Qatar MXGP still on the cards
The Grand Prix of Qatar at Losail could still be a part of MXGP according to Youthstream Vice President and Head of Operations David Luongo. The opening round of the 2017 campaign at the circuit just outside of Doha was the fifth and final edition of a contract initially agreed between the FIM Motocross World Championship promoter, the Qatar Federation (QMMF) and the Losail organisation and there seemed to be little chance of MXGP continuing in the future FIFA World Cup-hosting country with all parties remaining non-committal around the race at the end of February.
Youthstream President Giuseppe Luongo admitted at the time that the series would consider other options in the largely cash-rich Gulf region with the geography and climate proving be practical for the early start of the Grand Prix calendar. Losail constructed a specific and permanent floodlit motocross facility adjacent to the asphalt that hosts MotoGP and WorldSBK for an inauguration in 2013 and subsequently made significant upgrades over the following two events and boosted the race programme to include the WMX women’s competition in 2014, 2015 and 2016. At the time the initial Grand Prix of Qatar was the first fixture for the championship in the Middle East and the first under lights.
Attendance at the meeting has been scarce but the 2017 incarnation was arguably the busiest to-date. “We are still in official negotiations and we still hope to continue because the feedback is that it’s a great GP to start [the season],” David Luongo commented. “The teams are happy to go there and the location and circuit is amazing. I think the GP this year was the best of the five because of the track and the attendance was up. It would be silly to stop this event so we are still working with them.”
With MXGP likely to return to Indonesia (a contract for the event remains in place despite the heavy rain fall in Pangkal Pinang in March) and Malaysia coming close to Grand Prix status, Youthstream allegedly have options to explore the Middle East and further into Asia. A provisional 2018 slate is likely to surface early in the summer. “We have a very lost list of organisers both overseas and Europe so I am confident we will have a very nice calendar but it is still early to talk about where we will start and finish…with Qatar it is not over,” Luongo added.
Photos by Ray Archer