A SIX rider boycott nearly put a stop to the penultimate round of the World Superbike Championship as riders were not happy with the track conditions at the remote Argentinian circuit.
Riders were having issues with the San Juan Villicum circuit in Argentina since earlier in the week, the problem of having a circuit that is hardly used in a remotely rural area meant that the track was incredibly dusty and with high temperatures made the grip levels exceptionally low.
Aruba Ducati rider Chaz Davies said, “For a few months we’ve know the situation at San Juan and on Wednesday night the circuit was homologated even though by admission from the FIM they said the circuit didn’t come up to homologation specification. The temperature has gone up and up today and we felt as riders, 80 or 90 per cent of the riders, before the race all agreed that it was incredibly risky to go and do it.”
Riders protested to the FIM governing body to postpone the Saturday race to Sunday to allow for more track cleaning time, or to cancel the race altogether.
However the FIM ruled that the track met current safety regulations and that conditions were safe to ride.
Angry at the ruling, six of the 18 riders decided to boycott the race in protest.
Chaz Davies, Marco Melandri, Sandro Cortese, Eugene Laverty, Leon Camier and Ryuichi Kiyonari all pulled out voluntarily whilst Yamaha rider Loris Baz was ruled out through injury.
Davies suggested that more riders would have pulled out but due to outside pressures hey were forced to race.
“Unfortunately there is always pressure from outside, from team managers, from manufacturers, from certain manufacturers but not here luckily, to go out there and race. Some people have still got things to fight for and in this case some of us stuck together and even the world champion Jonathan Rea, two minutes before the pit lane opened he said that he wasn’t happy to go and race.”
“He had massive pressure from his team to go and do it, and he wasn’t happy to go and do it and yet he has lined up. He is worth a lot more than all of us, he speaks for 10 or 15 of us and I am super disappointed in that.”
Irishman Eugene Laverty also felt disenfranchised by Rea, even claiming he was “spineless” for his decision to race during an interview with Eurosport TV.
Thankfully the races went ahead without major incident, with Spanish Ducati rider Alvaro Bautista finding his form again to take victory in Race One.
Newly elect world champion, Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea took the Tissot superpole race in style before romping to victory in race two.