World Supersport

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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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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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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2020 WorldSBK Calendar Updated - Season Now Finishes At Jerez, Magny-Cours Moved

The novel coronavirus outbreak is touching all forms of motorcycle racing. After MotoGP had to change its calendar twice in the past two days, the WorldSBK series has also had to change its plans. With the Spanish round at Jerez scheduled for the end of the month, that became untenable.

So the Jerez round of WorldSBK has been pushed back to the end of the year, and is due to be held on the weekend of October 25th. An arrangement has also been made with the Magny-Cours round of WorldSBK, moved a week later to avoid a clash with MotoGP at Aragon, which had also been changed to make way for Thailand. The French round of WorldSBK will now be held on the weekend of October 4th.

The WorldSBK season is now set to hold its second round of 2020 on the weekend of April 19th. But all planning at this time is provisional, and subject to change.

Below is the press release and revised schedule:

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Qatar WorldSBK Round Postponed - To Be Rescheduled

After Qatar blocked the entry of Italian and Japanese passport holders into the country, causing the MotoGP race (but not the round) to be rescheduled), it was inevitable that the WorldSBK round would follow suit. Today, Dorna and the FIM announced that they had to postpone the Qatar round of WorldSBK, pending further rescheduling.

If the situation was difficult for MotoGP, it was even worse for WorldSBK. Not only is Ducati competing in WorldSBK, but Pirelli, the official tire supplier, is Italian, and staffed entirely by Italians. The Pirelli tire fitters and engineers had all headed home to Italy after the opening round of WorldSBK at Phillip Island, with no possiblity to enter Qatar. Without tires, nobody can race.

The round is now due to be rescheduled, with a suggestion that the most likely time for the races to be held being the end of the year.

The press release from Dorna announcing the postponement of the Qatar round appears below:

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2020 Phillip Island World Supersport Race Result: Pit Stop Penalties

World Supersport has slick tyres available to them for the first time, and for safety, there is a mid-race pit stop for a tyre change. No more than ten laps can be raced on one rear tyre, and at least forty five seconds must be spent in the pits.

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