MotoGP: British GP canceled after track deemed ‘too unsafe’

SILVERSTONE, England (AP) — The British Grand Prix became the first MotoGP race to be canceled in 38 years on Sunday after heavy rain left standing water on parts of the new track at Silverstone.

Officials said track conditions were deemed “too unsafe” to race on. The start time had been brought forward by 90 minutes because of a forecast of heavy rain.

MotoGP race director Mike Webb said the new surface at Silverstone, which was laid in February, was to blame.

“We’ve had a number of years’ experience here in very wet conditions recently with the old surface and have been able to run races,” Webb said.

“This year, with the new surface, is the first time we’ve encountered quite so much standing water in critical places on the track. So yes it’s a direct result of the track surface.”

Jorge Lorenzo had been due to start on pole position, with championship leader Marc Marquez in fifth place.

“We are very sorry for all the fans,” Marquez tweeted, “we are the first ones that we want to ride but safety is the priority.”

The last MotoGP race to be called off because of weather or track conditions was Austria in 1980.

The British GP is the 12th of 19 races on the MotoGP calendar.

“The staff have done an unbelievable effort over the whole weekend to try and make the track safe and until the last minute they were still working,” Webb said, “but unfortunately we couldn’t battle nature.”