MotoGP: British Grand Prix in jeopardy

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The future of the British GP is in doubt after Dorna’s top boss confirmed to MCN that, following last month’s rain-lashed debacle, Silverstone is not currently licensed to hold a MotoGP race and needs to make significant changes to regain FIM homologation for 2019.

Concerns about the track surface continue and senior figures in the paddock have told MCN that teams have been informed the 2019 British GP might not happen unless immediate changes are made to bring the circuit up to standard.

This has now been confirmed by MotoGP boss Carmelo Ezpeleta, who said Dorna have been clear with Silverstone about what it needs to do to get back to spec. Under new FIM rules, tracks require safety homologation on an annual basis meaning Silverstone will need an inspection before next year’s race. Considering recent events that inspection is likely to be more rigorous than ever.

“Silverstone is exactly the same as the other 18 Grand Prix,” Ezpeleta told MCN. “They need a track that is homologated. We’ve talked with them and they have told us they will solve the problem. What happened cannot happen again and I’m sure that they’ll try to solve the problem.”

Dorna representative and former world champion Loris Capirossi was one of the safety

commissioners who called off last month’s race and will be one of those responsible for re- certifying Silverstone. He said: “I think what we saw this year was a difficult situation. We all saw what happened in the wet but there were a lot of bumps in the dry as well. I think they will have to resurface.”

Silverstone was resurfaced at the beginning of 2018, citing commitment to MotoGP as a key driver. At the time Silverstone boss Stuart Pringle said: “We are addressing some known bumps and dips as well as improving drainage. The result should be very close to the perfect surface for a racing circuit.”

The reality was less so, but with the cause of the problems still unclear and contractor Aggregate Industries likely to be keen to defend their reputation, answers may have to be sought in court. But Pringle refutes any suggestion the event is in jeopardy and says the circuit is working closely with Aggregate Industries to understand what went wrong, and fix it.

“I don’t think it’ll go to court. I’m in daily contact with them and they just want it to be right.”

He also said he was prepared to do whatever it takes to ensure the race stays at Silverstone and goes ahead as planned in 2019.  Pringle told MCN: “I can point everyone to the commitment we made in the first place to resurface the track in order to secure MotoGP. That was a significant commitment and we’re not going to walk away from MotoGP now. We have a contract, we will honour it and we’re very proud to have the opportunity to host it.

“We don’t feel under any pressure yet because the track is perfectly functional for everything we need to do at the moment
and we’re using it every day. But we resurfaced it to secure the long-term future of MotoGP at Silverstone and if it doesn’t allow us to do that then it hasn’t been done properly. That’s not what either us or the contractor wanted and it will be sorted.”

However, there could still be a fly in the ointment if legal action does ensue. Perennially struggling with finances, it’s unlikely that Silverstone can afford another
full resurfacing for the second time in 12 months out of their own pocket without support from the contractor.

With the track investigation nearing completion we expect the resolution and time- line for reparatory works and re- homologation will become clear in the coming weeks.

Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer