The return of the Japanese GP at Motegi from 23-25 September for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began was always set to cause a logistical headache due to its calendar positioning as a back-to-back with Aragon in Spain.
However, the outbreak of Russia’s war in Ukraine and the effect this has had on the availability of cargo planes has posed a potential further problem.
MotoGP was forced to abandon Friday’s running at the Argentine Grand Prix as technical issues with one of its chartered cargo planes led to several teams having freight stuck in Kenya as it was being transported from Indonesia, with the global shortage in cargo planes because of the war partly to blame for the delay.
As a result of all of this, governing body the FIM, the teams’ association IRTA and Dorna Sports have taken the decision to axe Friday morning’s running at Motegi.
Instead, FP1 will take place in the afternoon, with Saturday’s FP3 replaced by FP2 – the combined order from which will determine the qualifying groups.
MotoGP FP1 will also be extended from 45 minutes to 75 minutes, while the Moto2 and Moto3 practice session times will run to 40 minutes.
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team leads at the start
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
A statement from Dorna read: “The FIM, IRTA and Dorna Sports are obliged to announce changes to the Friday schedule at the Grand Prix of Japan.
“Due to the logistical challenges posed by the Grand Prix being staged back-to-back with the Grand Prix of Aragon, as well as potential delays caused by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and its effect on airspace, it has been decided to not run practice sessions for the grand prix classes – MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3 – on Friday morning.
“Instead, Moto3 FP1 will begin at 13:15 local time (5:15am BST), Moto2 at 14:10 and MotoGP at 15:05. This single MotoGP™ FP1 session that will now take place on Friday afternoon has been extended from 45 to 75 minutes.
“The time extension is for the premier class only. The combined results for entry into Q1 and Q2 will be taken from FP1 and FP2 for all Grand Prix classes.”
This isn’t the first time a Japanese GP’s Friday running has been affected, with practice for the 2013 event having to be abandoned due to bad weather.
The Japanese GP will be followed by the Thailand GP the following week.