The Bennetts British Superbike Championship will run round nine of the season on the shorter National circuit at Silverstone due to track condition fears.
Following the cancellation of the British Grand Prix last weekend after poor weather caused issues with the track conditions, MSVR, the organisers of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship, have vowed not to let that happen as the travelling circus rolls into Northamptonshire on September 7/8/9.
Heavy rain on race day of the British MotoGP resulted in a build-up of surface water on the freshly re-surfaced tarmac which in turn saw MotoGP machines aquaplane at high speed at the end of the Hanger Straight as riders headed into Stowe corner, which forced the organisers to cancel all races.
While Silverstone rejects speculation relating to the state of certain sections of the tarmac, an independent track investigation is underway at the home of British motorsport. This means the National circuit will be used for BSB for the first time.
Even though the change of circuit will see action take place throughout the weekend come rain or shine, 2015 BSB Champion Josh Brookes was quick to express his displeasure at the news.
Brookes not pleased with track change
“I would imagine that they (MSVR) haven’t got a choice, they’re probably not insured to use the full circuit until there has been an investigation and a decision has been made that the track is safe or suitable,” Brookes said exclusively to BikeSocial.
“I think the decision has been taken out of Stuart’s (Higgs - Series Director) hands, I don’t think it’s a decision he’s been able to make. If it’s not insurance, it will be something of a high-level nature which dictates what he can and can’t do with the series.”
MSVR have been working on a ‘plan b’ following the early curtailment of the British MotoGP so the event can take place, however the McAMS Yamaha rider admitted he felt that the organisers hand had been forced to run on the shorter circuit.
Brookes continued, “I don’t have all the details in front of me but I know Stuart wants to offer us a track that we all love to ride, and every rider would love to be on the full circuit but I think Stuart’s hands are tied, I don’t think he has an alternative at this point.”
Three races remain to decide the Showdown spots
2017 saw race three of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship event at Silverstone experience biblical weather conditions, some would argue worse than what was seen at the British Grand Prix, with lying water once again at the entrance to Stowe corner much like the 2018 British MotoGP.
But Brookes expressed that those issues have always been a problem with the 3.6-mile circuit, and that the new surface isn’t as ‘poor’ as it once was.
“I heard comments that the circuit had lying water at the end of Stowe, and it’s always done that. I believe that the circuit has been re-surfaced to a poor standard, but I don’t believe that it is of a poorer standard that it was the year before or the year before that.
“I think the circuit has always had its negatives as it’s built on an old airfield and being very flat, water run off isn’t a strong point for the circuit, it never has been.
“The circuit, that the so called best in the world won’t race at because it’s the worst track in their series, is the best track we have, so we have to suffer as a result of, for lack of better words, the fairies of MotoGP.”
The weather took a turn at Silverstone
A difference of opinion has been aired from fans and professionals alike regarding the decision to cancel all three races at Silverstone, but the Sydney man felt the race should have been run regardless.
“What I think the situation should have been was: there is the race track, this is race day, the race will start and those that don’t feel safe, don’t enter.
“That’s how it’s always been as far as I’m aware, whether it’s motocross, trials, enduro, road racing or World endurance. If you as rider feel the circuit isn’t fit to ride, then don’t ride on it, but the Championship, the race organisers and officials should have started the race.
“Those who chose to ride should have chosen to participate and those who felt it was dangerous should have stood back. I think the way it was dealt with was completely wrong, and now we’re dealing with a bad situation because it wasn’t taken care of at the time in the correct fashion.
“The race should have gone ahead, and if it only had three riders on the grid then I’m sorry it would have been a boring race, but you would have the riders line up and the same amount of points would have been awarded to the winner.
“Whether if there was 10 people on the grid, or two, first place is first place you will still get the same amount of points.
“It seems unfair that we are now suffering, if you watch MotoGP and hear all the politics and all the rubbish that goes on and you think to yourself ‘at least we don’t have to put up with that’ and then here we are, Bennetts BSB riders are suffering through no fault of our own.”
Brookes won in the rain in 2017 at Silverstone
Now the Bennetts British Superbike paddock have been informed that they will compete on the shortened ‘National’ circuit in any weather conditions, but Brookes feels it’s contradictive to run a race on the same circuit that just a week ago was cancelled, even if it is on a shortened version.
“The point that now needs to be raised is that if Stuart continues to race on track, it’s contradictive. Either the circuit is suitable for racing, and he’s going to race on it, or it isn’t suitable, and he isn’t going to race on it. How can he reduce it to a part of the track? What difference is that going to make? That doesn’t make the track suitable for racing, all that has been done is we’ve reduced the size of the track we are racing on.
“We’re using the same circuit, with the same amount of practice, in the same weather conditions, all the circumstances are the exactly same, so it’s 100% contradictive that he is going to run the race on the circuit but reduce the size of the track.
“I’m not a scientist, I’ve ridden the circuit and I’m saying it is perfectly safe to ride and if they’re saying the track isn’t safe, then it’s not safe, regardless of what size they decide to make it.”
Only one race has been wet in 2018 for BSB
But the Australian’s team mate, Tarran Mackenzie, admitted to BikeSocial that although the situation isn’t ideal, every other rider on the Bennetts BSB grid will be in the same boat come Saturday afternoon and Sunday.
“Obviously it’s not ideal as everyone loves the GP circuit but we’re all in the same boat. If it’s a case of cancel the meeting or race the National circuit, then I’ll take option two all day long.”
Honda Racing’s Jason O’Halloran echoed the rookie’s sentiment, stating that any race at Silverstone is better than no race.
“For me it doesn’t matter it’s the same for everyone, although I love the GP circuit, it’s one of my favourites, a race around the National circuit is better than no race at all.
“My favourite corner is Woodcote and that’s still in it, so I’ll still get to go sideways in 5th gear on my Fireblade, and that will be enough to put a smile on my face.”
The three remaining races at Silverstone are the final three outings to decide the top six, with nine riders fighting for the final four spots. And two men who are battling for their spots in the top six, Glenn Irwin and Danny Buchan both admit changing the circuit is the correct decision.
“Switching to this layout if rain arrived on race day would have been silly as we wouldn’t be prepared,” said the Be Wiser Ducati man. “To call the decision early is a smart move by Stuart and his team. I hope the Bennetts BSB fans turn out in force, the racing will be fast and super, super close. Everybody likes a new challenge and nobody more so than me.”
“It doesn't bother me what circuit we ride on,” added Buchan. “When I was told I was in the mindset of whatever will be it will be. Now the choice is to ride on the short circuit we have to deal with it and do the best we can. I have a job to do so I am focused on that whatever.”
Smiths Racing BMW's Peter Hickman sees the change as a potential spanner in the works, "The organisers need to make sure the event runs regardless of weather and this would help ensure that happens. Just a big shame as the GP circuit is phenomenal and particularly good for me and my bike".
Tyco BMW's Christian Iddon was pragmatic in his response, "Silverstone has always been good to me and BMW so this is a bit of a kick in the teeth but it is what it is. I understand why the decision had to be made and I respect that. I've never ridden the national track. It looks to be lacking technicality but it's the same for everyone. The best man will still win."
It remains to be seen what will happen come race day, but with the weather looking bright ahead of race day, it all adds to the mix of great racing to decide the final four showdown spots.