Will the Malaysian motor racing season be cancelled?

With Covid-19 putting Malaysian under a movement control order (MCO), the motorsports community has been hit hard. The 2020 Malaysian motorsports calendar was due to begin in March with the Malaysian Cub Prix round in Tangkak and the Malaysia Speed Festival in Sepang International Circuit (SIC).

This was after a recommendation from the Malaysian Ministry of Health for all public events to be cancelled over fears of the spread of Covid-19, then in its initial stages. In a new development, MotoGP organisers Dorna has announced the postponement of the Gran Premio d’Italia Oakley and Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya, which were set to be held at the Autodromo del Mugello from May 29 to 31 and the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya from the June 5 to 7, respectively.

Speaking in a one-on-one interview with paultan.org, outgoing SIC chief executive officer Datuk Razlan Razali says the MCO has seen SIC pushing events back as far as May and realistically sees the racing season resume in June. “We are not immune, of course. This Covid-19 situation is unprecedented and everyone, including us, are coming to terms with it,” said Razlan.

Will the Malaysian motor racing season be cancelled?

“We are looking at rescheduling our national championships from June onwards, although we do not dare announce a revised calendar as yet until we have some kind of clarity,” Razlan said. According to Razlan, plans are for SIC to hold a full race calendar at SIC, albeit one that is necessarily compressed.

Touching on the issue of local race organisers facing difficulties due to postponed or cancelled races at SIC, Razlan says things will be handled individually. “I don’t want to generalise it or make a matter of policy of out it and we will consider each matter on a case by case basis,we need sit down face to face and discuss the situation” said Razlan.

“Motorsport is of course a non-essential industry… we have our contractors and sub-contractors, who are small to medium enterprises (SME) that depend on SIC for a living… unfortunately only the strong will survive. It is a non-priority market for the government, because it is entertainment,” Razlan pointed out. “We will help out where we can, but everybody will be in some form of financial difficulty,” he continued.

Will the Malaysian motor racing season be cancelled?

Elaborating on this year’s MotoGP calendar, Razlan said he has been in constant contact with his peers in other race teams as well as Dorna and ERTA. “We are looking at various ‘what if?’ scenarios. Most of us are looking at a possibility of a worst case scenario where there will be no racing this year and the calendar is carried over to 2021,” said Razlan.

Meanwhile, speaking to Speedweek, Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta said he does not have confidence there will be a 2020 MotoGP season unless travel bans are lifted worldwide and a vaccine is developed for Covid-19, something that is said could take up to a year. “I am not very confident that we will be able to run the 2020 GP season. Even if we continue to work hard on it. We consider all possible solutions,” said Ezpeleta.