HISTORY IS MADE WITH FIRST MOTOGP NIGHT TEST IN QATAR The final preseason test session of 2008 for all of the MotoGP teams and riders got underway at the Losail circuit in Qatar today. With just days remaining before the start of the 2008 World...
HISTORY IS MADE WITH FIRST MOTOGP NIGHT TEST IN QATAR
The final preseason test session of 2008 for all of the MotoGP teams and riders got underway at the Losail circuit in Qatar today. With just days remaining before the start of the 2008 World Championship, the two-day test has an extra special significance, providing the same conditions that will greet the riders for the first ever night race.
After a spectacular opening ceremony that saw the lighting system's 1200 structures -- each of them holding 60 lamps - illuminating the circuit to almost daylight conditions, the riders were able to take to the track at 1800h for a seven-hour session. It was the first chance for the MotoGP men to try their bikes in the same conditions that will host the opening round of the championship on the 9th March.
There was plenty of work to be done for Team San Carlo Honda Gresini: from getting used to riding under floodlights to refining the set-up of the bike in the new and rapidly changing conditions.
"At the start it was definitely a strange sensation," commented Team Co-ordinator Fabrizio Cecchini. "It was almost as if at this time of the day you work more relaxed, as if everything is moving more slowly. Both our riders felt comfortable immediately, even though there were obviously a few small problems to sort out. At the beginning we went with a soft tyre just to be on the safe side, not knowing what the track conditions were going to be like, then bit by bit we went for a harder compound according to what the track allowed. However, on the other hand with every hour that passed the temperature would drop a degree (at 1800h it measured 22C but by 2100h it had dropped to 16). So I think that towards the end of the session, around midnight, we'll use a similar soft compound to the one we used at the start. For that reason the job is a little back to front! We've also got a race simulation planned on race tyres."
Both Alex De Angelis and Shinya Nakano were on the pace, setting a good number of laps and making some key set-up decisions with their Bridgestone-shod Honda RC212V machines with the race in mind. De Angelis had some small issues to take up with the organisers regarding the position of the lights. "I noticed that in turn seven, for example, there's a light that points too much in the riders' eyes," explained the man from San Marino.
In any case, the team were due back on track between 22.45 and 24.00, a decisive time for testing as it is the same time that the race will take place in just over a week.