Qatar MotoGP Round To Be Spread Over Four Days

The Qatar round of MotoGP has always been a tricky proposition. The track and the facilities are remarkable, with a spacious paddock and outstandingly equipped pit garages, but the location of the track - in the desert, in one of the hottest regions in the world - places a great deal of strain on using those facilities. From April to October, daytime temperatures make racing a motorcycle a punishing affair, temperatures only really returning to comfortable levels during MotoGP's winter break.

Switching to a night race was meant to get around these problems, but the nighttime event posed problems of its own. Temperatures drop rapidly throughout the evening, making the surface suddenly very greasy as the combination of humidity and temperature hits the dew point, something which usually occurs just as the MotoGP race is about to begin. Several mysterious crashes during the final test of 2010 led to calls for the race to be rescheduled, and a search for solutions to the problem of the track turning treacherous. With Qatar holding a contract to field the opening race of the season, changing dates was not a realistic option, and racing under the floodlights was the one thing that marked the Qatar MotoGP race out as unique, meaning that the QMMF, the Qatari motorsports federation who organize the race, are reluctant to hold the race in the daytime.

A solution to his conundrum was found late in the summer. A proposal was made to spread the race weekend over four days instead of three, limiting the time window during which the 125cc, Moto2 and MotoGP classes would practice and race, providing a more consistent temperature profile for the teams and tire manufacturers to deal with. Today, it was announced that the four-day schedule had been adopted for this year's Qatar MotoGP round, meaning that free practice for the event will start on Thursday, March 17th, instead of Friday, as is normally the case.

The change to the schedule means that practice has become more splintered, with the 125cc and Moto2 classes running FP1 and FP2 on Thursday, while MotoGP gets only FP1. The MotoGP class gets two sessions on Friday, holding FP2 at the beginning of the evening, and FP3 at the end, with the 125s and Moto2 holding FP3 in between. Saturday sees all classes running qualifying, and then the 125cc and Moto2 classes having their warm up, while MotoGP holds its warm up session on Sunday, directly before the three classes race.

As confusing as it has become, the new schedule is an improvement over previous attempts. Of course, the race is still threatened by rain, as all action has to be cancelled on a wet track, with the floodlights causing too many reflections when there is water on the track, as we saw back in 2009, when the race had to be moved from Sunday to Monday due to rain. The ideal solution - for many fans at least - would be for the race to be brought forward to the end of February or early March, and run during the daytime, making for a longer season, and a shorter winter break. Unfortunately, the Qatari federation want to show off their floodlights, and so a return to racing during the daytime is unlikely to happen any time soon.

Below is the announcement of the new schedule from Dorna:

We inform you the schedule for the first Grand Prix of the season taking place in Qatar will be different and will have its FP1 on THURSDAY to make sure that all sessions will be at night.

The schedule of the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar will be as follows

Thursday March 17th
18:00-18:40 125cc Free Practice 1
18:55-19:40 Moto2 Free Practice 1
19:55-20:40 MotoGP Free Practice 1
20:55-21:35 125cc Free Practice 2
21:50-22:35 Moto2 Free Practice 2
Friday March 18th
18:00-18:45 MotoGP Free Practice 2
19:00-19:40 125cc Free Practice 3
19:55-20:40 Moto2 Free Practice 3
20:55-21:40 MotoGP Free Practice 3
Saturday March 19th
18:00-18:40 125cc Qualifying Practice
18:55-19:40 Moto2 Qualifying Practice
19:55-20:55 MotoGP Qualifying Practice
21:20-21:40 125cc Warm Up
21:55-22:15 Moto2 Warm Up
Sunday March 20th
18:00-18:20 MotoGP Warm Up
19:00 125cc Race (18 laps)
20:15 Moto2 Race (20 laps)
22:00 MotoGP Race (22 laps)

Time schedule in local time.

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How much longer is the Qatar contract? Or perhaps more importantly how much money is on the table for Dorna to keep renewing it?

Whilst the rest of the world is falling over themselves to prove their green credentials (and failing miserably I should add as a matter of balance) the Qatari's happily tip another barrel of oil into the generator and turn night into day. Over and above the fist full of cash they've thrust in Carmelo's hands to run an event that nobody attends, ostensibly in widening the sports global appeal.

Bollocks to all of it! If ever there was an event that doesn't deserve to be part of the circus it's this one. Well after round numbers 4,5& 6 in Spain!

This would not have been possible without their contract with Musco Lighting (Oskaloosa, Iowa), specialized in outdoor sport lighting for more than 30 years, including the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, 16 professional baseball or football stadiums in the US as well as 22 racetracks (20 of them in the US).

Any message for the unapologetic Americans hosting games/races at the Yankee stadium, Gillette stadium, Daytona International Speedway (which was in 1998 the world’s largest outdoor sports-lighting project) or any of the 20 US tracks hosting races at night?

