MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
MotoGP: in the lap of the gods
The Qatar GP very nearly didn’t happen on Sunday. Might it be time to admit that Losail’s floodlit folly is no more than a dazzling definition of more money than sense?
Man makes his plans and the gods laugh. All the way through the four days and nights of the Qatar Grand Prix you could look to the heavens and see the weather gods sitting atop their clouds, laughing loudly as several thousand frail little human beings rushed hither and thither around a paddock thrown into disarray by one biblical downpour after another.
The weekend schedule melted to nothing in the rain and remained fluid throughout. No one knew what was happening, except the rain gods, who spent the weekend puncturing the hubris of the billionaires and their floodlit vanity project. It had cost these megalomaniacs – who live above the world’s largest gas supplies – 44 diesel generators at 30,000 euros each, 500 kilometres of electrical cable and 3000 tonnes of concrete to turn night into electrical day. Surely they had defeated nature?
No they hadn’t. When the humans wanted a dry track, the gods hurled forth another rainstorm. And when the humans wanted a wet track, so riders might assess the dazzling effect of a 5.4-million-watt lighting rig on a rain-soaked visor at 210mph, the rain gods blew a mighty wind that dried the asphalt, so the session didn’t go ahead. That’s a new one: practice cancelled due to a dry track.
The chaos was reminiscent of the 1992 Brazilian GP, when we travelled to Sao Paulo’s Interlagos Formula 1 track, for the first and last time. The riders – Kevin Schwantz, Mick Doohan, Wayne Rainey, Eddie Lawson and the rest – weren’t convinced the track was safe. They had watched Brazilian Formula 1 races on TV and didn’t like the look of the huge wall that borders the final corner – a high-speed, full-throttle blast where a highside would fly its victim halfway to Rio de Janeiro.
The riders therefore sent their safety rep, GP winner Didier de Radigues, to check the circuit and report back. De Radigues flew to Brazil, had a look around and returned to Europe. The track is just fine, he said.
When Schwantz and the others arrived at Interlagos they looked at the wall and wondered where de Radigues had been looking. They didn’t want to race, so they convened a meeting. After much angry debate, the reliably cantankerous Lawson lost patience and stormed out. “Whatever you guys do, I’m going to do the opposite,” he swore.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.