2013 Silverstone World Superbike Sunday Roundup: Drama To Carry Us Through The Break

Silverstone is a fast, flat track with only one slow corner worth writing home about. The fact it’s at the top of a hill, like most airfield tracks, means that the weather can change fairly quickly and the size of the track means that each end can have its own weather. Couple this with the ripples and bumps caused by the formula one and other cars pushing the tarmac into the corners under braking and you have a unique track. What was forecast earlier in the week, a dry Sunday, was thrown away when bikes hit tarmac and the weather did its thing. We also learned the difference between waved white flags, there is rain somewhere on the track, and stationary white flags with a red cross from corner to corner, it's raining right here. 

The single bike rule meant that the fear of flag to flag racing was at the back of everybody’s mind, but luckily for the riders, the rain only got treacherous by lap seventeen of race two, Leon Haslam’s crash summoning the red flags one lap before the race was due to finish. With no pitstops, it was left to World Supersport to provide us with something to argue about in the four-week break from racing. What at first looked like Kenan Sofuoglu wedging himself into a gap left by Sam Lowes on the last lap of the race then looked like Sofuoglu riding on the inside kerb to force his way under Lowes. Yakhnich Motorsport subsequently put in an appeal in against Kenan Sofuoglu for irregular riding, but it was not upheld by the stewards’ panel.

In World Superbikes, the championship lead held by the injured Sylvain Guintoli looked like it would be cut short, but the weather played into the Frenchman’s hands and instead his lead was extended. Sykes’s weakness in the rain is partially due to wanting to maintain his title challenge but luckily for Kawasaki it is matched by the skill of Loris Baz, who will be hoping his win will help him secure a ride for 2014, in mixed conditions. Sykes will look back on this weekend as damage limitation while Guintoli will be relieved not to have lost the lead while heading into a four week break that will allow his shoulder to heal and two fastest laps in mixed conditions should serve to remind us why he’s leading the championship.

Eugene Laverty’s second place in race one and third place in race two pushed him past Marco Melandri to third in the championship with a spread from first to third of just thirty-six points. Having bagged his first Tissot, Laverty must consider himself in with a shout at the title, if he can tie down the consistency he’s lacked thus far. With five DNFs to Melandri’s three, consistency is all he needs to beat his former teammate, and with Guintoli only suffering one DNF to Sykes’s three, in spite of only one win to Sykes’s five, he has a clear example across the garage of what consistency can do.

Marco Melandri and Chaz Davies are both job hunting now that BMW has announced it’s pulling out of World Superbike. While this weekend wasn’t a decent showcase of Melandri’s talent, Davies was running at the front of the field before his engine gave out. Unfortunately for Davies, Loris Baz has just equalled him on points, sharing fifth place ahead of Jonathan Rea’s seventh. It’s clear, though, that Davies has overcome the wet weather defect he was suffering after many years competing in the US. Last year was a baptism of wet weather riding and Davies is no longer a stranger to wet tracks.

Jonathan Rea’s victory on a visibly slower bike led to Carl Fogarty anointing him the most talented rider in World Superbike, although with his seeking a ride in MotoGP, he could end up losing that plaudit for 2014. The replacement for the Fireblade that was rumoured for next year is now being rumoured for 2015, which would encourage anyone to seek other options as the current bike isn’t particularly quick.

Fixi Crescent Suzuki had their best weekend to date, with Leon Camier fast throughout qualifying and getting a third place in race one, and Jules Cluzel getting a second in race two, their fortunes have changed for the better. As the qualifying record is still held by John Hopkins on his BSB-spec GSXR, it could be that the bike just goes well at Silverstone, but the next race in Germany will clarify that.

Once again, Ducati had a miserable weekend, in spite of Carlos Checa’s second place qualifying in Saturday’s odd conditions. Ayrton Badovini yet again outscored the number one rider Checa.

Attendance was under 28,000 for the weekend, just under Donington’s figures. Silverstone’s fast corners and unique character gave us three good races, with overtakes for the lead aplenty; if only there were more people there to see it.

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Pulling for him for the title. I like Tom but I would like to see Sylvan get one.

I can't imagine Sykes missing out on the 2013 title given the enormous effort he's put in over the last few years! But I too like Guintoli and would be happy to see him rewarded for his efforts - and travails! - over the years.

If either of them fail to take the title this year, they may not get another shot next year - I reckon Baz is more than ready to walk all over everyone in 2014.

Glad you gave us the attendance figures Jared, I wondered what your view is.

I've attended this round every year since 2010. That year I think was extraordinary, possibly as there was great interest in the British riders. Toseland was still competing (who was very popular with the fans), albeit not very successfully by that stage of his career, but I remember Cal Crutclow won both races and Brits gained all three podiums in R1 and were top 5 in R2. The attendance I remember was very good, as was the weather. The event was very much being promoted on the success of the home riders.

Next year attendance was still good (Checa won both races).

Last year, middle of the Olympics and terrible weather, poor attendance. This year, iffy weather but not bad, and another poor attendance.

Is WSBK suffering a downturn, or is this just this venue in the UK? I was very disappointed yesterday to see the trend continuing that every year at Silverstone, probably due to the low turnout, the organisers are putting up less screens (i.e., spending less money on the event). There was one at Village last year for example; not this. Therefore the fans experience is less good. I have to say I'm not sure I'll bother again, not too much to ask for my £50 to know what's going on is it? You can't rely on the PA (my advice BTW, take a radio to Silverstone and tune in to the track radio).

So, is WSBK on the 'slide'? Shame, because the racing is great.

