Weather forces cancellation of British Grand Prix

A spill during the race
A spill during the race

Sunday’s British Grand Prix became the first Grand Prix to be cancelled since the 1980

Austrian race was abandoned due to the weather. From 9.30 am on Sunday the rain started and did not ease all day and despite the best efforts of the organisers and marshals the weather beat them in the end and they had no choice but call it a day on safety grounds around 4pm with sodden race fans, who had stood all day through the rain in the hope of seeing some race action, having to make the long journey home with no on track action outside morning warm up to talk about.

Weather cancels Silverstone event

Weather cancels Silverstone event

The race was always in doubt after Saturday’s free practice four was caught in a torrential down pour that hit the back section of the newly resurfaced Silverstone circuit and many riders crashed within seconds of each other after aquaplaning on the standing water at Stowe corner. After falling himself, Reale Avintia Racing Ducati rider Tito Rabat was hit by Franco Morbidelli’s Marc VDS Honda resulting in the Spaniard being airlifted to hospital with a broken femur, tibia and fibula in his right leg. He has since had successful surgery.

After that Sunday’s race conditions had to be much better before the riders would feel comfortable to race. The weather forecast for Sunday was accurate and the decision was taken to change the schedule for Sunday’s GoPro British Grand Prix. The MotoGP race was rescheduled for 11:30 local time. Sunday’s Warm Up sessions began at 9:00, with MotoGP out first but the weather began to steadily worsen and by the time the riders were on the grid awaiting lights out for the race at 11:30am, they were worse still and the decision was taken to delay the start.

That began a long day of delays, with conditions continually monitored, until a decision was reached: conditions were not safe to race in and the track surface was too dangerous in the rain.

Managing Director of Silverstone, Stuart Pringle, apologised to the fans after the announcement - and says they will get in touch with each of them in the coming days to explain what action will be taken in the wake of the cancellation.

World champions Marc Marquez

World champions Marc Marquez

Race Director Mike Webb said. “It was obvious the track conditions weren’t safe. After a consultation with the riders we delayed the start to see if conditions would improve. We reached the point where even though the rain was getting less, the circuit was still not in a condition where we could safely run races. So, we took the very difficult and regrettable decision to cancel.

World Champion Marc Marquez added. “It has been a long, unusual, tiring day that we hope won’t happen again. The Safety Commission analysed the situation and I think the Race Direction has to be thanked; they listened, and in the end, safety was everybody’s main consideration—one of us riders is in hospital already. During the day, I watched the screen and saw all the fans in the grandstands patiently waiting; it would have been good to reward them, but in the end, sometimes we must keep a cool head and think.”

All in all it was a disappointing day but hopefully the circuit will make the necessary improvements and the problem will not recur in the future because Sunday’s race had all the potential of being remembered as a classic instead of a wash out. There’s always 2019.

Meanwhile, the MotoGP may not have taken place at Silverstone but Saturday’s 11 lap British Talent Cup race certainly did and it was a cracker with 15 year-old Carrick rider Scott Swann having the race of his season to finish fourth by a tenth of a second from Storm Stacey and Cameron Horsman after a race long battle that had the crowd on their toes throughout.

Scott reflects on a great race. “In Friday’s free practice one I was down in 12th but in free practice two I improved to 6th in slightly wet conditions before qualifying fourth fastest. That set me up well for the race with a front row grid position. All I needed was a good start and get away with the front-runners. I made the start I wanted and was battling with the leaders from the lights and led the race for a while. I was happy to do that because after all it was a Grand Prix weekend and all eyes would be on the front of the race so it was great to be up there battling it out with in the top four. With us all swapping places the fifth place rider, Storm Stacey caught us up and I ended up dicing with him which let the front three get away a bit. Then Cameron Horsman joined us in the battle for fourth. I think if we hadn’t have been going for every inch of the track we could have stuck with the front three but we were having our own scrap. Coming onto the last lap I think I was sixth coming into ‘Brooklands’, two corners from the flag, and I passed Cameron (Horsman) up the inside. I thought I was going to run wide but the Dunlop tyres held up and I saw a gap for Storm (Stacey) and took it. I think I lifted him a little but he was all right about it and at the flag I had a tiny gap going over the line. I am delighted. I crashed in both races at Donington Park earlier in the year and lost out on points so I gained a lot of points here with fourth and I think I showed some of the British Talent Cup people I can run at the front”

Rory Skinner took his third win of the season in the British Talent Cup, storming Silverstone from pole and able to hold off Thomas Strudwick and Max Cook to cross the line half a second clear.