2017 Qatar Saturday MotoGP Round Up: Playing The Blame Game For A Canceled Day

Saturday was the kind of day that makes you question the wisdom of allowing Qatar to be the first race of the MotoGP season, and to hold the race at night. Doing one or the other – either being the first race of the season but holding it during the day, or taking place later in the year and racing at night – is feasible, but doing both is a risk. If it wasn't for the fact that the sanctioning fee the Losail International Circuit at Qatar pays to Dorna for the privilege basically covers the overseas travel budget for the teams for the entire season, the MotoGP season opener would be very different.

It was an entirely wasted day. Or perhaps not entirely wasted: we learned that the Qatar circuit badly needs the drainage fixed. Whatever the decision on racing in the rain, when it does rain, the track and the run off areas just don't drain fast enough. That led to Loris Capirossi, Dorna's representative in Race Direction, trying to explain in increasingly exasperated tones that there was no point trying to test during the day or at night, because there was simply too much standing water in the gravel traps and in certain sections of the track to allow it to be used safely.

Capirossi was speaking at an impromptu press conference organized directly after the qualifying press conference, to explain why all on-track action had been canceled on Saturday. It had started with the cancellation of the Asia Talent Cup, and a revised schedule was issued containing a track inspection, then a twenty-minute session for the riders to go out and see whether it would be possible to ridein the wet under the floodlights. But as each schedule approached, events were delayed. In the end, the entire day was canceled. The track was unusable after such intense rainfall.

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Qualifying Canceled At Qatar Due To Rain - Viñales, Morbidelli, Martin Awarded Pole

Practice and qualifying at the Losail Circuit in Qatar has been canceled due to track conditions. Torrential overnight rain, followed by another downpour during the day left the circuit wet, with standing water in some sections of the track, as well as in the gravel traps. After waiting for conditions to improve, the organizers were finally forced to abandon any hope of running qualifying or FP4 for any of the classes.

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Revised Schedule For Saturday At Qatar - Updated

The schedule for Saturday at Qatar has been revised. With the track still wet, and rain falling on and off, Dorna and the teams have agreed to test the track first, and then, after the Safety Commission has met and declared the track safe in the wet, run a later schedule for practice and qualifying. The revised schedule is below.

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Saturday MotoGP Schedule Under Discussion At Qatar - Revised Schedule Expected Later

The teams and Dorna are currently meeting to discuss the schedule for Saturday's qualifying and practice sessions for all three classes at the MotoGP season opener at Qatar. Torrential rain on Friday night and Saturday morning has left the track waterlogged, and while the circuit is doing all it can to clean and attempt to dry the surface, the track is still wet.

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2017 Qatar Friday MotoGP Press Releases

Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the second day of free practice:


MOVISTAR YAMAHA RIDERS STRAIGHT THROUGH TO Q2 IN QATAR

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi worked their way through a challenging second and third free practice session ahead of the Grand Prix of Qatar. The teammates finished in first and tenth place respectively in the combined times.

DOHA (QATAR), 24TH MARCH 2017

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2017 Qatar Friday Moto2 & Moto3 Press Releases

Press releases after the second day of practice at Qatar:


MARTIN TOPS TIMESHEETS IN QATAR AS DIGGIA KEEPS IMPROVING

Friday’s sole Moto3 free practice session was successfully contested at the Losail International Circuit today: with the threat of rain turning into a false alarm, Team Del Conca Gresini’s Jorge Martin and Fabio Di Giannantonio were able to take their NCS250RW machines to the track and, with some good work together, they managed to get some very positive results despite the strong winds blowing across the 5.4km Qatari venue.

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2017 Qatar Friday MotoGP Round Up: Wild Weather, Viñales Crashing, Real Race Pace, And Decoding Lorenzo

A growing sense of, not panic, perhaps, but certainly concern is enveloping the MotoGP paddock in Qatar. The ever unstable weather is forcing the series organizers to make contingency plans for every possible scenario the conditions in the desert may throw up. Heavy rains which have been sweeping across the peninsula have made it uncertain how and when the race is to be held. It could be Sunday night in the wet, it could be Sunday afternoon, it could even be Monday.

Despite the bizarre weather – hailstones fell in the afternoon, then a downpour flooded the country in the night – practice has been pretty much unaffected. The advantage of rain in the desert is that it dries up pretty quickly when it stops. The track was a little dirtier when the MotoGP bikes took to the track for FP2 at 6pm, but it was still dry when FP3 ended, nearly four hours later.

The downpour only started at 1am, and stopped an hour later. Which suggests that the weather is weird enough for all of the emergency planning being made to be in vain, and qualifying and the race will take place as planned, in the dry, with no disruption. Still, not preparing for the possibility is a sure-fire guarantee that it will rain.

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2017 Qatar MotoGP FP3 Result: Viñales Fastest As Lorenzo Misses Q2

Maverick Viñales has topped the final session of free practice for the MotoGP class at Qatar, and goes into qualifying on Saturday as the fastest man of the field. The Movistar Yamaha rider did not chase a fast lap like the other riders, comfortable as he was knowing that he had already qualified for Q2.

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MotoGP Considering All Options To Handle Wet Weather On Race Day

Dorna is working on several different scenarios to ensure the MotoGP race at Qatar goes ahead this weekend. All options are still open: the race could be held at night, on a wet track, on Sunday during the day, and even, if the worst comes to the worst, moved to Monday.

The main priority is that the race should take place, as long at it can be done so safely. "The basis is that the worse thing we can do from everyone's point of view is to cancel the race," Race Director Mike Webb told MotoMatters.com. "So from there, we are sorting out what the best options are to be able to have a safe race."

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2017 Qatar Moto2 FP3 Result: Morbidelli Edges Marc VDS Teammate Marquez

The Marc VDS riders have ended at the top of the timesheets in the final session of free practice for the Moto2 class. Franco Morbidelli leads the way, just holding off a late challenge from Alex Marquez. Danny Kent finished the session as third fastest, the Kiefer Racing Suter performing well on the cold track at Qatar.

Tom Luthi finished fourth fastest, just ahead of the second Suter of Dominique Aegerter. Xavi Vierge put the Tech 3 bike into sixth, ahead of Fabio Quartararo, while Miguel Oliviera made it four chassis makes in the top eight on the KTM.

Results:

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2017 Qatar Moto3 FP3 Result: Martin Leads Fenati

Jorge Martin has topped the final session of free practice for the Moto3 class. The Gresini Honda rider took a big lead towards the end of the session to finish nearly two tenths ahead of Romano Fenati on the Rivacold Honda. Philipp Oettl was the quickest KTM rider, ending the session in third, just a fraction ahead of Bo Bendsneyder.

This was the only session of practice for the Moto3 class tonight. They reconvene again on Saturday, for qualifying.

Results:

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2017 Qatar MotoGP FP2 Result: Redding Leads Surprise-packed Session

Scott Redding has topped the second session of free practice for the MotoGP class, with riders chasing a place in Q2 with an eye to the weather later this evening. With forecasts showing a chance of rain in FP3, almost everyone put on soft tires at the end and pushed for a fast lap. 

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2017 Qatar Thursday MotoGP Press Releases

Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the first day of practice at Qatar:


MOVISTAR YAMAHA PUSH THE LIMIT IN FIRST QATAR FP SESSION

The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team showed its hand at the first outing of the Grand Prix of Qatar today. Riders Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi took little time to get refamiliarised with the Losail International Circuit, wrapping up the first timed practice session in first and ninth place respectively.

DOHA (QATAR), 23RD MARCH 2017

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2017 Qatar MotoGP Thursday Round Up: Rain, An Unbeatable Viñales, And Weird Aero

Racing is back. No more messing about trying to extrapolate data points from testing to hypothetical performance on race weekends. This is a race weekend. Now, we have actual data from free practice to extrapolate data points from to hypothetical performance during the actual race. Yes, it sounds identical, yet it is subtly different. There are only three more sessions of free practice, qualifying, and then the warm up before the race. No more engine updates, no time to test new parts. Only time to nail down a decent set up and give it everything you've got, or "my 100%", as non-native English speakers like to say.

The MotoGP field were lucky to get a session of free practice in. The weather in Qatar has been extremely unstable, and storms keep blowing in and out of the peninsula. The possibility of rain has caused a bevy of emergency measures to be taken. Previously, racing in the wet had been regarded as impossible, due to the reflection of the floodlights on the wet surface, but last month, FIM and Dorna safety representatives Franco Uncini and Loris Capirossi did some laps of the track at night.

Capirossi and Uncini decided that the track as safe enough to ride, even in the wet. But the race would only happen if the riders had all had time on a wet track under the floodlights, to judge the situation for themselves. "[Capirossi] has been behind a car," Cal Crutchlow said on Wednesday. "But it's different when there are 23 people on the grid. A lot more can happen."

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