Or do these things go in cycles in a particular country? There was great popularity when Carl Fogarty was winning, then another peak when Toseland was at the top?

... just to give my own view: I think the economic downturn has caught up with WSB (after much 'crowing' by WSB fans at the dwindling MotoGP grids). Moreover, I think most British fans have recognized that Silverstone, despite producing some good racing, just isn't a good venue to watch motorbike racing live. It is simply not spectator friendly.

... just to give my own view: I think the economic downturn has caught up with WSB (after much 'crowing' by partisan WSB fans at the dwindling MotoGP grids). Moreover, I think most British fans have recognized that Silverstone, despite producing some good racing, just isn't a good venue to watch motorbike racing live. It is simply not spectator friendly.

Again fair point, although I actually like the covered stands (I'm probably a bit of an old whimp). I noted yesterday as well that most people who attended headed for them (it was 'roaming entry', 1st come 1st served).

MotoGP seems to have a pretty good turn out here though, don't know the figures but I'd have thought more than when it was at Donny (it's bigger though of course).

But why do the bsb races have higher attendances than the british wsb rounds? Even though wsb is now dominated by english. Must be more to it

Swiftnick, if you want bad attendance and total abscence of fan facilities you want to try a round of the Australian Superbike Championship!

I have been to plenty of BSB, WSBK and GP's and expected a good day out (we usually make a 5 day event of it with the motorhome) but was hugely disapointed at Eastern Creek. The promoters didnt bother advertising the event at all, no schedule on the website or ticket prices, so we had to make a real effort to find this information. On arrival we discovered there are no stalls to buy team gear, no activites for the kids, and one skanky burger bar for food! There is no TV coverage at all, and as a result no screens around the track, no easily visble leader board and sketchy at best loud speaker coverage. To top this off it was $8.50 for a bottle of Becks in the bar!

I think there were less than 500 spectators, and most of those turned out to be team members on closer inspection.

The only plus is you can wander about anywhere as all the back of the pits are open - we had a long chat with one of the team bosses about the appaling situation regarding fans etc which wouldnt be possible at most other championships.

For a championship that has produced some of the all time greats its was such a huge disapointment as you can imagine - but will soften the blow of visiting the next NZ superbike round as I guess that will be even worse.

The marshalling was almost non- existant. One of the moto3 lads fell off under braking and the bike lay next to the track for the next 6 laps until the end of the race, right in a place where anyone else crashing was likely to hit it.

The weather was nice though....

A bit off topic I guess, but thought it worth mentioning as it makes the poor WSBK attendance look pretty amazing.

I was a little shocked to see it lay there for so long - I hate to think what would have happened if the rider had been injured.

A few guys went down on that corner throughout the day and most pushed the bikes up the hill clear of the track, but I never once saw a marshal in the area.

I miss BSB!!

Any other news on Rea's plans for 2014+? There aren't many options left in the paddock at the moment. Marco and Chaz are already looking for rides. If Hayden goes to WSB, then there will be another rider on the market in WSB! Why would Hayden want to ride the 1199 with the results that Checa is getting!?

According to JG's comments yesterday, Hayden won't be on the 1199, but he will be on Rea's Ten Kate Honda. Rumor has it Honda America is footing some of the bill.

All of the bill is what I heard, but that's rumours for you.  smiley

That's an excellent video there. It sheds more light on the controversial pass.

Isn't he rumored to be going to SBK next....again? I really hope he gets up there with the big boys. He's going to get it handed to him......again.

ain't what it used to be, anywhere in the world nowadays. As an old fart, I remember being right next to the track at favourite corners at (old) Kyalami, Mosport, Watkins Glen, and anywhere I go these days (Daytona, Barber) lacks that feel of involvement, for me anyway, because you're forced to be so far away from the track surface. Agreed, it's a result of rider safety and run off areas, but still, I do have the sense that it's gone overboard a bit when it takes the paying public far enough from the action that maybe they stay away and just watch the TV broadcast.
IoM TT is a throwback, and spectator involvement must be a massive part of its continuing and increasing popularity.
I love that BeIn Sports is showing Superstock as part of the broadcast. That just adds to the generally excellent quality of the racing in WSBK. Now to get BSB on the tube here :-)

Silverstone is about as flat as anywhere gets....

I don't see that Silverstone is any worse than a most other circuits these days and the Arena area is a great spectating position whether you are outside of the Beckett's complex or in the infield area. It is especially good in some places when you can access the grandstands for free.
The embankments provided as part of the circuit re-vamp are a big help too, as natural elevation was totally absent before.

Access to the circuit and making an escape afterwards are about as easy as it can be, with lots of good car parks and the bike parking is usually on tarmac.

I like to walk the circuit on practice days and then settle somewhere for the races and the walking is easy with good paths etc., and you are not led away from the track except in a few limited areas. I wasn't there this year and agree that having big screens has to be part of the show nowadays if they want to attract larger crowds/families.

I have given up going to the North West 200 precisely because they have pushed the spectators so far away and with that gone there is little reason to put up with the other issues that you get when attending road races. The Bray Hill incident at the TT this year worries me because its almost certain that there will be legal action and that has the potential for insurers to say 'change it or you don't get insurance'.

In my book this is like banning kids playing conkers - yes it has a risk, but more people will die from eating crap food and they don't ban that......if you go into those areas you accept the risk and enjoy it.

F1 rightly sets very high safety standards and the accidents over the years show that the balance is about right - it has risk but it's not suicidal if something goes wrong. I can accept those limits at permanent circuits, but at road races I hope they never tighten it beyond where we are and it would be good to see the fans win some areas back at the NW200.