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Qatar GP: MotoGP riders swap bikes with football jerseys

MotoGP

Bengaluru, March 3: The 2022 FIM MotoGP World Championship season-opener in Qatar had a special start with defending champion Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), runner up Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) and 2020 champion Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) heading to the iconic Lusail Stadium with a very special guest -- Brazil's two-time FIFA World Cup-winner Cafu.

With the Lusail Stadium, set to host the final of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup later in the year, it was time to welcome MotoGP riders onto the turf ahead of the season opener at the nearby floodlit Losail International Circuit.

The four saddled up at Losail circuit and then rode on street bikes - with each rider representing for their factory and Cafu on a BMW M 1000 RR - to the stadium in a unique parade -- riding right to the edge of the turf that will host the final of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup on December 18, incidentally, Qatar's National Day.

From the grid to the turf

From the grid to the turf

After a quick photo opportunity there, it was time to hit the changing room, swap their MotoGP armour for football jerseys and get ready to head out onto the pitch.

The three riders had a personalised national kit waiting for them, with Quartararo representing France, Bagnaia Italy and Mir Spain.

Brand ambassadors

Brand ambassadors

Once suited and booted, they headed back onto the pitch with ambassadors of the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy -- Cafu, Mubarak Mustafa and Khalid Salman -- making them the first players to step on the grass ahead of its official inauguration later in March.

"It's incredible to be in this stadium that'll host the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup final. Being here with the guys from MotoGP has really been a fantastic experience. Seeing them on the track and what they do, being here with them playing football today has been a day to remember," said Cafu, who FIFA World Cup for Brazil as a player in 1994 and as captain in 2002.

Incredible experience

Incredible experience

MotoGP's reigning champion Quartararo shared his views, "This is the first time I've played at a professional stadium, it's really nice and we had fun with Pecco and Joan, it's a good way to start the GP," said the 22-year-old.

"I'm feeling strong, I feel I'm in good shape to fight for really good results, but we'll see with our bike, we didn't make a big step but I feel like in riding I'm really strong. To be honest we lost a bit on one-lap pace, I lost it a bit in pre-season, but on race pace I've been incredible. We can always improve but I felt super strong so let's hope to have the same pace in this GP," the Yamaha rider added.

Back to action

Back to action

From the football pitch, it is now back to familiar turf and the paddock, with the pre-event press conference on Thursday (March 3) prefacing the first track action of the year at Losail on Friday (March 4) morning.

Lights go all out for the Qatar GP at the Losail International Circuit on Sunday (March 6) at 6pm local time (8.30pm IST ). Buck up guys! It's vroom time in Qatar!

(By a special arrangement with Dorna Sports)

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Story first published: Thursday, March 3, 2022, 9:51 [IST]
Other articles published on Mar 3, 2022