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Pandemic Continues To Hit Motorsport

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing. World Endurance Championship 8 Hours of Bahrain 11th to 14th November 2020 Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain

The first signs of another tough year in international motorsport are emerging from Europe.

Haas has not been able to start its new Formula One car.

The start of the British Touring Car Championship has been delayed.

Pre-season testing for grand prix teams has been moved to Bahrain.

Le Mans has been postponed.

And now the only spectators allowed at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix will be people who have either had Covid-19 or been vaccinated against it.

It all points to another pandemic year with all sorts of challenges and changes before 2021 is done.

In Australia, Supercars has banned spectators from the paddock area at the second round of the championship at Sandown in Melbourne, with other limitations on the number of spectators and where they can go to watch the action.

But at least motorsport is up and running, with the second leg of the Australian Racing Group championships going ahead as planned at Phillip Island this weekend. And, apart from the TCR Australia Series, the Island will host the first leg of the new-and-improved GT World Challenge Australia for GT3 sports cars as the category comes back from the brink of extinction.

But things are not as good on the global front, as Haas found when it completed its 2021 grand prix contender. Although the car was completed as planned at the team’s European base at Banbury in Britain, the engine could not be started because it is supplied by Ferrari.

Under the current coronavirus restrictions in Europe, the Ferrari technicians required for a fire-up would have had to isolate on arrival from Italy, and so the powertrain will stay dormant until everyone in F1 gets together for pre-season testing in just under a week.

The British situation is also responsible for the delayed start of the country’s touring car title fight, as well as causing other problems for the F1 teams that are racing to complete their cars for the Bahrain test.

In France, the postponement of Le Mans – for the second straight year – is partly around a potential easing of Covid-19 restrictions through the European summer. The rapid roll-out of vaccinations could also help with the event, although France currently has heavy limits on mass gatherings and travel across borders, which could potentially impact on the Monaco and French grands prix in May and June.

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