MotoGP Brings Rain to the Desert With Artificially Enhanced Test in Qatar

The track was artificially soaked to weigh the possibilities of holding a future night race in the rain.


The Kingdom of Qatar is known for its widespread deserts and flowing dunes, but that doesn't stop mother nature from making it rain during highly inconvenient times, such as the MotoGP Qatar Grand Prix.

Last year's qualifying session was canceled and the race delayed by more than 30 minutes due to rain. Of course, MotoGP riders are used to riding in drastically wet track conditions, but the fact that Qatar is a night race presents an entirely new set of problems. 

As this video shows, the high-power stadium lights that illuminate the circuit for the two-wheel racing spectacle can create lots of reflections on a wet surface as well as a rider's helmet visor. As a result, racing teams participated in mandatory wet test around the circuit to analyze the riding conditions and its possible risks.

MotoGP's racing director Mike Webb didn't explain whether the series test was only part of preparation in case of rain, or if the racing series plans on creating an artificially enhanced wet night race in the future. 

While the latter may sound crazy, let's remember that Formula 1's Bernie Ecclestone has conceived similar ideas. What Webb did clear up is that riders had the ultimate say on the matter.

"It’s a test only of the visibility available. It’s not about setting up, doing a lap time, or anything like that. It’s simply go out, ride around in a group and see what the visibility is like and if they can see. That’s the number one question," Webb told Crash. “If the answer is ‘no’ then we’ll never run it in the rain. If the answer is ‘yes’ we’ll decide on what our plan is if it rains during the Grand Prix.

After the 30-minute test, most riders thought the conditions were good enough to race in. "It is OK, I think that we can do [a race]," said Yamaha's Valentino Rossi. "I was alone so I don't know with the group but my feeling is that also during the night you can ride without big problems."

The 2018 MotoGP season kicks off this weekend at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar.