WSB Imola: Riders refuse to race on slippery Imola track

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Leading World Superbike riders have refused to ride in the opening free practice session at Imola due to slippery track surface. In a session than only lasted five minutes and 36 seconds before it was red flagged after Tom Sykes crashed (see separate story), riders complained of an acute lack of grip around the historic Imola venue.

Within minutes of the red flag, riders gathered on pit lane to discuss the situation with the majority of them refusing to ride. FIM Safety Officer Claude Danis subsequently called a meeting with the riders to discuss what should be done. Despite a number of differing opinions Danis confirmed that the whole track will be cleaned in an effort to improve grip with the intention of getting at least one Superbike session on track before the end of the day.

This is what the top men told MCN:

Ben Spies:
“If they want to send people out that’s fine, but I won’t be riding with the track as it is now. If people do go out and the times get close to what we were doing in the test then I’ll go out. I’ve never felt a track as slippery as that, it’s worse than the wet.

Noriyuki Haga:
“The way the track is now it is too dangerous to ride. If some people want to go out and clean the track fine, but not me. I will wait to see what happens before going out on track again. This is the first time in my life been in this situation.”

Troy Corser:
“There is no grip whatsoever, there’s more grip in the wet than there is in the dry here. You could ride around the track, but you wouldn’t choose to. It’s difficult to understand why it’s so slippery because the track doesn’t look dirty and there is no dust coming off the tyres. Maybe it’s something to do with the touring cars that raced here last weekend. It could just need some bike rubber on it, but for sure I won’t ride how it is now.”

Max Biaggi:
“It is too unsafe to ride. There is no grip and it’s not nice. We will have to wait and see if it is possible later and if it can get any better.”

Jonathan Rea:
“I’m not riding on that. There is no grip. I like to try and get my head down early on and I started to push and the bike was sliding everywhere. I don’t want to go out on track and ride around like it is now because it means I’ll get in a bad rhythm and be slow and I always find it hard to speed up after a slow start.”

Shane Byrne:
“The track is horrific. I somehow made it through turn one, but as soon as I accelerated the rear let go. First of all I thought I had a puncture and then I thought my engine had blown – it was that bad.”


Michael Guy

By Michael Guy

Sports Editor, former 250-racer and adventure rider