MotoGP hosted the FIRST night-time World Championship Grand Prix in Qatar on March 9, six months before Formula 1’s first floodlit race in Singapore.
The 5.4 million-watt lighting rig that illuminated the Losail circuit impressed most riders, including race winner Casey Stoner, who suggested that the artificial lighting actually helped his riding. “You don’t see the imperfections in the track surface, so you can ride more freely,” said the reigning World Champion, which makes you wonder how he’d go wearing a blindfold.
Some of the riders enjoyed the night-time experience because it made them nostalgic for their schoolboy racing days. “Seriously, I want to do it every weekend – it reminds me of being a kid and racing under lights,” said seventh-placed finisher Colin Edwards.
Concerns over floodlight glare and shadows proved unjustified, though the lights were so bright that many riders wore dark visors. The only real complaints concerned the low night-time temperatures which made the asphalt dewy and slick; ironic, since the race was scheduled in the night to avoid the daytime desert heat. Incredibly the big-spending Losail promoters have announced that they could introduce thermostat controlled under-track heating for the 2009 event. Mat Oxley