MotoGP: Race director Webb explains schedule change

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MotoGP Race Director Mike Webb has explained the reasoning behind the schedule change for tomorrow’s British Grand Prix is to ensure the best chance of the premier class race at Silverstone.

Riders were almost in unanimous agreement in saying they wouldn’t race if conditions were similar to those seen in today’s FP4, which was abandoned after standing water led to a number of machines aquaplaning at high speed down the Hangar straight and being unable to stop for Stowe. This resulted in crashes Alex Rins, Franco Morbidelli and Tito Rabat, who sustained serious injuries, and Jorge Lorenzo, Danilo Petrucci, Jack Miller and Aleix Espargaro to run on into the gravel.

With heavy rain forecast for most of Sunday afternoon, a decision has been reached to move the MotoGP race to 11:30am, first on the schedule, given Moto2 and Moto3 bikes are less likely to aquaplane given the difference in power, weight and tyre size.

“The schedule change is due to the very high possibility of strong rain as the day goes on,” Webb told journalists at Silverstone. “The Met Office tell us there is a significant probability of heavy rain. What we saw today on track was a particular problem in two places, but also a couple of others, where standing water gathered after heavy rain right in the breaking area.

“In normal rain conditions the surface is pretty good, it’s not a problem. But as you saw in FP4 today, conditions were basically unrideable. I would say that on a MotoGP bike, in every circuit we go to the biggest problem with weather is standing water and this is always a problem for MotoGP because of the size of the tyres and the speed they are running.

“Taking that into account and the request from Silverstone to do everything we could to ensure a MotoGP race we agreed to change the schedule to make MotoGP first to at least give us a chance to try and get a MotoGP race completed.”

Webb revealed that the MotoGP team as well as Silverstone are working this evening to improve the drainage situation, but a lot of the issues won’t be able to be fixed overnight.

“We had a wet Moto2 session on Friday, which was normal rain in normal quantities, the circuit was fine. Grip was good and we didn’t have any major problems – in those circumstances we can have a race in any class. Today we had very short, very heavy rain in half of the circuit and just in that place the circuit could not cope.

“We are working tonight on drainage solutions, which in one place might be OK, but in the other, where the crashes occurred, there is limited work we can do just because of the shape of the surface and where it funnels the water. We’re doing everything we can and in normal rain circumstances we are fine.”

While MotoGP bosses are doing everything they can to ensure tomorrow’s schedule goes ahead, Webb admitted that if heavy rain falls earlier than currently forecast then there is a chance the track will not be safe enough for the MotoGP race.

“If the very heavy rain that is forecast comes, then we will probably not be able to race,” Webb admitted.

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Oli Rushby

By Oli Rushby

Former sports reporter covering British Superbikes, World Superbikes and road racing