The start of the 2020 MotoGP season has been delayed even further, with Dorna, the FIM, and IRT forced to postpone the Thailand round of MotoGP in Buriram. The decision was imposed on Dorna and the FIM by the Thai government, who took the decision to cancel the event due to be held on March 22nd.
The announcement did not come as a surprise. Reports that Thailand would be canceled emerged after the cancellation of the MotoGP race at Qatar last night. The difference with Qatar, however, is that no racing will take place at Buriram in three weeks' time, whereas in Qatar, Moto2 and Moto3 are still due to race this weekend, the Moto2 and Moto3 teams and riders already present at the track for the test held last weekend.
There is also a question over what happens to the Qatar round of WorldSBK which is scheduled to be held on March 15th, the weekend after the Qatar MotoGP round. With a large number of the WorldSBK paddock having headed home to Italy, there will be an issue for them to enter Qatar for the WorldSBK round. As yet, no decision has been made on that event.
The hope is that the Buriram MotoGP round can be rescheduled at some point later in the season. The only possible openings in the calendar would be in the three-week break between Misano and Aragon, some time during the summer break between Finland and Brno, or if Finland were to be canceled due to the track not being ready in time, in the slot currently held by Finland. All of those options would be tricky, however, as it would place significant strain on logistics, and racing at Buriram in the summer would mean very hot weather with a very high chance of rain.
The chance that there are further impacts on the 2020 MotoGP season is high, given that this is a very fast-changing situation, with governments imposing travel restrictions and bans on public events around the world. But because the situation is developing so quickly, there is absolutely no way of predicting exactly what will happen. MotoGP and the bodies which run it - Dorna, IRTA, the FIM - can only react once governments make their decisions.
The FIM press release on the postponement of the Thai round at Buriram appears below:
OR Thailand Grand Prix postponed
Due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, the decision has been taken to postpone the Thai GP.
As the global outbreak of coronavirus continues to develop, the Thai government has communicated that it won’t be possible to hold the OR Thailand Grand Prix on its original date. The FIM, IRTA and Dorna therefore regret to announce that the event, due to be held on the 22nd of March in Buriram, has been postponed.
The FIM, IRTA and Dorna are currently evaluating if an alternative date is possible for the event later this season.
Further updates will be published as soon as available.