UPDATES: Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar 2016

There is no way to start celebrating another wonderful weekend of MotoGP racing at Losail International Circuit without first speaking about the tragic loss of a local racer during the race weekend. Taoufik Gattouchi, a 49yr old Tunisian resident of Qatar lost his life in a racing incident during the Losail 600 Cup support race late on Friday evening. It lent the weekend a sombre moment and was a reminder how narrow is the margin between success and tragedy in this sport that we follow and admire. Our thoughts go to his family and friends.

With this month’s recent thunderstorms and rain in mind, the MotoGP teams, organisers, journalists and fans gathered at Losail International Circuit with one eye on the skies. Memories of the first night race in 2008 when rain on the Sunday night meant a postponement of the MotoGP race until Monday evening were ready to be brought out, dusted off and regaled to anyone who would listen.

But thankfully the weekend’s racing passed with near-perfect weather. Reigning MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo showed that the winter testing programme had not been wasted by him or his Movistar Yamaha team as he continued to dominate most of the sessions. Team-mate and MotoGP superstar Valentino Rossi attracted the usual frenzy of attention and also produced some fast times through the practises and qualifying.

Lorenzo sat on pole position for the race, the front row being completed by the Repsol Honda of Marc Marquez and Ecstar Suzuki’s Maverick Vinales. Rossi was in the centre of the second row in fifth place, sandwiched between the two Ducati Corsa bikes of Andrea Iannone in fourth and Andrea Dovizioso in sixth.