MotoGP Qatar test: Stars back history-making night test

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MotoGP stars including Nicky Hayden, Loris Capirossi, Colin Edwards and Jorge Lorenzo have endorsed Qatar’s historic night race after the opening night of testing under floodlights.

The two-day session, that concludes tomorrow night, is the final dress rehearsal before Qatar creates history on March 9, 2008 by staging the first MotoGP race under floodlights.

And the majority of riders have given the green light to the historic event having completed their first laps at the spectacularly lit Losail International Circuit.

Pre-test concerns about low track temperatures causing grip problems and the impressive 3600 lights creating distracting shadows or glare were largely dispelled in the opening few hours of track time.

Track temperature for most of the night stayed at 20 degrees or just under, sparking relief with anxious Michelin and Bridgestone tyre technicians.

Former MotoGP world champion Nicky Hayden said: “It’s good but then again I didn’t think they’d get it wrong. Dorna and IRTA wouldn’t put on something that wasn’t going to work.

“There are a couple of minor issues with shadows and glare but nothing that couldn’t be solved for the future or nothing that’s bad enough to cry about. My big concern was getting heat into the tyres but it seems there’s no issues.”

Tech 3 Yamaha rider Colin Edwards, who was consistently in the top five on the timesheets for most of the night, told MCN: “We are always going to find something to bitch and moan about but for me it was cool.

“As far as safety goes everything is absolutely fine and that’s what people care about.

“To be honest you can ride a bit faster because you are not worried about so many things.

“There is a little issue with shadows but I’ve had that in the Suzuka Eight-hour, and I can tell you this is a million times better. It takes a little time to adjust but not that long.”

Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi was one of five riders who gave an initial analysis on the lights back in November when the first three corners were illuminated.

And the Italian told MCN: “For sure it’s not like daylight but it is still fine for the safety. For the first couple of laps you feel really strange.

“Some riders talk about a problem with shadow but there is no way you can eliminate this.”

Factory Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo was also happy and surprised that lap times had been so instantly fast, with dominant world champion Casey Stoner producing another master class to go even faster than he managed on soft qualifying tyres last season.

Speaking to MCN shortly before midnight local time, Jorge Lorenzo said: “I’m quite happy, though I didn’t ride with anybody to check what it will be like in race conditions.

“It was better than I expected and so were the lap times. The first few laps are quite difficult while you adjust but after a while it feels like you are riding in the day.
One rider who wasn’t so convinced was factory Suzuki rider Chris Vermeulen.

“I’m a little disappointed to be honest. The lights aren’t strong enough to stop me using a clear visor and I was surprised at how much shadow there was. And its not just one shadow.

“The way the light shines it casts more than one and sometimes that can be a disconcerting in the corner because you are not sure if somebody is right behind.
“And when you look back you just get dazzled, you can’t see a thing so people will have to be careful in qualifying.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt