Our original post from a week ago can be found further down the page but this official word just came through from Phillip Island.
Australia’s season-opening round of the 2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, normally held in late February at Victoria’s thrilling Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, has been postponed due to the ongoing complexities and risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic on a global scale.
General Manager of the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, David Bennett, announced the postponement today with circuit management currently working with the Victorian Government and the world organising body for the category, DORNA WSBK organisation (DWO), to develop an alternative date for the world superbike championship round.
“We have been closely monitoring the situation in Australia and globally, and working with our stakeholders. We’ve delayed our decision as late as possible, but unfortunately with the uncertainty that exists in the world today, we are going to have to postpone our world superbike round,” said Bennett.
Bennett says the circuit will announce a date once the situation is clear.
Australia’s Phillip Island was the only circuit on the 2020 world calendar to host a “normal” world superbike event. The Yamaha Finance season opener, held from February 28-March 1, came complete with fans and fanfare and was a boomer with great racing and a first-look at 2020’s new teams, new riders and new bike liveries.
COVID closed-in on Europe and the rest of the world within days of the world superbike championship leaving Australia, and the teams and organisers went into lockdown. DWO swang into action to develop a COVID-safe championship and successfully ran seven rounds in Europe from July to October, with Jonathan Rea fighting his way to the final round at Portugal’s Estoril circuit to win a record sixth consecutive championship.
Last week, Executive Director of the Championship, Gregorio Lavilla, announced DWO’S intention to run a 2021 WorldSBK calendar of 11 to 13 rounds, with the majority to be held in Europe but the possibility for circuits outside the Euro-zone to be included in the schedule.
“The world superbike show will be back,” said David Bennett. “I know this means a longer wait for fans, but the world’s leading production riders and their bikes will return to the island for more spectacular racing and the wait, as always, will be worth it.”
Our earlier post
Coronavirus conerns around travel restrictions have forced WorldSBK organisers to postpone the Phillip Island round of the 2021 World Superbike Championship to later in the year.
Executive Director of the Motul FIM Superbike World Championship, Gregorio Lavilla, let that cat out of the bag overnight.
“What I can say is that we are working on having three brand new circuits that WorldSBK has never seen before, but I can’t say where at the moment. In Australia, the event will take place at the end of the year in order to analyse the situation by that time; for sure now, it’d be very risky to decide and commit to being there in February. We are working on putting all of our European events first, starting in April until the first week of October and from that point, if the situation is good in Argentina, Australia and a race in the Middle East that we are working on, then they will go ahead. I think by July or August, we will know as we need to wait until nearer the time.”
The idea of running a WorldSBK event a week or two away from the traditional late October MotoGP weekend at the famous Victorian venue has been canvassed numerous times over the years and is no doubt being discussed now with various bodies such as the FIM, Dorna, the Australian Grand Prix Corporation and the Victorian Government. But what makes perfect rational sense to me and you, might not make sense to those with their levers on the power to make such a thing happen. Politics and all that…