It’s Saturday 28th March 2020. Right now, I should be commentating live on Eurosport with James Whitham as World Superbike’s finest do their best on a glorious spring afternoon in Jerez. Instead, I’m sat in my home office looking forward even more than usual to my recently-purchased chocolate bar.
Greg Haines writes from Barcelona
We had the WorldSBK opener at the end of February. Since then we should have enjoyed two more rounds plus a couple of MotoGP races, while the start of BSB would be just around the corner. Instead, we’ve had none of that due to the global outbreak of Covid-19 and subsequent travel restrictions, shopping panic and, tragically, loss of life around the world.
Below is a timeline of how the Coronavirus has decimated bike racing schedules to date. Without doubt, more changes are still to come. I predict no action at all until July at the earliest. Whenever racing does get back underway this year (hopefully it will), it’s going to be an absolutely packed second half of 2020.
Key dates so far…
Monday 2nd March – No MotoGP in Qatar
Dorna announces the MotoGP class will not race at the Qatar Grand Prix; instead, only Moto2 and Moto3 will compete as they were already present for testing
Monday 2nd March – Thai GP is postponed
In a second deflating announcement for MotoGP fans, Dorna announces the postponement of the Thai Grand Prix following instructions from the government
Tuesday 3rd March – Wave goodbye to Qatar WorldSBK
As travel restrictions to Qatar are enforced and the situation in Italy worsens, there’s more bad news as the Losail World Superbike round is postponed with no new date
Wednesday 11th March – Texas GP moves to November
For a short time we wondered if Austin could host the MotoGP opener but, to nobody’s great surprise, it won’t; the event is moved to November
Wednesday 11th March – Jerez becomes WorldSBK season-closer
Not only is the Jerez WorldSBK round moved to the end of October, but the Magny-Cours event is moved back a week to avoid a clash with Aragon MotoGP, itself now happening a week earlier to allow space for Thailand to be slotted in
Thursday 12th March – Argentina joins Texas in November
Termas de Rio Hondo’s MotoGP gathering is also bumped back to November, signalling a second triple-header to end the season; straight after the American and Argentinean events will come the Valencia closer, relocated to the end of November
Tuesday 17th March – BSB season-opener is postponed
The expected rescheduling of the first British Superbike event of the year sees Silverstone’s round postponed, while the pre-event test is cancelled completely
Tuesday 20th March – ‘Racing is our mission’
Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta puts out an open letter encouraging the motorcycle racing community to sit tight and stay strong during this uncertain time: ‘Covid-19 has affected each and every global sporting competition. Nevertheless, our sport will endure and race on – as it has since its birth in 1949’
Tuesday 24th March – Assen WorldSBK shifts to August
This unpleasant game of musical chairs continues as Dorna relocates the Dutch Round of World Superbike to August; it was originally planned for mid-April
Tuesday 24th March – Two more BSBs fall away
MSVR confirms the postponement of the second and third BSB rounds at Oulton Park and Donington Park, respectively, evaluating a ‘constantly-changing situation’
Thursday 26th March – Spanish MotoGP is next to go
Many had hoped Jerez could kick-start the MotoGP season but that won’t happen either, as the Spanish race has been adjourned with no new date as yet
What happens next?
It’s all going to depend on government restrictions around the world – and they will vary depending on the severity of the virus. Not long ago we were heralding the turn of a new decade. Now we’re wondering if there will be a 2020 season at all…
Keep safe everyone. I’ve finished the chocolate. Going to look out of the window…