First round of the season since 2004. The Qatar Grand Prix generally pits teams with the same challenges: qualifying and a night race make daytime practice sessions irrelevant, with sandstorms littering the track and alter the behavior of the prototypes.
However, in 2009 the course began with something else, specifically with diametrically opposite weather conditions, which came to interrupt the course of the weekend.
At a circuit located on the outskirts of the city of Doha, where there are usually less than ten days of rain a year, it is quite natural to anticipate a dry race. And yet, a real deluge fell on Losail, to the point of radically modifying MotoGP’s plans.
A heavy downpour had already wreaked havoc on pre-season testing, but the opening sessions of the race weekend went off without a hitch. The situation changed on Sunday morning, in the first laps of the 125cc class race. The test was not restarted and Andrea Iannone was declared the winner ahead of Julián Simón after falling behind the red flag, in a classification where half of the points were awarded.
Heavy rain hit Losail ahead of the MotoGP race
The question of keeping the other two scheduled races was then raised, as at the time all three classes were racing at night at Losail. Even with fair track conditions, headlight reflections on wet spots could hamper drivers. Valentino Rossi and Loris Capirossi thus accompanied Franco Uncini, the security officer, on reconnaissance laps inside the car.
The downpour stopped, the 250cc race could be held on a dry track, but with a delay of 40 minutes and a duration reduced to 13 laps compared to the 20 initially planned, so as not to modify the MotoGP start time. Héctor Barberá then won ahead of Frenchmen Jules Cluzel and Mike Di Meglio.
The preparations for the premier class went smoothly, but a few minutes before the formation lap and while all the drivers were on the grid, the rain returned, and in much greater proportions than in the previous hours. The circuit was wet and given the intensity of the downpour, it was no longer possible to keep the race going.
Several options were presented, even putting on the table rescheduling the event six months later, taking advantage of the cancellation of the Hungarian GP, but finally it was decided to postpone the race to Monday.
Casey Stoner, only MotoGP winner in a race on Monday
With the logistical puzzle of this rescheduling solved, Casey Stoner led from start to finish after starting from pole and won this first event with a single tire manufacturer, Bridgestone at the time. The one who wore the Ducati colors was ahead of Valentino Rossi, who would win his last world title that year, and the second official Yamaha rider, Jorge Lorenzo.
This Grand Prix is, to date, the only one in MotoGP history that has been held on a Monday. In 2017, Losail was about to be canceled again, again due to rain, but the race finally took place, albeit postponed and reduced.
The question arose again at this year’s Indonesian GP, in the midst of a downpour before the start. However, the race was finally able to take place an hour and a quarter later than the initial schedule.