MotoGP has just announced the cancellation of the 2021 Malaysian round, saying COVID-19 restrictions were to blame.
“The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting entry restrictions for Malaysia oblige the cancellation of the event,” reads a statement on MotoGP’s website. “The FIM MotoGP™ World Championship looks forward to returning to Sepang in 2022 to race in front of our dedicated Malaysian fans.”
That leaves a hole in the MotoGP schedule from October 22-24. The solution? MotoGP will revisit Misano for a second race weekend (there’s already an Italian GP scheduled for the September 19 weekend). Although that sounds like a lot of racing jammed into too-short a time, remember that Valentino Rossi’s upcoming retirement will no doubt draw massive crowds to the Italian races, as they watch The Doctor run out the end of his riding career.
It’s been a rough comeback year for MotoGP. After the 2020 race calendar was knocked over by COVID-19, the 2021 season still wasn’t able to return to a full program, with overseas travel disrupted. The Thailand race was canceled, the Austin GP was postponed until October, and now Malaysia. Series wonderboy Marc Marquez hasn’t returned to form after missing almost all 2020 because of injury, and Rossi, long the poster boy for MotoGP, has announced he’s leaving.
At this point, the MotoGP brain trust says it’s planning for a 2022 season that runs as normal, but even if the calendar is not disrupted, no doubt the changes the rider lineup sees this year will change how race fans see the series.