Heavy fog and persistent rain put a damper on MotoGP proceedings at Twin Ring Motegi. (Photo: Dorna Communications)

Heavy fog and persistent rain put a damper on proceedings at Twin Ring Motegi. (Photo: Dorna Communications)

Friday’s MotoGP practice sessions have been cancelled due to low levels of visibility at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan.

The program was originally set to kick off with Moto3, but because of the thick fog, medical helicopters could not be operated safely.

MotoGP Sporting Code states that a medical helicopter must be available at the circuit at all times.

“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,” said 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.”

Thick fog persisted throughout the morning, and was later joined by steady rainfall, leading to the cancellation of Friday proceedings for all three categories.

Heavy rain is expected to fall Saturday morning but race direction hopes that cloud cover will subside by the afternoon, which would allow the medical helicopter to operate.

A number of contingency plans have been developed, with focus on giving all three classes as much track time as possible.

“The length of sessions depends on the weather,” said Webb. “I have written up draft schedules for all possibilities tomorrow… 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.”

If weather permits, MotoGP will spread on track activity across Saturday and Sunday, possibly using half of Saturday and all of Sunday.

If Saturday is a washout, a condensed routine of practice, qualifying and races all on Sunday would be the plan. Sunday’s forecast calls for a significant improvements in conditions.

“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,” Webb continued. “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.”