Qatar GP: how to manage a night race
The first GP of the 2015 season will happen next Sunday night in Qatar. A very unique event, which demands a completely different approach to “normal” races. How do the riders handle the Schedule? When do they sleep? At what time in the day do they eat? Do they use an especial equipment to ride at night?
Practice starts no earlier than 18.00 hours, a good while after the sun went down in the desert, and it goes on until 22.00. This strange schedule is Qatar GP timing, the only World Championship race held at night. Since 2008 the Losail circuit is the scenario surrounded with 1.000 posts that generate 3.600 light points trying to avoid the most critical point of a race of this kind: the shadows.
“I use an amber visor”, explains Maverick Viñales, new Suzuki MotoGP rider. “Here sometimes you “feel” a shadow and you think it’s a rider ready to pass you, but most of the times it is your own. With the amber visor this shadows almost disappear”. Valentino Rossi instead prefers not to “invent” with his visors. He obviously had test the “yellow one”, but “I don’t like it, neither the complete clear one. I use a darker version, the same be fit when it rains”.
The approach between the riders is also different when it comes to handle the Qatar schedules. Sleeping and meal times are an issue to handle. “It changes a lot”, says the Repsol rider Dani Pedrosa. “Hotels, for example, obviously follow the normal schedule example and this means no meal service when you arrive at the hotel around two o’clock in the morning after having finished the last practice, talked to the mechanics and attended the press. Then, when you wake up in the morning at eleven or so, breakfast service has finished… No, certainly it isn’t easy; luckily it is just one race like this in the year”.
MotoGP rookie sees it different. Maverick Viñales did, for example, start working in the gym at night one month ago trying his body to get used to physical demand at that moment of the day…an interesting trick, isn’t it? And regarding the meal schedules the Suzuki rider says: “As you wake up near noon, you basically are in midday meal schedule. Dinner you have than around eleven at night, after the practice session. Between these two meals, I take something light, like fruit or a bit of pasta”.
And what about the sleep. Normally riders finish the race around 3 o’clock in the afternoon so they have enough time to “decompress”, to let the adrenaline settle down. “No, this is not a problem for me, not at all”, smiles Viñales. “I finish the practice dead tiered so I have 0 problems the fall asleep as soon as I lay in bed”. Different as Pedrosa, Maverick affirms he doesn’t dislike this GP. “ I don’t mind if there was more as this one”.
And what does the “father” of Pedrosa and Viñales say? Which is Valentino Rossi’s approach to de night GP? Let’s say he is in a middle position of the two Spaniards…and as always he handles it with a portion of fun. “Yes, this GP It is quiet different; there are pros and cons. The positive part is clear, isn’t it? You don’t have to wake up early, therefore I am happy; you can sleep until 11 am, fantastic. But, now serious, it is true that it is difficult race. Normally you wake up, you have breakfast, then you do the warm up and you find yourself in the prerace moment without noting it. Because you do warm up, then you work with your mechanics, then you watch Moto3 race, then you eat and suddenly you are on the grid ready for the race. But here it is difficult, because you wake up, have breakfast and then you have to wait until 6 pm to get on the bike; this part isn’t nice… And you have to try to stay focused. About the meals, midday you do normal and I try to eat something between warm up and the race… But the major difficulty of racing at night is mental, not that much this physical part”.