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Moto3™ set for incredible season opener in Qatar

Moto3™ set for incredible season opener in Qatar

After multiple private tests and two official tests, the Moto3™ World Championship are ready for their first outing of 2016.

With one of the longest straights on the calendar, the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar always produces stunning racing in the lightweight class. The slipstream to the line is vital and a good strategy can be the difference between first and fifth. 2015 saw the first nine riders in the Moto3™ race covered by 0.909s, the smallest ever margin to cover the top nine. As the first race of the year there are still many unknowns, but testing has given a rough idea of who may be at the front come race day.

Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold) ended the three-day Qatar Test as the fastest rider ahead of Livio Loi (RW Racing GP) and Fabio Quartararo (Leopard Racing). All three had mixed years in 2015 and are looking to take a step forward with their consistency in 2016. For the last seven years of the lightweight class, that year’s eventual world champion has always finished on the podium in the opening race at Qatar. Leopard Racing have switched from Honda to KTM machinery and have an all new rider line up in 2016 as they look to become the first back-to-back lightweight champions in the Moto3™ World Championship.

With the top two riders from 2015’s World Championship gone, Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Moto3) will be many people’s favourite for the title this season after finishing third in 2015. However it has not been a perfect off-season for the young Italian who struggled to crack the top ten while testing in Qatar. The Italian missed victory at the Qatar GP by just 0.027s in 2015 having come from 21st on the grid, but with a record like that almost anything is possible.

Having shown well throughout testing, both Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Romano Fenati (Sky Racing Team VR46) will be looking to convert their experience in the lightweight class into a title challenge. The pair of riders have started all 70 Moto3™ World Championship races since the class was introduced in 2012. Binder is yet to take a win while Fenati has six victories to his name.

At the other end of the spectrum, rookies Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46), Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) and Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) will be out to make a strong impression during their debut year. The trio battled for the Moto3™ Junior World Championship throughout all of 2015, producing a number of stunning battles with Bulega coming out on top. There are many new tracks for them and their fellow rookies to learn in 2016, but the Moto3™ Junior World Championship has a proven track record of producing strong riders who have been able to challenge from round one.

The Moto3™ World Championship produced some of the closest and most thrilling races of 2015, with the top 13 split by under a second and the top six under the circuit record at the Qatar Test, it does not look like this will change in 2016. Free Practice 1 begins at 18:00 Local Time on Thursday the 17th of March before racing begins in earnest on Sunday the 20th of March.


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