Posted: 27 Sep 2013
British Superbike Race Officials disqualified race victor, Alex Lowes at Assen last weekend after he ran into the back of championship rival Shane Byrne on lap four of the second race. The incident sparked mass debate on social media about whether the punishment was fair. It’s up to you to make up your mind on that one but MSVR aren’t ones to hand out disqualifications willy nilly following incidents on circuit in BSB. Here we take a look at past disqualifications and punishments issued for incidents of a similar nature in British Superbikes over the past few years.
There have only been six disqualifications (not including those for technical issues or ignoring ride through penalties) since 2005, although let’s not forget that sometimes, it’s not possible to disqualify a rider for causing an incident if they fail to finish the race through that incident or another. BSB series director, Stuart Higgs was recently asked on Twitter why Lowes was disqualified for the move on Byrne at Assen but not when he ran James Ellison off track at Oulton Park back in August. Higgs replied highlighting that Lowes couldn’t have been disqualified at Oulton as he failed to finish the race (after falling on the last corner) but sanction was imposed for the next competitive element of the event, as Lowes was handed a grid penalty for the second race. While some may say Lowes could have been black-flagged, it’s important to remember these decisions are not rushed. Officials view all sorts of evidence ahead of making a call and what if a punished rider is successful in appeal? You can’t re-instate points lost through black-flagging a rider.
The last time a rider was disqualified from a BSB race (before this weekend) was back in 2011 at Cadwell Park when Josh Brookes knocked down Michael Rutter in the first race at Cadwell Park. In fact, Brookes is no stranger to the MSVR judicial systems. In 2009 Brookes received a one round suspended ban following an incident with Sylvain Guintoli on the out lap at Donington Park. This ban was later enacted (and extended) following one of the most famous controversial incidents in BSB, in which an attempted pass from Brookes at the Mallory Park hairpin took down six riders.
In 2010, also at Cadwell, Tommy Bridewell was disqualified after going for an all-too-small gap at Barn on the last lap, subsequently making contact with Northern Irishman John Laverty, seeing him fall from his Buildbase Kawasaki and miss out on a space in the title showdown.
Tom Sykes found himself disqualified after an attempted move on Leon Haslam at the Brooklands chicane brought both riders down at Silverstone in 2008. While they both got back up and finished 12th and 11th respectively, Sykes was subsequently disqualified for causing an avoidable incident. The Huddersfield rider also received a grid penalty for the move. This wasn’t the first time that season pairing had come together; Haslam knocked off Sykes in an incident earlier in the year at Oulton Park. Trying to go up the inside at Hissy’s chicane, the Derbyshire rider ran into Sykes’ Rizla Suzuki knocking him to the ground. Haslam went on to finish the race in fourth but was later disqualified for careless riding.
An interesting thing to note is that all incidents leading to disqualification prior to the Lowes/Byrne collision at Assen did not involve two riders at the heart of the championship battle. Perhaps the backlash following the incident and subsequent disqualification has been subject to exaggeration as Shane Byrne and Alex Lowes are two of the most popular riders in BSB and the two with the most chance of winning the title...