Torrential downpours have canceled the season-opening Grand Prix of Qatar just minutes before the warm-up lap, with team managers and riders meeting now to consider running it on Monday morning.The riders had taken their sighting lap and were assembled on the grid when a wave of rain rolled across the Losail International Circuit at about 10:58 p.m. local time, just before the 11:00 p.m. start of the 22-lap race. The team pushed the machines back into the garages as the rain intensified, falling in sheets and cascading across the track.The issue of not riding in the rain was raised during the test here in March. Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner, a member of the rider safety committee, said, “We were told this when it rained at the test last time. It is just because of the vision with the lights shining off the rain and the reflection. Basically, we weren’t going to be able to understand where there’s rain and where there’s not and it become a little bit dangerous. Normally it doesn’t rain here.”The 125cc GP, the first of the day, was red flagged on the fifth of 18 laps. Scoring reverted to the fourth lap and it was declared official. Andrea Iannone won from Julian Simon and Sandro Cortese.The 250cc race started late and was shortened to 13 laps from 20. That race went to Hector Barbera, with Jules Cluzel a career best second and Mike de Meglio third. The MotoGP race was ready to go when the rain came lashing down.Earlier in the day race organizers told the riders they wouldn’t race in the rain and would wait it out. And if it wasn’t possible to race, the GP would be canceled rather than run on Monday. But that position has been changed, with the possibility that the race could run on Monday and televised at a later date.There are a number of issues complicating a Monday race. First among them is tires. The medium compound Bridgestones were showing heavy wear during the night. How they’d hold up in the desert sunlight is certain to be a concern. There’s also the matter of travel. A number of teams have checked out of their hotels and were expecting to catch flights late early tomorrow morning. Some Yamaha team members were on a 3:50 a.m. flight. The cost of changing flights and rebooking hotels would be prohibitive for a championship that’s looking for ways to save money. With the satellite window gone, the race wouldn’t be shown live, but could be recorded for a tape delayed-airing.
Qatar MotoGP Race Canceled
Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor
Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.