Sepang MotoGP Test Canceled - Early Part Of 2021 Calendar Still Subject To Coronavirus

The MotoGP Test At Sepang, due to be held from 19th - 21st of February, has been canceled, Dorna announced today. The King of Malaysia, at the request of the Malaysian government, has declared a state of emergency in Malaysia which is due to last until August 1st. The state of emergency has been declared in an attempt to stem the Covid-19 pandemic which continues to spread around the world.

The cancellation comes despite the best efforts of Dorna, IRTA, and the circuit to make the Sepang test as self-contained as possible. Dorna and IRTA had put forward a proposal to house everyone involved in the test at the Sama Sama hotel, located next to Kuala Lumpur International Airport, to the exclusion of other guests. Everyone - riders, teams, officials - would travel between the hotel and the circuit only, with no time outside of the MotoGP bubble. As the Sama Sama hotel is where most teams and riders involved stay during the test anyway, very little would change.

This proposal had a great deal of support, but in the end, the Malaysian government declaring a state of emergency made it impossible.

At the moment, the Qatar test, set to take place from 10th - 12th March, will still go ahead. This, of course, is still subject to how the Covid-19 pandemic develops over the next two months. The situation in Qatar is relatively stable, with case numbers and deaths still very low and showing only a small rise over the winter. Qatar may not want to allow a large group of people to enter from a region where the pandemic is still not under control. However, Qatar's vaccination program is already underway, with everyone over 65 years of age and with certain chronic illnesses currently being given the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine expected to come on stream very soon.

If the Qatar test has to be canceled, then the fallback position would be a test at either Jerez or Portimao, with Jerez being the most likely option. The Moto2 and Moto3 classes are currently scheduled to test at Jerez from March 16th-18th, though that, too, is far from certain.

At the current moment, the start of the season is far from clear. Although no announcement beyond the cancelling of the Sepang test has been made - and no further announcements can be made, given the uncertainty of the current situation - MotoMatters.com understands that the opening races of the season are far from certain to go ahead. Most at threat are the overseas rounds at Termas de Rio Hondo in Argentina, and the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, as a result of the restrictions currently in place and expected developments.

Should Argentina and Austin be dropped, then that would leave room for Qatar to be rescheduled later in the year, or for one of the reserve circuits, such as Portimao, to be inserted between Qatar and Jerez. With the race at Jerez due to happen on May 2nd, that leaves a lot of time for the pandemic to be contained - either through better weather, as was the case in 2020, or as a result of vaccination. However, the first few races, at least, are still expected to happen without fans present, or at least with only limited numbers allowed in.

The current understanding of the 2021 season is that it will go ahead, and there will be more races than there were in 2020. But as was the case early in 2020, the coronavirus is in charge, as French Grand Prix organizer Claude Michy put it.

The press release from Dorna appears below:


Sepang Tests cancelled
Tuesday, 12 January 2021

The FIM, IRTA and Dorna Sports regret to announce the cancellation of both the Shakedown Test and the Official Sepang Test.

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdowns and complications have obliged the cancellation of both events, which were set to take place at Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia in February.

The Qatar Test, currently set to take place at Losail International Circuit from the 10th to the 12th of March, continues to be confirmed and any further updates or changes will be provided as soon as available. 

Source: 

Back to top

Comments

I just looked once but did not find - anyone aware of what private testing is going on? Any info on the likes of Yamaha's Euro Test Team? Cal? Looking like Aprilia has been doing a bit. Anyone have info? 

Wintertainment brought to you by 1973 road to IOM TT documentary focused on Norton and some privateers (50mins) 

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=a-SOXVVdIZ4

Just saw an article on Gpone, Jorge Martin & Tito Rabat have been riding around Cartagena in southern Spain.

Both riding Ducati panigales. Somewhat modified V4Ss not race bikes. The weather in Murcia looks better than Oz at the moment. At least where I've been riding, currently Tasmania.

https://www.gpone.com/it/2021/01/16/motogp/jorge-martin-primo-contatto-c...

Oh and Jorge Martin won't  be running his usual number 88 because Miguel Oliveira has dibs on that one.

Was targeting Barcelona and Valencia this year - can't see those being fully open to spectators, and especially those travelling from abroad. Ah well. Just have to keep saving up and do Motegi in 2022. :D

Will be interesting to see if Dorna are able to slot Portimao into an April date to replace Termas or Austin because there's a lot of talk about F1 going there at the beginning of May. I wonder if it might be a bit of a stretch organisationally for a track to hold F1 and MotoGP one or two weeks apart, even without spectators.

I was hoping to get to Mugello as a carryover from last year, but I doubt we'll be seeing spectators, especially from this neck of the woods, until the back end of 21 at best. It's going to take months for the rate of vaccination to outstrip the rate of infection, to the point where we see a sustained drop without lockdown. Still, Mugello will still be there the year after.

I'm really disappointed we've lost Brno though. I've been four years in a row 16-19 and it's been an absolutely brilliant weekend every time. Properly old-school: get there early, pinch a bench from the beer tent halfway up Horsepower Hill to sit on, guard it with your life, and charge anyone who wants to share it with you in beer.

Then you come out of the track and there is a line of about 50 bendy Airport buses shuttling people back to town for free. They just fill them up and send them down the road, and drop you off right outside the Starobrno brewery. My record from chequered flag to being back in town with a beer in my hand is 35 minutes... 

I hope they can find the money for the resurfacing and get back on the calendar, but I'm not optimistic... :(

I hope Mugello will still be on the calendar in 2022. I was lucky enough to get there in 2019.

Yes my passport isn't getting used for a while. Mandalika in Indonesia is tempting, we'll see. After the pandemic perhaps