Michael van der Mark riding the BMW M-1000RR in December in southern France on a BMW test track near Marseilles. The competition and some critics said that the Dutchman could just as easily have done his laps in a parking lot in Munich (© BMW Motorrad).

Why BMW has to do without tests until March

We remember the first lockdown very well. Our flight from Vienna to Doha for the 2nd round of WorldSBK was of course already booked, as were all other MotoGP and WorldSBK trips for the 2020 season. We had just returned from Phillip Island (Australia) with a stopover in Singapore. This is exactly why Qatar Airways confirmed to us shortly before departure that we would have been quarantined in Doha as soon as we arrived. Shortly afterwards, the author of this article received an email from the USA from his client as an international consultant. It was clear that all trips must be approved by the highest authority from now on. It was explicitly not just about crisis areas such as northern Italy. A completely normal procedure in such cases for global corporations. This is exactly what happened to the BMW works team. That’s why you won’t see them again until mid-March and they had to forego the Jerez tests last November.

Jonathan Rea on the new 2021 Kawasaki ZX-10RR in picture-perfect weather and over 20 degrees Celsius on the Circuito de Jerez. Official tests took place here from November 17-18, 2020. However, to the astonishment of the competition and the public, BMW and Ducati decided not to participate at the time (© WorldSBK).

The beginning of a madness and the effects

At the beginning of March 2020, following advice from Doha, we refrained from starting our trip and only received a credit note many months later, fortunately with an expiry time of at least two years. The WorldSBK event had already been canceled and the hotel even refunded us the prepayment in full. From then on, speculation about the races of the first half of the year began on most motorsports-portals. We had been declaring since mid-March that there would definitely NOT be any motorcycle Grand Prix or WorldSBK races before midsummer. We should be right with that and it started in mid-July 2020 indeed.

Our picture taken from February 29, 2020 in Phillip Island – 3-time WorldSBK World Champion Troy Bayliss in conversation with Paddock Show host Michael Hill. The event we attended in Australia at the time was the last event that was not overshadowed by the corona pandemic.

Rain in Jerez and not 15 degrees Celsius – day 1 for nothing

The only one who did his laps around noon was Stefan Bradl on the MotoGP Honda today, January 20, 2021. The timekeeping colleagues should be forgiven for listing the German as English. With a top speed of less than 260 km / h and lap times of just under 2 minutes, there is no need to speak of the limit due to the wet conditions. On November 18, 2021, Jonathan Rea was already faster on the brand-new Kawasaki ZX-10RR than the Bavarian on the MotoGP factory rocket from Honda and slammed a best time of 1: 38.324. On January 20th, however, all WorldSBK pilots had stayed in the pits until 1 p.m. Even “rain god” Johnny Rea and his English compatriots Redding, Lowes and Haslam did not go out until then.

Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) at the Jerez tests in mid-November last year. The pilots of the brand with the crossed tuning fork in their logo were all there, at least back then, when tests were being carried out diligently in superb weather. BMW, on the other hand, is putting its pilots to a hard test of patience with the waiver from October 2020 to March 2021 (© WorldSBK).

Ducati – the renunciation of November tests takes revenge

Now that it is bitterly cold and raining in Jerez de la Frontera, the Ducati executives should feel pretty stupid. In the previous year, the competition was tested in wonderful conditions and bright sunshine. BMW had to do without for the reasons outlined above and Ducati probably voluntarily for reasons of cost. But the first of two official test days on the Circuito de Jerez fell victim to the horrific January weather. For the second day, the forecast is around 17 degrees Celsius and still a 30 percent probability of rain. The waiver of the November 2020 tests by Ducati is now bitterly taking revenge on the Italian team. The tests will not continue until the beginning of March.

Our picture taken on March 1st, 2020 in Phillip Island (Australia) of Scott Redding (Aruba.it Ducati) in turn 4, called Honda Corner. At the accreditation counter they told us that we were the only German-speaking media people who had flown in for the 1st round of the Superbike World Championship.

The test plan for WorldSBK until spring 2021

Jerez test: 20th – 21st January
Portimao test: 4th – 5th March
Jerez test: 9th – 10th March (Honda only)
Misano test: 15th – 16th March
Estoril test: 24th – 25th March
Barcelona test: March 31st – 1st April
MotorLand Aragon test: April 12th – 13th

Leon Haslam in front of Alvaro Bautista – the two HRC Honda team supports have received a new team boss with their former colleague Leon Camier, who is already present in Jerez. For more information, see our separate report from January 18 on this page (© HRC Honda).

The combined provisional calendar 2021

Many changes are still to be expected, as most observers have now also recognized. On the other hand, we had already emphasized from November 5, 2020 after its publication by Dorna (for MotoGP) that this plan would be untenable. After all, Gregorio Lavilla, who is responsible for WorldSBK at Dorna, has put together a much more realistic plan than his colleagues responsible for MotoGP. Since the beginning of November 2020, we have listed the events in italics that we have strong doubts about whether they will take place. A replacement for Brno is currently missing and in WorldSBK at least two events are currently still undefined. There is likely to be a more than big question mark behind San Juan and Indonesia due to the pandemic. This is especially true for the numerous MotoGP events overseas.