premier class veteran Loris Capirossi have also ridden the Losail track at night, as part of the initial assessment trial ahead of the 2006 race. Both will be keen to see how the track looks in their role as key members of the Riders Safety Commission, and as previous winners of Grand Prix events in Qatar will be using the opportunity to adapt their experiences to the new circumstances of night riding.

The entire 800cc field will be in action over the course of the two day MotoGP test, with even the walking wounded not wanting to miss time on track ahead of the opening race of the season. Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa and Kawasaki's John Hopkins, who undertook limited laps at the last Official Test in Jerez due to their respective hand and groin injuries, have previously had good rides in the Persian gulf, and with the absence of any testing activity at the circuit in preseason need to make the most of the final opportunity for laps of Losail before the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar.

Aside from aforementioned former World Champion Rossi, the two other premier class title winners have also still to ride an 800cc bike in Qatar at night. 2007 World Champion Casey Stoner and his predecessor Nicky Hayden both had successful times in Jerez just over a week ago; Stoner was the victor of the BMW M Award on his Ducati Desmosedici GP8, whilst Repsol Honda's Hayden was the fastest rider overall at the test.

The MotoGP equivalent of a full house is completed by Suzuki's Chris Vermeulen, Yamaha factory man and winner of races at Losail in both 125cc and 250cc Jorge Lorenzo, Honda satellite riders Shinya Nakano, Randy de Puniet and Andrea Dovizioso, Tech 3 Yamaha veteran Colin Edwards and the Alice Team Ducati duo of Toni Elias & Sylvain Guintoli.

The world's largest permanent sports lighting project will be officially switched on in a ceremony ahead of the MotoGP Official Test on Thursday, with the riders taking to the track for seven hours of testing per session from 5pm-12am local time (GMT+3).

MotoGP, 2008

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