Saturday’s WorldSBK race saw only 12 riders on the grid, as six riders (Chaz Davies, Sandro Cortese, Marco Melandri, Leon Camier, Ryuichi Kiyonari, and Eugene Laverty) sat out the race in protest over the conditions.
Just 20 minutes before the start of Race 1 though, as many as 14 riders seemed set to sit out the day’s events, citing issues with the track’s surface, which had just been recently laid, and was still seeping oil to the surface, and was also dusty from lack of use.
However, with pressure being exerted on the riders to race, reportedly by their teams and Dorna, a number of riders lined up on the grid, despite their agreements with their colleagues.
As you can imagine, this has caused a friction in the WorldSBK paddock, and draws into question the series’ commitment to safety and rider feedback.
Talking to Crash.net, Eugene Laverty called his fellow countryman Jonathan Rea spineless for going out and racing, despite Rea’s status as the reigning world champion and previously saying the track was unsafe to race.
Chaz Davies also levied criticisms against Rea, while talking to Eurosport, though he also noted the immense pressure that the Kawasaki Racing Team was putting on its riders to go and race.
Similarly, Leon Camier had tough words for WorldSBK organizer, Dorna, and he criticized the media rights holder for not postponing Race 1 until Sunday, and hosting two full-length races under the planned cooler weather, as the number of riders had proposed.
To clarify their positions, the protesting riders posted the following statement to their social media accounts, in the evening following the race: