The last World Supersport race of the year was delayed by adverse weather in Qatar, first with a sandstorm, then a rainstorm. The championship decider between Sandro Cortese and Jules Cluzel was then reduced to just twelve laps on a dry track with rivers of water across a few corners.
A huge storm, and the threat of more bad weather, has forced Dorna to delay action on the final day of the WorldSBK season in Qatar. Torrential rain has flooded the track, and garages, and strong winds have caused damage around the circuit, including to the podium area. Various videos and photos posted on social media showed the severity of the storm.
For the moment, all action has been postponed, awaiting inspections of the track and the floodlights. Initially, racing had been canceled, but the organizers revised the decision and will look at various options to ensure that racing does happen. Although the WorldSBK title is settled, the WorldSSP title is still wide open, with just 5 points separating Sandro Cortese and Jules Cluzel.
There are a number of options for the organizers. They can either wait and hope the weather will clear, and run the races under the floodlights, or they can postpone the racing until Sunday. Both those options would cause a problem for the teams, many of whom are booked onto flights back to Europe tonight. That would also involve considerable cost, and an argument over who would bear it. Alternatively, Dorna could call off the final day of action altogether.
Results and summary of qualifying for the MotoGP class in Phillip Island:
The moody weather of Phillip Island was in fine form on Saturday, going from sun to drizzle and back in record time and the setting was back on dry and sunny for the final practice session of the premier class. The man who seemed to enjoy it most early on was Valentino Rossi, the Italian picking up top spot temporarily before Andrea Iannone reclaimed a familiar position for the Italian this weekend. Once Iannone hit the front, he had little opposition and grabbed the headline with a lap posted on fairly used rubber.
Results and summary of qualifying for the Moto2 class in Phillip Island:
Results and summary of qualifying for the Moto3 class in Phillip Island:
Without jinxing it, sunshine was almost breaking through as the premier class had their go on Saturday morning, making the surface nearly fully dry but not any more predictable in terms of temperatures and wind. That meant both that riders were about a second off Friday’s best in the early part of the session and a few riders’ practice got cut short by more or less scary early crashes.
Despite earlier rain proving a disturbance for the lightweight class, the breezy Phillip Island circuit allowed Moto2 riders to swap back to slick tyres barely five minutes into their final practice session. That led to only a handful of times being posted in the early stages until Marcel Schrotter decided to take the reins at the top of the pile by over a second. That gap was swiftly halved by Mattia Pasini before a couple of drops of rain made another inconsistent appearance for the day.
Matters might have started unfolding much earlier on Saturday morning compared to one day ago but rainfall had already embraced the scenic Australian circuit. A damp surface with dry patches and light drizzle falling from the grey cloud cover provided a confusing backdrop to proceedings for the lightweight class. The rain flags came out for the first time ten minutes into the session, as Tony Arbolino was finding his way to the top of the timesheets and putting a second’s gap into the opposition led by Marco Bezzecchi.