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British Grand Prix: Riders react to resurfacing news

Published: 08 May 2019

Britain’s Grand Prix riders have spoken exclusively with MCN following this morning’s news that Silverstone, the home of the British grand Prix, will be fully resurfaced ahead of this year’s August race at the iconic Northamptonshire track.

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Reacting universally with positivity after last year’s cancelled race at the track, they say they can’t wait to get going when the championship heads to home soil on the August Bank Holiday weekend.

Sam Lowes

"It’s great news that they’ve extended the contract with Silverstone because it’s a track that I like. I’ve fallen short there a couple of times, especially with Zarco in Moto2 in 2016 and Kenan in World Supersport in 2013, but I’d love to get a great result and to try and win the British Grand Prix. It’s a big commitment from Silverstone to resurface it again – it’s a big job. But I love racing in front of the British fans, it was unfortunate what happened last year, and now I can’t wait to get back this year!"

Jake Dixon

"The situation wasn’t great when they resurfaced it and last year’s race being cancelled wasn’t ideal and not good for the fans. Hopefully this time they get it right and take out the bumps. The track was in a worse condition than what it was, so hopefully they’ll get rid of all of the problems and do a proper job this time. Then we’ll be able to put on a proper show for all the British fans and make up for last year!"

John McPhee

"It’s great to see that Silverstone will be resurfacing the circuit before we arrive in August. I feel like it’s clearly necessary for them to do so, although they had gone to a lot of effort last year, they were unfortunate that the issues only came to light on the Grand Prix weekend. I’m looking forward to getting back there and riding again as it’s a circuit I always enjoy."

British MotoGP's Silverstone future secured as resurfacing work confirmed

Silverstone have secured the future of the British Grand Prix until at least 2021, having had their MotoGP contract extended after confirmation that the circuit will undergo a full re-surface ahead of this year’s race in August.

It will be Silverstone’s second full track re-surface in just over a year, having split with former asphalt contractors Aggregate Industries after the abandoned 2018 race. Industry goliaths Tarmac will commence work between June 10-13.

Tarmac has been awarded the contract to resurface Silverstone

This is fantastic news for British racing fans and brings to an end a period of uncertainty after last year’s race, where standing water meant the track was declared unfit to ride, and the British Grand Prix was cancelled during race day. 

When is the 2019 British MotoGP at Silverstone?

The Silverstone round of MotoGP will take place over the August bank holiday weekend, Friday 23rd to Sunday 25th.

The Northamptonshire circuit has played host to modern MotoGP since 2010, when the race moved from its long-time home at Donington Park - playing host from 1987 to 2009. Before that, each race from the first in 1977 was held at Silverstone.

MCN exclusive interview: Silverstone Managing Director, Stuart Pringle

Silverstone Managing Director, Stuart Pringle

Speaking exclusively to MCN, Stuart Pringle explained how he’s keen to ensure the track is in the best possible condition ahead of this year’s GoPro British Grand Prix weekend.

"We’ve put together a new team to do the job, we’ve already conducted a test lay of the new asphalt with Tarmac as the contractors and with track designers, Dromo.

"But the real story is that Dorna haven’t thrown us under the bus for a single bad year, and Silverstone haven’t suddenly become bad at putting on race meetings. We had an exceptional weather event that brought to the fore some issues, but Dorna have trusted us, extended our contract and we now have MotoGP until at least 2021," confirmed Pringle.

And while it’s impossible to dismiss the impact of the events of last August, Pringle is keen to stress just how much that they’ve learned from the process and how differently he and his team have approached next month’s track work.

Despite Silverstone’s F1 heritage the re-surface will specifically accommodate MotoGP and the project is being carried out in cooperation with Jarno Zaffelli (the man responsible for the Sepang and Termas de Rio Hondo circuits, amongst others). Pringle says that the investment Silverstone are making is worth it to secure the future of MotoGP.

"We’ve spent a lot of money to hire one of only two or three designers in the world who was capable of doing this job, because I’ve been over and over the issues of the last job in the past year. We used one company for the past 20 years consistently and they always did a great job. They’re not an incompetent organisation. My default setting is towards loyalty and I don’t like throwing people under the bus on the basis of one job – but there was a problem.

"The FIM found it to be so serious an issue that they gave us very specific instructions linked to getting our track licence, so we had to get it done. In the end, Aggregate decided they didn’t want to do it and they stepped back, so we’ve gone with Tarmac."

Resurfacing work will begin at Silverstone in June 2019

Paul Fleetham, Managing Director of Tarmac's Construction business said: "We are exceptionally proud to be working with the team at Silverstone to resurface the iconic British race circuit. It demonstrates both the quality of our people and our first class track record in delivering high-profile, nationally significant schemes.
"We’ve assembled a highly skilled team of professionals from across the country who will be working with pioneering innovations in automated construction to deliver the project to the highest possible standard. We look forward to getting underway."

MCN exclusive interview: Michelin Motorsport Two-wheel Manager, Piero Taramasso

Michelin boss Piero Taramasso says it’s a positive sign that they have been approached for advice ahead of laying the new asphalt, too.

"We had some contact with Silverstone and they’ve asked our opinion on the new surface. Michelin aren’t experts on asphalt, but we have some knowledge and they’ve asked us which kind of mix would be best for us to maximise the grip. We gave them some references from other tracks that we know we work well at. We gave them our idea on what mix of micro and macro stones that we work best with."

Despite the new surface and Michelin’s desire to test there before the race, it seems unlikely a pre-MotoGP test will be possible.

"We want to test everywhere that there’s new asphalt, and for sure it costs money but it’s money well spent. When you have the results from a test with MotoGP bikes and official riders, it’s the best data you can get and you know you’re making the right tyres. But to test at Silverstone is difficult with a very busy calendar. Instead, we’ll bring a fourth specification of tyre just in case it’s harder or more abrasive than we anticipate."

MCN exclusive interview: MotoGP Sporting Director, Carlos Ezpeleta

MotoGP Sporting Director, Carlos Ezpeleta

MotoGP Sporting Director, Carlos Ezpeleta, says that Silverstone’s plan to embark on the resurfacing project to rectify the problems of twelve months ago is a sign of just how important the series and the British race are to each other. Ending speculation of a move back to Donington Park by extending the Silverstone deal by one more year, Ezpeleta says he’s delighted with Silverstone’s commitment to MotoGP.

"With Silverstone prepared to make this huge investment, they needed a contract extension with us, too. It’s such an important place for us, and Silverstone is the best place in the UK that we can go to. Silverstone have been very helpful considering the investment they need to make. It’s another sign to confirm that Britain is a key country for MotoGP, and we’re very thankful that they’ve taken this step."

Silverstone circuit: a MotoGP timeline

MotoGP at Silverstone has a rosy future for the next three years

  • August 2017

MotoGP riders complain at the British Grand Prix about the state of certain corners, with years of resurfacing in sections causing varying grip levels

  • February 2018

Silverstone embark on an ambitious full resurfacing of the track, the first in two decades. Laying nearly four miles of asphalt in only a few days, it seemingly all goes to plan despite adverse weather

  • May 2018

Cal Crutchlow becomes the first MotoGP rider to take to the track, riding a road-going Honda RC213V-S machine on non-MotoGP spec tyres. He’s happy with his first impressions of the track thanks to its high grip in the dry

  • July 2018

Formula One becomes the first major race on the new track with drivers critical of the number of bumps, with some saying they feel sorry for the MotoGP riders still to race there

  • August 2018

The 2018 British Grand Prix becomes the first race in 30 years to be cancelled after heavy rain caused large area of standing water on the track

  • September 2018

Silverstone provide refunds to all 2018 British Grand Prix MotoGP ticket holders

  • May 2019

The track commits to a full resurfacing for the second time in just over a year. Switching from former partners Aggregate Industries to Tarmac

  • June 2019

The full resurfacing will get underway, with all track activity at the circuit paused for nearly a month. That includes a full week with zero activity, to help the new surface to properly cure – a provision that wasn’t made last time

  • July 2019

Formula One will once again become the first major event to run on the new track, with MotoGP riders sure to be watching with interest

  • August 2019

MotoGP will return to action at the newly-resurfaced track on August 23-25

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