The Ducati team hope the cooler weather in Doha
won't affect the race [GALLO/GETTY]
New Ducati rider Marco Melandri is eagerly awaiting the season-opener in Qatar which will be the first ever MotoGP held under lights.

"It will be awesome. An amazing event for everybody. I can't wait to test the weekend before the race," Melandri said at Ducati's winter ski retreat in northern Italy.

"I'm just a bit worried about the weather. Maybe at night time it might be a bit cold. The track will be cold."

Melandri's new team mate, world champion Casey Stoner, is less excited about the March 9 event despite racing under lights as a 10-year-old dirt track rider.

"We will not be able to know (how it works out) until we have done it. It is a lot different with the lighting.

"As long as it is fine to race it is no problem. If it was in another country you would have dew coming down getting on the track," the Australian said.

Some commentators have criticised the night race as a gimmick with MotoGP continuing to battle for audiences with the Superbikes championship.

However, Melandri believes the two disciplines can live side by side.

"They still are two different championships. MotoGP fans are looking for the riders. The Superbike fans are looking at the bikes they have in their garages," the Italian said.

Melandri finished fifth last season and hopes riding for the famous Italian team alongside world champion Stoner will make him more competitive this year.

"Everyone says it is so bad to be his team mate but for me it's perfect. There is a big motivation for me to improve every day," he said.

"This has been my dream for a long time. Now I'm part of the project. So I have to work on myself as the team is very good and the bike is beautiful."

Melandri has enjoyed the ski retreat and is not worrying about getting injured ahead of the season.

"I haven't skied for a long time. We have a good teacher with us so we go very carefully. It is very safe as there are not so many people around us. Everything can be dangerous," he said.

Source: Agencies