Dorna press release:
A rare rainstorm at the Losail International Circuit on Sunday evening saw the first MotoGP contest of the 2009 season postponed in Qatar, with the race now set to take place at 9pm local time on Monday after a warm-up session at 6.30pm.
After shortened 250cc and 125cc races earlier in the evening on Sunday, the MotoGP race -which was due to start at 11pm local time- had to be cancelled due to a heavy rainstorm in the desert that made it unsafe to ride at the 5.380km circuit in nighttime conditions.
A dramatic, shortened 250cc contest ended with Héctor Barberá taking maximum points on his debut with the Pepe World Team, the Spaniard making an amazing comeback following a back injury in Japan last year which cut short his season.
The start of the race was delayed due to rain and shortened to 13 laps with the intention of running the MotoGP race in its scheduled 11pm slot.
Once it did start Barberá got away well from fourth on the grid and battled for the lead with surprise package Jules Cluzel (Matteoni Racing). Barberá eventually came out on top but Cluzel joined him on the podium for the first time in his career after a great race from 13th on the grid.
Completing the podium was Cluzel’s compatriot Mike di Meglio (Mapfre Aspar), the 125cc World Champion enjoying a brilliant 250cc debut and securing third place on the last lap. The top six also featured Hiroshi Aoyama (Scot Racing Team), Raffaele de Rosa (Scot Racing Team) and Thomas Luthi (Emmi-Caffe Latte) who all finished within half a second of Di Meglio.
Just behind that group was poleman and title candidate Álvaro Bautista (Mapfre Aspar) who could not recover from being clipped on the first corner and failed to take advantage of the absence of injured World Champion Marco Simoncelli.
Just four laps into the 125cc race a rain shower at the desert track interrupted proceedings, with leader Andrea Iannone declared as the winner after a restart was ruled out.
Italian Ongetta I.S.P.A. Team Iannone rider got away from third on the grid and battled over the four laps with Bancaja Aspar’s Julián Simón, who was second when the red flag came out. The riders were awarded half points in the World Championship standings due to the short duration of the race, meaning that Iannone left Qatar with 12.5 points whilst Simón took home 10.
Completing the podium was Ajo Interwetten’s Sandro Cortese, who started fifth and had made it up to third before the rain entered the equation. Also in the top five were Pol Espargaró and Bradley Smith.
Valentino Rossi and Loris Capirossi joined Race Direction delegates who went out to inspect the track to see if the race could be restarted, but the surface was deemed too wet to allow further 125cc racing to take place. According to the record books it was therefore the shortest ever race in the history of the World Championship.