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Oct 25, 2013

Bad Weather At Motegi Causes All MotoGP Practice Sessions To Be Cancelled

Fog and low visibility caused MotoGP practice to be cancelled Friday at Twin Ring Motegi.
Following bad weather disruption to the World Championship schedule at Motegi on Friday, which saw all practice sessions of the day cancelled, Race Direction has developed a series of contingency plans in order to ensure that all three classes are able to compete at the AirAsia Grand Prix of Japan.

On Friday, all practice sessions were called off as heavy cloud cover at Twin Ring Motegi meant the medical helicopters could not be operated. On the grounds of safety, the helicopters must be operable in order to cater for any medical emergencies that could arise. This was explained in a press conference on Friday afternoon.

“We are not prepared to run in these conditions when there is a risk that a seriously injured rider could not be given correct care,” commented MotoGP™ Race Director Mike Webb.

“The reason no helicopter is here is that, with the low cloud, there is a lack of visibility in which it is not safe to fly. The helicopter has been trying to get permission to fly to the circuit since Thursday and has even tried to take off and then been told to land again. As soon as permission was granted that it could be taken off, we would have given ten minutes’ notice to the teams, but the helicopter was never given permission to fly.”

For Saturday, heavy rain is expected to fall in the morning but Race Direction hopes that, by the afternoon, the cloud cover should have abated which would allow the medical helicopter to operate. Currently situated five minutes’ flying time from the circuit, should cloud cover in its current location remain too much, the helicopter will be dissembled, transported to the racetrack by road and then reassembled. Two medical helicopters must be available at the circuit at all times, and on Friday time has been spent analysing the best possible locations for their positioning around the circuit, in order to avoid the need of taking off or landing amidst any further heavy cloud cover at the circuit, which is situated on high ground.

In the meantime, Race Direction has developed a number of contingency plans in order to provide each of the three classes with as much track time as possible; this could be spread across Saturday and Sunday, half of Saturday and a full Sunday or a condensed routine of practice, qualifying and races all on Sunday should Saturday conditions remain too poor. The weather on Sunday is forecast to be a significant improvement in comparison with the conditions witnessed so far.

“The length of sessions depends on the weather,” Webb continues. “I have written up draft schedules for all possibilities tomorrow, including starting in the afternoon after rain in the morning which could ease at around two o’clock. It depends around what time the weather conditions will allow us to run. We will give as much track time as possible to all classes. Nothing is fixed because it depends on the weather, but I’m aiming at 75 minutes for MotoGP™ and perhaps a little shorter for other classes. Taking into account the shortage of daylight at the end of the day, we will just run for as long as possible. We also have a draft schedule for Sunday; we have prepared a possible plan, in case we don’t have any practice tomorrow, which would be 40 minutes for each qualifying session. Also, teams have proposed that perhaps they would like a single, longer practice session rather than two. We need to discuss this with the riders as well, to make sure they agree with these possibilities".

“The original weather forecast when we arrived here on Tuesday and Wednesday was that the nearby typhoon would be quite close with very strong winds, so we made a plan that tents (housing several of the teams in the paddock) would be disassembled and those teams moved into solid accommodation. Every day those forecasts have got better, so we have been able to leave those teams in place. However, in place of those strong winds we have had low cloud cover, which has been a lot worse (disrupting track action). We are still expecting heavy rain tomorrow morning, but rain does not stop the helicopter from flying – that all depends on the visibility.”

Apart from the cancellation, official MotoGP™ tyre supplier Bridgestone called a press conference at mid-day to discuss the events of the Phillip Island race, which was run with mandatory pit stops, as tyre-life could not be guaranteed for more than 10 laps on the newly resurfaced surface. Hiroshi Yamada, Manager of the Bridgestone Motorsport Department, told the assembled press that despite the company having brought the extra-hard compound to deal with the new track surface, it was caught out in particular by the bikes having a higher average corner speed by 12km/h over last year due to the higher grip levels – something not anticipated in its calculations.

He went on to say that the company would be carrying out a test at Phillip Island next year, preferably with prototype machines and their riders, to ensure the safety and longevity of its tyres for the 2014 race. No date or approximate timing has been given for this event.

More, from a press release issued LCR Honda:


Motegi, 25 October: the MotoGP contingent did not take part in the first day of practices at the Motegi circuit due to low visibility. The Friday morning programme for the three classes was initially delayed but the thick fog persisted and the Race Direction decided to cancel the afternoon sessions. LCR racer Stefan Bradl was anxious to take to the Japanese track after two difficult race weeks to test his injured ankle, now him and the rest of his colleagues will have to wait till tomorrow morning weather permitting.

