How do you feel about riding at night? Do you love it, hate it, or not really think about it all that much? OK, now, how do you feel about riding at the Losail International Circuit in Doha, at night? Since it’s likely that most of us probably can’t answer that question, it’s very nice that the most recent episode of MotoGP Inside Pass took us along for the ride.
For those unfamiliar with MotoGP racing in Qatar, it’s always done at night. That timing, coupled with some unique characteristics of the track and its surrounding area, create a different set of circumstances for riders and teams to deal with. While the overall track shape may not necessarily look very exciting, those added challenges add a bit of spice to the proceedings.
For the first section of this video, Pol Espargaro explains to Inside Pass host Vanessa Guerra about some of the challenges of riding at night. One of the biggest ones he calls out is the sand. Wind and sand are constantly encompassing every move that anyone makes at Losail. It’s an especially fine sand, as well, and the way it coats the track and blows around can create some challenging situations for tire grip.
As Espargaro also explained, shadows from other riders on the track can also play tricks with your eyes, especially going at the incredible speeds racers regularly hit in the heat of competition. The current top speed record at Losail is an astonishing 362.4 kph, or just over 225 miles per hour, so we’d imagine there’s probably plenty to play tricks with your eyes at that speed.
Then, Guerra talked with KTM crew chief Paul Trevathan about team and bike challenges at Losail. Unsurprisingly, aerodynamics are a huge concern, especially with the wind that regularly blows around the circuit. That, coupled with the aforementioned sand, are some of the biggest concerns that teams face in getting setups right on bikes during the time they’re out racing.
Finally, Guerra got to take a hot lap around Losail in one of the BMW safety cars. Safety car driver Mike LaFuente drove her around the track at speed, demonstrating some of the intensity you might feel going around the circuit. Of course, going around in a car is much different from doing it on any MotoGP bike, but you still get a feel for how corners flow together, and the beginnings of what those G-forces must feel like. In the end, while we’ll never completely know what it’s like, you do get a little better understanding through watching this video.