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MotoGP history has been made as the first riders have begun testing at night under floodlights for the very first time. Casey Stoner has already bunged in a stunning lap of 1:55.368 with James Toseland just behind him.
More details later.
Read on, however:
The MotoGP Official Test marks a visit to uncharted waters for the riders, although several have had fleeting experiences of similar conditions. The only participants to have seen the lighting project in action thus far –Ducati Marlboro’s Marco Melandri, San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Alex de Angelis, Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi, Anthony West from Kawasaki and Tech 3 Yamaha representative James Toseland- did so back in November, at a test with streetbikes limited to just three fully illuminated corners.

Five-time MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi and premier class veteran Capirossi have also ridden the Losail track at night, as part of the initial assessment trial ahead of the 2006 race. Both will be keen to see how the track looks in their role as key members of the Riders Safety Commission, and as previous winners of Grand Prix events in Qatar will be using the opportunity to adapt their experiences to the new circumstances of night riding.

The entire 800cc field will be in action over the course of the two day MotoGP test, with even the walking wounded not wanting to miss time on track ahead of the opening race of the season. Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa and Kawasaki’s John Hopkins, who undertook limited laps at the last Official Test in Jerez due to their respective hand and groin injuries, have previously had good rides in the Persian gulf, and with the absence of any testing activity at the circuit in preseason need to make the most of the final opportunity for laps of Losail before the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar.


Aside from aforementioned former World Champion Rossi, the two other premier class title winners have also still to ride an 800cc bike in Qatar at night. 2007 World Champion Casey Stoner and his predecessor Nicky Hayden both had successful times in Jerez just over a week ago; Stoner was the victor of the BMW M Award on his Ducati Desmosedici GP8, whilst Repsol Honda’s Hayden was the fastest rider overall at the test.

The MotoGP equivalent of a full house is completed by Suzuki’s Chris Vermeulen, Yamaha factory man and winner of races at Losail in both 125cc and 250cc Jorge Lorenzo, Honda satellite riders Shinya Nakano, Randy de Puniet and Andrea Dovizioso, Tech 3 Yamaha veteran Colin Edwards and the Alice Team Ducati duo of Toni Elias & Sylvain Guintoli.
About the lighting project

The Losail International Circuit has become almost the focal point of the opening race of the season, nearly ‘overshadowing’ the MotoGP riders at their first shot at a standings advantage.

The ambitious lighting project undertaken for the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar, the maiden MotoGP night race, has created headlines the world over, with some staggering logistics required to enable a safe and clearly viewed race. The opening occasion for the full MotoGP field to experience the full bright lights of Losail comes this Thursday, when the MotoGP Official Test begins at the desert track.

Lighting company Musco created a multi-million dollar strategy to fully illuminate the Qatari circuit -an area akin to 70 FIFA football pitches- with a system 50% more efficient than any other available lighting system. The quest to eliminate shadowing resulted in the provision of enough light for a hypothetical street running from Qatar’s capital, Doha, to Moscow in Russia.

The power used to provide the huge quantity of light amounts to some 5.4 million watts. Put into perspective, this is enough to provide electricity simultaneously to some 3,000 houses. Added to the horsepower on the track, the amount of energy present at this week’s on-track action will be simply phenomenal.

Just 167 days after the project’s approval, the track is now ready for testing by the MotoGP riders. Some have raced at night before in their homelands, or at a three-turn test in November, but none will have experienced anything quite like what awaits them in Qatar.

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