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Robin Miller: Who is running the MotoGP show?

'The lunatics are running the asylum' is a phrase that comes to mind when considering the cancellation of Silverstone’s round of MotoGP. This is the second time this season that rider power appears to have prevailed over the course of a race weekend so, at the very least, it's a question that has to be asked.

There are other questions, of course. A very big one of the Silverstone management ŵhose bold decision to completely resurface the track at the start of this year seems to have backfired badly.

Rider safety has always to be highest on the agenda of any race organiser and that, from time to time, will cause conflict with their other duty - that to the fans who have paid highly to watch their favourite riders competing for the world championship.


For many Silverstone would have been their only chance and on Sunday 50,000 would have paid around £2m for the privilege.

So judgement calls have to be made and tough decisions taken in order to serve these two constituencies. The spectators cannot be consulted but the riders can and should be. But should they make the decision as they so clearly did, although not unanimously. Indeed the President of IRTA and experienced team owner Herve Poncharal  clearly thought it should not after a day of dithering.

Clearly, water lying in puddles on the track and incessant rain made the situation very difficult. Plus the practice accident, involving several riders, which gave Tito Rabat a badly broken leg and severed femoral artery when he was hit by another bike.

Tracks being given clearance to run MotoGP have to be constructed with very strict safety precautions to the point where the greatest danger to riders is not the 'furniture’ but being hit by another bike.

But while having been made immeasurably safer than it was, say 40 years ago, it is not safe and can never be made so if it hopes to retain its allure. And riders know the risks they are taking.

What are the ramifications of the Silverstone decision? The question must be raised as to who makes these sort of decisions and although in this instance promoters Dorna were involved are they right to treat the riders as a body, almost a trade union, as opposed to giving individual teams or riders the right to decide?

Much was made of the Rabat accident and while it has to be taken seriously and was, presumably caused by standing water on the track, the same result could have occurred at the multiplicity of crashes which occur nowadays at every MotoGP event.

For Silverstone and the future of MotoGP in Britain it was a bad day indeed. Dorna and boss Carmelo Ezpeleta were said to be furious and  will no doubt be requiring assurances from Silverstone that work will be done to fix the drainage issue.

It is hard not to feel a great deal of sympathy for the Silverstone management team led by Stuart Pringle. The decision to resurface was a big one in terms of expense - circa £3m - and risk. That the track needed a lot of repairing to fix damage, caused largely by other forms of racing, was not in question. And they wanted to impress Dorna when the new MotoGP contract was being negotiated. So rather than extensive patching they went the whole hog.


Experienced contractors were engaged and ensuring the drainage was right was a big issue. But it became clear that not everything was well when Lewis Hamilton criticised the bumpy nature of the surface during practice for the F1 British Grand Prix in July.

Cal Crutchlow had given the new surface the thumbs up at an earlier test and speaking on BT Sport while waiting for a stop/go decision on  Sunday he expressed surprise at the change from his first experience and puzzlement as to how bumps had reappeared.

It is not just a reputational issue for Silverstone,  it may be a financial one. No announcement has been made as to recompense for spectators but the prospect of having to return such a huge amount of money will have their bank manager squirming.

And what of their contract with Dorna for which they would pay circa £3m to put on the race when no race took place?


It is more than interesting that the decision to abandon the race was not made by Silverstone or Dorna but the riders who gathered in the IRTA truck for an impromptu meeting. And not all the riders heard about it, Andrea Dovizioso being one.

All in all it is a mess. British Superbikes is due to run at Silverstone in two weeks and it is interesting to speculate what might happen if yesterday’s conditions were repeated, although most unlikely, what the decision of the BSB Series Director would be...

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