23rd - 26th March 2017

Grand Prix of Qatar 2017

Qatar is the perfect season opener. The first night race in 2008 was spectacular, with the added benefit of being able to really pack in the weekend days with dune bashing, city touring, and some of the best shopping on the planet! Great track-side opening party with guest speakers; great hotels; VIP with paddock access! We've been here since it started in 2004!

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Grand Prix of Qatar 2018 is published!

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Event review - Grand Prix of Qatar 2017

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!


Picture gallery - Grand Prix of Qatar 2017

See our photos of the event on Flickr here Or check out ALL of our past event galleries here
2017 here we come! Laura at the bird souk Our Syrian restaurant Yum! BA1X8619 BA1X8674 Honda Team photo John McPhee and the new British Talent Team & our logo on his helmet! We sponsor Jakub Kornfeil again - since 2010! Yamaha Team poses Rossi & team The new frontage panel for the team offices.  The offices themselves are still a disgrace... The view from a Ritz Carlton Club Floor room Happy Hour at the Ritz Thursday BA1X8967 BA1X9023 BA1X9411 BA1X9830 Darryn Binder heads out for the first practice BA1X9900 BA1X0383 Night action Thursday - first MotoGP session of the season! P1060115 Catching the action trackside Look! It A nice viewing spot Danilo Petrucci Sam Lowes Johan Zarco How close do you want to be? Lorenzo in Red P1060210 Dani Pedrosa P1060236 P1060235 P1060234 Valentino under the lights Checking out the Moto2 Garage Our partner Moto2 team SAG Racing Bradley Smith in new KTM gear A German fan gifts some cool glassware to John McPhee P1060248 We wish John good luck Neil gets his first permanent paddock pass! 0Y6K6118 BA1X1197 BA1X1205 BA1X1443 BA1X1491 Friday opening party in our private suite We have special passes made for our group BA1X1929 IMG_8266 Guest speaker is Manuel Pecino Bar at suite Friday - we had beer & wine! P1060259 P1060260 IMG_8272 Manuel talks about all the top riders John McPhee joins us John McPhee visits the suite Friday Also Bo Bendsneyder We also have a visit from Dutchman Bo Bendesneyder P1060272 P1000079 The VIP terrace IMG_8279 Our private terrace has good view of the pits and main straight SAG Moto2 Team joins us, here is boss Edu Perales Moto2 rookie Tetsuta Nagashima joins us. He is very funny SAG Riders Tetsuta Nagashima and Isaac Vinales IMG_8290 IMG_8293 IMG_8304 Laura hits the desert Hitting the desert, first on four legs... P1000121 Was it meant to be 4 wheels or 4 legs? IMG_8357 IMG_8359 P1000150 P1000157 Lunch at the desert camp P1000160 P1000163 No! I don IMG_8372 P1000173 The team at the Inland Sea Our drivers. Dunes are scared. P1000180 At the desert camp It BA1X2624 BA1X2723 Saturday pit lane walk Saturday is a bit of a wash out! We meet Jack Honda checks the track conditions. Wet. IMG_8471 Darryn Binder Brad Binder bisits us Saturday evening P1000199 The VIP suite Superb food! P1000209 Beer & wine included! Scott Redding joins us P1000230 IMG_8484 Sunday in the Old Souk Sunday morning in the Souk IMG_8504 IMG_8507 P1000237 P1000240 IMG_8514 IMG_8518 IMG_8531 IMG_8532 P1000246 Shisha anyone? P1000272 The Club lounge features foodd and drink all day! IMG_7404 Sunday pit lane walk IMG_8550 Welcome to the VIP Village BA1X3029 BA1X3045 BA1X3085 BA1X3093 BA1X3116 BA1X3177 BA1X3205 BA1X3306 BA1X3427 BA1X3437 P1000283 The VIP Terrace Our South Afican guests are caught on TV In the service road car Dramatic clouds threaten IMG_8594 IMG_8604 Olivera onthe Moto2 Grid Our boy Tetsu We sponsor SAG Racing IMG_8619 Isaac Vinales Brad Binder Elizabeth gets present of Moto2 grid pass from Mum Mum get Mother Sponsored rider Danny Kent also wishes happy mum Old timers Elizabeth and Sandra enjoy the garage BA1X4869 BA1X5152 Darryn Binder joins us in the suite IMG_8664 IMG_8669 BA1X6056 Dessert in the desert. Gordon and Chris have a confab with Neil Spalding on pit lane IMG_8683 Honda are taking no chances Jorge goes for his traditional pre-race pee... IMG_8694 IMG_8708 IMG_8713 The scrum as team bosses wait for the verdict on the race start from IRTA boss Mike Trimbley and safety commission chief Loris Capirossi IMG_8728 Look! Rain is coming! IMG_8733 IMG_8734 IMG_8744 Chris is delighted to have had second chance to go to the grid IMG_8759 In parc ferme with Gordon and gang IMG_8802 IMG_8819 the rain starts with the podium ceremony but we don IMG_8837 IMG_8840 IMG_8848 The rain held off perfectly... Final drinks at the Mercure Even was raining in Dubai! The pool at the Ritz.. Sadly rain keeps us away... The Ritz is very kid-friendly!