Rain Puts Motegi Qualifying on Hold

Henny Ray Abrams | April 24, 2009

Torrential rains have forced the postponement of all qualifying sessions for Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi, with an  update to be issued at 3:00 p.m. local time, 2:00 a.m. EDT.Rain began falling late last night and continued throughout the night and into the morning. The morning MotoGP session was wet, borderline according to some riders. And as the rain increased throughout the afternoon it became clear that it wouldn’t be possible to ride.The 125cc qualifying session, scheduled for 1:05 p.m. local time, was pushed back to the end of the day. Then the MotoGP session was delayed while race direction made several laps of the Twin Ring Motegi circuit in the BMW safety car.Standing water in a number of the corners have made it impossible to ride and only a cessation of the rain, followed by a sweeping of the corners, would make the track acceptable to the riders.Rizla Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi was waiting to talk to Franco Uncini, the rider safety rep, about the conditions.”The rain is not really heavy, but we have a lot of rivers on the track,” Capirossi said, adding that with the power of the MotoGP machine, “it’s not easy.”Ducati Marlboro’s Nicky Hayden was also among the riders waiting to talk to race officials. Hayden was sixth in the morning practice, the first one held in the wet with the Bridgestone control tires.”I’ve never ridden the bike in conditions like this,” Hayden said. “We made a couple of changes and felt we needed to get some laps and improved every lap. In the end I was near the front, so I hope it stops raining” he added, before joking, “well, keeps sprinkling and stays so wet we can maybe do something.”Bridgestone has one wet weather tire for all conditions and all motorcycles, and this morning it performed well. Hayden, who raced on Michelins last year, said the lone Bridgestone rain is “different. The thing about last year’s wet was we had so many options. When you would dial in the tire, you would get amazing grip.” Of the Bridgestone, he said, “it’s amazing that they have one tire that will work in wet, half dry, whatever.”With a Sunday forecast of sunshine and high winds, Hayden was hopeful of progress.”The dry it’s not really happening at the moment, but I do think we’re moving in a good direction,” he said.

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.