No qualifying this weekend at Rockingham as the circuit has the painters in, and in an excuse worthy of British Rail the wrong paint's been used.

A bizarre series of events resulted in the customary two 30-minute sessions being cancelled with grid positions determined on the riders' current championship position instead.

The problems began on Friday when Supersport Team Vitrans' Dean Thomas crashed during free practice. The Australian was uninjured, however his bike was totally destroyed when it slammed into the wall at the end of the start/finish straight. The cause of this crash was very quickly identified as wet paint on the track surface.

Last year demarcation zones were introduced to Rockingham. These painted areas are designed to help improve safety by keeping speeding bikes clear of the concrete walls that surround the outer reaches of the Northamptonshire circuit. A ten second penalty is imposed on any rider who strays into the strategically placed yellow-banded sections.

Demarcation zones are not required for Rockingham's stock trade of car racing but safety regulations make them essential for motorcycle events. Track officials arranged for the required areas to be marked in preparation for this weekend's BSB round. Unfortunately, the paint and wax sealant deemed best for the job, reacted badly and the paint did not dry. Thomas was the first rider to discover this when his front wheel touched a line under braking.

The offending markings were steam cleaned overnight, however one or two patches were still present in the morning, leaving track officials with no alternative but to call in the big guns - in the form of shot blasting equipment.

Restoring grip to the surface took several hours, which forced the cancellation of qualifying. It also meant that Superstock, 125GP and New Era class activities were curtailed for the weekend - the races to be run at future rounds.

Once narrow white lines were repainted around the offending areas, two half-hour free practice session were instigated for each of the Superbike, Supersport and Yamaha R6 Cup classes to continue their individual search for settings and suitable tyres before Sunday's races.



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