MotoGP: Qatar night race schedule unveiled

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Qatar’s historic MotoGP race under floodlights at night will get underway at 11pm local time.

MCN has got hold of a copy of the schedule for the clash on March 9, which will create history by becoming the first MotoGP race to be staged under floodlights at night.

The 22-lap race MotoGP clash will start at 11pm local time to catch prime time Sunday night European TV audiences. The scheduling means the opening race of the 2008 world championship will be run at 8pm UK time.

The 18-lap 125GP race will get underway at 8pm (5pm UK) and the 20-lap 250GP race at 9.15pm (6.15pm UK).

The latest on-track action will be for the 250GP riders, with their first and second qualifying sessions not starting until 11.50pm on Friday and Saturday night, and finishing at 12.50am in the morning The front row of the grid press conference on Saturday doesn’t start until 1.15am!

Qatar bosses unveiled ambitious plans to host the first MotoGP night race back in September at the Misano race and riders including Loris Capirossi and James Toseland recently completed the first serious test under floodlights at the Losail International Circuit.

Both gave the green light to the plan, saying the lighting system was so good at the first three corners that it would be possible to still race with a dark visor.

The final dress rehearsal for the night race will be come at the International Race Teams Association test session on February 28, which will also be staged at night.
2006 MotoGP world champion Nicky Hayden told MCN: “I was talking to my brother from Jerez when I saw the schedule and rattled off what time the race is and there was a big pause on the other line because we go to the starting line at 11pm. I got a curfew man. I got to be a good boy this winter and get my curfew extended. I’m looking forward to it. I need to see it but racing under the lights is something exciting. I hope its lit up good but I haven’t seen Dorna or IRTA do any Mickey Mouse stuff, everything has been first class. It will be fun and cool for the series. Things need a shake-up every now and then but it will be hot because not only is it the first race of the year it is the first race under lights.”

Full Qatar MotoGP schedule
Friday 7 March
6-6.45pm 125 Free Practice 1
7-8pm MotoGP Free Practice 1
8.15-9.15pm 250 Free Practice 1
10.05-10.35pm 125 Qualifying Practice 1
10.50-11.50 MotoGP Free Practice 2
12.05-12.50am 250 Qualifying Practice 1

Saturday 8 March
6-6.45pm 125 Free Practice 2
7-8pm MotoGP Free Practice 3
8.15-9.15pm 250 Free Practice 2
10.05-10.35pm 125 Qualifying Practice 2
10.50-23.50pm MotoGP Qualifying Practice 12.05-12.50am 250 Qualifying Practice 2

Sunday 9 March
5.40-6pm 125 Warm Up
6.10-6.30pm 250 Warm Up
6.40-7.05pm MotoGP Warm Up
8pm 125 Race (18 laps)
9.15pm 250 Race (20 laps)
11pm MotoGP Race (22 laps)


Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt