Brookes slams lack of safety car in opening race

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Milwaukee Yamaha’s Josh Brookes has slammed the decision not to deploy a safety car during the opening MCE British Superbike race of the triple-header at Oulton Park, accusing race organisers of attempting to influence the result of the race against him.

An engine problem on the opening lap of qualifying this morning meant that the Australian was forced to start the race from 30th on the grid, leaving him to scythe his way through the field to eventually finish fourth.

“I was surprised at how many accidents there was – a bike on fire, another with fuel gushing out of it and marshals everywhere – and absolutely no attempt to put out the safety car. I don’t think I’ve led a race this year and not had a safety car – and I guarantee that if the roles were reversed and Shakey was coming through the pack, there would have been three of them.

“There was good reason to have a safety car, and it was ignored in favor of giving Shakey the maximum number of points available. There was a bike on fire, and two or three others that looked dangerous enough that in other events they would have put a safety car out straight away. In my mind, I’m absolutely convinced that if it was any other circumstances they would have put the car out but because of the circumstances they didn’t.”

However, Race Director Stuart Higgs was quick to shoot down the allegations, saying that at no point did either race control or the marshals on the scene believe that a safety car was required.

“I’m really disappointed in Josh’s comments; if that’s what he really thinks happened then it’s totally disappointing and an absolutely ridiculous statement to make.

“We’re at one of the longest circuits of the calendar, we had no medical problems, and no compromised barriers or surface. Normally we deploy the safety car either if the marshals ask for one or if we preempt them – but no one asked for one and we never thought it was needed.

“It’s not like we’re at a circuit like Brands Hatch Indy where a five-minute clear-up takes a full five laps – instead they saw yellow flags for two laps – less than a three minute intervention by the marshals.”

After breaking through into fourth and clear track, Brookes will now start race two from second place, behind eventual winner Byrne.

Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer