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GP Week : Issue 1
43 M oto GP QATAR >> NEEDING light to write this, I switched on my desk lamp. As recommended, it has a low energy bulb, so I had to wait a minute before it was bright enough. Never mind. That’s what you have to do, when you’re saving the planet. The irony is obvious in the topic, which forced itself on me on arrival at Losail for first practice. It was 4pm, the desert sun still bright. But the 3600 lighting fixtures using bulbs up to 2000 Watts on a forest of 1000 poles were already lit, competing very impressively with the great celestial orb; 500 km of wiring already exploiting the 44 13-megawatt generators. And it wasn’t even dark yet. The Qatar GP broke new ground in world motorsport, the first ever floodlit road-race. MotoGP and Qatar beat Formula One, whose own energy-burning exercise at Singapore is coming up. It has to be said that Musco Lighting (motto: “We Make It Happen”) has done a grand job. It’s understandable that their own assessment is glowing. In just 175 days they completed a massive project, lighting an area equivalent to 70 football pitches. Their system produces enough illumination to light a residential street running from Doha to Moscow. It has to be said also that the racing worked well. The track was possibly brighter than Donington Park on a mid- summer's day; most riders used dark visors. All adapted easily. Many loved it – especially former teenage dirt-trackers who had cut their racing teeth under lights. “I’d like to do it every weekend,” said Colin Edwards; while Nicky Hayden was another fan. And the crowd responded. Qatar has never attracted many spectators and, while numbers were still relatively low, the grandstands were conspicuously fuller than ever before. Furthermore, racing after dark avoids the stifling heat of the desert. At this time of year that’s not actually much of a problem, but it is in summer. All brilliant, then. Except for a nagging doubt – the feeling that the main reason for Qatar pioneering this venture was little more than vanity. Racing was never long on green credentials, but there’s always been comfort in knowing that the hedonism is tempered by technical advances, improving fuel efficiency for general transport. It’ll have to improve a lot to make up for the wanton power splurge on what cynics had dubbed The Climate-Change Grand Prix. Green ... but at what cost? Michael Scott MotoGP editor o p in io n 43