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Robin Miller: What now for Silverstone and MotoGP

Not surprisingly, recriminations regarding the cancellation of the British round of MotoGP continue to rumble on – fuelled by a scare story this week that next year's event is in jeopardy.

It is a perfectly reasonable question to ask following what can only be described as last month's shambles masquerading as a Grand Prix.

But the Silverstone management, led by Stuart Pringle, are very confident that what went wrong can be fixed and that talk of their licence being withdrawn is an exaggeration because each side, namely Dorna and the circuit are party to a contract and, in any event, licences are awarded by the FIM on an annual basis.


Inevitably the blame parcel is being passed around with promoters Dorna saying it was their "safety commission" who decided the track was unsafe and it was not just the teams who were unprepared to stage the race on Monday.

In fact, as BT commentator and former World Superbike Champion Neil Hodgson pointed out on live TV, it was a mass meeting of the riders who said  no. They would have been influenced by FIM safety officer Franco Uncini and Dorna's Loris Capirossi but they voted and the majority prevailed.

As to postponing the race until the following day, there is no doubt the major teams were against it because of testing commitments and the like. But it was certainly was not unanimous as Tech3 boss and IRTA President Herve Poncharal was not only willing to stay on but actually thought they could have raced that day. And Ducati complained they had not been involved.

It has also been said that the Silverstone management were either unwilling, or unable, to re-run on the Monday. Their version is to admit that it would have been extremely difficult but they had not given up hope and were actively engaged in examining the possibilities when the teams decision was conveyed to them.

The 'saga of Silverstone' began when owners, the British Racing Drivers Club led by Chairman John Grant and Chief Executive Stuart Pringle boldly decided to resurface the entire track after securing the contract to stage MotoGP.  

For a club not awash with cash this now looks like an expensive gamble and one which went wrong. But at the time, while involving a degree of risk, the BRDC board was persuaded by Pringle that it was a necessary statement of intent. And preferable to carrying out more patching on a track showing clear signs of wear and tear.

The contractors, Aggregate Industries, are no back street black stuff merchants. Rather, one of the biggest and most reputable in the business. Ironically, one of their main tasks was to ensure that the track could cope with heavyfall rain. So what went wrong.

A media event to publicise the new track had Cal Crutchlow eulogising about the surface. On that rainy Sunday in August he was heard to ask the question "What went wrong between then and now?"

In between refunding fans money, extending to millions but mostly covered by insurance, and negotiating their way round a very tense situation with Dorna and the FIM (not to mention that a new deal has still to be struck with Formula 1), the Silverstone management are engaging in a detailed enquiry to answer Crutchlow's question.


Theories abound, mostly around whether the track designed or laid properly in the first place, and this by the way is not suggesting this is the case, or was the new surface put to use too early. There is also the slightly wild suggestion that because part of the track has a concrete runway underneath it - Silverstone being a wartime airbase - there always be difficulties.

So will there be MotoGP at Silverstone next year? No doubt a lot of fans, although not necessarily a majority, would prefer Donington - a great circuit although not without its own problems. So there will be a British MotoGP - Dorna and the manufacturers want one.

But it does illustrate the difference between our country and, for example Spain or Italy, where there are at least  four circuits each which can, and do, stage world title events. The difference? Those circuits are mostly state, either regional or nationally, funded. Ours aren't...

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