World Superbikes

Coronavirus Update: The Challenges Facing MotoGP And WorldSBK In 2020 And Beyond

No news is good news, at least as far as the current outbreak of COVID-19, or the coronavirus is concerned. And for thirteen days – nearly two whole weeks – we went without a change to the calendars of either the WorldSBK and MotoGP calendars. Given the speed at which the world has changed over the past two weeks, that is almost an eternity in normal time.

The same could not be said for other motorsport disciplines. For two weeks, we have been inundated with cancellations and postponements. The Le Mans 24 Hours Endurance motorcycle race has been postponed until August. The Daytona 200 and Daytona TT flat track races were postponed until October. The Merzouga Rally has been canceled, the route of the Silk Way Rally changed. The Isle of Man TT was canceled, Supercross and MXGP had rounds canceled and postponed.

The TT wasn't the only iconic event to be canceled. F1 canceled Monaco, probably the most prestigious race on its calendar, and postponed the races at Zandvoort and Barcelona, joining the Bahrain, Vietnam and China races in being pushed back to the second half of the year. The Le Mans 24 Hours car race was put back until September.

Changing day by day

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Assen WorldSBK Round Postponed To August - Further Changes On The Horizon

The COVID-19 outbreak has caused further delay in the WorldSBK calendar. Today, it was announced that the Dutch round of WorldSBK, due to be held at Assen on the weekend of April 19th, has been postponed, and put back to August.

The postponement of the Assen round became inevitable on Monday night, after the Dutch government extended its ban on public events until June 1st, and tightened restrictions on travel and gatherings.

Preparations for the change had been going on for some time, as the TT Circuit in Assen has a full calendar of events, with some kind of activity taking place on most days of the year. The new spot slots the WorldSBK race in between two other major events, the Gamma Racing Day, from 7th-9th August, and the Assen DTM round, from 4th-6th September.

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GPSpirit Video: Niki Kovács Interviews Rider Manager Simone Battistella On Handling The Coronavirus

Hungarian journalist, photographer, and ex-racer Niki Kovács is conducting a series of interviews with people involved in motorcycle racing on how they are dealing with the fallout of the COVID-19 outbreak. In the first of these (English-language) videos, Kovacs talks to Simone Battistella, manager of Andrea Dovizioso, Lorenzo Baldassarri, and Alvaro Bautista, on how he is helping his riders through this period of enforced idleness.

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Dorna Press Release: Carmelo Ezpeleta - Dorna Working To Ensure Modified Calendar Is Only Consequence Of COVID-19 Outbreak

Dorna today issued the following press release, containing a letter from CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta, concerning their ongoing plans for the 2020 season:


Letter from Dorna Sports CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta
Friday, 20 March 2020

Dear all,

Today, the OR Thailand Grand Prix was set to be getting underway in Buriram; the race weekend that was meant to be the second of the season. The entire MotoGP™ paddock and family was supposed to be doing what we love the most: racing. We would have loved to watch the riders from each category fighting it out on track and delighting us to another last corner battle like we’ve come to expect from Buriram.

We would have loved to see the many international members of the paddock back hard at work for our fans; both those who travel from all over the world to join us trackside in Thailand and those who, like they do every race weekend, follow us faithfully from every corner of the globe.

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Gordon Ritchie WorldSBK Blog: End Of Daze

Gordon Ritchie has covered World Superbikes for over a quarter of a century, and is widely regarded as the world's leading journalist on the series. MotoMatters.com is delighted to be hosting a monthly blog by Ritchie. The full blog will be available each month for MotoMatters.com subscribers. You can find out more about subscribing to MotoMatters.com here.

With the racing world in turmoil due to the coronavirus outbreak (just like the rest of the world) we decided to publish this blog in full for all readers, rather than just for subscribers.

Poor old WorldSBK, it just cannot seem to catch a break, can it? After one of the most remarkable opening rounds in its 30-plus years of history, laden with close racing, human drama and an entirely positive outlook from both within and without the paddock, the post-Phillip Island WorldSBK posse was looking forward to another triple-header of high velocity brawls two weekends later, at Losail in Qatar. The MotoGP guys would even sweep the dustbowl track clear for us one week before, so everybody would be primed, ready and able to show the same kind of close formation action at another fast circuit so very soon after the classic opener in Australia.

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FIM Press Release: An Interview With FIM President Jorge Viegas, On Coronavirus, Sport, And Doping

On Saturday, the FIM issued the following press release containing an interview by respected Swiss journalist Jean-Claude Schertenleib. The interview covers some interesting ground, including how the FIM is handling the coronavirus outbreak, which sports will get priority when racing is possible again, and the need for a list of banned substances which differs from the WADA list.

