There will be no British round of the 2020 MotoGP world championship after it was announced today that the Silverstone race, along with October’s Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island, has been cancelled – the latest victims of the global coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement, Silverstone boss Stuart Pringle said that: “obligations to protect the health and safety of everyone involved in preparing and delivering the event means that this is the best, safest and only decision we could make.”
Pringle added that 2020 ticket holders can get a refund, or transfer their booking to 2021, and that the circuit intends to give away thousands of 2021 tickets to “NHS and other key workers who have literally been putting their lives on the line for us all during these challenging times.” Details of the refund process are due to be announced in the next two weeks.
He continued: “We are extremely disappointed about the cancellation of the British MotoGP event, not least as the cancelled race in 2018 is still such a recent memory, but we support the decision that has had to be taken at this exceptional time.
“I want to thank the stoic British fans for their patience and support. We must now look forward to 2021 when Silverstone will once again host the fastest and most historic MotoGP race on the calendar and work hard to make it a truly exceptional event for all to enjoy.”
Despite being unable to run MotoGP in August, Silverstone is still working towards hosting two rounds of the four-wheeled Formula One series behind closed doors in July – the major difference being that most F1 teams are based in the UK, while all MotoGP squads are based in mainland Europe.
Although still to be confirmed, it would appear that MotoGP are planning to run European races behind closed doors from July, starting with two races in Jerez, before heading to Brno before having two more races at Austria’s Red Bull Ring and Misano in Italy. It is also expected that Spain’s Aragon, Barcelona and Valencia circuits will host races, to give a championship of at least 10 races. All races will be broadcast live on television but will be run with skeleton crews and no media present in order to keep the numbers of people travelling and on site to a minimum.
It is possible that races will be held outside of Europe, with venues such as Texas’ Circuit of the Americas, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan and Argentina all on the provisional calendar between October and November, although the championship organisers have admitted that these races can only go ahead with spectators present, in order to cover costs. It is understood that a decision on the ‘fly-away’ races will be made in September.
Speaking of the loss of two of the fastest and most thrilling Grands Prix of the season, Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna Sports, added: “We’re saddened to have to announce the cancellation of these iconic events after finding no way through the logistical and operational issues resulting from the pandemic and rearranged calendar. Silverstone and Phillip Island are always two of the most thrilling race weekends of the season, with both tracks never failing in their promise to deliver some of the closest racing in our championship.
“On behalf of Dorna, I would like to once again extend my thanks to the fans for their understanding and patience as we wait for the situation to improve. We look forward to returning to Silverstone and Phillip Island next year for more incredible battles.”
Virtual GP this weekend
Somewhat ironically, this weekend’s ‘Virtual Grand Prix’ is due to take place on a digital rendition of Silverstone.
These ‘Stay at Home’ Grands Prix have been taking place on Sundays where MotoGP rounds were due to take place, and with this weekend’s Italian GP on hold, a selection of MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3 racers will be competing against each other in online races using the MotoGP20 video game.
The races have proved a fun few hours for racing fans as, they are streamed across social media. This weekend’s race is scheduled for Sunday at 2pm UK time.
ACU suggest UK bike racing to resume in July
While the lack of a British Grand Prix will be a blow to many race fans, the good news is that plans are in place for club and national level racing to resume.
The ACU (Auto Cycle Union), the governing body for motorcycle racing in the UK, has announced that it is planning to allow over 16s to resume practice sessions from June 8, with a few to a resumption of competition from July 4.
Organisers of the British Superbike Championship are expected to announce their plans next week, while club racing championships are looking at ways to recommence their racing while observing social distancing.