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Are motorcycle fans getting the short straw again?

It seems to be the common thing that motorsport is always at the back of peoples minds, and the latest delay on the UK’s opening up program sees motorsport fans miss out yet again. It’s pretty stupid that fans can’t stand in a large field and watch bikes race around a track in the complete open-air, yet fans of other sports can pack out stadiums near one another, sing, chant and hurl abuse at one another whilst drinking beer.

Leon Haslam BSB
320 acres of space to socially distance in…

Despite rules already in place since the UK is not moving to the next stage of the road map, it looks like some events will have a larger capacity. During the time it’s going to take the government to review the current COVID situation, several events may be exempt from the cap. The Events research program (ERP) has allowed Euro 2020 games at Wembley to have 22,500 crowds (25 per cent capacity), hoping to raise it to 50percent for the last 16 games.

Other possibly exempt events include the Tennis Championships at Wimbledon, Rugby Leagues challenge cup final, the Open golf tournament and the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. There is no mention of the 2021 Moto GP round at Silverstone, getting an exemption or increase capacity from the 10,000 allowed.

Suzuki MotoGP
No word yet on 2021 Moto GP ay Silverstone

It seems that should these events go ahead with the increased capacity, spectators will either need to prove full vaccination or provide a negative test result before allowed entry. Ask any motorcycle racing fan if they would undergo getting a test to watch some racing; I’m sure we all would!

What are COVID attendance rules for sports venues?

The rules are awkward; outdoor venues with a seated capacity of 16,000 or above are capped at 10,000 or 25per cent of the full capacity, whichever figure is less. For outdoor venues with fewer than 16,000 seats, the limit is capped at 4,000 or 50 per cent of the capacity, whichever is less. With typical circuits being a stand and watch, not a sit-in grandstand affair, the number of seats at the track could be limiting. Obviously, it’s not considered the size and space of a racetrack and the normal method of watching.

As it stands for the first round of the British superbikes, only 4000 spectators are permitted. The organisers have been keeping fans who have purchased tickets updated, but unfortunately, it looks like many will miss out. Compare that to horse racing at Ascott, which permitted 12,500 spectators in much the same situation as motorsport, open area watching sports from a distance. Minus the fact, you don’t see betting stands etc, at motorsport venues.

We just want to see some bikes….

It seems that the British Superbike Championship feel this is unjust too, putting out this statement:-

Whilst we hoped that spectator limits would be lifted on 21 June if Step 4 proceeded, we have in the meantime been lobbying government, alongside horse racing and golf, to increase our Step 3 capacity so that we have parity with seated venues. Stadiums are currently permitted up to 10,000 spectators despite far more use of public transport, people arriving and leaving at broadly the same time and higher densities in stairwells and entrances. Motor racing circuits by contrast have hundreds of acres of outdoors space allowing spectators to be distributed over large areas with ample room for social distancing. There is no justification for this differentiation in approach.

Unfortunately, there has been no change to the guidance (indeed, we have yet to receive any formal response from the government), so we must enforce the existing Step 3 limits. The great majority of admission tickets will remain valid, including all orders carried over from 2020, however some Sunday ticket purchasers (those that have booked more recently) will be contacted later this week and offered the chance to swap their ticket to Saturday or to receive a full refund. 

British Superbike Website

And sure, the championship did manage to run last year behind closed doors, and the coverage did make P2V TV on Eurosport. Still, it needs fans coming through the gates, buying tickets, and merchandise to keep things ticking over from the team and championship perspective. Even more, so more fans give the potential for better sponsorship deals bringing more money and fans into the sport, making it even more competitive.

Once again, having fans lining the grandstands and fences must provide a mental boost for racers, and these guys and girls really are entertainers.

The atmosphere at any BSB event is electric and that comes from the fans. You can feel the passion from them and it’s an honour to get to race in any BSB class.

Sean Neary, 4T2 Racing
Sean Neary, Superstock 1000

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