Plans to ride on if it rains for this weekend’s opening round of the MotoGP championship under the floodlights in Qatar have not yet been confirmed, according to race director Mike Webb – and won’t be until riders have a chance to test out the conditions.
With heavy rain disrupting Moto2 and Moto3 testing this weekend and forecast to return next weekend as well during racing, Michelin were initially told to bring wet tyres for the field, breaking with tradition. It last rained in 2009 for the race, forcing a 24-hour delay until Monday.
But while MotoGP safety officers Loris Capirossi and Franco Uncini have tested at the Losail track in wet conditions, Webb says that doesn’t mean they’ll definitely race in them if the worst happens.
“As soon as we started running the race here under the lights we were concerned that the light conditions might not be good in the rain, and we have cancelled the race because of the rain; the few riders that were on track that night in the 125GP class said ‘it’s hard to see.’
“Since then we’ve had a few sessions where rain has arrived, and we wanted to be exactly sure what we could do if that happened, so we had Franco and Loris come here and do a test at night with the circuit completely wet and their conclusion was that it wasn’t impossible to ride on a wet track."
In the past, riders have said that the presence of the artifical lighting on a wet track at the Losail circuit makes visibility impossible, especially when combined with muck caused by the dusty astmosphere at the circuit. In addition, teams have been informed that their red rain lights must be deactivated for the event to prevent additional glare.
And with that in mind, Webb says that despite the successful test by Uncini and Capirossi, the final call will be in the hands of the riders.
“It’s not a final decision that we’re going to run in the rain but we’ve told the riders and teams to be prepared to test in the wet so they can tell us what it’s like, if it’s ready to race or if we need to do something else.
“After Franco and Loris tested and thought that it was possible to run, they reported to a number of MotoGP riders and explained what they felt on track. All the riders said ‘ok, let's test and see ourselves what it’s like.’ We’ll make a test if we get the opportunity – but we won’t run the race in wet conditions unless every rider has tested in the wet and agrees it’s ok to race in it.”
One thing is certain, however, is that even if the MotoGP race does go ahead in the wet, Moto2 and Moto3 will not, with control tyre manufacturer Dunlop not bringing wet tyres to the event.