Alex takes P5 in Argentina race 1
The Pata Yamaha WorldSBK team continued their run of positive form in Saturday’s Race 1 in Argentina, with Alex Lowes taking fifth.
The condition of the San Juan Villicum circuit has been a major discussion point all weekend, with riders expressing their concerns about the dirty surface and the newly resurfaced areas of the track even before anyone had turned a wheel in anger.
Efforts by circuit staff to clean the track surface on Thursday afternoon proved woefully inadequate and conditions on the opening day were treacherous, with surface dirt and seepage from the new asphalt causing a severe lack of grip, a problem that was exacerbated as the track temperature increased.
While a full day of track sessions yesterday meant that a much wider clean line was available to riders in the final free practice session and qualifying today if riders were forced offline by a mistake or by a rival, the level of grip available dropped significantly.
The condition of the San Juan Villicum track was significantly below the standard expected of a circuit on the world championship calendar on arrival, and unfortunately, it remains below this standard, despite the improvements as a result of use and maintenance over the past two days.
Despite the problems, today’s WorldSBK Race 1 ran the full distance and, while times were slower than expected due to the tricky conditions, was concluded without a single incident and with all 12 protagonists picking up championship points at the chequered flag.
Track conditions are expected to improve further for Sunday, as the forecast is for overcast skies and an ambient temperature significantly lower than the last two days.
“I didn’t have the pace I was expecting in the race. At first, I was on the back of the leading group, but they were a bit quicker than me as I wasn’t comfortable stopping the bike and getting it into the corner, so that was tough. I knew I could do 1’42 consistently and I tried to keep that pace until the end. I knew Leon Haslam was catching me, but I couldn’t really go any faster, so it was a case of ensuring I didn’t make any mistakes, as running even a little offline and onto the dirty part of the track lost you a lot of time. It was a little bit frustrating, but I managed to get fifth and we have plenty of information that we can use to find improvements for tomorrow. Overall, not too bad, but a shame how it all turned out on the grid ahead of the race. But anyway, the focus is now on tomorrow and challenging for the podium.”