Sunday, January 16, 2011

Losail International Circuit

John Marine | 1/16/2011 03:53:00 PM | |
Qatar's Losail International Circuit is a very long and imposing racing facility mostly raced on by motorcycles. At 3.375 miles (5.380 km) in length with 16 corners, Losail History was made in 2008 as Losail hosted the first-ever MotoGP night race thanks to huge lights from Iowa-based Musco Lighting. With a lot of wide open spaces, this track is generally safe for the most part. This track plays host to lots of motorcycle racing. These range from Grand Prix events to even the 8 Hours of Doha in the FIM Endurance World Championship. The first MotoGP Grand Prix of Qatar was held in 2004 with the event won by Sete Gibernau.

This blog posts concerns Qatar's racing jewel in the desert- Losail International Circuit.

--- Losail International Circuit ---
Here is a look at this Qatari roller coaster located just outside of the Qatari capital of Doha:

Losail International Circuit track map layout
^ from: - Qatar's ultimate racing challenge- the Losail International Circuit.

Losail is basically in a desert setting. I mentioned this track has a lot of wide-open spaces. There are very few features to this course to give you any real indication of where you are on the track. Elevation changes are modest, at best. This track is almost like the Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Spain in terms of being a mostly flat course. Like most desert road courses, there is artificial grass to limit the amount of sand that gets kicked around on the course. It is a real character circuit to me, devoid of any glitz and glam as with most modern Formula 1 tracks.

While the track is pretty safe for motorcycle racing, it doesn't mean this track is easy. This track is essentially in a mostly flat (some modest elevation changes), featureless setting. You don't have a whole lot of visual cues to help you carve a proper line around Losail except for the curbing on the outside and deep into the apexes of the 16 corners. The primary challenge lies in you being able to remember where you are on the track at all times. You have to really know where you are and understand what corner(s) is/are coming up. Because you don't have the luxury of a lot of environmental cues to help you determine where you are on the race track, and because the track is so long, you have to rely on your overall knowledge of the track to help get around it with great times. It is a very technical course. If you're going to win races here, you need to earn it. This track does NOT hold back or forgive easily.

Here is a video lap on a Yamaha R1 in 2007:

This is an extra video showing you what it is like for when the 8 Hours of Doha endurance race takes place around Losail International Circuit. This was from the 2009 race:

Lap Records and Times.

The lap records are as accurate as the date of this post. The lap record around this track is 1:38.699, set in 2009 by Davide Rigon in the GP2 Asia series. Jorge Lorenzo (2010 MotoGP World Champion) set a qualifying lap of 1:53.927 around Losail in 2008 (the first year MotoGP ran this track at night). Fastest in-race lap for MotoGP at Losail was set in 2008 by Australia's Casey Stoner with a time of 1:53.153. So there is some insight for you on lap times around Losail.

More information on this track can be found on Losail International Circuit's home page and in the Trackpedia entry on Losail. I want to offer this post to my readers in Qatar since I get some blog traffic from Qatar. If you are among my Qatari audience, I say hello to you! :)

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