Soggy Silverstone on a Sopping Sunday
I was fortunate enough to attend the MotoGP at Silverstone on the Friday practice day. In hindsight it was the best weather conditions of the weekend. I felt so sorry for the disappointed fans that got soaked on the Sunday, only to discover their patient wait was in vain.
MotoGP race director Mike Webb said the cancellation of the British Grand Prix was because Silverstone's new-for-2018 asphalt was not safe enough to race under wet conditions.
They had resurfaced the track earlier this year, trying to remove the long-standing bumps, giving the circuit a more consistent feel. This was the first time the track had been completely resurfaced since 1996, yet many riders still complained the bumps were no better.
Since the long dry summer, maybe the track didn’t have the opportunity to be tested in such adverse conditions, but when the rain started to fall during Saturday’s practice laps several riders crashed, including Tito Rabat who suffered a leg injury.
With persistent rain on Sunday, the race then had to be cancelled. "As a direct result of the track surface," said Webb.
"We had a number of years of experience here in very wet conditions recently with the old surface and we've been able to run races.”
"This year with the new surface is the first time we've encountered quite so much standing water in critical places of the track.”
"We did everything we possibly could to run an event today, obviously the very last thing any of us wants to do is to cancel an event. However, safety remains a priority."
In an effort to keep the circuit open, changes were made to the scheduled start times, but at 4pm it was eventually decided to call off the event for safety reasons.
"Even when the rain abated a little, the track surface was still too wet," Webb added.
It will be interesting to see how Silverstone will avoid a similar situation in the future after investing so much in resurfacing the track. Yet, I’m sure without question, the track staff did an amazing job under these adverse conditions to keep the event alive. Now it’s down to the venue to restore confidence in the people that buy the tickets.