MotoGP Preview: 2011 Grand Prix Of Qatar

Thursday, March 17, 2011

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The world's best motorcycle racers who will open the 2011 MotoGP season this Sunday with the Grand Prix of Qatar. The 2011 MotoGP schedule also includes the Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Aug. 26-28 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

EVENT: Grand Prix of Qatar

WHERE: Losail Circuit, Doha, Qatar. Circuit is 3.343 miles (5.380 km), with 16 turns. Race is 22 laps.

WHEN: Sunday, March 20. It is the first of 18 events this season.

2010 RACE WINNER: Valentino Rossi, by 1.022 seconds over Jorge Lorenzo

2010 POLE WINNER: Casey Stoner, 1 minute, 55.007 seconds

U.S. TV: MotoGP race, 3-4 p.m. (ET), Sunday, March 20, SPEED (live). Moto2: 1-2 p.m. (ET), Tuesday, March 22, SPEED (delayed). 125cc: Noon-1 p.m. (ET), Tuesday, March 22, SPEED (delayed).

THE AMERICANS: U.S. riders Ben Spies (Longview, Texas, Yamaha Factory Racing), Nicky Hayden (Owensboro, Ky., Ducati Team) and Colin Edwards (Houston, Monster Yamaha Tech 3) will compete in the MotoGP race. Kenny Noyes (Borrego Springs, Calif., Avintia-STX) will compete in the Moto2 race.

FORM BOOK:
Up – Honda. Honda riders led all eight days of preseason testing in 2011, by a considerable margin. Repsol Honda teammates Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa finished 1-2 in testing this week at Qatar, just .064 of a second apart. Stoner and Pedrosa also were the two fastest riders in the opening day of practice Thursday, March 17, with Stoner on top by .610 of a second.
Up – Hector Barbera. Unheralded Spaniard Barbera rode his satellite Ducati to the third spot on the time sheet in practice Thursday, ahead of factory Ducati riders Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden and Yamaha factory riders Ben Spies and Jorge Lorenzo.
Down – Toni Elias. 2010 Moto2 champion Elias has struggled in preseason testing during his return to MotoGP. Despite riding a satellite Honda, he was 17th and last during practice Thursday, nearly six-tenths of a second behind his closest competitor.
Down – Jorge Lorenzo. Defending World Champion Lorenzo has shown a puzzling lack of pace during preseason testing. He was behind new teammate Spies in the final test this week at Qatar and was one place behind Spies during opening practice Thursday, seventh overall.

FAST FACTS: This is the only night race on the 18-event MotoGP World Championship schedule in 2011, which includes the Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Aug. 26-28 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway … There are two rookies on the MotoGP grid this season: Cal Crutchlow (Great Britain, Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Karel Abraham (Czech Republic, Cardion AB Motoracing) … Three of the four factory teams in MotoGP have new riders in 2011. 2007 World Champion Casey Stoner joins Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso at the Repsol Honda Team, seven-time MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi joins 2006 World Champion Nicky Hayden at the Ducati Team, and 2010 Rookie of the Year Ben Spies joins reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo at the Yamaha Factory Team … Fourteen of the 17 riders in MotoGP this season have won world titles either in Grand Prix, World Superbike or World Supersport racing … The oldest MotoGP rider this season is Loris Capirossi, 38, while the youngest is rookie Karel Abraham, 21 … The Japanese Grand Prix, scheduled for April 22-24 at Twin Ring Motegi, has been moved to Sept. 30-Oct. 2 due to the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

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2011 Red Bull Indianapolis GP tickets: 2011 Red Bull Indianapolis GP tickets are on sale now.
To buy tickets, visit www.imstix.com, call the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700 or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area or visit the ticket office at the IMS Administration Building at the corner of Georgetown Road and 16th Street. Ticket office and phone hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Monday-Friday.

The 2011 Red Bull Indianapolis GP is scheduled for Aug. 26-28 at IMS.

Race Day general admission tickets cost $40, with Friday general admission $10 and Saturday general admission $20. A three-day general admission ticket is $60. A Friday-Saturday general admission ticket is $25.

Children ages 12 and under will be admitted free any of the three days of the event when accompanied by an adult with a general admission ticket.

Race Day reserved seat prices will start at $70.