The time has come and it will, by virtue of schedule, be the Moto3™ class heading out to race first in the VisitQatar Grand Prix. And what better way to begin than the ever impressive and incredibly close kings of slipstreaming? Just like any other race weekend, the points on offer are the same 25 but the stakes seem that much higher when it’s the season opener…so who will take those first spoils?
In the veteran camp there are a good few names that immediately stick out. Romano Fenati (Snipers Team) returns and he’s a former podium finisher at Losail, as are Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team), John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing). Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) won the 2016 edition, and the likes of Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing), Andrea Migno (Angel Nieto Team) and Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) have all had solid top ten showings there. What of the riders like Tony Arbolino (Snipers Team), gaining some serious traction in testing? Will he be able to turn his Qatar GP form around? And then there's veteran Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3), who broke his collarbone in testing and remains a question mark...
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Then there are the rookies. Losail has made many an impression for a good few new names on Entry Lists throughout the years, and 2019 could be no different. After taking victory in Valencia last season as a wildcard to become the youngest ever Grand Prix winner, Turkish newcomer Can Öncü needs no introduction, and neither does Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) after appearing with a bang on the podium in Australia last year. In addition, Red Bull KTM Ajo rider Öncü knows the track from his time in the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup, as does Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) – could that be an advantage over the likes of Raul Fernandez (Angel Nieto Team), Ricardo Rossi (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3), Tom Booth-Amos (CIP – Green Power) and Filip Salac (Redox PrüstelGP)? In this race at least, they also have to contend with Ryusei Yamanaka at Estrella Galicia 0,0 as the Japanese rider moves up from their junior team to sit in for Sergio Garcia. The Spaniard isn’t injured, however, he’s just too young and has to wait until after his 16th birthday and therefore the Argentina GP to head out on track to race. Only the reigning Red Bull Rookies MotoGP Cup or FIM CEV Repsol Moto3™Junior World Champion can compete at 15. For Yamanaka then, the stakes are high. But aren’t they for everyone?
The time has come to find out and the lights go out for the first Moto3™ race of the season on Sunday 10th March at 16:00 (GMT +3).
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