2012 Silverstone WSBK Sunday Roundup: Fun With Rules
Silverstone is a large, flat track at the top of a flattened hill, which makes it an ideal airfield, but a weather-prone race track. With a thunderstorm happening in the vicinity, the riders in both World Superbikes and World Supersport were punished by rain-lashed races in treacherous conditions.
In the first race, it started off dry but when David Johnson and Norino Brignola crashed, the red flags came out. The rules state that if a race is halted for climatic reasons, the restart must be declared a wet race, meaning it could not be stopped a second time by Race Direction if the weather turns for the worse. A dangerous situation then ensued, with all but two riders on slick tyres competing in a race that was going to get a lot wetter.
The only rider that stuck his hand up at any point to call for the race to be stopped was Leon Camier who crashed shortly after. No other riders deemed the race too unsafe, even if it was obviously dangerous. Watching riders at the end of race one, it was clear than many of them didn't have any confidence whatsoever in the track and the amount of grip they would get. Standing water forced many riders to drop their pace rapidly, and a few scares only added to their apprehension. The riders that finished the race on the podium were not riders that are realistically competing for the championship.
In race two, the race was red-flagged when a succession of riders crashed due to the hard rain, and when Loris Baz crashed on fluids from a previous crash floating on top of standing water. When the race was finished, the results were rolled back to the beginning of the last completed lap, as stated in the rules, but the race was originally called at 9 laps, with Eugene Laverty given third place, until it was corrected to be the beginning of lap nine instead of lap eight. We currently have a race result with half points awarded when the riders only completed eight of 17 laps, instead of the half distance required.
Race one should have been ended before it was and race two was ended before it could be called a result. A confusing day in the wet.
On top of this, this year, a single bike rule has been introduced, forcing each team to only have one bike available to each rider in an effort to cut costs. This rule, however, punishes riders who crash and, with the rain we've been having at almost every race weekend, this year is one that generates a lot of unforced errors. If the cost savings are not as great as proposed, with the richer teams able to afford a couple of spare bikes in bits behind the garage, then this rule just punishes riders that have to compensate for lower performance with higher risks.