Sunday is MotoGP's swansong at Donington, the last time that the world's premier racing series will ever visit the classic Leicestershire track. You would think that the circuit owners would want to make an extra effort, to make the final MotoGP meeting here go with a bang.
This is not the impression the riders got. Grip levels were low, according to several riders, with Valentino Rossi complaining the track was as slippery as it has ever been. "Usually when you go to a track, on the kerbs you have the paint, the asphalt is green, it is ready for the start," he told reporters. "Here it looks like they clean a little bit, say it's OK, go for the last time and on Monday, they start the work for the Formula 1."
The weather was also a factor, but the condition of the track made riding very difficult. "Also rain-sun-rain-sun, this year the grip is very bad." Rossi said. "Also in the wet, compared to the Sachsenring, at the Sachsenring it is possible to touch the knee, ride, make good angle, here is very very tricky to ride the bike." The condition of the track had Rossi concerned about lasting the distance on Sunday: "If I have to make 30 laps under this condition, in the wet, is very difficult. So we have to stay calm and concentrate for 30 laps, take the rhythm and go."
When asked about Rossi's comments, Nicky Hayden agreed, saying "Especially in the left handers, yeah, it feels really slippery to me, from mid-corner to exit." In reply to questions about the amount of preparation which had gone into the track, Hayden was candid: "You know, when I went around the track on Thursday, I couldn't believe how dirty it was, especially up into Turn 7. You could see where the water had been sitting, it was just filthy." Hayden was also none too complimentary about the state of the kerbs, adding "When they were painting the kerbs, they were painting right over mud. They were painting dirt, instead of I guess cleaning those and then painting them."
Casey Stoner even put this morning's crash down to the slipperiness of the track. "This morning's [crash] was ridiculous," Stoner said. "I was off the front brake, everything showed on the telemetry I had no front brake on and it just, whoosh, down it went. The front tire was already scrubbed in, there was no reason for it."
Construction work has been going on at the track, building a new tunnel for access to the infield in preparation for the new paddock to be built for the Formula 1 series. Whether this construction work has anything to do with the apparently poor state of the track is unknown.