So far, the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the 2020 MotoGP season has been to delay everything. But today, we had the first cancelations.
The races at the Sachsenring in Germany, Assen in the Netherlands, and the Kymiring in Finland have all been canceled for 2020.
Canceling the remaining three races due to be held before the summer break gives Dorna and the FIM some room to see how the outbreak of the coronavirus plays out, as countries start to gently ease restrictions.
There was too much uncertainty surrounding the three rounds in late June and early July to know under what conditions they would have been able to go ahead.
As three of the four most northerly races (Silverstone being the fourth), the Sachsenring, Assen, and the Kymiring had the most limited window for rescheduling, with the weather being a factor much earlier on than races in southern Europe.
In addition, the Sachsenring and Assen both have a limited number of noise days, during which they can exceed normally much stricter noise limits.
The cancelation comes as a blow for the TT Circuit in Assen. This is only the second time in it’s 95-year history the race has been canceled.
The last time the Dutch TT at Assen was not held was between 1940 and 1945, after Nazi Germany invaded The Netherlands during the Second World War. It has featured unbroken on the Grand Prix calendar since the World Championship started in 1949.
It is also a grave financial blow. In normal years, the TT Circuit generates half its annual income from the Dutch TT, and the loss of all activity at the circuit is forcing it to dig into its financial reserves.
The 2020 race was due to be the 90th edition of the Dutch TT, with a range of special events planned. That will now have to wait until next year.
The cancelation of the remaining races before the summer break point to the strategy to be pursued by Dorna; as I understand it, was Dorna who made the decision to pull the plug on the German, Dutch, and Finnish rounds.
With the first half of the season lost, resuming the schedule more or less as planned after the summer break is the simplest strategy it seems. Though the rounds at Jerez, Le Mans, Mugello, and Barcelona have only been postponed so far, there is some room to fit at least some of them into the season in the second half of the year.
There are obstacles, of course: Brno looks impossible, given the current situation in the Czech Republic, which would mean a start at Austria. There is also the possibility of a test being held beforehand, with Jerez being the rumored location.
But there is still a long way to go before any racing can resume, and we are still in a very fast-moving situation. Less than nine weeks ago, the 2020 season looks to have been going ahead as normal.
Since then, the world has gone from full lockdown to the start of easing restrictions. It is hard to say what the world will look like in another nine weeks’ time.
Source: FIM; Photo: Repsol Honda