Motorcycling: Rain washes away Qatar qualifying, Vinales on pole

Torrential rain forced qualifying at the season-opening Qatar MotoGP to be cancelled on Saturday leaving Yamaha's Maverick Vinales to start Sunday's race from pole position.

The entire practice and qualifying schedule for MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3 under the floodlights of the Losail track was postponed as storms lashed the desert venue leaving the circuit dotted with pools of standing water.

"All sessions cancelled for the night," tweeted the organisers, just as more rain and even lightning filled the skies.

There will be no qualifying session on Sunday with starting grid positions based instead on combined practice times.

Vinales, 22, who dominated Thursday and Friday practice in Qatar after also sweeping the board at winter testing, will start from pole ahead of Andrea Iannone on a Suzuki and world champion Marc Marquez on a Honda.

Nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi, however, is down in 10th place on a Yamaha after being completely overshadowed by teammate Vinales, 16 years his junior.

Jorge Lorenzo, another former world champion, will start in 12th place on a Ducati.

Riders had feared that racing on a wet track under lights would be too dangerous and that such conditions would compromise visibility.

"When it rains here, there is also a strong wind and a lot of sand on the track," said Rossi, a four-time winner at the desert track.

More storms are forecast for Saturday night, raising the prospect that the race could even take place on Monday, as was the case in 2009.