Stefan Bradl

“What can I say? I am very disappointed as I was very keen to test myself today but in everything safety comes first. All we can do is prepare for tomorrow and hope the weather takes a turn for the better”.

More, from a press release issued by Yamaha Factory MotoGP Team:

Fog Cancels Motegi Practice

Motegi (Japan), 25th October 2013

The MotoGP paddock was quiet today at the Twin Ring circuit in Motegi, with all free practice sessions for this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix cancelled due to weather. Heavy fog around the circuit made it impossible for the air ambulance to land or take-off, meaning no sessions could be run in full safety.

Dorna, IRTA and Race Direction will hold further meetings over the next 24hrs to finalise a schedule for the weekend in case of further weather disruption.

Jorge Lorenzo
“It was a boring day for everyone but the things were like that. I think it is much better to stay calm and accept the circumstances. Safety is the most important thing in the sport and without the medical helicopter no one can be safe. We will see tomorrow because the forecast is not so positive and if once again the sessions are cancelled we have to wait on a decision from Dorna, IRTA and Race Direction. I hope the race will go ahead because two races is better than just one for us. I spent all the day stretching, relaxing, making some exercises and speaking with the team. I hope tomorrow the meteorological conditions improve and we can ride.”

Valentino Rossi
“A great pity about today because there was good conditions for riding on the track. It was wet but there was no wind and not too much water so it's a pity that because of the helicopter we cannot ride. It’s an important day today because it looks like tomorrow the weather will be worse. Anyway we must wait and in the end it was the right decision for safety so I am in full agreement. It is a shame though that we cannot go on the track.”

Yamaha Factory Racing Massimo Meregalli
Team Director
“It was a pity that we couldn't ride today but I think the decision they took was right, the safety of the riders is very important and also the rules state that the helicopter must be here. We respect the decision of the race commission. Hopefully tomorrow will be a different day and we can start a normal Saturday. In case it is not possible to ride in the morning they have already prepared a counter measure and we will follow this. We will try to do everything possible for tomorrow and Sunday.”

More, from a press release issued by Repsol Honda:

Poor weather conditions prevent action on day one in Japan

It’s been a frustrating first day at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit as relentless light rain and fog prevented any bikes taking to the track.

The decision was taken by race control to cancel both sessions due to safety concerns as the circuit medical helicopter has been unable to fly and is therefore not available in the event of an emergency, with the nearest hospital an hour away by road.

Hopefully weather will improve tomorrow and sessions will resume as normal. If it’s still not possible in the morning, then the afternoon sessions will be extended. If no sessions can take place again tomorrow then race direction will look at a suitable solution, together with the teams, that will include free practice, qualifying and race all taking place on Sunday - again, weather permitting.

Marc Marquez
"There wasn't much that we could do today due to the weather conditions and therefore we didn’t have a medical helicopter and weren’t able to ride. The forecast for tomorrow is similar, but let's hope that things improve and we can go on track. If not then we will have to see the proposed schedule for Sunday and how it will work, sure it’s not the ideal situation but it’s the same for everybody!”

Dani Pedrosa
"There's not much to say about today - we were unable to undertake any practice sessions, which meant we were a little bored. We hope to have better luck tomorrow and be able to go out on track!”

More, from a press release issued by Ducati Corse:

Day 1 cancelled at Motegi

The first two free-practice sessions for the Japanese Grand Prix were cancelled today due to bad weather conditions, and like the rest of the MotoGP squads, the Ducati Team kept the Desmosedici GP13 race machines of Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden parked in the garage.

A steady drizzle fell on Twin Ring Motegi all day, but it was the layer of fog that limited visibility, thus preventing the medical helicopter from accessing the circuit, in accordance with Japanese law. Considering the circuit’s relatively remote location, and faced with the possibility of an excessive delay for emergency hospital transport in the case of a serious accident, Race Direction decided in the afternoon to cancel the entire day’s track activity.

Officials will monitor the situation tomorrow and make further adjustments to the remainder of the weekend schedule depending on the weather conditions.

Vittoriano Guareschi – Team Manager
“It was a long day for both the riders and us, but unfortunately, we weren’t able to ride. It’s a shame because we had some things to try, but it was the same for everyone. We’ll see what the weather is like tomorrow, and now we’ll have to review our whole work program. Only when we wake up tomorrow morning will we know what to do!”
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