The asphalt at the Losail International Circuit has been repaved for the first time since it opened in 2004 ahead of this year’s event.
As a result of this and the desert setting, grip was at a premium on Friday morning for the first practice session, with lap times well over three seconds off the outright record set in 2021.
Times improved in the second session as rubber was laid and the asphalt was cleaned, with Maverick Vinales breaking the lap record before his time was deleted for a yellow flag violation.
Overall, the new surface at Losail was met with widespread praise from the riders, though a number of them suffered big moments as they attempted practice starts on the pit straight.
Honda’s Marc Marquez, who has made it into Q2 for qualifying after ending second practice in 10th, fears there could be incidents in both races this weekend if the grid isn’t cleaned.
“This is something a bit dangerous, especially for MotoGP,” he said of the dirty grid.
“For me, if they can clean the main straight, it will be good because the problem is that if one of the top guys [on] the front rows releases the clutch and has a big spin, they will stop the bike a lot and the difference in speed is a lot.
“So, it’s one of the things that if they can, they need to try to clean, because if not some of us will spin on the race.”
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team
Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales echoed Marquez’s comments and says he will push for the grid to be cleaned in Friday night’s safety commission meeting.
“I think they need to clean it, because we will make a burnout,” the Aprilia rider, who was third after Friday’s running, added.
“It’s very dangerous. Of course, we will make burnouts.
“So, I will really push in the safety commission to try [to get them] to clean the start [line]. Because otherwise we will be smoking around, and this is dangerous.”
Many riders also reported graining on the front tyres on the new asphalt, though Marquez noted that this was normal for Losail and should improve as more rubber goes down throughout the rest of the weekend.