2009 Qatar Night Test - Rain In The Desert

The night test at Qatar got off to a frankly bizarre start on Sunday night. The test, which was due to run from 6pm to midnight local time, got off to a difficult start, after rain in the morning left the track greasy, and then rain at around 7pm called proceedings to a halt for a while, with riders sitting in the pits for an hour or so, before going out again. But it wasn't just rain that was causing the problems: Sand had been blowing onto the track and both reducing grip while paradoxically increasing tire wear, making the whole exercise of rather dubious value.

That was certainly the opinion of a number of riders: Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa decided to sit out the evening, not wanting to risk further injury to their recovering wrist and knee respectively. Loris Capirossi did not even bother to start, while Valentino Rossi came straight in after an out lap. Jorge Lorenzo recording a single lap before coming back in again.

The two riders who recorded the most laps were the two riders who need the work the most: Nicky Hayden is still battling to come to terms with the Ducati, and find a solution to the rear wheel pump that everyone except Casey Stoner seems to struggle with. Stoner suffers it just as much as all the other Ducati riders, he just seems to cope with it better, perhaps by ignoring it completely.

Marco Melandri is still to sign his contract to ride the "Hayate", or The-Bike-Formerly-Know-As-The-2009-Kawasaki. But he put in a fair stint of testing, to try and get a feel for what the bike is like. According to GPOne.com, Melandri said that TBFKAT2K is better than the 2008 Kawasaki, which must come as a relief. The team is to be run by technical guru Ichiro Yoda, with former team boss Michael Bartholemy having been pushed aside.

The test is set to continue for two more evenings, in preparation for the MotoGP season opener in April. Hopefully, the weather will improve, and allow everyone to take to the track.

Final times: 

Pos.RiderBikeTimeFast LapTotal Laps
1Nicky HaydenDucati2'00.7172931
2Marco MelandriDornasaki2'00.8673135
3Mika KallioDucati2'01.0202729
4Alex de AngelisHonda2'01.0741515
5Niccolo CanepaDucati2'01.3282126
6Chris VermeulenSuzuki2'01.84356
7Yuki TakahashiHonda2'03.2211818
8Andrea DoviziosoHonda2'03.2331515
9James ToselandYamaha2'03.41767
10Randy de PunietHonda2'03.5801418
11Colin EdwardsYamaha2'03.65258
12Toni EliasHonda2'08.63733
13Jorge LorenzoYamaha2'24.83211

Current lap record held by Casey Stoner, 2008 race, with a lap of 1'55.153

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Wow. This might be more useless than no information. I can understand why so many didn't participate.

What does it mean when the best time is 5 seconds off the record? and that the Dornasaki was second only to Hayden who just started riding the Ducati?

I think the field might have been better off going to a fortune-telling for their bike settings.

Here in the States, racetracks have these vehicles called "Sweepers" and "Jet Dryers".  They are both relatively self-explanatory, but one would think there would be a vested interest in a couple of these units being purchased by the Losail Circuit (or even Valentino Rossi).

"Here in Europe... " :P they race when the track is wet of even while it's raining ;) So no need.
Rossi has proven to be quick on dirt (inside lines in the Corkscrew) and in the wet. This might have been his favorite combination. Too bad it wasn't :P