It seems that reports of the end of COVID-19 have been greatly exaggerated; in turn, that means more disruption to the international race schedule.

On January 12, MotoGP.com announced the Sepang pre-season tests (the shakedown test and the following official MotoGP test weekend), scheduled for February, were canceled. As per the announcement: “The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdowns and complications have obliged the cancellation of both events, which were set to take place at Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia in February.”

Hrm. That’s not really a surprise, but it is disappointing. Both MotoGP and World Superbike ended up canceling almost all their overseas events in 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, both series had released a full 2021 schedule, including overseas visits, and managed to finish the Euro rounds in 2020 with no major disruptions. Surely, the future was brighter?

Maybe, maybe not. It’s not good to see events shut down like this, although the Sepang tests are half a world away from most MotoGP teams and their riders; given the hassles of international flight these days, it’s not surprising they were shut down.

What next?

The Sepang cancellation is unfortunate, but MotoGP still has the Qatar test scheduled, for March 10-12. If that one doesn’t happen, it’s bad news, because they’re supposed to race there at Losail at the end of March.

From there, the next race is in Argentina, and then Texas, and then the series stays in Europe from May through September. Hopefully all these events run, but it’s possible the May 2 race in Spain may end up being first for the year.

Remember that MotoGP did put together a decent season in 2020, despite all sorts of COVID-related interference. If nothing else, we should at least see the Euro races running. Hopefully, World Superbike sees the same.

As for the various international rally and rally raid events, who knows? It’s hard to imagine they’ll all be canceled, as Dakar is proving successful under COVID rules, but it’s likely there will be some more confusion with the schedule this year.

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