Losail International Circuit from above

Lighting up MotoGP: How Qatar is powered

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The figures from the only MotoGP night race
The figures from the only MotoGP night race© Estudio Milagro/DPPI/Pablo Bueno

MotoGP is all set for the new campaign, and, as is now tradition, the World Championship's only night race will kick things off at the Losail International Circuit.

MotoGP arrived at the track in 2004, the race became the season opener in 2007, and in 2008 it became the sport's first-ever night-time event. In order to make it happen there was a huge logistical operation to pull it all off. Here are some of the incredible facts behind how Losail is lit up.

The speed of light

US company Musco Lighting – also responsible for illuminating Daytona International Speedway – was charged with turning Losail into a beacon in the desert.

They had just 175 days from the award of the contract to the 2008 GP to get it done, and engineers spent more than 1,300 hours turning what was a hugely ambitious vision into a reality.

Some of the many lighting structures at Losail
Some of the many lighting structures at Losail© Studio Milagro / DPPI

The power required to light Losail

The Losail lighting system is powered by 13-megawatt generators44 of them to be precise!

Put simply, the power used to operate the lighting system at the circuit is enough to simultaneously power 3,000 average homes.

The light produced would be enough to illuminate a residential street which ran from Doha all the way to Moscow – nearly 3,600km!

More illuminating facts about Losail

Of the 3,600 sources of light that make up the entire system, a portion are specially designed to aim light away from the actual track. It is directed onto secondary reflective surfaces, which reconfigure and redirect the light back onto the track surface.

The beam that is aimed onto the track is a narrow ribbon of light that can be aimed with accuracy to within one tenth of one degree! It's all designed to avoid glare from blinding the riders. Impressive!

Marc Márquez is pursued by Cal Crutchlow
Marc Márquez is pursued by Cal Crutchlow© Photo courtesy of Repsol Honda

The sheer volume of it all

This is where it gets really jaw-dropping. The complete lighting system at Losail International Circuit includes over 1,000 structures, 3,600 separate light sources (or 'bulbs') and 500km of wire to make it all work.

The Losail track layout is 5,380km in length, and its lit area covers the same amount of ground as 70 full-size football pitches.

Breaking records at the Qatar MotoGP

The most successful rider at Losail is Casey Stoner, despite his retirement in 2012. The Australian has won at the track four times, with Valentino Rossi a close second thanks to three wins.

Jorge Lorenzo has been the man to beat in recent years however, winning back-to-back grands prix wins in Qatar in 2012 and 2013, and he remains the only rider to have won across three different categories having taken victories in 125cc, 250cc and MotoGP.

And, of course, World Champion Marc Márquez scored a podium on his MotoGP debut last year at the track.

Written by Joseph Caron Dawe