There was a sense of fear and confusion as the sprinkles came down and the riders left pit lane at the opening race of the 2017 MotoGP world championship. The riders did their preliminary lap around track and most of them lined up on track very unhappy. Big names like, Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, walked up to the commissioner at the start of the race and said they would not race in dangerous conditions.
If this were a normal race, the racers would not even bat an eye if it were raining out.
The Qatar Gran Prix is tricky because its held at night, but is illuminated by large floodlights. If it rains at night, it would affect the lighting and there would be a large amount of glare near the lights. This is turn could be highly dangerous for a motorcycle race at night.
The race was very exciting from the start, especially after MotoGP rookie, Johann Zarco, took an early impressive charge to the lead. This was highly impressive for a rookie in his first MotoGP race. Unfortunately he lead for a few laps before falling. Maverick Viñales took the fight to the lead of the race, fighting off Andrea Dovisioso for victory. He had impressive pace all throughout the weekend, and was the clear favorite for the win.
The qualifying session and free practice four of the weekend was canceled due to the dangerous conditions. The grid positions were determined by the results of free practice three. This saw riders such as Lorenzo, Marquez and Rossi far back on the grid. Rossi especially, who was all the way back on 13th. He lead a great charge in the race from 13th to third. Rossi looked on pace to join Dovi and Viñales but ultimately stayed in third, due tire issues.
I think that Rossi and Viñales are in great shape to duke it out for the title. Viñales set the pace for the whole race weekend, but Rossi always pulls something on Sunday. His ability to adapt to race conditions is unlike any rider. The whole weekend he was off the pace, but during the race he made his way to the podium. How does he do it? Qatar was the 34th time that Rossi made his way to the podium by not qualifying on the front row. He truly is a racer that races for Sunday afternoon and not for the practice and qualifying sessions. The results come at the end of the race Sunday, not on Friday or Saturday. Never underestimate Rossi.