Assen, The Netherlands
The volcanic ash cloud that caused the cancellation of the Motegi MotoGP round has had only a very limited effect on this weekend's World Superbike round at Assen. With nearly all of the material already in Europe, and most of the riders being based here as well, the World Superbike field will be nearly complete at the historic track of Assen.
The news that Dorna and the FIM had been forced to postpone the Motegi MotoGP round, scheduled to take place next Sunday, had plenty of fans worrying that a similar fate might befall this Sunday's Assen World Superbike round. But whereas the only way to get from Europe to Japan was by plane, a journey which had become nigh on impossible due to the ban on air travel throughout most of Europe, caused by the cloud of ash being spewed out by the Eyjafjallajökull volcano, the route from the previous WSBK round at Valencia to Assen went almost exclusively over land. And surface travel - though tricky in some places - is still largely unhindered.
The Hungarian round of MotoGP has been troubled from the start, and doubts have hung over it ever since the end of 2008, when it became clear that the Spanish/Hungarian construction conglomerate building the circuit was having trouble completing the track. The 2009 Hungarian round was first pushed back from the spring to September, before being canceled altogether, and the debut planned for September 2010.
Even that has proved too much, though. Rumors that the round would be canceled altogether emerged earlier this week, after the Hungarian Development Bank MFB refused to underwrite a loan over doubts over the financial viability of the project and allegations of corruption. Without that bank guarantee, the project was effectively dead in the water, and cancellation of the Hungarian round of MotoGP was just a matter of time.
The one place that everyone wants to be at a MotoGP race is in the paddock. Simultaneously, it is one of the most difficult places to get into, as, quite simply, Dorna does not sell passes into the paddock. The usual way - other than in a professional capacity, or working as a marshal - is to purchase a VIP package through one of the very few specialist travel companies authorized to issue paddock passes, such as our friends over at Pole Position Travel.
Calendar for the 2010 World Superbike Season:
Calendar for the 2010 MotoGP, Moto2 and 125cc season:
At the same time as they announced the provisional entry lists for World Superbike and World Supersport, the FIM also released a revised calendar for the series. The revisions consist of a single change: The British round at Donington has been moved to Silverstone.
The move is the final episode in a long saga, both tragic and farcical in equal measure. It started with the ambitious plans of altering the Donington Park circuit to allow the return of Formula One, and ended with the bankruptcy of DVLL, handing the lease and a torn-up track unsuitable for racing back to the circuit's owners, the Wheatcroft family. It also sees Silverstone completely replace Donington as the main venue for world-class motorcycle racing.
Ever since the old North Loop at Assen was removed, emasculating the glorious old track, the scarcity of fast left hand corners have made those remain potentially lethal. So far, since the track was shortened prior to 2006, the MotoGP race at Assen has claimed at least one victim forced to miss a race every year: Toni Elias in 2006 and 2007, John Hopkins in 2008, and now Mika Kallio in 2009.