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How Qatar is heralding a brand new age for motorsport within the Center East

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Marking the sequence’ first enterprise into the Center East – doing so on the identical yr Formulation 1 landed in Bahrain – the Qatar Grand Prix has develop into a mainstay on the calendar.

In 2008, it made historical past by turning into the primary ever evening time grand prix to be held, as that yr’s MotoGP marketing campaign opened up below the floodlights. F1 would observe go well with months later with the Singapore GP.

In 2021, Losail welcomed F1 for the primary repeatedly from 2023 as a part of a brand new 10-year deal for the sequence to race within the nation. With that, the circuit has secured long-term offers to host motorsport’s pinnacles in F1 and MotoGP, whereas the World Endurance Championship can even take to the circuit in 2024.

Final yr additionally noticed Losail make a significant revamp to the power to modernise it, heralding a brand new period for Losail.

Motorsport.com Spain’s German Garcia Casanova sat down with Amro Al-Hamad, CEO of the Losail Worldwide Circuit, to seek out out extra about what the long run holds for the Qatari venue.

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It has already been 20 years since Lusail Worldwide Circuit opened in 2004. What do you suppose was the maturation of the monitor?

Amro Al-Hamad: “Since its opening in 2004, Losail Worldwide Circuit (LIC), generally known as ‘the house of motorsports in Qatar’ has, each regionally and globally, constructed a status as one of many Center East’s most interesting sporting venues. That is due in no small half to its world-leading services, high-speed monitor, and gifted group with an unbridled ardour for motor racing.

“The 5.38km circuit has gone on fairly the journey over the past twenty years. LIC has proudly hosted MotoGP races since 2004, and within the throes of the Qatar Airways Grand Prix of Qatar 2023, we’re thrilled to have a good time this exceptional milestone.

“In 2008, LIC held the primary evening race in MotoGP historical past and is the one venue within the championship the place spectators can expertise nighttime racing and watch the riders compete on high-speed turns.

“In 2021, LIC hosted the primary Formulation 1 Qatar Grand Prix, a powerful success that firmly positioned the venue on the sporting world stage. Following this success, the venue signed a 10-year settlement with Formulation 1, which marks the start of an thrilling and transformative decade for motorsports, not only for the nation of Qatar, however for the Center East in its entirety.”

Picture by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

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Losail Worldwide Circuit turned a benchmark in motorsport when the MotoGP race timings modified so as to accommodate the new temperatures. Again then, how do you view that call?

AAH: “LIC turned the primary venue in MotoGP historical past to host an evening race in 2008, and this was extra about creating distinctive and memorable experiences for followers than accommodating sizzling temperatures. The Qatar MotoGP is normally held in March, when daytime temperatures are usually round 23-24 levels centigrade, and we recurrently work with our regulatory physique companions, such because the FIA and FIM, to make sure that all our occasions are hosted at an optimum time of yr by way of temperature.”

You may have invested in remodelling the circuit. As an alternative of constructing a very new monitor, why did you suppose it was higher to rebuild the circuit’s services?

AAH: “With its speedy pacing and 16 flowing turns, LIC’s monitor is named probably the most thrilling within the motorsports calendar, and, fairly frankly, we noticed no motive to considerably change it.

“The monitor structure is historic, and transferring to a brand new design would imply shedding all of the invaluable information we’ve collected through the years on the subject of sector timings, speeds, and lap occasions. To not point out that Formulation 1 drivers completely beloved the monitor after they first visited in 2021.

“LIC’s in depth renovation venture, through which the favored circuit structure has been retained, however the services rebuilt to enhance and improve the expertise for all racegoers, includes expanded seating and parking capability, and a wealth of recent services and applied sciences. This consists of greater group garages, five-star VIP Areas, a much bigger fan zone for the general public, and a renovated everlasting grandstand with bigger capability.”

