All Friday practice sessions at the Japanese Grand Prix were cancelled without a single lap of on-track action due to miserable weather at Motegi. Rain fell throughout the day and combined with low cloud and fog, the medical helicopter was unable to land at the circuit, preventing any running on safety grounds.
With heavy rain and high winds also forecast overnight into Saturday morning, the schedule for tomorrow is also in doubt but MotoGP Race Director Mike Webb has explained that a number of contingency plans are in place.
“The length of sessions depends on the weather. I have written up draft schedules for all possibilities tomorrow, including starting in the afternoon after rain in the morning which could ease at around two o’clock. It depends around what time the weather conditions will allow us to run. We will give as much track time as possible to all classes. Nothing is fixed because it depends on the weather, but I’m aiming at 75 minutes for MotoGP™ and perhaps a little shorter for other classes. Taking into account the shortage of daylight at the end of the day, we will just run for as long as possible. We also have a draft schedule for Sunday; we have prepared a possible plan, in case we don’t have any practice tomorrow, which would be 40 minutes for each qualifying session. Also, teams have proposed that perhaps they would like a single, longer practice session rather than two. We need to discuss this with the riders as well, to make sure they agree with these possibilities.”
With the Moto2 and Moto3 classes not situated inside the garages, instead operating from tents behind the pits, Webb has added that there are also a plan for the teams in the lower categories.
“The original weather forecast when we arrived here on Tuesday and Wednesday was that the nearby typhoon would be quite close with very strong winds, so we made a plan that tents (housing several of the teams in the paddock) would be disassembled and those teams moved into solid accommodation. Every day those forecasts have got better, so we have been able to leave those teams in place. However, in place of those strong winds we have had low cloud cover which has been a lot worse (disrupting track action). We are still expecting heavy rain tomorrow morning, but rain does not stop the helicopter from flying – that all depends on the visibility.”