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GP Week : Issue 1
15 M oto GP news >> THE Commercialbank Qatar GP may have earned the cynical nickname “the Climate-Change GP”, but the massive expenditure of power to light the 5.380-km Losail circuit proved hugely popular with riders and the small number of local fans. The day-for-night floodlighting was so bright for the first-ever grand prix under floodlights, on two or four wheels, that almost all riders used tinted visors. After some grumbles at last week’s tests, notably from Dani Pedrosa, who complained that his eyes were getting tired, you couldn’t find a bad word from any of the riders – especially those brought up on junior dirt-track racing in the US or Australia, well used to racing under floodlights. Two such were Americans Nicky Hayden and Colin Edwards. “It’s pretty cool,” said Hayden. “I hope some more tracks decide to get some lighting systems going.” There is already talk that the Malaysian GP might go the same way, to avoid the punishing tropical heat. This year’s first Singapore F1 Grand Prix will be the first time Formula One has raced at night. The sheer scale of the enterprise made this significantly the largest ever such floodlighting exercise. It was done by American firm Musco Lighting, which points out that the actual area floodlit is the equivalent of about 70 football pitches. The first task was to arrange the lights in such a way as to obviate shadows at the same time as avoiding dazzling the riders. This was done by a combination of high-level and low-level lights. There are 3,600 fixtures mounted on 1,000 lamp poles, with bulbs ranging from 250 to 2,000 watts. All the statistics impress. The lights use 5.4-million watts of power, provided by 44 13 megawatt generators – enough power to light some 3,000 standard houses. The quantity of light equates to that on a residential street running between Qatar and Moscow, and uses 500 kilometres of wire. The contract was completed in 175 days. Musco also claim that its exclusive technology is 50 percent more energy efficient than other lighting equipment available. – MICHAEL SCOTT Tales of Arabian Lights ... BEGINNER’S ‘luck’ was well in play in Qatar qualifying, with rookies and relative newcomers excelling in both the MotoGP and the 125 classes. New Fiat Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo claimed pole position in his first ever MotoGP race, a feat not achieved since his role model Max Biaggi did that same at Suzuka in 1998, riding a 500cc Honda. Biaggi went on to win the race. Lorenzo is twice 250 champion, Biaggi had won it four times. World Superbike champion James Toseland, in his first ever GP, was equally impressive, placing an ultra-close second. “Not bad for a Superbike rider, eh?” he quipped. In the 125 class, the time sheets suggested a major revival for long-absent British riders. Pole went to Bradley Smith, pictured right, after switching from last year’s Honda to the Polaris World Aprilia. It was the teenager’s first such position, in his third season. At the far end of row one (four-strong for the smaller classes) was Scott Redding (15), in his first GP. He was narrowly ahead of compatriot and fellow Aprilia rider Danny Webb, in his second season, who qualified fifth. MotoGP qualifying saw veteran Colin Edwards (Tech 3 Yamaha) take third and the final front-row position, the first time since 2002 that Yamaha have filled the first three positions. “It shows how hard they’ve been working over the winter,” he said. Casey Stoner (Marlboro Ducati) led the second row, 0.8s off pole – a reflection of the lesser performance of the Bridgestone qualifying tyres. Rossi was seventh, leading the third row from Dani Pedrosa. The 250 class bucked the trend. Pole qualifier Alex Debon was starting his 108th GP, and claimed his first pole position, riding the Lotus Aprilia that took Lorenzo to the title last year. He narrowly beat fellow Spaniard Hector Barbera and title favourite Alvaro Bautista (both Aprilia), with Mika Kallio’s Red Bull KTM completing a close front row. – MICHAEL SCOTT Rookies raising eyebrows