The Moto2 World Championship will use Honda CBR600 engines for the final time this year. Honda has powered Moto2 since its creation in 2010. By the end of this season, Honda’s Moto2 engines will have covered more than three million kilometres since the first race at Losail in April 2010. During this time the series has allowed teams to compete at a reduced cost and helped forge a new generation of MotoGP riders. Sixteen of this year’s 24 MotoGP riders have ridden in Moto2, with the championship’s strict technical regulations helping them showcase their talent.

Morbidelli, Luthi and Nakagami won 11 of last year’s 18 Moto2 rounds, so there’s no doubt that the class will anoint another new generation of winners during 2018. Arguably, there are three main championship favourites: Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM), Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex) and Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46 Kalex).

Twenty-three-year-old Portuguese star Oliveira won the last three races of 2017, so if he can continue that form into the new season he could be the man to beat. The younger Marquez brother won his first three Moto2 races last year and was in the title hunt until he suffered a midseason injury. Bagnaia was Moto2’s top rookie of 2017 and will almost certainly be a stronger presence this season. His talent has already won him a MotoGP ride in 2019, with an independent Ducati team.

There will also be a lot of interest in rookie Joan Mir (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex), who graduates to Moto2 after dominating last year’s Moto3 World Championship, with ten victories from 18 races. Also likely to figure strongly will be Hector Barbera (Pons HP40 Kalex) and Sam Lowes (Swiss Innovative Investors KTM) who both drop back into the intermediate class from MotoGP. Other contenders include Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM), rookie Romano Fenati (Marinelli Snipers Team Kalex) and veteran Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex), winner of last year’s Mugello race.

The season-opening Moto2 race at Losail will also make history – the 20-lap event gets under way at 5.20pm, 20 minutes before sunset, so this race will be the first Grand Prix to take place beneath a setting sun.

Francesco Bagnaia

Francesco Bagnaia 42

“The first race of the year, on a complicated but beautiful track! There are so many reasons to try to give our best. Last year, when I made my debut in Moto2, I struggled a bit, but this year we arrive in Qatar after a really good preseason. It will be a tough race, but riding fast on a track like this gives me great satisfaction!”

SKY Racing Team VR46
Alex Marquez

Alex Marquez 73

“We have worked so hard this preseason to improve our performance and our rhythm and I think we did quite well, so I can’t wait to get to the first race. It will be an interesting weekend because Qatar is a completely different track to those where we’ve tested and it will be important to learn how the harder rear tyre works with the bike in Qatar. I really like the track, it’s great fun to ride because it’s fast and it really flows. We go there with 100 percent motivation for the new season. We will try to finish the race on the podium and hopefully continue with a regular rhythm at all the races. I will give my 100 percent, along with my team.”

EG 0,0 Marc VDS
Miguel Oliveira

Miguel Oliveira 44

“Last year we came into the season waiting to see what we would find. I didn’t know what position in the World Championship I would end up in. During the Qatar weekend we set a goal, which we met in each practice session, and in the end we finished in the top five, which was a pretty good start. This year the objective is similar, but we are already confident that practice will go well, that we can do a good job and that in the race I will be in a position that allows me to fight for the podium. I feel prepared. When you finish a preseason, you always have that extra motivation knowing that the really important things, the races, are starting. That’s where the points are awarded!”

Red Bull KTM Ajo
Grand Prix of Qatar

Losail International Circuit, Qatar

Moto2 2018, Round 1