The start of the 2013 Motocross World Championships is kicking off today and the mood around the pits is one of excitement and anticipation as everyone can't wait to get things underway. There has been a lot of talk about whether shipping off to Qatar and Thailand is a good idea or not, and that starting the championship with less full gates is something that should be seen at the GP's, but the simple fact is... the people who are here, are loving it.
Chatting with the riders yesterday, the mood is great and they are loving being able to twist a throttle in a completely new environment on a brand new track, in the amazing facility that is the Losail International Circuit. Sure, it's not traditional motocross and it's definitely not going to please the motocross purists, but what has been created here is an awesome achievement and everyone just wants a chance to try it out in anger.
Despite the immediate association of Qatar = desert = sand, the track surface is actually deep and soft dirt, that has received and is holding plenty of moisture. Walking on it, your foot sinks enough that it's coming into your shoe so forget any ideas you had of sand/dust/hard-pack. The only dust likely to be seen is from the wind bringing it in from the off-track areas.
Unfortunately, there won't be a big crowd, there is no escaping that fact (the MotoGP only gets 9,000 people) but the Qatar boss doesn't see that as a problem, and more of a work-in-progress and something that'll take time to achieve and ingrain into his people's culture. Anyone who does attend will be getting almost unparalled access to the riders though as they all seem to be chilling in open areas, relaxing, chatting and just having a good time. At the press event last evening, the guys rode camels, picked up falcons, played the drums and swapped headwear with the locals, all in the spirit of fun.
Now the racing does still have to take place, and I really hope the lighting levels prove to be sufficient, but this is an exciting weekend for the GP's and for any motocross fan who wants to witness a night-time motocross race in the middle of the desert. So open your mind, sit back, relax and get ready to watch Jeffrey Herlings take on Antonio Cairoli, Tommy Searle, Clement Desalle, Ken de Dycker, Arnaud Tonus, Velentin Teillet, Gautier Paulin, Steven Frossard etc etc etc and remember you can watch it all on MX-Life.tv