Riders still want change to 'dangerous' Qatar start time

'At 8pm the temperature drops very dramatically and, also because of the humidity, it's quite dangerous'- Jorge Lorenzo and other MotoGP riders still concerned by later Qatar MotoGP start time.
Riders still want change to 'dangerous' Qatar start time

Practice for the season-opening Qatar Grand Prix gets underway tomorrow (Friday), but if MotoGP riders have anything to do with it the scheduled time of Sunday's race will still be changed.

Last year saw MotoGP's only night race brought forward from 9pm to 7pm, reducing the risk of slippery dew forming on the circuit and allowing more leeway for any rain delays. It also meant Moto3 became a day race and Moto2 a dusk race.

But the 2019 MotoGP is due to start an hour later, at 8pm.

It’s a situation triple premier-class champion Jorge Lorenzo has already warned about after falling during the recent pre-season test. But so far the 8pm start time remains, something Lorenzo branded as 'quite dangerous' on Thursday at Losail.

"My plan was to do a ten-lap half-race during the test, but unfortunately the temperature dropped a lot and also the humidity [increased] and while going quite smoothly I crashed in turn two," said the new Repsol Honda rider.

"So hopefully the race will start earlier on Sunday. This is something that for sure I will try to speak about tomorrow in the Safety Commission because at 8pm the temperature drops very dramatically and, also because of the humidity, it's quite dangerous."

Fellow riders supported Lorenzo's opinion.

"Last year we raced at 7. For me, if we race at 7 it's better. It's more safe," said Yamaha's nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi, the most experienced rider in the championship.

Lorenzo's team-mate and reigning MotoGP champion Marc Marquez added that it would also be a better show: "Last year we raced at 7 and it was a really good race. The temperature and humidity was fine, so I prefer to race at 7 too. Less risky and for the show it will be better."

"Every day the conditions are different. The humidity sometimes starts very early, sometimes not," explained Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso. "So maybe it's better to take a decision early and race a bit before."

Petronas Yamaha's Franco Morbidelli also highlighted the unpredictable nature of the dew formation.

"In testing, especially the first and second day, it was quite good until 9pm and we saw some people carry on riding until 10pm. But the third day already at 9pm, dew was coming down. Then yesterday I was here and it was quite damp by 8pm.

"So it depends a lot on the weather and temperature. It doesn’t depend on us. If we rely on what we saw from the first two days of testing then everything is great, but if it's like we saw on the last day then it will be a bit dangerous."

Rossi's Monster Yamaha team-mate Maverick Vinales, fastest at the recent pre-season test, was another to want a 7pm start:

"We have to discuss it in the Safety Commission for sure, but anyway as the other riders said finally at 7 the risk is much less andthe grip on the track will be much better and we can push much more. For sure it would be a better show."