The FIM has defended its call to run the opening World Superbike championship race in Argentina on Saturday when six riders opted to sit it out over safety concerns.

Eugene Laverty, Marco Melandri, Ryuichi Kiyonari, Sandro Cortese, Chaz Davies and Leon Camier chose not to start Race 1 at Circuito San Juan Villicum after it was declared safe to run as scheduled by the FIM and World Superbike organisers. The six riders have duly released a joint statement explaining their reasons behind the protest.

Dust and hot temperatures had made the track slippery all weekend which led to 11th-hour meetings between riders and championship organisers about delaying the first race until Sunday when conditions would be cooler and therefore safer to run.

But after the race went ahead with just 12 starters and won by Alvaro Bautista.

At the end of the Argentina World Superbike round, the FIM has released a statement clarifying its position and says all riders were happy to complete an unchanged race schedule after a meeting on Saturday after the final practice session.

The statement also details that during the FIM circuit inspection held on Wednesday, it requested the circuit management to wash the track to remove dust ahead of the weekend and duly issued an FIM circuit homologation on Thursday after a new inspection.

The six World Superbike riders who protested against Race 1 said the circuit did not meet many FIM safety requirements and felt their demands were not being listened to by championship organisers.

Full FIM World Superbike championship statement:

“Following the decision of six riders not to participate in Race 1 at the Motul Argentinean Round of the FIM Superbike World Championship, in San Juan on Saturday October 12th, FIM wishes to provide some clarifications.

“At the request of the FIM in 2018, the circuit of San Juan was resurfaced to host WorldSBK in 2019. On Wednesday, October 9th during the inspection of the track, the FIM safety officer requested the circuit management to wash the track to remove the dust that had accumulated during the last days to ensure the safety conditions necessary for the smooth running of the Argentinean round.

“After an intensive cleaning of the track, the homologation was issued on Thursday during a new inspection. This homologation procedure valid from Friday to Sunday is identical for each event of the championship and takes place on the Thursday preceding each race according to the FIM rules.

“On Friday evening during the safety commission meeting, the rider representatives expressed concern over the scorching conditions and its possible effect on the newly laid asphalt. In agreement with all the stakeholders (Riders, representatives of FIM and Dorna), it was decided that a meeting would be held on Saturday at 12h00 after the Free Practice session 3 to make a new point on the situation.

“At this meeting all riders were happy with the improvement of the track conditions and it was unanimously decided to go ahead with the Qualifying Sessions and race. Nevertheless, after Qualifying Sessions six WorldSBK riders decided not to take part in the race two hours later.

“The FIM wishes to remind that the safety of all riders is its priority and wish to emphasise that neither the scorching conditions nor the condition of the track surface at that precise moment justified the cancellation of the race.

“In addition and to provide a high level of marshalling, the FIM also provided a seminar for the 150 track marshals on Thursday at the San Juan circuit with the support of the national federation CAMOD.”