Maybe a quick word for the unapologetic Asians hosting the Singapore F1 Grand Prix at night since 2008?

Arab nations couldn't really care less if they sold us oil or solar. If you don't believe me, look up Masdar. The Arab world is not the problem, particularly not pro-West nations like Qatar who do more good than harm.

If the Inuit discovered the mother-of-all oil reserves on their land, became rich beyond belief, and then built an entirely enclosed and heated roadrace circuit in the arctic tundra, I have no doubt that Dorna/MotoGP would fall all over themselves to go racing there as well.

Calabogie, Ontario is as great a race track as any in Europe. Just needs the investment in safety and it's race on.

He Who Races Wins.

Do I have this schedule correct? The MotoGP test at Qatar will be on Sunday and Monday and then the MotoGP race weekend will be on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday? That makes sense logistically, but seems like an awful long time to spend in the emirate.

Um... isn't warm up meant to be a session to "get your eye in" and get "ostensibly "warmed up" just before your race?

So how could you call the second 125 and Moto 2 sessions on Saturday "warm up"?

Whilst I have no issues with them spreading out the sessions due to climatic conditions, I still think they should leave all the warm up session til the race day as that really is the primary function... it would almost make more sense to run the 125cc race on the saturday and leave the Moto2 warm up for sunday.

Ticket sales certainly aren't the issue, so there must be some reason they think people wouldn't watch the 125's on tv on Saturday night, but will on Sunday.  I don't know what that reason would be, but they should devalue it and go with your idea!

Much in the foolish ways of the "Great" Xerxes, the Persians of the modern age have built themselves castles made of sand that, in time, will blow away in the wind, or buried under seas under skies of black. In 50 years, Qatar will be as abandoned and barren as Egypt after the Americans have finished raping and pillaging it for it's oil. Future generations will scoff and mock their stupidity as just another symbol of our myopia of this era in time. We are a destructive, arrogant, vain species, and motogp brought there for the entertainment of the current princes of arabia is as as short-sighted as was the days of the gladiator in ancient Rome to entertain the egos of the Caesars.

He Who Races Wins.

Motomatters is back online and testing starts in a couple of weeks!

Anyway, MotoGP is an entertainment spectacle and therefore literally is for sale to the highest bidder. The Qatari castles may be made on sand but the banks they have their money in and pay Dorna with are built of brick and are in the Swiss Alps. I thought the gladiators were there to keep the general population entertained so Caesar could have his big orgies uninterrupted.


First of all, Qatar is an arab nation not Persian. It sits on the north east coast of the ARABIAN penninsula or more commonly known today as Saudi Arabia. The Persian country in the area is Iran, just across the Persian Gulf. Way to just bunch all those Arabs and Persians together. 2nd, Egypt has largely always been barren with exception to the cities built along the Nile and Red Sea. Those cities have never been MORE populated as they are today. But Im sure you consider yourself educated. 

(Post edited to remove the more inflammatory remarks - Ed.)

Can we keep the language and tone to a more civil level please. The contributors to this site are known for being respectful, and calling someone a moron is completely inappropriate. If you want to slag people, go the Eurosport UK site where taking potshots at Tony Carter seems to be a full time past time for many people.

Political and environmental views are relevant to MotoGP and Dorna and the FIM need to be aware of what the fans think of them putting a race in the middle of the desert under a billion watts of lighting. They ostensibly impose all these cost-savings measures (less testing and practice time) and environmental regs (21 litre gas tanks) to save the planet, and then they go and do something questionable like the Qatar race and 5 days of practice/racing/accommodation/lighting...!

The hypocrisy is pretty obvious to most viewers.

I hit the guy hard because what he posted was so overtly antagonistic and thoughtless it deemed such a response. If you say P/E positions are on the table and free to discuss then I shall respond. P/E positions are hardly of any interest to Dorna/MotoGP/FIM and the OEMs beyond that of PR. Their primary concern is making money, all of them. Which by the way, I think is great. The end result or by product of such cooperation is world class motorcycle racing. Your P/E concerns regarding the GP of Qatar ring quite hollow. If you think the usage of high powered lighting for one round is irresponsible then surely you must be concerned with the amount of jet fuel the all of the teams/organizers/media personnal consume in order to fly about the world to bring motogp racing to your living room every other Sunday. The use of such resources makes using the lamps at Qater look like a candle in comparison. Shall we pack up the whole show in the name of fossil fuel conservation? I believe your line of reasoning would lead you to such a conclusion. Whos the hypocrite now? Also, "They ostensibly impose all these cost-savings measures" because they are cost saving measures!! I don't even think MotoGP/Dorna and the rest have the level of hubris it would take to sell to their audience their reasoning for cutting displacement, fuel levels and practice was in the name of carbon emissions. If you beleive that, you are far more gulliable than I suspected.

