Motegi MotoGP qualifying delayed amid ‘insane’ standing water

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MotoGP’s Japanese Grand Prix qualifying was delayed for over an hour due to weather conditions at Motegi.

Saturday morning practice had run on a wet track, but amid intensifying rain and lightning in the area track activity was suspended during the second segment of Moto2 qualifying.

That session was red-flagged for a long spell, and it has led to the cancellation of the traditional MotoGP pre-qualifying practice.

This means, in addition to the condensed Friday, that the premier class has already shed two practice sessions this weekend.

“The problem now it’s not that it’s just raining – at the moment it’s light rain, we’ve had many times this kind of rain,” Honda MotoGP rider Pol Espargaro told MotoGP.com.

“The problem is the amount of water we have on track, it’s insane.

“We can see the BMW [safety] car [sampling the conditions on track] just hanging around and taking a lot of water out from the same line.

“Already this morning it was not raining as much, and it was difficult to see the guy in front, and the aquaplaning in the back straight it was already huge. So, yeah, the problem is the rain but also the amount of water that is on track now.”

MotoGP faced a race against the clock in waiting for the track conditions to improve, with sunset set for around 5.30pm local time.

That meant, according to LCR Honda team boss Lucio Cecchinello, that a final decision on either going ahead or calling it a day would need to be taken by 4.15pm local time (7.15am GMT) at the latest.

“Looks that [the rain] will drop a bit but not before 4[pm]. Will be very difficult to ride today – I hope to, but in any case we have to see what they decide to do,” said Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia.

However, rain ended up easing significantly well before that – which allowed Moto2 riders to be sent out to conclude their qualifying session.

It has also led to the start of MotoGP qualifying to be scheduled for 4pm local time (7am GMT), which became a 4.10pm start after another small rain delay.

If MotoGP qualifying had been scrapped, Ducati rider Jack Miller would have taken pole position based on laptimes from the dry sole Friday practice session.

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