Qatar, November 15, 2023: The Repsol Honda Team starts their journey back to Europe with a stop at the Lusail International Circuit, Marc Marquez and Joan Mir preparing for another intense weekend.
Intensive circuit renovations saw the Qatar Grand Prix moved from its traditional home at the start of the calendar to round 19, the night race prepares to welcome MotoGP once again. The 5.38-kilometer-long circuit has been a night race since 2008, a unique spectacle on the calendar but one that always presents a stiff challenge for Honda riders. A newly resurfaced track will give all the riders something to contend with when practice starts on Friday evening.
Marc Marquez is the most recent Honda winner under the floodlights just north of Doha, winning the 2014 edition to kickstart his sophomore title defense. Alongside the win, he has taken four podiums but is aware that this year’s race will be another big challenge. The tactics for the weekend continue along the familiar path of understanding the situation fully, taking a risk when there is a reward to be had.
A Grand Prix weekend devoid of falls and focusing on a strong Saturday will be key to Joan Mir’s success in Qatar. Able to show strong race pace in recent rounds, the #36 is aiming to capitalise on that speed this weekend and return to battling his teammate again. Mir has taken four top-ten finishes in the premier class around the Lusail International Circuit from his previous four appearances.
With night-time racing, the Qatar GP offers a unique schedule. Free Practice 1 will start at 15:45 Local Time on Friday, November 17 with the Sprint scheduled for 20:00 Local Time the following day and the Grand Prix set to commence at 20:00 Local Time on Sunday, November 18.
“Second last race of the year but the focus is still the same, we keep on working until the end. Historically Qatar has been a difficult track for us with the layout and everything, so I think again it will be a bit of a tougher weekend. With the new surface, some things can certainly change so we have to spend Friday understanding how this has changed the situation. We will see what’s possible.”
“We will keep working, keep pushing, and keep racing until the very last lap in Valencia. This weekend is no different. For me personally, I’ve had some decent results in Qatar in the past and there’s a new surface with all the changes so it will be interesting to ride the Honda there. It’s another weekend to learn as much as we can.”