Posted 03 July 2012 - 09:12 AM
It's been coming. Running 200bhp+ bikes around some of the British circuits (and now without traction control) is not safe enough any longer. The tracks were never designed to handle that kind of power. I know it's a very romantic notion, to see those guys around Cadwell and Knockhill and even Brands Hatch, but it is bordering on dangerous for danger's sake now. I'm not the only one to spot it. I've been commenting on this for about 3 years now. At Cadwell Park, the medical crew and the marshalls have been on red alert from 8am on a Friday morning until 6pm on a Sunday because of the close calls and accidents. I watched half of Knockhill through my fingers. It's lunacy. I know it's inherently dangerous and the guys sign their contracts etc, but take away the romantic notion of BSB being an awesome series (which it is) and look at it without the rose tinted glasses and it's only a matter of time.
The BSB top people, MSVR and Higgs etc, are aware of the situation and as far as I have heard they are running Assen this year as a tester for plans to come. Those plans would see the GP standard tracks like Donington and Silverstone, plus wider tracks with runoff like Thruxton remain, and then they would add certain European rounds and effectively become half UK based and half Euro based and essentially become European Superbikes.
They would use circuits like Assen and Jerez along with a couple of others to pick up the slack at those tracks as WSBK moves back to running around the world rather than being basically a Euro series with just two fly-away's as has been the case for many years now. They have India and Russia, Australia and the US, and they are looking at Malaysia and Indonesia and others. That allows BSB as we now know it to morph into the Euro series it really has no choice but to become safety wise.
Nobody loves seeing these bikes go round Oulton Park and Brands Hatch more than I, but as above, these tracks were never designed for these bikes we have running now. Brands has been littered with crashes and near tragedy the last few years. The section at Graham Hill bend alone has seen some awful accidents. There will be complaints and opinion but ultimately, for rider safety, I agree it has to happen. Accidents even on the safest GP homologated tracks happen - Marco Simoncelli the obvious example. But they are rare.
Kirkhams crash at Oulton a few weeks back seemed to be laughed off as lucky and he was only bruised and knocked about so it was okay, and a cameraman managed to get away with it. But in reality, that was a case in point. Very fast section of track, very little runoff and had it been a metre the other way, a camera worker could have been killed and a rider could have fared far worse. It's almost like folks are happy to accept it until one of the top guys is killed and then we'll do something about it. That is a British trait I'm afraid. Forethought of zero and reactionary after the fact.
As I said, BSB is awesome and it is kind of catch 22 because it's those tight tracks and the speed on them with the rules package we have here that in part anyway makes it what it is. But you strip that romanticism away and the problem is there, and glaringly so for me.