Night MotoGP racing on the agenda

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April 25, 2006 As television plays an ever greater role in the globalization and monetization of sport, sport is evolving. Once upon a time a time difference meant just delaying the telecast on the TV, but as the internet has hastened deadlines and live sport means “when it’s actually” happening, time-shifting events is now being considered. One such innovation on the horizon is night racing, a regular and ever more frequent autoracing fixture in recent years but until now not tried in the pinnacle sports of either car or motorcycle racing. Earlier this month the three permanent riders on the MotoGP Security Commission (Valentino Rossi, Kenny Roberts Junior and Loris Capirossi) tried out the Losail circuit in Qatar during full darkness to evaluate the feasibility of holding races at night. MotoGP points leader tried the circuit on a Ducati 999R, the headlamps of which proved to be indispensable for those parts of the track without the benefit of artificial lighting. Similarly, Rossi rode a Yamaha sports bike and Roberts rode a Honda CBR1000RR sports bike in their respective determinations.

Vast football-stadium style lamps illuminated the racetrack from the startline to the first corner on the evening in question, with each rider completing a total of four laps. Loris Capirossi summed it up in one sentence: “if the lighting was improved, it would become possible to race here at night.” More tests are due, so we may yet see the tantalizing prospect of some races in unfavourable time-zones being run at night to slot into more commercially-viable time-slots. “Before the next tests they will illuminate all the track and we will have the chance to test, in the dark, in better conditions and with our own MotoGP bikes," said Capirossi.

"They need to improve the illumination which, at the moment, doesn't allow us to ride safely. Shadows, that depends on the light position, create some problems and also braking markers are not clearly visible.

Preliminary plans call for free practice to begin at 6.30 pm with the rest of the schedule spread over the evening.

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