Friday’s practice of the penultimate round of the 2013 MotoGP
season has been canceled due to weather at Japan’s Twin Ring Motegi track. Low visibility caused by heavy cloud cover has grounded the medical helicopter, an essential safety measure for any medical emergency. Without the helicopter in place at the circuit, no track action can take place.
"We are not prepared to run in these conditions when there is a risk that a seriously injured rider could not be given correct care," commented MotoGP Race Director Mike Webb.
"The reason no helicopter is here is that, with the low cloud, there is a lack of visibility in which it is not safe to fly. The helicopter has been trying to get permission to fly to the circuit since Thursday and has even tried to take off and then been told to land again. As soon as permission was granted that it could be taken off, we would have given ten minutes’ notice to the teams, but the helicopter was never given permission to fly."
The weather conditions are expected to worsen through Saturday morning with heavy rain forecasted, but the hope is that by the afternoon the skies will clear enough to bring the helicopter in. If the clouds do not break, the medical aerial transports will be disassembled, driven to the track and reassembled on site.
A number of contingency plans have been developed by Race Direction to provide as much track time for all three classes, including the possibility of running a condensed practice and qualifying and then a full race schedule all on Sunday if Saturday remains rained out. Sunshine is forecasted for race day.
"The length of sessions depends on the weather," Webb continues. "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.
The plans at this point are changeable as the weather; stay tuned for updates as they become available.