by Ian Royall from https://www.geelongadvertiser.com.au/
The 2020 Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, scheduled for October 25 at Phillip Island, has been cancelled because of coronavirus restrictions.
The four-day MotoGP weekend at the island is regional Victoria’s biggest sporting event, attracting more than 85,000 spectators and generating about $50 million for the state economy.
The Australian Grand Prix Corporation and the sport’s commercial rights holder Dorna made the call to cancel the GP, the latest event to get the axe.
The British GP, due to be held on August 30 at Silverstone, has also been cancelled.
No races have been held yet this year with tentative plans to start in Spain in late July.
Aussie Ducati rider Jack Miller said he was disappointed he would not be able to race in front of home fans at the island.
“It’s my favourite weekend of the whole year and it’s the best circuit in the world so it’ll be a shame not to be there,’’ Miller told the Herald Sun.
Miller finished third in the 2019 race at the island last October.
Mick Doohan, five-time 500cc world champion and AGPC board member said it would be the first year since 1997 that Phillip Island had not hosted the Australian GP.
“The race will return in 2021 and provide an opportunity to make it one of the biggest and best-attended MotoGP events we’ve seen, plus watch Miller take the win,” Doohan said.
Full refunds would be given to all ticket holders.
AGPC chairman Paul Little said the race would be back better than ever in 2021.
Dorna chief executive Carmelo Ezpeleta said: “We’re saddened to have to announce the cancellation of this iconic event after finding no way through the logistical and operational issues resulting from the pandemic and rearranged calendar.’’
The race cancellation will also be a major blow to the island’s tourism and hospitality industries which rely heavily on income from the GP weekend.
Jack Miller was just a skinny Townsville kid of 16 with a questionable haircut when he started racing in the 125cc world championship in 2011.
He finished just four races, including a 23rd place at his home circuit of Phillip Island.
But Miller worked hard, learnt his racecraft, graduated to premier class four years later and was this week elevated into the Ducati factory team for 2021.
His race performances last year were improved and consistent, earning him the coveted red leathers.
“It’s something (a factory ride) I’ve always dreamt of,’’ Miller said.
Now 25, Miller has spent the past two months on his parents’ property near Townsville, giving him time to reflect on his career so far.
“I’ve been pulling all my old leathers out of storage and hanging them up on the walls around the shed, so it’s been pretty cool to go through that and think back where it began and what’s to come in the future,” he said.
He’s spent his enforced break keeping fit and ripping around the farm on 450cc and 250cc two-stroke dirt bikes, about 45 hours in total.
“I’ve been keeping myself busy — I have a lot of little projects on the go while we’ve been in lockdown,” he said.
Miller has signed a one-year deal with Ducati with an option for a second.
It’s still not clear who he will replace, but it’s more likely he will partner Andrea Dovizioso with talk linking Danilo Petrucci to the manufacturer’s World Superbike team.
Petrucci won his home GP at Mugello last year but his form fell away in the second half of the year.
It is clear that all manufacturers are trying to find someone to break Marc Marquez’s hold on the championship.
But for now, Miller just wants the 2020 championship to start after COVID-19.
“I can’t wait, especially the bike we had in testing in Qatar and Sepang, we believe we can do some special things,” he said.
“We’ve (Pramac) still got a lot of unfinished business — the way things ended last year and how pre-season testing went, we’re in good shape to repay Pramac.
Miller finished a career-best eighth in last year’s championship, with five podium finishes.
He hopes to head back to Europe by mid-June to start preparations.
Dorna, the sport’s commercial rights holder, has said it hopes to start racing at Jerez in Spain by late July, followed by more races in Europe.