Just last week we reported that the Autodromo di Monza is currently being investigated by Italian authorities, following last month’s the fourth round of the World Superbike champinship in regards to the track surface (especially the recent repaving between the Ascari and Parabolica) that according to public prosecutors endangered the lives of the riders.
Monza doesn’t want to lose World Superbikes in 2013 and Enrico Ferrari, the director of the circuit is trying to make amends and has gone as far to state, “The Monza Superbike round in 2013 will be on the calendar. The FIM homologation is annual, and if it’s necessary we will carry out work on the track.”
Just hours before the start of this weekend’s World Superbike round at Donington Park, Liberty Racing has issued yet another statement trying to clarify the controversial one that they released immediately after the Monza fiasco.
Apparently everyone misunderstood the first one and they were not hitting out at Infront or Pirelli for the fiasco, but were criticizing that small group of riders and teams that seemed to have made the decisions on whether to race or not.
However it seems that the media wasn’t the only one to misinterpret their words as Infront has their lawyers looking into it and the Race Direction has taken Marco Melandri off of the list of riders who they consult with in case another difficult situation should happen in the future.
In another statement, the team confirmed that they will present at this weekend’s event, but there are rumors that sponsor Effenbert has not brought their hospitality to England and the team livery could be without the Effenbert banner as a protest for the lost media visibility they sustained at Monza, as Liberty Racing continues to hint that they could lose their title sponsor all together.
The Liberty Racing Team, following an interview released by La Gazzetta dello Sport with team owner Mario Bertuccio, would like to further point out that the press release issued by the team on Sunday, May 6, has been unambiguously understood by some media and given the wrong interpretations to the concepts expressed.
The clear disappointment was directed to a small number of team managers and riders that conditioned the development of the Monza race for their specific sports interests, and not against Infront Motorsport, to which the Czech team has great respect and trust, and thanks to which the team’s image has grown over the years.
There weren’t just nice Italian hotties hanging around the Monza paddock during the latest World Superbike round: here is a cool photo gallery featuring some shots taken live and on the spot and picturing some of the best moments from the last weekend taken on the podium, in the pits, on the grid and everywhere else while the engines were switched off.
We’ll try to put what happened during yesterday’s World Superbike round at Monza behind us, The mixed up weather, the tires, the indecision and confusion by the Race Direction and Infront, the subsequent angry press release by the Effenbert Liberty team, Pirelli’s criticism towards riders and teams and what options they had offered and riders snapping against each other talking about safety.
It’ll be a lot better to check out our 170 photo strong mega gallery from the past weekend at the Temple of Speed and remember Tom Sykes flying down the Monza straight at 339.5 km/h on Saturday afternoon and his amazing 9.7 second lead and victory in Race 2 before it was red flagged, and read for yourself what the riders had to say after a very difficult weekend.
Apparently team owner Mario Bertuccio had some other choice words for Infront’s management and is now threatening to send to Donington Park (May 13th) only their riders and mechanics and not bring their mega hospitality and that the English round will be their last, while guaranteeing that everyone involved in the Effenbert Liberty teams, from riders to mechanics will be paid.
If the rumors turn out to be true, a pullout by the biggest team in the World Supebike paddock would mean four less bikes on the grid and Infront’s growing and popular championship series getting a big slap in the face.
We hope that the rumors are just that, and in these next few days before the next round, everyone will have time to cool down and solve their issues and put the Italian fiasco behind them and just go racing.
In our Saturday’s WSBKs Superpole post we already mentioned that Pirelli’s Giorgio Barbier was called out regarding the condition of the rain tires that after a couple of laps on the patchy surface were destroyed, with the Italian manager responding that he had recommended that the riders use intermediate tires that are there for that purpose, but very few riders heeded his suggestion as they don’t like that tire, and in today’s post on race 1 we told you that Pirelli had spent the entire night cutting the softer race tires to allow the riders another option if the conditions were again dry-wet, now the tire manufacturer has hit back with their own press release after the Monza debacle.
We’ve also posted Pirelli’s Monza promo video and what their tires would have gone through if the weather had cooperated.
“The weekend at Monza was most certainly conditioned from Saturday by weather conditions which were extremely unstable, with nice weather, suddenly alternating with rain and at times even with hail.
“As for Superbike, first and foremost I would like to make an important note on Saturday’s Superpole: Pirelli consistently recommended that the teams and riders use the intermediate tyres which were available to them.
“This advice, however, was completely ignored since all of the riders used rain tyres. Clearly the reason for this was the fact that the track was completely dry in places, while in others it was wet due to the trees along the track which kept the asphalt from drying.
“The rain tyres run well at 50 per cent-60 per cent, but on the two consecutive straight stretches, which were completely dry, they obviously reached temperatures well above 200 degrees. This caused a meltdown of the compound in the centre. I would also like to reassure everyone on this point that Pirelli tyres have a particular structure with a steel belt, and therefore it is absolutely impossible for them to explode.
“That said, on Sunday the riders in the Superstock classes raced as scheduled, in conditions which were even worse than those during the Superbike races, using the rain tyres on the front and the intermediate or race tyres on the rear. In Supersport, as further proof that the Pirelli rain tyres can most definitely sustain an entire race without any problems, the riders raced and finished on rain tyres.
“So it was a shame that, although the Superbike riders had two intermediate solutions available to them for the rear, they expected only to use the racing slicks. Once the race began, in any case, it was clear that even in those conditions a good race could be run.”
