MotoGP: Riders request night race date change

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Valentino Rossi, Casey Stoner and Loris Capirossi have made a formal request to get the date of next year’s Qatar night race pushed further back in the world championship calendar.

Although Qatar successfully created history earlier this month by hosting the first MotoGP under floodlights, several riders and teams expressed concerns about cold track temperatures.

And now the Safety Commission has asked for the date of the 2009 clash to be moved back to when the temperature will be hotter.

When Qatar became the first Middle East venue to host a MotoGP race in 2004, the night race plan was unveiled because of the extreme temperatures, with physically and mentally draining heat hitting over 40 degrees.

Now the race has been moved to March with the Losail International Circuit contracted with Dorna to stage the opening race of the season, riders say now track temperatures are too cold.

Qatar officials want to retain the opening race slot having agreed a new eight-year contract with Dorna until the end of the 2016 season, instead of reverting beck to the original September date for night racing.

A compromise could see Dorna delay the start of the 2009 MotoGP championship until April, and factory Suzuki rider Loris Capirossi told MCN: “We asked to move the race to a little bit later because at night when the temperature drops it is a bit too cold for the tyres.

“We spoke a lot with the Qatar officials and they say in April it can be minimum of five or six degrees hotter and that it is not bad.

“To have 20 degrees on the ground at 11pm is better than 13. Dorna is really open to understand this request.

“Qatar wants the first race of the season and that’s the same for next year and maybe we can start the season later.

“We don’t know 100 per cent or we change the timings. Carmelo (Ezpeleta) is thinking about this.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt