The final test of the 2017 preseason for the Moto2 and Moto3 classes has had to be abandoned after the first session. Dark clouds and high winds had threatened the track during the opening Moto3 session, with only a handful of bikes taking to the track. But heavy rain started falling shortly afterwards, leaving the track soaking, and not drying out. After consultation with the teams and riders, the test was abandoned.
It is a timely reminder that weather can be a factor at this time of year in Qatar. Although rain is rare in the peninsula, it is not unknown, and is most frequent at this time of year. The weather has been a little unsettled in recent weeks, with rain falling just before the MotoGP test as well, though track time for the premier class riders was unaffected.
Most famously, rain forced Race Direction to postpone the 2009 race from Sunday until Monday when rain started to fall. Race Direction judged that reflections from the floodlights made it impossible to ride the track safely.
In recent weeks, MotoGP and FIM safety officers Franco Uncini and Loris Capirossi have run tests on a wet track, and determined that it should be possible to ride at the circuit even if it rains. This decision still has to be agreed by the Safety Commission, however, with the riders having a major say in whether the race can take place or not. Official MotoGP tire supplier Michelin have brought wet tires to the Losail Circuit, though Moto2 and Moto3 supplier Dunlop has not.
The Moto2 and Moto3 test is due to continue on Saturday and Sunday, ahead of the start of the season on Thursday. The weather is looking better for the next few days, though the current forecast shows a chance of rain on Saturday night.
The test for the support classes is crucial. The test is the first time the Moto2 teams get to use the official Moto2 engines for the first time this year, removing some of the variance at the previous test. Some Moto3 teams are also using new engines, with British rider John McPhee telling MCN that Honda have brought a new engine for him to test, along with some other parts.