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Formula 1

Thailand calls off MotoGP race due to coronavirus

by Glenn Freeman
2 min read

Thailand has joined Qatar in cancelling its upcoming MotoGP race, meaning the first two rounds of the season have been called off due to the coronavirus crisis.

The first round of the season was set to be held at Losail this coming weekend, but the Qatari government has announced additional restrictions on Italian and Japanese citizens from entering the Middle Eastern country in fresh attempts to halt the spread of coronavirus.

MotoGP organiser Dorna announced late on Sunday night that the opening round will be cancelled for the premier class.

Moto2 and Moto3 will still go ahead, owing to the middleweight and lightweight class already being in the Qatar paddock after a three-day test that concluded on Sunday.

Thailand moved afterwards, announcing in a government press conference this morning that the decision to postpone the race would be taken out of Dorna’s hands.

A statement from motorcycling’s governing body the FIM said it was working with Dorna and the teams to evaluate “if an alternative date is possible for the event later this season”.

It’s believed that Thailand will look to reclaim its previous calendar slot should the situation be under control by the summer, moving the race to October at the head of MotoGP’s traditional three-week flyaway tour of Asia and Australia.

The postponement eases MotoGP’s freight hurdles a little, allowing teams to transport their equipment back to European bases now.

However, many have left their garages unpacked following last week’s test, meaning that some squads will have to find a solution to their logistical nightmare.

The Race has heard speculation that the opening round of the series could happen in Texas on April 5, with teams preparing to send freight straight to the Circuit of the Americas, which was initially the third round of the championship.

However, with the USA now starting to cancel some flights from Italy, that round could also be thrown into danger as coronavirus continues to spread across the globe.

Questions also remain to be answered about next weekend’s second round of the World Superbike Championship, with many of the paddock travelling from Phillip Island in Australia direct to Qatar.

However, whether that will be enough to convince local authorities to allow Italian and Japanese members of the paddock into the country remains to be seen.

F1 races still on

Presently, the first three races of the Formula 1 season are still due to take place as scheduled.

Australia has certain travel restrictions in place but while Italy is considered a higher-risk country, there is no official instruction to stop people travelling from there.

That will help the Ferrari team and its engineers who work for Haas and Alfa Romeo, plus AlphaTauri and tyre supplier Pirelli.

Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO Andrew Westacott said: “At this stage there is no indication of further travel bans, nor is there any indication that Formula 1 and the teams will not be arriving as usual.

“Formula 1 has again confirmed overnight that the Australian Grand Prix is going ahead and we’re looking forward to welcoming them and the teams to Melbourne.”

However, question marks remain over potential travel restrictions for Bahrain, which could complicate arrivals from Australia via Singapore and Dubai.

As for Vietnam, the promoter insists the race is still set to take place, despite a major quarantine zone near host city Hanoi and the country’s proximity to the Chinese border.

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