Welcome to the beta version of the new Women & Golf website. Our web monkeys are still hard at work and welcome your feedback.  


MotoGP Qatar: Race preview

MotoGP is back in business as the Qatar GP kicks off the 2022 season with spectacle guaranteed under the Lusail lights.

2021 saw every manufacturer take home a podium and heralded some of the closest top-15 finishes of all time in premier class racing. More records were broken, new winners emerged, and a few precedents were set. France got its first premier class World Champion. We bid a racing farewell to legends and winners. But that’s already a chapter in the history books, and now we’re about to open the cover on 2022 and welcome the new. As we do, the title page bears a simple message: welcome back to the greatest show on Earth. Please keep your hands and feet inside the rollercoaster at all times.

It’s Lusail International Circuit that hosts the now iconic floodlit opening round, and in 2022 there are 24 riders waiting for the lights to go out – 14 of whom are World Champions, which is a new record. Five are premier class rookies, 12 are premier class race winners. One has eight World Championships. One wears the crown. Another signed off 2021 with the momentum and yet more have reset, recharged and come back to the fight with a little more in the tank for 2022…


Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) must lead the headlines as both the reigning Champion and a winner at the track in 2021. Yamaha is the most successful manufacturer at Lusail and they took both victories at the track last year, so that’s also a good omen for Quartararo, teammate Franky Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), two-time Qatar winner Andrea Dovizioso (WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP) and his new teammate, rookie Darryn Binder. But pre-season testing saw a few glances of discontent for the Iwata marque in their ongoing battle to increase top speed, among other things, and it seemed reviews were mixed. Now the proof of the testing will be in the racing, so what have Yamaha got in the locker… and will there remain harmony between man and machine?

For many races in the latter half of 2021, and ominously at times, that harmony was personified elsewhere: Ducati. Pecco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) had a few stumbles on his way to the top step in the premier class, but when he did get there, he couldn’t keep away. After an all-Ducati podium to round out the season as well, the momentum was steamrolling and hopes will remain high going into 2022. Testing wasn’t the all-out assault on the timesheets some expected, but then cards may well remain close to chests. Bagnaia, Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team), Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing), Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP), Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) and Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) are quite an experienced armada for the Bologna factory, and Lusail is tied as their second most successful track. Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) and Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP) both look pretty pacy too, adding some extra intrigue to the fight for Rookie of the Year.

So what of Suzuki? By comparison to Yamaha most especially, it was a fairly glowing preseason for the Hamamatsu factory. Smiles, gains, and quietly confident progress seemed to sum it up for 2020 MotoGP World Champion Joan Mir and teammate Alex Rins, with one thing on their shopping list – more power – seemingly delivered. In Qatar, Suzuki hasn’t finished better than fourth so a podium would be a good way to underline said progress and start building some foundations. Both Mir and Rins will also be exceptionally keen to avoid a repeat of what happened on the line to the number 36 last year as two Ducatis pipped Mir to the post.

Someone who knows that feeling at Lusail is eight-time World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team). The number 93 has more MotoGP wins than the rest of the grid combined, but a couple have got away in Qatar courtesy of Dovizioso and time will tell whether the 2022 edition will prove different. It’s been a long road to recovery but recovered the Honda rider is, and facing that down could be enough of a challenge for the rest of the grid on its own. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) looks to have made a key step with the all-new RC213V too, and Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) and Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) will be looking to prove the same.

For KTM, Lusail isn’t the best place to start the season, having never been the kindest match for the RC16. The Austrian factory’s best result at the track is a P8. However, new Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team Manager Francesco Guidotti already stated in testing that the plan is to find a new foundation from which to continue development, so Qatar being another different track is useful in itself. The talent pool is too: Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira remain at Red Bull KTM Factory Racing and both look to make 2022 the third year in a row they’ve both taken premier class wins. There are two new kids on the block at Tech 3 KTM Factory Racing as well: 2021 Moto2 Champion Remy Gardner and the rookie who nearly beat him to the crown, Raul Fernandez. They’ll be looking to hit the ground running.

Finally, Aprilia. Now MotoGP podium finishers and heading into 2022 with a new, leaner, and reportedly further improved RS-GP, pre-season saw the Noale factory steal plenty of headlines. Aleix Espargaro is now an established frontrunner with the marque and took the factory’s best result at Lusail of a sixth place, but Maverick Viñales is a little more settled in now too. The number 12 was also the rider on the top step in the 2021 season opener, and has won at Lusail before that too, albeit with a different manufacturer. Can Aprilia come out swinging? Will the top five or the podium beckon? Who will come out on top in the battle of the teammates? We’re about to find out!

Articles you may like


More MotoGP

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram