IT'S ALL GETTING A BIT TOO MUCH FOR #GYND SO HE'S VENTED HIS SPLEEN ABOUT THE LATEST ROUND OF CHANGES AND CANCELLATIONS IN MOTORCYCLE RACING
Just when you thought it was safe to get excited about visiting a motorcycle racing event for the first time in, like, forever, the rug gets pulled from under the feet of the fans once again. With this week's announcement (blatantly highlighting the glaring issue that motorsport doesn't appear to exist at all in the hallowed corridors of Westminster) that the attendance at the opening round of the 25th Anniversary season of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship will be limited to just 4000 spectators per day. Pffft... it makes no sense at all. And don't get me started on the ACRES of open space and lack of the need for public transport to and from the circuit yet stadium sports like football and tennis can continue with infinitely more spectators as a percentage and total figure as a whole (angry face emoji).
As well as the action-starved fans who've been looking forward to visiting one of the most spectacular circuits in the UK to get their bike racing fix, the series organisers have yet again been presented with an unnecessary hurdle at the last minute - similar to the opening round at Donington Park last year when it was decreed that there were to be no spectators whatsoever just a week or so before the event was due to take place. After building up to the landmark 25th Anniversary season and having already delayed the season start twice, it's all credit to MSVR who have been impeccable in reacting to the changing scenarios and the (frankly ridiculous) regulations and rules surrounding motorsport; they're doing the best they can to put on the best show possible for those fortunate enough to be one of the 4000.
Many are wondering if WorldSBK at Donington Park will go ahead, as, after all, the bulk of the paddock are travelling in from the continent. No doubt it'll be PCR and Flow tests abound for those fortunate to enter the paddock but it'll be interesting as to just how many fans are allowed into the event. There appears to be nothing on the horizon yet to say WorldSBK won't go ahead and sources within the paddock have all but confirmed to #GYND that they'll be there at the start of July.
Then, somewhat ironically, there's the Download pilot event at Donington Park (!) to consider; with 10,000 fans present and where 'moshing will be allowed' it's a slap in the face for all concerned with bike racing. What a pure farce. Not being allowed 10,000 fans across an expansive race circuit in the countryside and with absolutely no moshing whatsoever, defies belief. Yes, there are regulations in place for those attending with proof of negative test pre and post event etc but they're all stood shoulder to shoulder, sweating and having a bloody good time not spread out across a race circuit - you are likely to be closer to people in your local supermarket than around a race circuit! It's a small wonder that BSB Series Director, Stuart Higgs, hasn't spontaneously combusted with frustration through all of this...
The second round of BSB will be held at Knockhill in mid-July, however, because that's held in a different country it falls under different regulations (... here we go again...). Rumour has been circulating for a week or so that the round was in jeopardy (it's not, it's in Scotland) but today's announcement from MSVR states that it will now be a two-day event rather than the usual three, with changes to the support class program to allow the requisite track time for BSB, Supersport, National Superstock and British Talent Cup. For those missing out - Junior Superstock, Junior Supersport and Sidecars - JSTK and JSS will have an extra race at Oulton Park and WorldSBK respectively but there's no replacement race for the three-wheelers.
In yet more disappointing news for race fans, (there's definitely a pattern forming here...) the Barry Sheene Classic and Oliver's Mount Festival in Scarborough have been shelved for 2021 due to Scarborough Council, unfortunately, deeming some of the paddock buildings 'unsafe' and condemning them. After the hurdles Andy, Wendy, Shaun, and Hayley of Oliver's Mount had to jump through to get the 2021 Calendar off the ground and the herculean effort made by all last season for the Sheene Classic and Gold Cup, it's yet another kick in the slats for England's only Road Racing circuit but on the flip-side, it's genuinely nice to know, amongst all the angst and grumbling on social media, that the council is doing all it can to help the circuit so it can ultimately secure its future.
In better news (hooray!) the circuit statement also said that the Steve Henshaw Gold Cup will still go ahead, albeit a week later, to avoid the clash with BSB Silverstone and the Cookstown 100 races in Northern Ireland to gain the biggest entry list possible for the final event of the year up in North Yorkshire's premier seaside resort.
We live in hope that the first Brands Hatch round in late July will be the first 'normal' round since 2019 and that as many amazing BSB fans as possible can cram into the circuit and support the premier domestic championship. It's YOUR chosen championship to follow, they're YOUR chosen riders to support, and by God, they've missed you - as Dean Harrison said on an Oliver's Mount documentary recently, "What's racing and rivalry without the fans?" You're the lifeblood of the series and there is all the hope in the world that we're only two rounds away from everyone being welcomed back with open arms to make as much noise as possible for every rider out there (fingers crossed emoji!)