The interview appears below:


Interview Jorge Viegas, FIM President

Every day new events postponed. Every hour new questions…How do you live through the coronavirus crisis when you are the President of an International Sports Federation? Are we free to choose, what are the consequences? A 63-year-old economist and President of the International Motorcycling Federation (FIM) since 2018, Jorge Viegas also mentioned doping concerns in an exclusive interview conducted by Jean-Claude Schertenleib, in Qatar last weekend "La Tribune de Genève and 24 Heures ", published in Switzerland Friday 13 March.

The coronavirus, we imagine it is worse for a President of an International Sports Federation?

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Editor's Blog - The Editorial Plan For The Duration Of The Coronavirus Outbreak

With the COVID-19 outbreak having paralyzed racing for the next month, at the very least, I thought it might be useful to provide an update on what you can expect from MotoMatters.com until we start racing again.

The short version is that there will be plenty of content coming on the site over the next few weeks, but that I will be taking weekends off. We will be publishing articles and photo galleries throughout the week, but no new content will be added to the site on Saturdays and Sundays, unless some dramatic development happens during the weekend.

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Coronavirus: The State Of Play, What Happens Next, And Why

The outbreak of novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, has wreaked havoc on many things: public health, international transport, the global economy, and much more. But as MotoMatters.com is a site about world championship motorcycle road racing, we are concerned above all on the effect it has had on the MotoGP and WorldSBK seasons. As of Friday 13th March 2020, Dorna and the FIM had postponed the Buriram, Austin and Argentina rounds of MotoGP, and the Jerez round of WorldSBK, and were forced to cancel the MotoGP class at the season opener at Qatar.

Things have changed so fast over the past two weeks that it is almost impossible to keep up. As Twitter racing wit SofaRacer put it, "A month ago, the state of Marc Márquez’ shoulder was the big talking point of the season. Halcyon days." Since then, a small, contained outbreak of a new flu-like disease has gone from a curiosity in a remote location far from any traditional racetracks to a global pandemic, sweeping through the racing heartlands of Italy and Spain.

Pace of change

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Coach Them Up! - A Closer Look At Rider Coaching

WorldSBK riders are embracing the role of track spotters and rider coaches, but what do they actually do?

The SAG Team Moto2 rider coach Alex Debon at the 2019 Sepang round of MotoGP

If Tiger Woods needs a swing coach, it stands to reason that even a world class motorcycle racer needs a coach too. Gone are the days where riders eschewed coaching; now they are embracing it. In paddocks, like in any walk of life, keeping up with the Joneses is a factor of life. When one rider makes a change, it forces others to do the same.

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Interview, Part 2 - Ana Carrasco: "I thought about moving category, but it needs to be at the right time"

In part one of our feature with former WorldSSP300 world champion Ana Carrasco, based on interviews with Carrasco by Israeli journalist and TV commentator Tammy Gorali, Carrasco spoke at some length about how becoming the first female rider to win an individual motorcycle road racing world championship had changed her life, and the effect it had on the wider world, both inside and outside of motorcycle racing. She discussed at great length with Tammy Gorali about what it means to be a woman racer, and a woman winning a championship.

In the second part of the feature, Ana Carrasco talks about her career as a rider, what her plans are, and what she would like to do in the future. She discusses her relationship with the team, and the bond she has developed with reigning five-time WorldSBK champion Jonathan Rea. As a reward for winning the WorldSSP300 title, Carrasco was also given a chance to ride Rea's Kawasaki ZX-10RR, and Carrasco explained to Gorali how that felt, and the differences between a 400cc Kawasaki twin and a 1000cc four.

Tammy Gorali also asked Jonathan Rea, Rea's crew chief Pere Riba, and Carrasco's own crew chief, Nicola Sartori about the test, and how Carrasco fared on the bigger, much more powerful machine.

Looking to the future

But first, Ana Carrasco talked about her future. The Spaniard will be staying in WorldSSP300 for the 2020 season, though moving up into the World Supersport category had been an option. In the end, it was an option she had rejected, she said.

"I thought about moving category, but it needs to be at the correct time," Carrasco told Gorali. "Currently in the 600cc class, Kawasaki is not the best bike, so I prefer to wait until they have a bike to win. For example Lucas Mahias was fighting for the championship last year [2018] and now he is struggling, so I think it's not the right moment as I do not wish to change factory. I would rather wait."

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