“Everything is ready to continue with the project”
Yesterday's night time outing for a selection of MotoGP riders in Qatar, in preparation for March 9th's 2008 season-opening Grand Prix, drew unwavering plaudits from those in attendance, confirming the viability of the
illuminated race at Losail and the success of the ambitious lighting project planned for the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar.
Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta had headed to Qatar especially to oversee the event, and confirmed that the three-corner test had given positive results. He also confirmed that both the race and a pre-season test would be undertaken at night.
“When we first came up with the idea the big condition was that it had to be safe for the riders”, explained Mr. Ezpeleta. “My first impression is good, but those of the riders are more important. They believe that it is safe, and that is good news because it means that everything is ready to continue with the project. The pre-GP test will be held at night, as will the race.”
Of the riders present, Suzuki representative Loris Capirossi was the only rider to have previously ridden the Losail International Circuit after sundown. The Italian took part in a similar road bike tour of the track in 2006, and noted the improvement in conditions provided by the Musco lighting system.
“The first time that I tried out riding here in the dark, back in 2006, it was really bad for shadowing”, said the veteran. “With 60% lighting it's possible to ride but a little difficult, but I think that we should have no problems riding at night here.”
Kawasaki's Anthony West also noticed the difference between the Musco lighting and the normal floodlights, noting that “Where there is only floodlighting there was a lot of shadowing, but in this new section with the lights there is no problem with that.”
“It's been a pleasure to be here for the first time at night, and I'm impressed; I expected to find a lot more difficulties than I did”, added Marco Melandri, who finished second in the first MotoGP race to be held in Qatar back in 2005. “It's a good first impression, and I can't wait to come here with my MotoGP bike and see what the race is like.”
MotoGP newcomer James Toseland joined in the praise for the project. He has previously ridden a Superbike at the circuit and thus knows the track well, and was impressed with the three-corner illumination.
“They've done a great job.
On the track it's fully lit and it's as though it's in the daylight. When we went round together it was safe to overtake.”
Joe Crookham, representing lighting company Musco, had foreseen a positive response from those preparing for the night race, but was nonetheless happy with their comments.
“We were pretty confident about what the reactions from the riders were going to be, but to actually hear them is always nice”, said Crookham. “We tried the lights at 30% and 60% and the riders said that there was no difference for them.”
DORNA / CAPSIS International