Qatar World Superbike round latest to be postponed
Next weekend's Qatar round of the World Superbike championship has been postponed, become the latest high-profile motorsport event to be affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
The news follows the cancellation of the opening round of the MotoGP season at the Losail track because of the ongoing global COVID-19 crisis and the travel restrictions the Gulf nation has put in place as a result.
Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta, whose company promotes both WSBK and MotoGP, pre-empted the announcement at the same time as revealing that moves are afoot to reschedule the recently postponed Thailand MotoGP race for later in the year.
A statement from the FIM read: "The FIM and Dorna WSBK Organization regret to announce that the Lauretana Water Qatar Round of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship is to be postponed until further notice.
"As the global coronavirus outbreak continues, travel restrictions to Qatar have been enforced, primarily affecting passengers from Italy, amongst others. People arriving directly from the country or who have been in Italy in the past two weeks will be taken directly to quarantine for a minimum of 14 days.
"Italian participation in WorldSBK – both on track and off – is vital, thus the decision has been taken to postpone the Lauretana Water Qatar Round until further notice. Further updates will be published in due course."
Any attempt to find an alternative slot for the Qatar race will be complicated by the fact the Losail track is about to undergo significant works in time for the 2021 MotoGP event.
These include a full resurfacing for the first time since the facility opened in 2004, a refurbishment of the paddock and replacing the track's floodlights.
This explains why Qatar, which hosted last year's WSBK finale, was planned to be the second round of the 2020 campaign, scheduled for just a week after the MotoGP event.
With the Qatar round being postponed, the WSBK season is now set to resume at Jerez on March 28-29. New Kawasaki rider Alex Lowes leads the championship after last weekend's Phillip Island season opener ahead of Ducati newcomer Scott Redding.
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