Pole Position Travel

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Event review


01 Qatar MotoGP 2016 The MotoGP 2017 season finally got underway!
And what a weird and wonderful weekend it was in Qatar! We’ve been here every year since 2004, and somehow it still manages to hold surprises and interest for us.

We don’t get a lot of rain in this part of the world, being a desert and all, but when it does rain, it is “biblical”. It turns out that March isn’t normally one of the wetter months (that is September), but of the average 18mm per month of March, most of it seemed to fall this weekend! Of course the MotoGP and Moto2/3 tests were also curtailed thanks to the weather. This would make everything just a little more interesting!

Thursday we opened with a happy hour drink or two, then up to the track for the early arrivals. Always the best evening to go to Losail as not only do you see the first sessions of the new season, but there are very few “tourists” around. Our few VIPs met a lot of riders, and even got to watch the MotoGP practice from the trackside around the final turns 15 & 16. Back to the Ritz for the Deluxe package, we enjoyed the tail end of the Club Floor bar, which they nicely kept open for us (free drinks!). At the Mercure, our City Package customers enjoyed keeping the top floor English-style bar open until well after midnight… Joined by some locals at one of the best bars in Doha.

Friday we had the day off. This is the great thing about Qatar – it’s like two weekends in one. You can spend the day chilling, shopping, riding quad bikes or whatever, and in the evening hit the track.

After all our chillingwe headed up to the track. We caught the first MotoGP session of the evening from the grandstands. Still some of the only people there, for many guests this was their first experience of the night action – and you get a great feel for it at the grandstand.

After the session, all came into our VIP suite for our opening reception. We had a very welcome initial surprise to find beer and wine served! This was exceptional – Friday it is usually just soft drinks. We also had some yummy canapes and finger food; while watching the action from our air conditioned suite.


Our main guest speaker was MotoGP guru Manuel Pecino; who started with an evaluation of all the top MotoGP riders and their likelihood of success in the weekend and season. We were shortly joined by one of our sponsored Moto3 riders John McPhee who told us about his struggles with the new bike and new team, but was very confident he would overcome the issues. (And he certainly did – taking the podium in the race!). Dutch kid Bo Bendsnyder also popped up – a very rapidly rising star in the paddock. Later we were joined by the SAG Racing team, with boss Edu Perales giving us some insights into running an independent Moto2 team; and riders TetsutoNagashima and Isaac Vinales talking to us.

The evening ended on a light note – we organised for a cake and the SAG Team to sing happy birthday for the 50th of good customer Carol. We also awarded our annual “Unsung Heroes” award to Manuel.

On Saturday we split into two groups – the hardcores and the lazies. The lazies spent another day chilling at the pool, shopping or whatever; the hardcores hit the desert!

Yes our 12th annual Desert Safari set off in two Landcruisers into the Southern Desert area and the Inland Sea. We may not be able to run this next year, as we demolished about every dune we saw! A lovely lunch by the sea was punctuated by a transition from 4 wheels to 4 legs as we took to the camels!

Just as the jeeps were leaving lunch, the rain that was to plague us all weekend started. And when it rains here, it isn’t just a drizzle – rain of the evening combined with several hours of non stop rain to create standing water all over. Some of the streets were flooded.

Although just a light drizzle by the time we got to the track, all the sessions were delayed until the water could be cleared from the track and service roads. By the end of the evening this had proved a hopeless task and a bike never hit the circuit. Qualification standings were based on the combined practice times of the previous sessions.

We spent the evening in our VIP suite, with lots of beer, wine, great food and full paddock access; so it wasn’t too onerous. Guests Moto3 World Champion Brad Binder and tech guru Neil Spalding joined us to talk about their experiences, and later Neil was joined by Scott Redding who gave us great insights to the Ducati and his riding issues. Since at 6th he was the top Ducati on the grid, this was interesting!

