We’ve tested the Silverstone track surface ahead of British MotoGP…

Visordown gives the freshly laid Silverstone surface a good run-in last week ahead of the 2019 British MotoGP event on August 23-25

Yamaha R1M Masterclass

FOLLOWING this weekend’s Austrian MotoGP, the eyes of the international motorsport community turn to Round 12 of the 2019 MotoGP World Championship, the British MotoGP at Silverstone.

As ever, the UK round of motorcycling’s premier class is highly-anticipated, but this year’s event is coming under particular focus following the debacle that led to the rain-affected 2018 British MotoGP race day being cancelled due excessive standing water on the recently resurfaced track.

As such, ahead of this year’s round – on 23-25 August 2019 - Visordown took the opportunity to join the Yamaha R1M Masterclass at Silverstone to both ensure the last of the current generation model goes out with a ‘big bang’ but also to discover if the re-resurfaced track withstands the British summer’s ‘four seasons in one day’ climate this time.

Rain, rain and more rain… perfect!

My first session was at 9:45 and large rooster tails were hurled into the air as we headed out down the short straight to Maggotts. Despite this, the circuit seemed surprisingly grippy, not at all as you’d expect from a surface that has only been in place for a matter of weeks.

I’m not anywhere near getting my knee down in the wet but was happy with the amount of lean I could carry and surprised by how early I could get on the throttle without troubling the R1M’s traction control system. With the 20-minute session coming to an end, a dry line had already formed around Maggotts, Brooklands, Luffield and on the exit of Woodcote.

My next session was 10:30 and the track was totally dry. It became immediately clear that the new Tarmac is extremely grippy, with smooth transitions from the track to kerb. It’s almost surreal the amount of grip that’s available, with even my mediocre track riding skills allowing me to carry more corner speed and achieve better lap times than I ever thought possible.

The new surface was proving so grippy that some of the hardened trackday heroes, the folk with slicks and tyre warmers, were running the same pressures as the last time they visited the circuit, prior to the resurfacing works. Many were experiencing wear issues, as the new surface offered so much more grip than before it was causing the tyre to almost fold on the shoulder, creating large patches of wear – especially on the right side of the tyre.

What can MotoGP expect at Silverstone?

Aside from the drainage and grip improvements, Dromo (contractors behind latest resurface) also strived to remodel some of the corners, creating some camber to the otherwise glassy profile of the track.

There’s now that bit of extra camber where previously it was totally flat, that’s a massive boost in the middle of the corner and gives you so much more confidence to get the bike back on the gas and get out of the turn more quickly.

With the second from last session being the only one that saw a flurry of rain, another shock revealed itself to all on track in how quickly it dried out. Heading down the Wellington straight we could see sheets of heavy rain swiping left to right across the track. With the rooster-tails back in full effect, the boots of most riders dropped to the surface to try and evaluate what was beneath us.

Sure enough, the track was slick and slippery, as the summer rain sat proudly on top of the new asphalt. Heading out of copse and down the old start finish straight we take it easy for the remainder of the lap, pre-empting another wet approach to the Brooklands complex.

To all our total surprise, the track had gone from completely wet to bone dry and back on the pace in about a minute.

The methods used to avoid a repeat of 2018

After the 2018 MotoGP race and a flooded track that curtailed any racing on Sunday, Silverstone, Tarmac and track design company Dromo have been working tirelessly to ensure a repeat of the disappointment does not occur again.

To ensure this the entire surface has been given a thorough going over, with GPS and laser-guided planes (large scraping machines that take off precise amounts of the old surface) and a bespoke mix of aggregate, the layout has been shaped, modelled and coated with a new topcoat of super-sticky and drain-happy blacktop.

The grip levels and wet-weather performance of new layout at Silverstone make for a truly exhilarating layout, especially on a 1000cc machine like Yamaha’s R1M. If you’ve never booked at a Silverstone track day, do it now.

The venue is once again a world-class facility and now one of my favourites to ride. While we can’t promise a dry MotoGP event this year, we can confirm that should the heavens open, the hardware is in place to ensure that racing can go ahead. And if it’s dry, expect the lap records to tumble!

Pitcures thanks to Gary, Owen & Nicole Bailey for Picman​