Shane Byrne has blasted race bosses after a dramatic opening MCE British Superbike encounter at Silverstone.
A storm earlier in the afternoon had left parts of the circuit very wet ahead of this afternoon’s race, but half of the circuit had dried in the hour or so leading up to the start.
Some riders, including series leader Byrne and rival Leon Haslam among others, called upon race director Stuart Higgs to delay the race as conditions were not suitable for wet, dry or intermediate tyres with parts of the circuit sodden and others bone dry.
Despite these calls, Higgs opted to go ahead with the race with many of the riders on the grid happy to start.
Heading out on intermediate tyres, Byrne struggled at the start but started to make progress as the race went on. However, drama would strike on the final lap as he crashed out at Farm Curve.
“When you’ve got five top riders in the championship, all but one of them Showdown contenders, asking the race director to delay the race as it’s too dangerous and he says ‘no’, it’s disrespectful to the riders on the grid,” a furious Byrne told MCN after the race.
“I’m fuming. The race should not have been run in my opinion. It was too wet in the wet bits and too dry in the dry bits. Leon [Haslam] went down, there was no point in me being out there so I thought about not racing, but I owe it to my team and Paul pays me a lot of money to do this job and it’s what I’m here to do.
“A ten or 15-minute delay would have been the right call. I’m sure the guys who went out on wets will disagree. Sure the podium was all on wets so I made the wrong choice and it is what it is, I just think more respect should be shown to the riders. This is a show, yes, but without the riders there is no show.”
However, there were positives to Byrne’s non-score as he only lost out on podium credits to Josh Brookes who currently sits fourth in the standings with team-mate Glenn Irwin winning the race. The five-time British Champion also set the fastest lap of the race and will start on pole position for tomorrow’s opening race.
“Fair play to Glenn for winning the race, I’m chuffed for him,” Byrne continued. “I couldn’t have done any more with what I had, but at least we’re on pole tomorrow so we’ll see what happens.”
Despite Byrne’s criticism, Higgs remains adamant he made the right call with many riders throughout the field agreeing with the race boss when quizzed by MCN.
“I know the characteristics of this circuit,” Higgs said in response to Byrne’s comments.
“It’s a circuit of two halves; there are different types of tarmac laid at different parts and it reacts in different ways. The lap time improved by about two seconds after a 30-minute period so even if we’d waited 30 minutes it would have been the same. To go when we did, yes it was 50/50 but the level of the wet part of the track was at its wettest and the balance was to go with wet tyres. Frankly, I’d rather have people with wet tyres on a 50/50 track than more people on slicks when it’s a little drier but still wet.
“I think we made the right call. It wasn’t a crash-fest; we didn’t have people making reckless tyre choices. To go when we did was the right decision and if we were in the same situation again we’d make the same call.”
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