Leading MotoGP riders are calling for the start time of the season opener in Qatar to be brought forward for safety reasons after several crashes in testing this week.
The Losail event is scheduled to run at 11 p.m. local time, but Casey Stoner, who was one of those to fall at Turn 2 along with his Ducati teammate Nicky Hayden and Tech 3 Yamaha's Colin Edwards and Ben Spies, thinks track conditions at that time of night are dangerous.
"It upsets me because many of us had crashed there in previous years too," he told Gazzetta dello Sport. "Something's strange, maybe dampness comes out of the surface. You don't crash while pushing at turn entry, but when you are already straight.
"On top of that, they've laid asphalt beyond the curb and I don't understand why: you slide there and you never scrub off speed. It's difficult to bring the tires up to temperature at the time when we race. Nothing warns you: 'bang', and you're down."
Reigning champion Valentino Rossi believes an earlier start time would be better for European television audiences anyway, and called on Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta and safety representative Franco Uncini to take action before next month's race.
"To wait until 11 p.m. is not very intelligent. It's better to race earlier," he told Gazzetta. "We haven't had time to talk with the others yet, but I will call [Loris] Capirossi to do that.
"We need to hear from Uncini or even better from Ezpeleta before the event, because if we talk about it on the Friday then it will be impossible to do anything. I think people will be happy to see the race at 8 p.m. [in central Europe if the race is re-scheduled at 10 p.m.] while they eat, so they can go out afterwards if they want to."
Capirossi said there were plenty of alternative options that would allow the race to take place safely while maintaining the nighttime spectacle.
"Do they want to race at night? OK, it's dark already at 6 p.m., we can race at 8 or even at 10," he said. "TV is important, but we count too and you'll see -- something will change."