With all of Friday's practice sessions for the Japanese MotoGP cancelled, a highly flexible revised schedule has been announced - taking into account several different scenarios for Saturday and Sunday.
Wet and foggy conditions severely reduced visibility at the remote Motegi circuit, preventing the medical helicopter from flying to the track, under Japanese law.
“Without a medical helicopter on site for evacuation and no viable alternative we're not prepared to run, when there is a risk that a seriously injured rider may not be adequately treated,” explained Race Director Mike Webb in a special media briefing at the circuit (pictured).
“The helicopter has been trying to get permission to fly to the circuit since Thursday. It's been on stand-by all the time. Our advice was that as soon as permission was granted, the helicopter could be here in ten minutes, so we waited until the last possible moment before cancelling practice.
“As far as alternatives, the big problem is location. Motegi is more than one hour by road to the accredited hospital. We have been advised that this is not safe in the case of a seriously injured rider. Many, many alternatives were proposed and looked into - such as part-way by ambulance, then by air, closer medical centres. No reasonable solution was found.
“The weather forecast for Saturday is brighter, but if the helicopter still cannot fly by tomorrow afternoon then it will be dismantled and shipped to the circuit by road and reassembled ready for Sunday. The problem is not the rain, it is the visibility.”
We've divided the options available for Saturday and Sunday into 'Plan A', 'Plan B' and 'Plan C'...
“If we are able to run tomorrow [Saturday] morning, we will run free practice for as long as possible and then move on to a normal Saturday afternoon qualifying schedule and a normal Sunday schedule,” said Webb.
(Presently most likely).
“If we are not able to run tomorrow morning, Saturday afternoon will be deemed free practice and will be run as long as possible. Then a heavily revised schedule for Sunday - involving practice, qualifying and the race - will be run.
“If it is not possible to practice at all tomorrow, we are still expecting Sunday's weather to be significantly better and we have a provisional, heavily revised schedule, that includes practice, qualifying and the race on Sunday. We are committed to running the Japanese Grand Prix and are doing everything we can to make it happen.”