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Moto2 title fight to commence at Losail

Moto2 title fight to commence at Losail

With Toni Elías having moved up to the premier class the battle for the vacant Moto2 title will get underway in Qatar this weekend, with a range of riders confident of their chances of competing for the 2011 World Championship.

After a thrilling inaugural season in 2010 the Moto2 category revs up for its second season in the World Championship in 2011, and on Thursday evening under the Losail International Circuit floodlights 38 ambitious riders will line up for the opening practice session of the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar.

Round 1 of the 2011 campaign commences just ten days after the conclusion of the final pre-season Test which took place at Jerez, and where the 600cc Honda engines were in full symphony for the first, and only, time prior to Qatar. The leading figures at the three-day meeting were Stefan Bradl (Viessmann Kiefer Racing), 2010 125 World Champion Marc Márquez (Team Catalunya Caixa Repsol), Simone Corsi (Ioda Racing Project), Yuki Takahashi (Gresini Racing) and Thomas Lüthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2), who were the highest placing riders on the timesheet. The quintet will all be keen to carry that form into the opening round, but a host of other candidates will also be intent on making strong starts to 2011.

Last year’s Championship runner-up Julián Simón (Mapfre Aspar) and Andrea Iannone (Speed Master) who finished third will be amongst the expected challengers at the front, whilst Frenchman Jules Cluzel (Forward Racing) stood on the podium at Losail last year. Add to the mix names such as Mika Kallio (Marc VDS) and Aleix Espargaró (Pons Racing), both of whom have stepped down from MotoGP and will feel they have a point to prove, and riders who proved their progress last year in the category in Scott Redding (Marc VDS) and Alex de Angelis (JiR Moto2) and the first race promises another spectacular show.

Alongside the names of those who displayed their talents last year on a frequent basis will be those of some exciting newcomers to the stage on a full-time basis, when the field lines up for FP1 on Thursday. Kenan Sofuoglu gave a hint of his ability in the final two rounds last year when riding as a replacement for the Technomag-CIP team, and the Turkish rider is on board with the French squad in 2011 in what can be expected to be a thrilling first World Championship campaign. Likewise, Michele Pirro impressed with a one-off ride at Aragón for the Gresini team last season and the Italian tackles his first Moto2 campaign with the World Championship winning team, having enjoyed a productive Jerez Test, and Kev Coghlan (Team Aeroport de Castelló) will be one of three Brits in the category as he embarks on his debut Moto2 World Championship campaign.

Also arriving in the Moto2 class as they graduate from the 125s are Pol Espargaró (HP Tuenti Speed Up), Bradley Smith (Tech 3), Randy Krummenacher (GP Team Switzerland Kiefer Racing) and Esteve Rabat (Blusens-STX), whilst the likes of Kenny Noyes (Avintia-STX), Anthony West (MZ Racing), Ratthapark Wilairot (Thai Honda SIngha-SAG), Mike di Meglio (Tech 3), Claudio Corti (Italtrans) and Yonny Hernández (Blusens-STX) will all attempt to build on last season with a strong start in Qatar.

Mashel Al Naimi will provide a home interest for Qatari fans as he starts his second season in the World Championship, and will be joined by wildcard compatriot Nasser Al Malki on the QMMF Racing Team for this round.

The first practice session for the Moto2 class is scheduled to take place at 6.55pm local time on Thursday evening.

Tags:
Moto2, 2011

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