In Doha yesterday (Sunday), the Foundation Stone Laying Ceremony for the Qatar International race circuit took place in front of a whole host of VIPs.

The ceremony was presided over by Qatar's Prime Minister H.H. Abdullah Bin Khalifah Al Thani and among those present were reigning MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi and former champion Mick Doohan.

"This is a very different place to all the other countries in which we race, and I look forward to being a part of the first ever MotoGP race in Qatar," said new Yamaha signing Rossi, who collected his 2003 world championship award at an FIM ceremony on Saturday evening in Dubai (pictured).

The Qatar circuit will be 5.4 kilometres long, with 16 turns and a 1,068km long straight, and is already in an advanced state of construction.

The track will host the first ever Qatar GP on October 2nd 2004 after an agreement was signed between Naser Bin Khalifa Al-Ateiah, president of the Qatar motor & motorcycle federation, and Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna - both of whom were also present at yesterday's ceremony.

The Qatar Grand Prix will go ahead once the new track has been subjected to FIM homologation, and will represent the first time ever that a MotoGP event has taken place in the Middle East.



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