Formula One CEO apologizes to fans for cancellation of early races

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PARIS — Formula One CEO Chase Carey apologized to fans Tuesday after the season-opening Australian Grand Prix and other early races this season were canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Amid chaotic scenes in Melbourne on Friday, fans were waiting at the gates to watch the first two practice sessions of the race when the late decision was made to finally postpone it. By that point, even with thousands of fans outside, teams were packing up inside the paddock.

“We apologize to those fans affected by the cancellation in Australia, as well as the postponement of the other races to date,” Carey wrote in an open letter to fans on the F1 website. “We also want to extend our thoughts to those already affected, including those in the Formula 1 family.”

The late decision to cancel the race hastened after McLaren withdrew because a team member tested positive for the COVID-19 illness. Even before the cancellation, Mercedes sent a letter to the FIA and F1 requesting it be called off and had commenced preparations to leave.

The Bahrain and Vietnam Grand Prix races quickly were postponed. Bahrain was scheduled to begin on Friday – at an empty track – and the inaugural Vietnamese GP in Hanoi on April 5.

On Monday, tire provider Pirelli said one of its staff tested positive for the virus and was undergoing treatment in Melbourne. McLaren said the employee who tested positive “is recovering well and the symptoms have gone.”

For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover.

With the Chinese GP on April 17 already canceled in February, the first four races are off.

The season could start in the Netherlands, at the Zandvoort track outside Amsterdam, on May 3, or later in May at either the Spanish GP on May 10 the Monaco GP on May 24.

F1 can gain back some time by scrapping its traditional midseason break, which lasts for four weeks.

“We recognize everyone wants to know what comes next for Formula 1 in 2020. We cannot provide specific answers today given the fluidity of the situation,” Carey said. “However, we plan to get the 2020 Championship season underway as soon as it’s safe to do so. We are engaging with experts and officials on a daily basis.”

Supercross reveals 2023 Daytona track designed by Ricky Carmichael for 16th time

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For the 16th consecutive year, Ricky Carmichael has designed a signature course for the Daytona Supercross race, which will be March 4, 2023.

Eli Tomac took advantage of a last lap mistake by Cooper Webb last year to win a record setting sixth Daytona race – and with that win, he broke out of a tie Carmichael.

Construction on the course will begin two days after the completion of the 65th running of NASCAR’s Daytona 500 when haulers start to unload 7,200 tons of dirt onto the grassy infield in order to create a course 3,300 feet long.

“Ricky has designed yet another incredible course for this year’s Daytona Supercross,” said Daytona International Speedway President Frank Kelleher in a press release. “We’re thrilled to unveil it to the fans, and we can’t wait for them to come out to the track and see it in person.”

MORE: Designs for SuperMotocross finals at zMax Raceway and Chicagoland Speedway

Carmichael’s Daytona course will take center stage for Round 8 of the 17-race Supercross season and the 31-race SuperMotocross season.

The Supercross race coincides with Daytona’s Bike Week, which runs from March 3-12 and includes races from the American Flat Track series and the legendary Daytona 200 speedway race that is contested on the infield road course.

Last year’s course was reported to have 57 obstacles including the return of an over-under bridge. For 2023 the number of obstacles listed in 42, but that will not keep this from being one of the toughest tracks on which the Monster Energy Supercross series will race.

Many of the same elements from last year will be present including sharp turns, vaulted jumps, sand sections and a finish line that aligns with the oval tracks’ start/finish line.

“This year’s Daytona Supercross design is one of the best,” Carmichael said. “It races great for the riders – it’s safe yet challenging and it’s very similar to last year with the split lanes. Daytona is the toughest, gnarliest race on the Supercross circuit, but it’s the most special to win.

“This track is going to produce great racing and I think the riders are going to put on a fantastic display for all our fans.”

While Tomac has dominated this race during his career, Daytona has also been the site of some other dramatic victories. In 2021 Aaron Plessinger scored his first career Supercross podium in 35 starts with a win there and reversed a three-year streak of bad luck on the track.

The Daytona Supercross race is the first of two the series will contest on speedway infield courses. A little more than one month later, Atlanta Motor Speedway will enter their third season as a supercross venue. These two courses will serve as an early test for the SuperMotocross three-race finale that begins September 9, 2023 at zMax Dragway in Charlotte, North Carolina. The three playoff races will each be held on courses that contain elements of Supercross and Motocross, much like Daytona and Atlanta.