Leading riders including nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi have supported the decision to cancel Friday practice for the Japanese Grand Prix on safety grounds.
Low cloud cover and poor visibility prevented the medical helicopter from flying in to the Twin Ring Motegi Circuit, leaving race officials with no option.
While it was frustrating sitting around when, Rossi said he “fully agreed” with the decision.
Rossi’s Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo, locked in tense title battle with Honda’s Marc Marquez, said it was “definitely the right decision and we cannot play with the safety of riders.”
While rain drizzle kept the circuit wet, Rossi said that track conditions meant it was possible to ride if the medical helicopter was in place.
“It is a great pity because although it was wet, it was wet for the whole day, so we could have tried in the rain,” he said.
“There was good temperature and no wind, so it is a pity that the problem of the helicopter meant we couldn’t ride.”
The poor weather has scripted a scheduling nightmare for race organizers with further rain and cloud cover predicted for qualifying day on Saturday.
Among the alternatives, subject to weather, is a Sunday schedule that could compress practice, qualifying and racing into a single day.
In this case Rossi prefers a longer, single session of practice with the grid perhaps being decided on championship positions.
The weather forecast for Sunday’s race day is much improved with a sunny but cool day predicted for the Motegi area.
“I hope that if the only chance we get is to do the warm-up before the race that it is longer than 20 minutes. We need one normal practice of 45 minutes,” Rossi said.
“Maybe they could just use the championship positions or make a long practice and we can decide the grid this.”
“None of us want to be sitting in the box waiting around when there are people coming to watch us ride but it was definitely the right decision,” said Smith as he echoed the frustration felt by most riders.
“Rider safety is paramount and Race Direction should be applauded once again for ensuring the safety of everybody on track comes before anything else.”
Crutchlow echoed the thoughts of many when he said “hopefully the weather will improve and we can put on a good show” on Sunday.Bradley Smith, Cal Crutchlow, Jorge Lorenzo, MotoGP. Japanese GP, Valentino Rossi