This will be the 15th occasion that a Grand Prix event has been held at the Losail International Circuit and the 11th under floodlights and the 12th successive year that the Losail circuit has hosted the opening Grand Prix event of the year.
Yamaha have been the most successful manufacturer in the MotoGP class at the Losail circuit with 8 wins, including 4 times in the last 6 years.
Honda have had three MotoGP wins in Qatar, the last of which was in 2014 with Marc Márquez.
Ducati won at Losail for three consecutive years, 2007 to 2009, all with Casey Stoner riding. For the last three years, Ducati have been on the podium with Andrea Dovizioso (2015–2017) and Andrea Iannone (2015).
The best result for a Suzuki rider at the Losail circuit is the fourth place finish by John Hopkins in 2007. Álex Rins was the best Suzuki rider across the line in Qatar last year in ninth position; Andrea Iannone crashed out of the race with 10 laps to go.
Aleix Espargaro’s sixth-place finish in Qatar last year equalled the best ever result for Aprilia in the MotoGP class, which was achieved by Colin Edwards at the opening race of the 2003 season at Suzuka. Espargaró equalled this best result later in Aragón.
KTM made their full-time debut at Losail last year, with Pol Espargaró crossing the line in 16th ahead of his teammate Bradley Smith.
Since the MotoGP class was introduced as the premier class of Grand Prix racing in 2002, six different riders have won the opening race of the year: Valentino Rossi, Loris Capirossi, Casey Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Márquez and Maverick Viñales.
Since 2002, there have been only three occasions on which the rider who clinched the title at the end of the year didn’t stand on the podium on the opening race: 2008 (Rossi), 2015 (Lorenzo) and last year (Márquez).
The only four current riders who have won in the MotoGP class in Qatar are Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Márquez and Maverick Viñales.
The rider with most GP victories at Losail is Jorge Lorenzo with 6six wins (3 x MotoGP™, 2 x 250cc, 1 x 125cc).
Rookie of the Year and Independent Team rider in 2017, Johann Zarco led the first six laps in Qatar last year, becoming the only rider on the current grid to lead a race on his MotoGP debut and the first since Max Biaggi and Noriyuki Haga led the opening race in Japan back in 1998. He also set the fastest lap before crashing out of the race.
With his third podium in the final race at Valencia last year, Johann Zarco equals the number of podiums in the premier class of his fellow-countryman Éric Offenstadt.
With his win in Valencia last year, Pedrosa (11 years 182 days) moves above Phil Read into third place on the list of riders with the longest winning careers in the premier class of Grand Prix racing - behind Valentino Rossi (16 years 351 days) and Alex Barros (11 years 204 days). Pedrosa equalled the same number of victories in the premier class as Eddie Lawson achieved in his 500cc GP careers.
Franco Morbidelli (2017) and Tom Lüthi (2016) are the only two of the five rookies in the MotoGP class this year to have previously won at Qatar in any of the smaller classes.
At the Qatar Grand Prix, Tom Lüthi is scheduled to become the 14th rider in the history of the World Championship to reach the milestone of 250 Grand Prix starts, and Bradley Smith is scheduled to make his 200th Grand Prix start.