Malaysia’s newly announced state of emergency has cast further doubt on whether next month’s planned MotoGP pre-season test can go ahead.
But several more teams are at least moving forward with their own pre-season plans, with Monster Yamaha and Ducati setting dates for ‘virtual’ 2021 team launches.
The official Yamaha team will kickstart its post-Valentino Rossi era with an online press launch on February 15, where new signing Fabio Quartararo will make his first Factory appearance alongside team-mate Maverick Vinales to unveil the latest YZR-M1 livery.
Monster Yamaha say that the launch will be broadcast across their website and social media channels.
Crash.net understands that the Ducati Team has pencilled in a date of February 9 for a similar online launch, where the factory’s all-new line-up of Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia will present the 2021 Desmosedici colours.
The Sepang Shakedown (open to test riders, MotoGP rookies and Aprilia as a Concession manufacturer) is due to be held from February 14-16, followed by the Official test from February 19-21.
The local Petronas Yamaha team usually hosts its pre-season launch on the eve of the Sepang tests.
That remains the intention for 2021, when nine-time world champion Rossi joins the team alongside Franco Morbidelli, although Covid restrictions mean the usual guests and media cannot be present and the event is also set to be focused around online streaming.
However today, January 12, Malaysia announced a state of emergency (potentially lasting until August 1) to combat growing Coronavirus cases.
The state of emergency doesn’t specifically prohibit the MotoGP test going ahead but is clearly a step in the wrong direction as the sport seeks to persuade the government to give the green light to what would be MotoGP’s first non-European event since the Qatar test last February.
The state of emergency, which includes the option for private healthcare facilities to be taken over by the government if public hospitals are overwhelmed, follows the tightening of Covid-19 restrictions after the country breached a record 3,000 new cases in a day.
The heightened restrictions are currently in place until January 26. For the Selangor region, where the Sepang Circuit is located, the new ‘Movement Control Order’ includes:
•No interstate and interdistrict travels.
•No social gatherings, such as weddings, conferences, religious processions, meetings, seminars, courses, and group sport activities.
•Roadblocks will be mounted; movements limited to 10km radius to people in a vehicle.
•Only two people per household allowed to head out to purchase groceries at nearby supermarkets or grocery stores.
•Only two people allowed per vehicle.
•Non-essential services staff to work from home; employers must comply with this ruling.
The second and final pre-season test is then due to be held in Qatar on March 10-12.