WSBK: Anger amongst the teams
It's no surprise that the Monza debacle has created some serious discontent in the WSBK paddock. At the end of the day, Team Effenbert Liberty Racing, who had rider Sylvain Guintoli starting from pole, released a scathing statement that can be read below.
It was clear that allowing a few riders to decided when and if to start the races, by raising their arms or not, would cause some confusion and anger. During the previous round at Assen, Race Direction chose five riders to signal any eventual problems by putting their arms up. They were Max Biaggi, Marco Melandri, Carlos Checa, Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes.
The decision to seek greater rider input comes in the wake of some serious accidents in this initial stage of the season: the death of 17 year old Oscar McIntyre at Phillip Island, the serious testing crash involving Joan Lascorz at Imola, and a similarly serious crash for Brett McCormick at Assen, which luckily didn't have quite the same consequences.
Looking back in hindsight, which is always easier, this doesn't seem to have been the best system to use at Monza, seeing as the situation deteriorated into a mess. There were riders who didn't want to race on rain tires, saying they would be destroyed after just a few laps even when fully wet. There was Pirelli disputing this idea, saying that the tires would have been just fine, and while some riders didn't want to start the race, others were ready to go. It was chaos.
Perhaps the most incredible moment came after the interruption of race 1, when Race Direction asked Max Biaggi to come on a sighting lap of the track to hear his opinion on whether or not to continue the race. Biaggi's Aprilia was in pieces back in pit lane, so what did they think Max would say? That another heavy shower eventually eliminated any chance of running is besides the point. It's the principle which is flawed. The same goes for Melandri, who was among the most outspoken against riding. The BMW rider had crashed hard on the opening lap of race 1, so it's only natural that he would inclined to cancel the restart.
There were also some major changes of opinion from Carlos Checa, who originally said the conditions were unsafe to race. Later on he changed his mind, as soon as it began raining harder. "We could have waited ten minutes and used rain tires," he said. Of course it's just coincidence that Ducati struggle in the dry at Monza, but have a completely different potential when it's wet...
And those who wanted to race, like Davide Giugliano and Ayrton Badovini – just to name two among many – had to yield to their more experienced colleagues.
The first impression is that Infront preferred to placate the riders at the expense of the teams. So the anger from Team Effenbert could be just the tip of the iceberg, and mending relations again could be complicated. Maurizio and Paolo Flammini will have to handle the situation personally.
Below is the press release from Effenbert Liberty Racing:
“The clear impression is that the WSBK has lived today one of its worst days, disrespect for the public, for those who, like the team Effenbert, invests and for the sports in general.
It is unacceptable that the fundamental decisions of the day are been taken with such a superficiality not even worthy of a monobrand championship of scooter. At the end it is clear that the WSBK is in the hands of a little number of team and riders.
Other categories, also titled, would never ran into such a farce, (in fact proves the competitions of the other classes without major incident and without whims).
Considering all this situations, the team Effenbert’s management will reflect about its racing future."
Translation by Sean Sedacca