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World champion Marquez is brimming with confidence

By Sajith B Warrier
Marc Marquez is ready for title defence.

Bengaluru/Doha, March 14: As a new FIM MotoGP World Championship is about to start defending champion Marc Marquez is brimming with confidence.

The 2018 season begins at the floodlit Losail International Circuit in Qatar on Sunday (March 18).

The Spaniard has a pretty decent record in the Middle East desert venue where he has triumphed twice (MotoGP 2014 and Moto2 2012) and been on the podium on three more occasions (MotoGP: 3rd in 2013, 2016; 125cc: 3rd in 2010).

Much has changed since the Repsol Honda rider, known for his dare-devilry on the track, made his MotoGP debut at the 5.3km Losail circuit in 2013. In five years of racing at the top level in the FIM series, Marquez has conquered the world by storm winning the title four times and ending up as third behind compatriot Jorge Lorenzo and archrival Valentino Rossi.

First race

First race

And as he enters his sixth year in top class of FIM World Championship Grand Prix racing, Marquez could not control his excitement.

"I'm really excited that the first race has finally arrived. It looks like it'll be a very competitive season, starting from the first race here in Qatar," said Marquez.

Impressive winter tests

Impressive winter tests

The 25-year-old impressed in the final pre-season winter tests and he is hoping to continue from where he left off.

"Having tested here so recently, we know there are several riders who are already very fast, within only 2-3 hundredths, so the race could be exciting and anything can happen on Sunday. We've also worked well during the winter tests and now we look forward to getting started," he added.

Change in schedule

Change in schedule

The time schedule has undergone some important changes this year, with the event being reduced from four days to the standard three-day period, as it is for the other venues on the calendar.

Opening practice begins Friday. Each day's events have been rescheduled, and on Sunday the anticipation for racing will build, with the MotoGP race running at 7 pm local time instead of 9 pm.

Unique race

Unique race

The Qatar stop is the only MotoGP race that is held at night, and this will be the 11th time it has been run under the floodlights and Marquez is relishing the challenge.

"The Qatar round is a unique one compared to the others on the calendar, and we're aware that it's not one of the easiest for us. It'll be a long season and we'll continue working on our bike's setup to try and make the best of every situation on race day."

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    Story first published: Wednesday, March 14, 2018, 11:49 [IST]
    Other articles published on Mar 14, 2018
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