Rizla Suzuki racers Loris Capirossi and Alvaro Bautista will both achieve personal landmarks at 2010's opening Grand Prix in Qatar next Sunday.
Capirossi will celebrate his 300th Grand Prix start when the race gets underway on Sunday evening. He already holds the record for
the most Grand Prix starts of any rider in the history of motorcycle racing - his 277th race at Misano in 2008 overtook the previous record held by Alex Barros - and the first race of 2010 will see the experienced Italian begin his 21st season - and third decade - at the pinnacle of Grand Prix racing.
Bautista will also make his own personal landmark when the former 125cc World Champion -and the Suzuki factory's latest recruit - makes his competitive debut in the MotoGP class. Bautista has impressed during his inaugural pre-season testing campaign on a MotoGP machine and is in confident mood ahead of the 18-race championship that lies ahead of him this year.
The 5,380m Losail International Circuit is situated just outside the city of Doha in Qatar and has now become the regular first race of the season. This year will see the third running of the race during the hours of darkness, as the race and all practice will take place beneath thousands of floodlights that illuminate the circuit to give an amazing and individual feel to the event.
Rizla Suzuki takes to the track on Friday evening for the first practice session, with two further hour-long sessions on Saturday. The 22-lap race is scheduled to get underway at 23.00hrs local time (20.00GMT) on Sunday 11th April.
"The Qatar GP will see a big milestone in my career as I start my 300th race! I never thought I would get to this many, but I have been lucky in my career and I have always given 100% and kept myself fit so that I have been able to stay at the top. I never really think about how many races I have been in, but this number is very special and I guess it will probably never happen for another rider. Anyway, once the race has started my attitude will be the same as it was in 1990 - full gas and full attack! The race for the team is also important because we have to continue with the improvements and good direction that we found at the Qatar test last month. I know we have some work to do, but we are very close now and all the guys in the team and back in Japan have worked really hard. I hope we can challenge the fast guys more consistently this year."
"For me this is a very important weekend because it will be my first race in MotoGP. I have done ok in testing, but racing is a different thing. I still have very much to learn about the bike and about MotoGP because it is so different from 250, so I must keep focussed and take everything as it comes. A target for this year would be to be rookie of the year, but that will be difficult because there are so many good riders and the racing will be close. I must learn step-by-step and not do anything stupid in the early races. I am really excited about my debut for Rizla Suzuki and just can't wait to get racing!"