Qatar to host MotoGP night race!
Friday, 31st August 2007
The opening round of the 2008 MotoGP World Championship, at Qatar on March 9, will also mark the first ever motorcycle grand prix to take place at night.
During this weekend's San Marino Grand Prix it was officially announced that the desert track will be floodlit next season - confirming the reality of an idea first evaluated in 2006, when Kenny Roberts Jr, Loris Capirossi and Valentino Rossi rode street bikes around the circuit under football-stadium type lamps.
"It would be possible to race here during the night but they need to improve the illumination which, at the moment, doesn't allow us to ride safely," declared Capirossi at the time. "Shadows, that depend on the light position, create some problems and also braking markers are not clearly visible. Anyway, if the lighting was improved, it would become possible to race here at night."
Solving the previous illumination problems will require what is believed to be the biggest lighting project in the world for any sporting event.
"The system will incorporate over 3700 separate light sources across every section of the circuit, which will eliminate shadowing on the track and in the run-off areas," explained Musco Lighting's president Joe Crookham. "The quality of the light is the same as any premium lighting system at any other major sporting venue. Based on our experience in other motorsports events, the riders will be able to see as well as during daytime and may even come to prefer it."
Cynics will point out that Qatar has been chosen to host a night race due to its skeleton spectator attendance and barren location, but Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta insists it is being done to fit in better with European TV schedules.
"Changing the Qatar race to a night time schedule allows for a better synchronisation with European television schedules, where the race can be made available in the primetime Sunday slot," he said. "This is obviously a big boost for the broadcasters, and a landmark moment for MotoGP."
"This is obviously a major project for Qatar and we are proud to be able to say we will hold the first grand prix event under lights," added Nasser Bin Khalifa Al-Attiyah from the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation. "Whilst this is great for the country's image as a whole, it also means our track can be used in the hot summer months and we hope this opens up more opportunities for other motorsports events in the future."
Formula One is also expected to announce its first night race soon, in Singapore.