Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner have lobbied Dorna to start the season opener at Qatar at least an hour earlier than was previously scheduled. Scheduled to start at 11pm local time, MotoGP’s night race at Qatar benefits from hitting the European market during prime time television hours, and hits American shores during reasonable daylight hours.
The evening start also means that riders don’t have to compete during the hot daytime desert weather, but the downside with that is the evening temperatures rapidly change as the night progresses and evening dew forms on the Losail track. With riders crashing later in the Qatar testing times this past week, Rossi and Stoner think the MotoGP race would be better served starting earlier in the evening.
Because of these reasons both Rossi and Stoner have prompted Dorna to rethink the starting time for the Qatar opener, and have asked if the race could be started one to three hours earlier than it is currently scheduled. Talking about the continued crashing in similar parts of the Losail track, Casey Stoner was reported as saying, “it upsets me because many of us had crashed there in previous years too.”
Valentino Rossi seemed to think that the time-shifted audiences in Europe would benefit even more from an earlier start, as Spanish and Italian viewers would be making dinner while watching the race, and would be able to go out to the bars after watching them. Loris Capirossi seemed to hit the issue on the head the best though saying “do they want to race at night? Okay, it’s dark already at 6pm, we can race at 8 or even at 10.”
There’s been no response from Dorna about this, and we doubt we’ll see a change in the schedule this close to the race date. For the riders, there’s always next year to lobby their complaints.