Today’s World Superbike round at Monza turned out to be an attempted boycott of the Superbike riders against Pirelli (they’ve issued a press release) and against racing in mixed and what some of riders described as very dangerous conditions, while their less famous and notable colleagues in the other classes raced in exactly same conditions.
What happened at Monza should have never have occured with the Race Direction and organizers letting a small handful of riders take over the decisions and there were even harsh words exchanged between several of the Italian riders, those who wanted to race and others who said it was too risky, with Marco Melandri telling off Ayrton Badovini that he should hit his head on the asphalt more often if he wanted to race in these conditions and arguing with Pier Francesco Chili in LA7s post race over safety issues.
Maybe Carl Fogarty who was present at Monza for World Superbikes 25th anniversary summed up it up best, “There aren’t riders like there used to be who would always race and in any condition.”
Effenbert Liberty team who fields four bikes in the championship, took the entire mess one step further, issuing the following press release slamming Infront for being held hostage by some riders saying that will now re-consider their future in the series.
We’ve also posted the two highlight videos from Monza.
“The clear impression is that the WSBK has endured one of its worst days, disrespect for the public, for those who, like Team Effenbert, invests and for 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 single brand championship of scooters. 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, a fact proven by the competitions of the other classes without major incident and without complaint.
“Considering all this situations, the team Effenbert Liberty’s management will reflect about its racing future.”
This weekend’s World Superbike round at Monza will probably go down in history and it won’t be for the 25th anniversary of the series, but rather to the capricious weather and the tires.
After race 1 was finally cancelled for safety reasons, race 2 was further delayed as the Italian circuit presented itself once again dry with several wet patches and the rider again were unhappy with the conditions and unsure whether to race with the tires that Pirelli had specifically brought for this round.
The organizers mediated the situation, have decided that the race was dry, but shortened it to 16 laps, but leaving the final decision to race to the riders after they completed two warm-up laps. Once they returned to the grid Marco Melandri, Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa halted the start again, unsatisfied with the conditions of the Ascari and Parabolica while other riders stated that they could race, if they were careful.
Infront’s Paolo Ciabatti was to say the least upset (as were the booing fans) and proceeded to do a head count of who wanted to race and who didn’t, and with the yays outwaying the nays, another warm-up lap was decided telling those who were contrary that the race take place, could withdraw. At the end everyone lined up on the grid, minus pole sitter Sylvain Guintoli and Michel Fabrizio, who both suffered technical issues on their Ducati’s and David Salom who suffered a broken shoulder during his race 1 crash and John Hopkins who has a suspected foot injury.
Tom Sykes immediately took the lead and ran away leaving the BMW and Aprilia factory riders to dice it out until the 8th lap when the race was red flagged due to rain. The Kawasaki rider who had had a nine second margin over the rest of the field was awarded the victory and half points, 12.5 instead of 25. Leon Haslam took the second spot on the podium with Eugene Laverty in third, making it almost an entire British podium, even if Laverty is from North Ireland.
World Superbike Race started dry however the Monza circuit presented several treacherous wet patches due to the shade of the trees, but everyone started on slick tires.
Tom Sykes was in the lead on the third lap, when it started to rain and the race was immediately red flagged, but not before John Hopkins, David Salom and Sergio Gadea all crashed out at the Parabolica. Marco Melandri also crashed out in the previous lap caught out by a damp spot seriously damaging his BMW at the same corner where Mark Aitchison crashed out on the warm-up lap.
Though the race was originally rescheduled as wet, - Melandri able to rejoin the starting grid as his team was able to rebuild his bike in twenty minutes - an impromptu riders’ meeting on the grid led by Carlos Checa, Melandri and Michel Fabrizio stopped everything with a small group of riders unwilling to risk racing in dodgy weather and above all, not completely trusting the Pirelli softer compound tires that the Italian manufacturer had cut during the night following complaints that none of spec tires were working and they were shredding after a few laps.
After discussions with Giulio Bardi and Paolo Ciabatti and Matteo Flammini, five representatives of the riders, Checa, Melandri, Max Biaggi - who suffered a technical issue on his new spec engine and had to pushed and pulled to his garage by a helpful Carlos Checa and wouldn’t have been able to rejoin if the race re-started - Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes went onto a track inspection with the organizers and then it started raining heavily, but only in certain areas of the circuit, which became flooded.
The race could have been shortened and run on full wets, but the organizers decided to cancel it all together for safety reasons.
Today’s World Superbike pole at Monza was all about taking risks and choosing the right tire and Effenbert Ducati rider Sylvain Guintoli perfectly interpreted the situation using a soft compound tire (not the Superpole one) to take the first spot on tomorrow’s starting grid.
Pirelli’s Giorgio Barbier was called out regarding the condition of the rain tires that after a couple of laps on the patchy surface were destroyed (some riders lost chunks on the straight) and several teams have used up five of their allocated eight sets of rain tires. The Italian manager said he had suggested that the riders use intermediate tires that are there for that purpose, but very few riders heeded his suggestion as they don’t like that tire.
The weather forecast for tomorrow at Monza calls for thunder storms before the start of race 1 and intermittent rain and clouds for the second race and the round will probably turn into a war of attrition.
Sylvain Guintoli - 1st
“I’m very proud of the result. It is my first ever Superpole win, and get it here at Monza with a Ducati has a greater value! I thank the team, engineers and mechanics, who supported me and with whom we have been able to study and make the most of our strategy. We consciously took risks but the end result has fully repaid our efforts. I have a great feeling with my the bike, we’re working hard and this is the right direction”.