I think you mis-understood my comments Phil, or at least where I stand on some of Dorna's actions. I don't agree with the cost-savings/eco measures that Dorna and the FIM have instituted. Racing is expensive (and will get even more expensive as long as they are forcing everyone to race 4-strokes, when there were perfectly viable 125cc 2-strokes available from Aprillia) and will likely never be eco-friendly (even if electric bikes become the norm as there are all the travel costs, plus tons of other consumables involved).

My point was that discussing political/environmental/economic factors IS part of an comprehensive and intelligent conversation on our favourite form of motosport and if you disagree with someone else's point of view, then debate them, don't slam them.

I believe you still have a bit of work to do. The quotes below were taken from the post I responded to. Do these rules of civility and decorum only apply to me? Just asking.

"after the Americans have finished raping and pillaging it for it's oil".

"Future generations will scoff and mock their stupidity"

"We are a destructive, arrogant, vain species"

I know we are all equal, but I just want to be as equal as the rest. Thanks pb

And you are as equal as the rest. No discussions on my editorial policy will be entered into. You made some very good and valid points, and added personal abuse. The personal abuse will not be tolerated. The interesting and valid points are welcomed.

The US "rapes and pillages" Canada for more oil than any other nation. In fact, we "raped and pillaged" Canada for 18,000 times more oil than we "raped and pillaged" from Qatar in 2008. It is in fact Canada's arrogant leaders whose log cabins will be blown away. It is Canada that will become a barren wasteland like Greenland, and it is the bejeweled Canadian oil princes who will watch 15% of Canada's GDP disappear when the US has exhausted Canada's tar sands. Future generations will scoff and mock Canada's short-sightedness, and only by the grace of NAFTA will Canada be saved.

Maybe you shouldn't wish destruction upon countries who export oil to the United States. Maybe you shouldn't make transparent your jealousy of Qatar's MotoGP event.

If you'd like, I will delete my post after you have deleted yours. I will not take it personally if you decline.

125 and Moto 2 are getting beat, warm up one day then the race the next day???

An optimistic view of this would be that Dorna and the Qatar govt and organizers are trying whatever they can to keep what is a great spectacle on the schedule.
It is much easier to take shots at people for doing it wrong, than to offer a sensible, affordable solution to a complex problem.
While I often disagree with the solutions that Dorna implement, let us at least give credit for taking action when needed- at least in this case, right?

After this long cold winter, I would be just as happy to see Rossi & Co. racing Summit Point, backwards, on go-karts. Roll-on 2011!

Official Lightweight Battery Supplier to Yoshimura Suzuki, KTM North America, Rickey Gadson, and Orient Express Racing.

... then why don't FIM/Dorna institute some kind of Desert TT week, whereby there's a big race at night on 3 days (fri/sat/sun for moto1,Moto2 & motoGP respectively) with practice and maybe another class to add to the mix during the day/evenings - maybe some kind of TTX/ebikes would be a great way to go?
Think of the benefits - more chance to show the audience the awesome facilities, more of a reason to go to the emirate for a short break for the primarily european audience, plus the chance to show some green credentials by highlighting non-ICE race bikes in the middle of a land dominated/funded by the petrochemical industry. PR opportunities galore!
The only way the Qatar MotoGP will grow is if people attend. What it needs is more of a festival atmosphere. Let's face it Losail is a pretty good track with a nice mix of corners, particulalry the series of consecutive rights at the back of the track. It's a shame its seen by MotoGP fans as nothing more than a floodlit sideshow rather than the magnificent curtain raiser to the season it could be.

Just race, already. Sooner the better. Preferably without fuel limits, lights in the desert are fine, hell how big is the grid anyway?

Stop complaining about others, at least until you commute on a bicycle.

Roll on Qatar. Supposed to be a marvellous spot to visit.

horse -puckey has no basis at all .

Consider this; Moto GP grid of 17 bikes, extra 3 litres each, total for the season; 918 litres.

The f***ing 747's probably drink more than that during a take-off delay !!

Just go racing, do whatever it takes for the best show.

If it weren't for the Americans (and Europeans, and others actually) the Arabian kings and princes would be riding camels rather than Ferraris and Bentleys. I don't think they are complaining about the current arrangement.

Also, by the time their oil runs out they will completely own most of America and Europe - rather than just a large portion as is the case today. They won't need oil anymore, they will own most of our treasured assets.

Personally, I think the oil is there for us to use to fuel our SUV's and motorcycles. Plants need the CO2 to grow. What's the big deal?

I really don't understand how it's acceptable to run a "warm up" the day before the race. They should run the 125cc race on saturday and do the Moto2 warm up on sunday. The warm up isn't just another test session, there are safety considerations still to be addressed. At the very least the reasoning behind this decision needs to be explained. It sure feels like they are throwing 125cc and Moto2 into the fire for the sake of MotoGP.