Team expelled from WorldSBK for ‘handing out water’ given reprieve

2R Racing Team is allowed back in the WorldSBK paddock after being expelled for breaking COVID protocol, but owner says Dorna personnel also broke rules

WorldSSP 300 in Jerez

A team that was thrown out of the WorldSBK paddock for breaking Dorna’s protocol with regards to coronavirus has been allowed to return, but the outfit says the ‘harsh’ penalty for its actions has already cost it significant backing.

The controversy occurred on WorldSBK’s return to action in Spain earlier this month when 2R Racing – which competes in the supporting WorldSSP 300 category – was photographed with team personnel not wearing masks and sharing refreshments with outside members.

The retribution was swift with officials arriving with a member of the circuit security staff to inform the team that it had been expelled from the championship with immediate effect.

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While accepting his team wasn’t strict enough with following guidelines put in place to stem the spread of COVID-19, 2R Racing manager Roberto Antonellini says it wasn’t sharing a buffet – as was first reported – and was merely allowing water to be given out in temperatures that at the time were upwards of 40-degrees.

Regarding the lack of masks, Antonellini told at the time that he had seen Dorna employees also circulating in the paddock without masks.

“We signed the protocol and the rules. We know we lost, but an exclusion from the championship seems excessive, considering that we are guilty of offering something to drink in our tent and whoever is thirsty. Two Dorna employees came along with a policeman and showed pictures of our people without masks in the garage. 

“I spoke to Gregorio Lavilla myself, admitted the mistake and offered to pay a fine, but we were expelled with immediate effect. We lost 20,000 euros that we paid to Dorna, so a fifth of our budget for the season is wasted. 

“I saw with my own eyes Dorna employees outside their offices without masks because of the heat. We know we have to be careful, but this exclusion is really serious.”

The team has since been given the opportunity to return for this weekend’s event at Motorland Aragon, but Antonellini says the damage has already been done to the team’s reputation, saying one of its backers wanted a full refund on its investment as a result.

“Some photos were taken in my hospitality where there were people from other teams, important ones, who might not have a fridge and who came to get a bottle of water. At this point I wonder why I am out and they are not? I was wrong, I know, but mine was a human error made for humanity.

“Returning costs us a lot. COVID took away a third of our budget with some sponsors who did not have the opportunity to stay with us, then we left again even if we did not want to ask for a loan from two of our sponsors. What happened hit us in all the newspapers around the world and one asked for all the money back. I made an enormous mistake, it’s not that I invented it, but the price was enormous.

“Gregoria Lavilla called me and he was certainly not the same person on the day they put us out. Now I would be very pleased to meet him in person [in Spain].”