Ten Kate Yamaha Supported WorldSBK rider, Loris Baz, was ruled unfit to race by circuit medical staff following a crash in the final turn during the early stages of today's Superpole qualifying session. Baz sustained contusions to his left wrist, with the impact severe enough to cause extensive swelling but no other damage. The Frenchman's injury will be reassessed ahead of warm-up tomorrow morning, but Baz is confident that he'll be passed fit to ride.
Also absent from today's Race 1 grid were Sandro Cortese and Marco Melandri. While the GRT Yamaha team had their Yamaha R1’s ready to race, both riders felt the inconsistent surface of the San Juan Villicum track was not conducive to safe racing and opted not to take their place on the grid. In total six riders made the decision not to race due to safety concerns, leaving a depleted grid of just 12 riders to contest WorldSBK Race 1.
The condition of the San Juan Villicum circuit has been a major discussion point all weekend, with riders expressing their concerns about the dirty surface and the newly resurfaced areas of the track even before anyone had turned a wheel in anger.
Efforts by circuit staff to clean the track surface on Thursday afternoon proved woefully inadequate and conditions on the opening day were treacherous, with surface dirt and seepage from the new asphalt causing a severe lack of grip, a problem that was exacerbated as the track temperature increased.
While a full day of track sessions yesterday meant that a much wider clean line was available to riders in the final free practice session and qualifying today if riders were forced offline by a mistake or by a rival, the level of grip available dropped significantly.
The condition of the San Juan Villicum track was significantly below the standard expected of a circuit on the world championship calendar on arrival, and unfortunately, it remains below this standard, despite the improvements as a result of use and maintenance over the past two days.
Despite the problems, today's WorldSBK Race 1 ran the full distance and, while times were slower than expected due to the tricky conditions, was concluded without a single incident and with all 12 protagonists picking up championship points at the chequered flag.
Track conditions are expected to improve further tomorrow, as the forecast is for overcast skies and an ambient temperature significantly lower than the last two days.