One of the brightest nights in Doha, the MotoGP race at Qatar is a spectacle held under floodlights. In March 2008, it became the first top tier motorsport championship to hold a night race, followed by Formula 1 at Singapore’s Marina Bay circuit in the same year.
Built in a record time of just under a year, Losail circuit lies at the heart of the Qatari desert, and was approved by a MotoGP Safety Commission composed of Valentino Rossi, Sete Gibernau, Kenny Roberts Jr. and Nobuatsu Aoki.
Surrounded by artificial grass, Losail is designed to prevent sand making its way to the track. Over four daytime GPs at the circuit, its temperatures averaged out 45.5°C which was double that of a night time.
Since the decision was made for the Qatar GP to become a nocturnal one, the transformation from test venue to MotoGP marvel has become a tradition. Before the flood-lit main event begins, Moto3 riders take to the track in the late afternoon to compete for podium positions, followed by Moto2 as the sun goes down.
US company, Musco Lighting are responsible for illuminating Losail once daylight fades, lighting up each curve of the track. Its flood lights are carefully directed at reflective surfaces and designed to reduce shadows on the track – a vital element to prevent riders becoming distracted or deceived by light trickery. Many of the riders also wear more transparent helmet visors to adapt to the Qatari night.
So what does it take for Losail Circuit to become a beacon in the desert during the first event of the season? The Grand Prix consumes a huge 5.4 million watts, with 44 generators needed to power it. It’s been said that the track’s 3,600 light sources could illuminate 3,000 homes, 70 football pitches or a 3,000-mile road from Doha to Moscow.
Engineers spent more than 1,300 hours helping to make the ambitious vision a reality, and their work is proven to pay off each year at the Qatar GP. Don’t miss the 2020 season kick off at the Losail Circuit on 6 – 8 March.