World Superbike riders have openly slated track conditions at Circuito San Juan Villicum following Friday practice, with track inspections planned to assess safety conditions for the rest of the weekend.

With the fastest lap time in FP2 set by Alvaro Bautista almost two seconds slower compared to the FP2 results 12 months ago during World Superbike’s maiden visit to the new Argentina track, riders complained of the circuit being covered by sand and dust which made the majority of Friday’s running a track cleaning exercise.

The majority of riders said they were unable to push, or even get their knees down with confidence, while Leon Haslam was given a scare with an out-lap high-side at the start of FP2.

“I fell on an out lap, with zero-lean angle and zero brakes, as I had an off throttle high-side,” Haslam said. “It is the first time I had used that tyre. I went back out on my second tyre after the crash and I had zero grip.

“I could not even get to my knee because compared to the morning conditions they were a lot worse.”

“It was really difficult to find a feeling out there because you cannot push anywhere near the limit. It is like riding on marbles and the track did not get much better,” newly-crowned five-time World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea added. “I expected a big step in the afternoon session. Even though the track looked cleaner the grip wasn’t there.

“A really frustrating day because you are kind of reluctant to do anything with the bike set-up in readiness for the track ‘rubbering-in’ some more.”

GRT Yamaha’s Marco Melandri believes if conditions are similar for the rest of the weekend it could risk races being abandoned due to unsafe track conditions.

“This afternoon the clean line on track was just a metre wide and grip was so lacking that in some corners it was impossible to even touch your knee on the floor,” Melandri said. “If you go wide and onto the dirtier parts of the track, then it’s too easy to high-side on the brakes.

“It was very bad today. I’m maybe not the right person to ask, as I will retire at the end of the season, but we shouldn’t have to race in conditions like we had today, as it’s just too dangerous.”

Loris Baz accepts while conditions remain the same for all riders he has also warned about the track being dangerous in a racing situation with limited grip off of the racing line.

“Last year on the first day the track conditions were the same, but the first year at a track you can maybe understand, but to have an even worse problem the following year makes no sense,” the Ten Kate Racing Yamaha rider explained. “Today we couldn’t work on the bike at all in these conditions, basically we were just out there cleaning the track.

“For me the second session was more difficult, which I couldn’t understand, but then we saw an immediate improvement towards the end when we changed the rear tyre, so that could have been the problem. In the end they didn’t allow my fastest lap, but I am pretty confident for tomorrow.

“The conditions are difficult and, while they are the same for everyone, I hope will we see some improvement for tomorrow because, right now, it’s quite dangerous to overtake and this is something that needs to be addressed.”

World Superbike organisers have confirmed track inspections will take place before each session on Saturday and Sunday, while FP3 has been extended by 15 minutes to provide additional track time before qualifying.

 

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