Riders have complained about the gravel traps at the Algarve International Racetrack in Portimão
MotoGP boss Carmelo Ezpeleta has threatened to cancel the Portuguese Grand Prix in 2024 if the Algarve International Racetrack (AIA) fails to carry out improvements to its gravel traps.
Speaking to German magazine Speedweek, the executive director of Dorna which organises the MotoGP World Championship said that “unless the state of the gravel layers changes completely, there will be no MotoGP race (in the Algarve) next year.”
The main complaint seems to be the size of the stones used in the gravel traps, which are designed to reduce the speed of vehicles which are unintentionally run off the track.
MotoGP riders have reportedly complained about the stones, which they say are “too big” and cause injuries to riders who fall.
Just last weekend during the Portuguese Grand Prix, Portuguese rider Miguel Oliveira and Spanish rider Marc Marquéz both sustained injuries after crashing and skidding onto one of the circuit’s gravel traps.
“With the current situation, which has claimed many victims, Portimão will not have a place on the calendar in 2024. We have enough requests from other countries and circuits,” Ezpeleta said.
“I have made this very clear to the Portuguese. Without gravel beds in accordance with the regulations, the track will not receive an A-grade homologation for 2024; therefore, they cannot be included in the GP calendar,” he added.
According to the magazine, Dorna has demanded that the situation be dealt with before the Superbike World Championship race, which will be held from September 29 to October 1.
Racetrack CEO guarantees situation will be resolved
The Algarve International Racetrack CEO has guaranteed that the issues highlighted by Dorna’s executive director will be dealt with before the next event is held.
“It is normal, it is a reaction from riders who have complained about it, who had issues, but this is a part of it and there will be no problems,” Paulo Pinheiro said during the ‘Bola Branca’ show on Rádio Renascença.
Jorge Viegas, president of the International Motorcycling Federation (FIM), has stressed that these warnings have to be taken seriously.
“We are relentless when it comes to security matters. Organisers have to know what to do. This issue with the gravel has existed for some time. If conditions aren’t guaranteed, there will be no event,” Viegas said, expressing his confidence that the AIA’s management will carry out the necessary improvements.
“I believe there will surely be a GP,” he added.