“LIC’s objective is completely to develop into one of many world’s prime motorsports hubs, and a part of attaining this ambition is to make sure that we’re providing followers and drivers the perfect of the most effective by way of services.”

What’s the refurbished half you might be most pleased with?

AAH: “It’s troublesome to pick only one facility, nevertheless we’re notably pleased with our pit stops and upkeep areas. All in all, there at the moment are 50 pit containers at LIC, which is the biggest on the checklist of circuits internet hosting main motorsports occasions. This yr, we had been additionally awarded the Guinness World Document for the longest pitlane constructing, which stands at 402.1 metres lengthy.

“The introduction of Losail Hill at Flip 1 can also be a implausible addition to the circuit, which is a devoted elevated viewing space. Lusail Hill goals to offer extra selection throughout the venue, and to present followers the most effective views from the place they’ll observe all of the motion up shut and at an reasonably priced value.”

Maverick Vinales, Aprilia Racing Team

Picture by: Aprilia Racing

Maverick Vinales, Aprilia Racing Crew

When F1 got here to Doha for the primary time, did the services meet the F1 and FIA requirements?

AAH: “We might not have the ability to host Formulation 1 with out assembly FIA requirements. LIC has been awarded the best attainable license ranges from the FIA (Circuit License Grade 1) and Circuit License Grade A (FIM), and the FIA made common visits to the circuit throughout their licensing course of.”

How did the FIA, F1 groups and followers react to the rebuilding of the services and celebration of the grand prix? On TV the spectacle appeared huge in comparison with the previous…

AAH: “Our state-of-the-art circuit, which might accommodate as much as 40,000 individuals, obtained an overwhelmingly Positive response from followers and F1 groups. The Formulation 1 Qatar Airways Qatar Grand Prix 2023 was greater than something we’ve ever performed earlier than at LIC, welcoming as much as 120,000 individuals throughout the whole weekend, and it was a privilege to share our new services with followers.”

Yearly there was a dialogue concerning the lack of public within the grandstands at MotoGP in Qatar. How are you working with Dorna to reinforce this relationship with followers and entice extra individuals to MotoGP races?

AAH: “Our long-term objective at LIC is to maintain selling motorsports in Qatar on an area, regional, and international foundation, and to encourage the subsequent technology of followers. This yr’s Formulation 1 match was so fashionable that we’ve discovered that many native followers have returned for MotoGP™, and tickets have bought out for this weekend’s occasion.”

Is it your objective to develop into the most effective Motorsport ‘Park’ on the earth internet hosting F1, MotoGP, and WEC at a brand new degree? Do you wish to be the benchmark worldwide for different promoters?

AAH: “Sure completely. LIC is already considered one of many Center East’s most interesting sporting venues, nevertheless our long-term objective is to be considered all over the world because the gold customary in motorsports occasions internet hosting.

“By persevering with to host essentially the most prestigious occasions in motorsports, providing followers and drivers the perfect by way of services and experiences, and thru our extremely certified and enthusiastic group of individuals, we’re assured that this objective is well inside our grasp.”

Having accomplished this large venture with Losail, what’s subsequent for Qatar Federation and Losail Worldwide Circuit? The place are you focusing extra now?

AAH: “LIC’s focus now’s, put merely, to proceed to lift its profile as a world sporting venue within the Center East, and we are going to do that by internet hosting world-renowned occasions, together with Formulation 1, MotoGP, WEC, Formulation 2 and F1 Academy, making them greater and higher annually. We’re additionally internet hosting the MENA Karting Championships in December.

“We’re decided to encourage the subsequent technology of motorsports followers, and to proceed to create alternatives for youth in Qatar and MENA, in addition to to advertise a greater understanding among the many future leaders of the game. That is backed up by a strong academic framework, by way of the likes of the Qatar Motorsports Academy (QMA), based by Qatar Motor & Bikes Federation (QMMF), and managed by LIC. QMMF additionally proudly hosts the annual Qatar Karting Championship.”

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Picture by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

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