COVID-19 halts motor racing


COVID-19 halts motor racing

Observer writer

Friday, March 27, 2020

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LIKE the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), the Jamaica Millennium Motoring Club (JMMC) has put a halt on all sanctioned motorsports events until May 31 due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The FIA is the world's motorsports governing body, and the JMMC is the local representative of that body.

“The potential for spreading the COVID-19 virus in a public setting made it necessary to place a moratorium on motorsport activity until May 31,” Stephen Gunter, chairman of the JMMC, told the Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine yesterday.

Up until the decision, one drag racing event, one karting event, one sprint, and two dexterity events had taken place. The moratorium affects the three major clubs: the Drivers Rallysport Club (DRC); the Jamaica Karting Association (JKA); and the Jamaica Race Drivers Club (JRDC).

Drag Rivals series organisers, KenT Racing, is also affected.

“The three clubs whose events were scheduled during the period of the moratorium were all consulted and advised,” Gunter said.

While the full extent of the economic implications on motorsports is yet to be realised, Gunter said his group is working assiduously for the season's restart on June 1.

“The JMMC is working with the affected organisations to reschedule affected events. The process is ongoing; submissions for new dates close on March 27, after which the JMMC's Competition Subcommittee will review, then release a new provisional motorsport calendar,” Gunter said.

How the calendar moves forward will be up to each club.

For KenT Racing, their Drag Rivals series, held at JamWest Speedway in Westmoreland, scheduled for March 29, was the first hit by the moratorium. Head of KenT Racing, Kenneth Timoll, took to social media explaining that rather than reschedule the meet, it will be simply cancelled, reducing the series to five meets, one fewer than the six planned for 2020.

He explained that given the uncertainty of how the other clubs may handle their schedules he'd rather not compete with a crowded calendar in the later part of the year.

Things are a bit different for the JRDC which require a minimum of four meets to complete their championship season. They will lose two events: on Easter Monday, April 13; and, Labour Day, May 25, during the period.

Junior Barnes, JRDC chairman, indicated that the club will simply push back those two race meets to dates already submitted to the JMMC. He noted this was all provisional based on Government policy in relation to COVID-19 going forward.

Gunter, who became head of the JMMC in May 2008, urged Jamaicans to follow the restrictions imposed to curtail the spread of the virus.

“Stay home, observe all protocols as advised by the Ministry of Health and Wellness. Together we can make a difference,” he said.

So far, 26 people have tested positive for the COVID-19 in Jamaica, while it has claimed one person's life.

Worldwide motorsports has grounded to a halt.

The F1 season, scheduled to start on March 21 in Australia, was halted when members of the McLaren racing team tested positive for the virus. They have since cancelled the Australasian Grand Prix meets. The European and American portion of the F1 calendar is still up in the air as several races would take place in the hardest-hit countries, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.

F1 wasn't the only one hit by COVID-19, the World Rally Championship was brought to a halt, Formula E, and America's NASCAR have all shut down, hosting online eSports events using virtual gaming simulators worldwide.

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