Just a month ago, things were looking up for Malaysian motorsports as Sepang was on the MotoGP’s shortlist to host the season finale. However, a recent announcement made by Dorna Sports, MotoGP’s event organiser, the remaining flyaway races have been called off due to COVID-19. Of course, what else?
In early June, MotoGP unveiled a 13-round race calendar that began with a double-header at Jerez, Spain in July and ending in November with another double-header at Valencia. Organisers had left additional slots open until December 11th to cater for any further races. The Sepang International Circuit was among potential candidates to fill in one of those additional weekends, but alas it was not meant to be. This will be the first time in over 20 years of MotoGP that the Malaysian Grand Prix will not be held.
In a statement issued by Dorna Sports, CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta expressed his dismay on the cancellation of the races, “It is with great sadness that we announce the cancellation of the Argentina, Thailand and Malaysian Grands Prix this season, and they will be very much missed on the 2020 calendar.
“The passion of the fans who often travel across continents to enjoy MotoGP with us in Termas de Rio Hondo, Buriram and Sepang are incredible, creating as they do such an incredible atmosphere and welcome for the sport.”
In the press release by Sepang International Circuit, Chief Executive Officer Azhan Shafriman Hanif said, “We are truly disappointed on this cancellation, and actually, we are looking forward to watch the action on home ground especially from our local boys Kasma Daniel, Khairul Idham Pawi, Hafizh Syahrin and the PETRONAS Sepang Racing Team who have had a great start this season. But with the ongoing Covid-19, the safety of all is the main priority, we can’t afford to risk the health of others.”
Both SIC and Dorna Sports have expressed that there are plans in motion to set possible dates to propose to the FIM for the event in 2021 and put in place procedure to welcome back fans to Sepang.
It isn’t all bad news though. Dorna Sports has also announced that this season will feature 15 races, an increase from the initial 13. Following in the footsteps of Formula One, the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao, Portugal is MotoGP’s official reserve circuit. It is slated to be one of the two additional races to be featured towards the end of the season.
Although the Malaysian MotoGP race would have been the highlight of the year for the nation’s motorsports community, we can’t help but agree with the decisions made as it concerns the well-being of the racers and fans alike. To all those eager fans waiting for some live track action, patience is a virtue and we are certain next year will bring many more thrills and spills on two wheels.