Another return to our respective bars and we got a long sleep in…

Sunday was threatening rain, but it hardly materialised, and with the adjust time schedule lengthening the warm up practices; we had plenty of time to see track action at last! Finally the Moto3 race rolled around, and what a race! Our sponsored Scotsman John McPhee was the hero of the weekend, taking 2nd place from a 12th place start – a blistering ride! Moto2 Was a little less scintillating, although from a very wide open field it was interesting to see who was riding at the top – winner Franco Morbidelli clearly one to watch!

We were joined in the suite after the Moto2 race by South African Darryn Binder, who had a respectable 13th in the Moto3 race, and gave some insight into what racing in the near rain in the dark is like!

Finally the Big Show! Just when we thought we had escaped the rain, it all started again just about the time of the out lap. The start was delayed until the weather decided what to do; but at last the first MotoGP race of 2017 got underway! A thrilling race that kept us on our toes until the very end – a fitting victory for Maverick Vinales maiden ride on the Yamaha, a great show by Ducati putting Andrea Dovizioso 2nd and a very popular 3rd place for Valentino Rossi. An especially pleasing result for us was out partner team Aprilia Gresini getting their best result on the Aprilia with a 6th from AleixEspargaro.

We got back to the hotels after midnight thanks to the delays at the track – but in time to enjoy our final drinks at the two hotels!

We always look forward to this event, and if you can’t get enough of the night time action, join us in November for the final round of the World Superbikes!



# Rider Nationality Team Bike Time/Gap Pts
1 Maverick VIÑALES SPA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 38'59.999 25
2 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Ducati Team Ducati +0.461 20
3 Valentino ROSSI ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha +1.928 16
4 Marc MARQUEZ SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda +6.745 13
5 Dani PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda +7.128 11
6 Aleix ESPARGARO SPA Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia +7.661 10
7 Scott REDDING GBR OCTO Pramac Racing Ducati +9.782 9
8 Jack MILLER AUS EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda +14.486 8
9 Alex RINS SPA Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki +14.788 7
10 Jonas FOLGER GER Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha +15.069 6
11 Jorge LORENZO SPA Ducati Team Ducati +20.516 5
12 Loris BAZ FRA Reale Avintia Racing Ducati +21.255 4
13 Hector BARBERA SPA Reale Avintia Racing Ducati +28.828 3
14 Karel ABRAHAM CZE Pull&Bear Aspar Team Ducati +29.123 2
15 Tito RABAT SPA EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda +29.470 1
16 Pol ESPARGARO SPA Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM +33.601
17 Bradley SMITH GBR Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM +39.704
18 Sam LOWES GBR Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia +47.131
Not Classified
Danilo PETRUCCI ITA OCTO Pramac Racing Ducati 6 Laps
Andrea IANNONE ITA Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki 10 Laps
Alvaro BAUTISTA SPA Pull&Bear Aspar Team Ducati 13 Laps
Johann ZARCO FRA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 14 Laps
Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR LCR Honda Honda 16 Laps
# Rider Nationality Team Bike Time/Gap Pts
1 Franco MORBIDELLI ITA EG 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex 40'18.480 25
2 Thomas LUTHI SWI CarXpert Interwetten Kalex +2.681 20
3 Takaaki NAKAGAMI JPN IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex +3.304 16
4 Miguel OLIVEIRA POR Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM +3.584 13
5 Alex MARQUEZ SPA EG 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex +11.226 11
6 Luca MARINI ITA Forward Racing Team Kalex +13.747 10
7 Fabio QUARTARARO FRA Pons HP40 Kalex +13.988 9
8 Lorenzo BALDASSARRI ITA Forward Racing Team Kalex +17.465 8
9 Xavi VIERGE SPA Tech 3 Racing Tech 3 +17.477 7
10 Axel PONS SPA RW Racing GP Kalex +17.767 6
11 Dominique AEGERTER SWI Kiefer Racing Suter +17.802 5
12 Francesco BAGNAIA ITA SKY Racing Team VR46 Kalex +18.090 4
13 Danny KENT GBR Kiefer Racing Suter +19.323 3
14 Jesko RAFFIN SWI Garage Plus Interwetten Kalex +22.798 2
15 Xavier SIMEON BEL Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2 Kalex +24.009 1
16 Marcel SCHROTTER GER Dynavolt Intact GP Suter +24.077
17 Simone CORSI ITA Speed Up Racing Speed Up +28.193
18 Yonny HERNANDEZ COL AGR Team Kalex +31.828
19 Tetsuta NAGASHIMA JPN Teluru SAG Team Kalex +31.839
20 Brad BINDER RSA Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM +34.046
21 Isaac VIÑALES SPA BE-A-VIP SAG Team Kalex +40.227
22 Sandro CORTESE GER Dynavolt Intact GP Suter +40.279
23 Julian SIMON SPA Garage Plus Interwetten Kalex +40.446
24 Mattia PASINI ITA Italtrans Racing Team Kalex +42.501
25 Ricard CARDUS SPA Speed Up Racing Speed Up +43.000
26 Edgar PONS SPA Pons HP40 Kalex +47.072
27 Andrea LOCATELLI ITA Italtrans Racing Team Kalex +47.486
28 Khairul Idham PAWI MAL IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex +51.206
29 Stefano MANZI ITA SKY Racing Team VR46 Kalex +1'02.080
Not Classified
Jorge NAVARRO SPA Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 Kalex 12 Laps
Hafizh SYAHRIN MAL Petronas Raceline Malaysia Kalex 12 Laps
Saeed AL SULAITI QAT QMMF Racing Speed Up 15 Laps
Remy GARDNER AUS Tech 3 Racing Tech 3 0 Lap
# Rider Nationality Team Bike Time/Gap Pts
1 Joan MIR SPA Leopard Racing Honda 38'27.364 25
2 John MCPHEE GBR British Talent Team Honda +0.135 20
3 Jorge MARTIN SPA Del Conca Gresini Moto3 Honda +0.218 16
4 Aron CANET SPA Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda +0.252 13
5 Romano FENATI ITA Marinelli Rivacold Snipers Honda +0.453 11
6 Andrea MIGNO ITA SKY Racing Team VR46 KTM +0.579 10
7 Niccolò ANTONELLI ITA Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM +0.661 9
8 Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO ITA Del Conca Gresini Moto3 Honda +0.878 8
9 Marcos RAMIREZ SPA Platinum Bay Real Estate KTM +1.693 7
10 Adam NORRODIN MAL SIC Racing Team Honda +7.904 6
11 Ayumu SASAKI JPN SIC Racing Team Honda +12.221 5
12 Livio LOI BEL Leopard Racing Honda +16.748 4
13 Darryn BINDER RSA Platinum Bay Real Estate KTM +16.786 3
14 Nicolo BULEGA ITA SKY Racing Team VR46 KTM +16.821 2
15 Tatsuki SUZUKI JPN SIC58 Squadra Corse Honda +16.832 1
16 Enea BASTIANINI ITA Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda +16.943
17 Jules DANILO FRA Marinelli Rivacold Snipers Honda +27.583
18 Nakarin ATIRATPHUVAPAT THA Honda Team Asia Honda +27.638
19 Kaito TOBA JPN Honda Team Asia Honda +27.641
20 Jakub KORNFEIL CZE Peugeot MC Saxoprint Peugeot +28.034
21 Maria HERRERA SPA AGR Team KTM +28.150
22 Manuel PAGLIANI ITA CIP Mahindra +28.379
23 Lorenzo DALLA PORTA ITA MAHINDRA MOTARD Aspar Mahindra +28.388
24 Tony ARBOLINO ITA SIC58 Squadra Corse Honda +29.520
25 Marco BEZZECCHI ITA CIP Mahindra +54.344
26 Bo BENDSNEYDER NED Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM +1'09.769
Not Classified
Patrik PULKKINEN FIN Peugeot MC Saxoprint Peugeot 4 Laps
Juanfran GUEVARA SPA RBA BOE Racing Team KTM 6 Laps
Philipp OETTL GER Südmetall Schedl GP Racing KTM 6 Laps
Albert ARENAS SPA MAHINDRA MOTARD Aspar Mahindra 14 Laps

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