Six World Superbike riders have opted not to take part in the opening race of the Argentina round due to safety concerns.

With dust and sand making the Circuito San Juan Villicum slippery despite clean-up efforts by World Superbike organisers, a number of riders protested against the race taking place on safety grounds.

Despite 11th-hour meetings between World Superbike chiefs and riders, the circuit was declared safe to race by the FIM and Dorna to see Race 1 go ahead as scheduled.

Eugene Laverty, Marco Melandri, Ryuichi Kiyonari, Sandro Cortese, Chaz Davies and Leon Camier all opted not to start the race, while Loris Baz was ruled out by injury sustained in a crash during qualifying.

Both Leon Haslam and Jordi Torres also voiced objections against the race before eventually taking their grid slot in the opener in Argentina.

As a result, only 12 riders started the opening 21-lap race at Circuito San Juan Villicum.

Speaking to Eurosport, Davies has explained the reasons behind riders choosing not to start the race and claims the FIM accepted the circuit was not up to the safety standards required for the World Superbike championship.

“For a few months we’ve know the situation at San Juan and on Wednesday night the circuit was homologated even though by admission from the FIM they said the circuit didn’t come up to homologation specification,” Davies said. “The temperature has gone up and up today and we felt as riders, 80 or 90% riders, before the race all agreed that it was incredibly risky to go and do it.

“Unfortunately there is always pressure from outside, from team managers, from manufacturers, from certain manufacturers but not here luckily, to go out there and race. Some people have still got things to fight for and in this case some of us stuck together and even the world champion, two minutes before the pit lane opened he said that he wasn’t happy to go and race.

“He had massive pressure from his team to go and do it, and he wasn’t happy to go and do it and yet he has lined up. He is worth a lot more than all of us, he speaks for 10 or 15 of us and I am super disappointed in that.”

Davies says riders were pushing to delay the race until tomorrow, with cooler conditions forecast at the track, to also give organisers more time to improve the safety standards at the circuit.

“I want to be out there now and tomorrow. The point is this track in these hot conditions there is oil coming up and this afternoon [in qualifying] was two seconds slower and this morning it was even dirtier than it was this afternoon,” he explained.

“The circuit is not in a stable condition at the moment and what we have seen from the temperature changes, we’ve seen that a little bit of heat has really affected it. We said tomorrow that it is meant to be ten degrees cooler so can we do two races tomorrow, possibly even the Superpole race, but definitely two long races old school, let’s do two races.

“Unfortunately, because most guys went to the grid the riders revolt didn’t work, but I stand by the decision that some of us made and I think sometimes you’ve got to do that. I am just disappointed it hasn’t worked out.

“We shouldn’t be in this situation coming into a circuit in 2019 with conditions like this. We shouldn’t be here full stop and the pressure it then puts on you to go out there in risky conditions is massive. Nothing is bigger than safety in this sport as it is dangerous enough. Loris Baz has just gone home with a broken wrist and we saw that coming already yesterday. It is a crap situation.”

The Argentinean circuit made its World Superbike debut last year, with Jonathan Rea taking a double victory for Kawasaki.

 

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