Silverstone MotoGP cancelled as new track surface struggles to cope with rain
The Silverstone MotoGP saw trying conditions on Saturday as rain caused havoc on track. The start of the second qualifying session had been delayed following an incident involving several riders in FP4, including Tito Rabat. Heavy rain had started to fall and since the new tarmac didn’t drain the water away, large puddles formed at different points of the track. In turn 7, better known as Stowe, the accumulation of water was enormous and several riders, Tito Rabat being one of them, crashed. When Tito got up to reach the safety of the trackside barriers, he was hit by Franco Morbidelli’s bike with full force. The first medical assessment revealed that Rabat had a broken femur, tibia and fibula of his right leg.
The Spanish rider was airlifted to the University Hospital of Coventry by helicopter for emergency surgery.
This incident really highlighted the dangers that the newly surfaced track and its lack of appropriate drainage would cause riders if heavy rain was to fall on Sunday. With heavy rain indeed forecast for race day organisers brought forward the start time of the MotoGP race to try and beat most of the predicted deluge.
Sunday saw warm-up sessions begin, however weather continued to worsen heading towards the scheduled MotoGP race time, with further delays as a break in the weather was hoped for.
Thus began a long day of delays and frustration, until a decision was reached that conditions were not safe to race, the new track surface judged too dangerous in the rain. Racing was therefore cancelled and MotoGP will now head for Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli for the next round on the weekend of September 9.
Managing Director of Silverstone, Stuart Pringle, apologised to the fans after the announcement – and says they will get in touch with each of them in the coming days to explain what action will be taken in the wake of the cancellation.
Race Director Mike Webb
“It was obvious the track conditions weren’t safe. After a consultation with the riders we delayed the start to see if conditions would improve. We have reached the point where even though the rain is getting less, the circuit is still not in a condition where we can safely run races. So, we’ve taken the very difficult and regrettable decision to cancel. We’ve had a number of years here in very wet conditions recently with the old surface and been able to run races. This year, with the new surface, it’s the first time we’ve encountered quite so much standing water in critical places on the track. Yes, it’s a direct result of the track surface, I must say from the circuit point of view, the staff have done an unbelievable effort over the whole weekend, not just today, but an enormous effort to make the track safe. Until the last minute that was still working but unfortunately, we couldn’t battle nature. The climate of the area means we’ve got to expect rain and the surface has to be able to handle it. They’ve done an enormous job over this weekend to try and improve things, which they have, but the nature of the surface means we’ve reached this point.”
There was mixed reactions from riders who had weighed in on the condition of the track with Race Direction, with safety at the forefront of everyone’s minds, but some criticism of the the new surface, which left some riders unimpressed.
“It has been a long, unusual, tiring day that we hope won’t happen again. The Safety Commission analysed the situation and I think the Race Direction has to be thanked; they listened, and in the end, safety was everybody’s main consideration—one of us riders is in hospital already. During the day, I watched the screen and saw all the fans in the grandstands patiently waiting; it would have been good to reward them, but in the end, sometimes we must keep a cool head and think.”
“It was a real pity not to be able to do the race because we were very competitive, especially in the dry. A weekend that was going well for us turned into an unacceptable situation, and so now it will be necessary to understand exactly what happened. We’ll talk about it in the Safety Commission at the next race, because to resurface a track and then find out it has more bumps than before, together with a problem of drainage, is just not good enough for a championship of this level.”
“Yesterday’s weather forecast turned out to be right and it rained all day today. We only managed to do the warm-up in dry conditions and then it didn’t stop raining and the track was in a bad condition. This confirmed that the asphalt wasn’t draining well and as time went by the situation didn’t improve. When it was late, the riders met with the Race Direction and we decided to cancel the race because the track didn’t offer the right conditions to race in safety.”
Cal Crutchlow had qualified in fourth position on the grid for his home race, but was disappointed that conditions denied him a chance to compete in front of his own fans.
“I’m devastated not to be able to race at my home Grand Prix, it was very disappointing that today went how it did with regards to the weather situation. The safety commission decided that we delayed and delayed all day and then decided finally that the track condition was not safe to ride due to standing water on the asphalt. But it was a very, very sad day for the fans and I’m truly sorry for them having come out in force to support me and all the MotoGP racers. We’re just sorry we couldn’t put on a show, as always I would have tried my best and I will try my best in the next Grand Prix also.”
Michelin, who had been set to test the new track surface for the first with a variety of tyres were also disappointed but are now looking towards Misano.
Piero Taramasso – Michelin Motorsport Two-Wheel Manager
“Today has been very disappointing, but at the end the safety of all the riders is the important thing. The track conditions had been difficult all weekend, but our tyres had coped very well with the bumpy track – despite it being resurfaced this year – and with the wet surface yesterday. Today’s conditions were very bad with lots of standing water, so it would have been almost impossible to ride. We now head to Misano and hopefully we will have better weather there.”
Thus Marquez leaves Britain with his 59-point championship lead unchanged, while his competitors now have had one less chance of trying to reel some of that gap in. There are now seven races left in the 2018 MotoGP World Championship which means there is still a potential 175-points up for grabs. MotoGP moves to Misano for round 13 in a fortnight’s time, the weekend of September 9th.
MotoGP Championship Standings
- MARQUEZ Marc SPA 201 Repsol Honda Team
- ROSSI Valentino ITA 142 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP
- LORENZO Jorge SPA 130 Ducati Team
- DOVIZIOSO Andrea ITA 129 Ducati Team
- VINALES Maverick SPA 113 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP
- PETRUCCI Danilo ITA 105 Alma Pramac Racing
- ZARCO Johann FRA 104 Monster Yamaha Tech 3
- CRUTCHLOW Cal GBR 103 LCR Honda
- IANNONE Andrea ITA 84 Team Suzuki Ecstar
- RINS Alex SPA 66 Team Suzuki Ecstar
- PEDROSA Dani SPA 66 Repsol Honda Team
- MILLER Jack AUS 61 Alma Pramac Racing
- BAUTISTA Alvaro SPA 57 Angel Nieto Team
- RABAT Tito SPA 35 Reale Avintia Racing
- ESPARGARO Pol SPA 32 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
- SYAHRIN Hafizh MAL 24 Monster Yamaha Tech 3
- MORBIDELLI Franco ITA 22 EG 0,0 Marc VDS
- ESPARGARO Aleix SPA 17 Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
- SMITH Bradley GBR 15 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
- REDDING Scott GBR 12 Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
- NAKAGAMI Takaaki JPN 11 LCR Honda
- KALLIO Mika FIN 6 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
- ABRAHAM Karel CZE 4 Angel Nieto Team