If like me, you traveled to Silverstone, paid for your hotel or campsite, paid for your tickets and everything in between, just to be let down at 16:02 and hear the event had been cancelled on Sunday after hours of sitting in the cold rain, then it’s easy to see why tens of thousands of people are absolutely furious with the outcome from Sunday’s “British Grand Prix”. So what’s next for Silverstone?
Silverstone have been left head scratching and with a lot of research to do after the embarrassment of Sunday. However that was just the end of the weekend affairs with it all starting 12 months ago when the entirety of the MotoGP field complained of the bumps in the now aging Silverstone surface.
In February this year (2018) the track was resurfaced and the job had seemed well done, LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow did a media day in May, complimenting the new surface saying he thought the times would be “a second and half quicker” than previous years, however after day one of action it left the Coventry front runner puzzled, talking to MCN he said “When I rode it in May there were two bumps on the whole track, and now it’s unreal. But I’m sure it’s not the F1 race that has made the difference – it’s maybe made a few places a little bit worse but it was bumpy on the first day that they drove it too. We do have a constant surface, but it’s really bumpy”.
Image credit: motogp.com
FP4 is where the real concerns came from, it was the first time that the MotoGP class had been out in the wet. Alex Rins on the fastest part of the circuit (Hangar Straight) going into Stowe corner he spectacularly had to abandon ship off his Ecstar Suzuki at 120mph in what appeared to be a brake failure. It wasn’t. The bike had simply aquaplaned due to deep standing water, and he was followed into the gravel trap by Jorge Lorenzo, who managed to stay on, Aleix Espargaro and the unfortunate Tito Rabat who, whilst getting up from the carnage, was struck by Franco Morbidelli’s bike, causing the Spaniard to have a triple open leg fracture on his tibia, fibia, and femur as well as a severed femoral artery. However we are glad to report Tito is on the mend after successful surgery.
This raised a lot of questions and concerns, the main one being was the drainage sufficient enough after the new resurfacing? Short answer no. Although volunteers, marshals and track teams spent the night digging drainage channels Mike Webb, of Race Direction decided to reschedule the race to 11:30am local time, meaning MotoGP would be the first bikes to race, however the rain on the forecast was due to start at around 09:00 local time and end around 17:00 local time. So what other options could there have been?
Other options that were put on the table during the gruelling meetings was that they could have postponed the entire event until Monday, which was a bank holiday in the UK, however NowMoto understands that HRC, Yamaha and Suzuki all rejected this due to a test in Aragon on Wednesday, and we also know that the two riders who voted to race in the meeting were Jack Miller and Johann Zarco. However what we would like to know is the weather forecast hadn’t changed and the weather was good on Saturday afternoon, so why did they not at least run the main event on Saturday afternoon? That must of been an option when safety in wet conditions were such a concern?
Come Sunday the only track action we saw was Moto3/2 and GP do their respective 20 minute warm-ups, and a brave Neil Hodgson take the the track on a MotoE bike and of course the MotoX2, there were many laps completed if you count countless laps by the safety car and three road sweepers desperately trying to clear the water, and the absolutely excellent marshals keeping the crowd entertained by setting up a rowing team then track action was actually action packed.
Riders have taken to social media to extend their apologies but it has done little good in bridging the gap to the fans/rider division, on many forums social media fans have been calling for Dorna and Silverstone Circuit to refund the tickets, something they are not legally obligated to do after cancelling the event after 16:00 hours. It seems Silverstone was predicted to have record crowds this weekend and this was the first time since 2013 Silverstone had promoted the event. This will have serious implications on Silverstone’s attendance next year with many fans preferring the newly managed Donington Park.
With Donington due to have updated facilities completed in December this year thanks to Motorsport Vision, is it a realistic prospect of Grand Prix motorcycle racing ever going back to the infamous venue? Short answer is yes. Yes it is possible but it is all dependent on what Dorna expect from Silverstone next year and if Silverstone can meet these expectations, one thing is for sure, if MotoGP heads back to Donington it will bring excitement levels among fans in the UK to new heights.
Let’s not forget one thing, Jorge Lorenzo took pole in mixed conditions for the first time since breaking his collarbone in Assen 2013, so there was still some magic sprinkled around the weekend, and if you’ve never been to Silverstone MotoGP watching Marc Marquez sideways, turning the bike through Woodcote on the rear wheel, it has to be one of the most spectacular sights you will see.
All that is left for me to say is a big shout out to the track side commentary team for both Saturday and Sunday with hours of delays and little time to rest the vocal chords the infamous Fred Clark, Larry Carter and the newer voice of Michael Howarth did nothing short of fantastic work all weekend, but my biggest shout out has to go to the marshals, the medics who are all volunteers who all volunteered themselves to work a extra day to try and make the event happen, and all of them were sweeping desperately till the last second trying to clear the water off the track in synchronized teams, and to see the disappointment when it was announced that “Grand Prix canceled” you realize just how much it meant to them to see a race. I would like to think between Dorna and Silverstone for attempting to come to an agreement to compensate the fans that trekked from all over Europe to see the event and waited so patiently in the freezing cold rain for a race. And let’s hope the future of the British Grand Prix isn’t on rocks after the first race cancellation since 1980.
Featured Image Credit: motogp.com