MotoGP: ‘Super tough’ for junior classes thanks to Qatar schedule change

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Aprilia MotoGP racer Aleix Espargaró says that the Moto2 and Moto3 classes will suffer at the opening round of the 2018 Grand Prix racing season, thanks to a new schedule that will see their races run in daylight for the first time in a decade.

The new timetable will see Moto3 practice kick off at 1300 local time, five hours earlier than in previous years as the schedule is rearranged to move the event in line with other races and change it from a four-day race to a three-day event instead. That also means that with sunset around 1730, the Moto3 and Moto2 races will now run in daylight, kicking off at 1600 and 1720 respectively.

But, with track conditions changing dramatically at last weekend’s test as track temperatures plummeted by 30ºC as the sun went down, Espargaró says that he’s expecting it to make for a difficult weekend, especially for the junior classes.

“For me the schedule is crazy. It’s like to ride motocross and supermoto in the same day, when the sun goes down and it gets dark. The difference is far too big – it’s crazy. For me the track is super slippery when it’s hot too, and as soon as the temperature goes down and the humidity comes up it actually gets a lot more grippy.

“It’ll be even worse for Moto2 and Moto3, because at least we only have one session in the day and our race will be at night. But for them it’ll be much more tough.”

However, despite what might have been a difficult test for Espargaró, the Aprilia rider says he’s happy with the work that they’ve achieved during testing – and can’t wait to get going for real now.

"I can’t wait to be back here in two weeks to really get to work. The tests are important but I’m happier when it’s a race. This year things will be even more interesting because all the teams and riders will be at a very high level. I gave it my best during this pre-season to improve the 2018 RS-GP. It was a pity that a small problem kept me from finishing the race simulation. The truth is that the winter tests are often deceiving. There are a lot of riders who manage to do some fast laps but values will change in the race. I believe in our potential and I am confident that we will be battling for the top eight straight away."

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Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer