With the winter break behind us, MotoGP is starting up again with the Qatar night race, as per tradition. The Losail International Circuit will host the first race of the 2017 World Championship season from March 23 to 26. Located 23 km north of Doha, the track cost $60 million to build and was inaugurated in October 2004.
Even though it is in one of the hottest spots on the planet, the track does not pose any particular problems related to temperature because the race starts at 9 pm, more than three hours after the sun sets. The temperature of the asphalt came in at 23°C in 2016 and 28°C in 2015. And since it is a night race, it is possible to see the glowing carbon brake discs in the more aggressive braking maneuvers.
According to Brembo technicians, who work in close contact with all of the MotoGP riders, the Losail International Circuit falls into the category of tracks that present a mid-level difficulty on the brakes. On a scale of 1 to 5, it earned a 3 on the difficulty index, which is the same score assigned to eight other tracks. Yet, this score is lower than that given to the other two Asian circuits in the World Championship.
Brake Use During the GP - The 16 curves on the track require using the brakes at 13 points, which is a World Championship record shared with Austin. At Phillip Island, on the other hand, the riders brake barely six times per lap. This is the reason why the riders use their brakes 286 times from the starting line to the checkered flag, a figure that trails only that of the 297 braking points at Jerez.
Just like at Austin, the brakes are used for more than 37 seconds per lap. In Qatar, the brakes are used for just under 14 minutes, which is equivalent to about one third of the race. The average deceleration is 1.16G and is consistent with the majority of the other tracks in the World Championship.
Summing up all of the force applied by a rider on the brake lever from the starting line to the checkered flag, the result is over 1400 kg. Compared to a Superbike, this is over 600kg more than the overall load Jonathan Rea applied on the lever in the first race of the last round in Thailand.
The Most Challenging Stops - Of the 13 braking sections on the Losail International Circuit, three are considered very challenging on the brakes, four are of medium difficulty and six are light.
Contributing to making the braking section at the first corner after the start the second most difficult in the entire World Championship is the 1,068 meters straightaway that precedes it. The MotoGP bikes approach the corner going over 340 km/h and have to slow down to 99 km/h applying up to 7,5 km on the brake lever. To set up the curve, the riders brake for 5.1 seconds and travel 289 meters, which is equivalent to the total length of four Airbus A380 planes. The pressure on the braking system reaches 13 bar, which is 50% more than the maximum amount the tires on a race bike can be inflated.
The last corner on the track is also challenging because the riders brake for 178 meters. The motorcycles reduce their speeds by more than 150 km/h and the riders experience 1.5G of deceleration, which is over 0.18G more than a Porsche 911 GT3 registers in braking from 200 km/h.
The MotoGP braking system reaches 10.9 bar in pressure on this section of the track. This is the exact same amount of deceleration, load on the lever (6,3 kg) and pressure on the system as on turn 4: braking lasts 3.5 seconds because even though the bikes approach the curve faster, they enter it going 119km\h.
Brembo Performance - All of the 13 Qatar GP races contested up to now have been won by MotoGP bikes with Brembo brakes. The most winning team is Yamaha with seven victories, followed by Ducati and Honda, each with three wins. Both Casey Stoner and Valentino Rossi have taken first place four times, but last year Rossi placed only fourth. Jorge Lorenzo has a total of 11 podium spots and eight pole positions on this track and he won three of the last five races held here.