Wednesday, August 12

Malaysian MotoGP cancelled

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Repsol Honda Team’s Spanish rider Dani Pedrosa steers his bike after taking a corner during the last day of the 2018 MotoGP pre-season test at the Sepang International Circuit in Sepang. — AFP photo

KUALA LUMPUR: One of the most exciting races in the MotoGP calendar, the Malaysian Grand Prix, which was scheduled to be held from Oct 30 to Nov 1, has been cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

MotoGP announced in a joint statement yesterday that apart from the race at the Sepang International Circuit (SIC), two remaining races in Argentina and Thailand were also scrapped.

The organisers, however, have added a season-ending race in Europe scheduled to take place in November at a venue to be announced later this month, thus making the 2020 season fully raced in Europe.

SIC has been hosting MotoGP races since 1999, attracting over 100,000 fans for the past few editions.

MotoGP rights holder Dorna Sports lamented the cancellation of the three races, saying they would be very much missed this year as passionate fans would often travel across continents to catch the best two-wheel action in the world.

“We very much look forward to returning to Thailand, Argentina and Malaysia next year and, as always, I’d like to thank the fans for their patience and understanding,” its chief executive officer Carmelo Ezpeleta said in a statement.

Meanwhile, SIC chief executive officer Azhan Shafriman Hanif, while clearly disappointed with the cancellation of Malaysian GP for the first time in over 20 years, hopes to come back bigger and better in 2021.

“We were looking forward to watching our local boys – Kasma Daniel, Khairul Idham Pawi, Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah – and the Petronas Sepang Racing Team, who have had a great start to the season, in action on home ground,” he said in a statement issued by SIC.

“But with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the safety of everyone is the main priority. We can’t afford to risk the health of others.

“I am sure this is sad news for fans in Malaysia and all over the world, who have made the event what it is today.

“We have seen an increasing number of spectators at the Malaysian GP year-on-year and we’d like to thank all our fans and partners for their continuous support.

“The best thing to do right now is to keep on supporting our local boys and team, who are still competing in the championship,” he added.

The Malaysian GP has been held in South-East Asia since 1991, the longest in the region, and the SIC has been a permanent fixture on the calendar since taking over from the Shah Alam Circuit and Johor Circuit in 1999.

The Sepang track is also one of the longest and most challenging circuits on the calendar and, no doubt, is one of the favourites among the riders and teams.

The 5.543km-long track has staged some all-time classic races over the years, providing fans with a unique experience on-and-off the track. — Bernama