Daman Speed Academy drivers Hamda Al Qubaisi and Ali Al Shamsi impress at the Yas Marina Circuit

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Hamda Al Qubaisi finished in the top five in the Senior class.

Daman Speed Academy (DSA) drivers Hamda Al Qubaisi (Senior class) and Ali Al Shamsi (Junior class) showed a great performance at Yas Marina Circui, ending the day inside the top five in Abu Dhabi. Team-mate Saeed Al Ali (Shifter Class) was one lap away from securing his second victory this season.

Al Qubaisi was delighted with the team’s showing and said: “I had a great race in Yas Marina Circuit, I started off really well with a decent qualifying position (P4), and for the heat, I managed to get into P2… my kart felt really good.”

“I had the speed to end the pre-final race inside the top 3 but I faced few challenges towards the end of the race and I ended up in P5. For the final race, I had a good start made it up to P4 in the first lap but my kart did not feel the same and my speed dropped down, I was half a second slower than I was in the previous races but I managed to finish fifth and I think that’s a good result for the final.

Ali Al Shamsi was equally impressive n the Junior class.

Ali Al Shamsi was equally impressive n the Junior class.

“I’m looking forward now the final round at RAK Track and hopefully will end the season on the podium.”

In the Junior class, which comprised of a total of 13 drivers, Al Shamsi finished his final race in fourth overall.

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Marc Marquez and other title contenders for the MotoGP world championship

Denzil Pinto 16/03/2018
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The new season begins this weekend

With the new MotoGP season getting underway this weekend, we look at the five riders who could mount a serious title challenge to reign supreme at the end of the 2018 campaign.

MARC MARQUEZ

Man to beat: Marc Marquez

Man to beat: Marc Marquez

The man that everyone will be wanting to beat and for good reason too. The 25-year-old Spaniard enters the new season as the defending champion and will be searching for his fifth title in six years. Barring three retirements in the 2017 season, whenever the Honda rider finished the race, it was always sixth or above.

MAVERICK VINALES

Maverick: Vinales

Maverick: Vinales

After three seasons in MotoGP, the Spaniard is beginning to find his feet in the premier class. Last year could not have asked for a better start with three wins in five races. The Yahama rider could not replicate the feat but put in a number of strong performances throughout the campaign to finish a creditable third position.

DANI PEDROSA

Experienced: Dani Pedrosa (right)

Experienced: Dani Pedrosa (right)

Has finished runner-up on three occasions with his last being in 2012 but although that may seem a long time ago, the 32-year-old Italian has continued to be a force. Has won races in 12 consecutive seasons from 2006 and if he can maintain his consistency over the course of the season, he could well end his wait of being champion.

ANDREA DOVIZIOSO 

Not settling for second: Andrea Dovizioso

Not settling for second: Andrea Dovizioso

The Italian won the same number of races (six) as Marquez in 2017 but still could not find a way of getting his hands on that elusive trophy. The 2017 runner-up will need another similiar effort or even better to stay ahead of his rivals. At 31 and a decade of competing in MotoGP, his experience will be key.

VALENTINO ROSSI

BeFunky Collage

A man who knows what it takes to win a MotoGP title and that too, over a number of years. Has nine crowns to his name with his last coming in 2009. At 39, you might think his best days are over but in 2017 showed glimpses that age is no barrier to finish fifth and ahead of three-time world champion Jorge Lorenzo.

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Valentino Rossi signs new two-year contract with Yamaha

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Not calling quits yet: Valentino Rossi

Nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi signed a new two-year contract with Yamaha on Thursday, scotching any rumours about his immediate MotoGP future.

The veteran Italian, who celebrated his 39th birthday last month, will now remain in the sport until at least 2020.

His existing contract runs out at the end of 2018, his 23rd season.

“When I signed my last contract with Yamaha, in March 2016, I wondered if that would have been the last contract as a MotoGP rider,” said Rossi in a statement following the announcement of the contract ahead of this season’s opener.

“At that time, I decided that I’d take that decision during the following two years.

“During the last two years I came to the conclusion that I want to continue because racing, being a MotoGP rider, but especially riding my M1, is the thing that makes me feel good.”

Rossi is still arguably the sport’s biggest draw, despite finishing fifth in last season’s championship and his last world title coming back in 2009.

He has claimed 56 race victories with Yamaha, the Japanese team he was with from 2004 to 2010, and then returned to in 2013 after a two year spell with Ducati.

It also means Rossi will continue partnering Maverick Vinales, who finished third last year, at Yamaha as the Spaniard has also signed a new contract taking him up until 2020.

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