The first international sports car racing event has been canceled due to increasing global impact of the coronavirus.
GT Sport announced on Wednesday that it has postponed its winter test at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, scheduled for March 6-7, as a “precautionary measure” in light of the recent developments of Covid-19.
The test was scheduled to have seen competitors from the International GT Open and GT Cup Open Europe, along with the Euroformula open-wheel series, all run by the Spanish organization.
While the outbreak had originated in China, Covid-19 has since spread globally, with a recent cluster in Italy resulting in a lockdown of more than ten villages in the Lombardy region.
More than 300 people have been infected with the virus in Italy, with 12 deaths reported as of Wednesday, although Spain has yet to officially report a case.
In a statement, GT Sport said that the virus is causing “serious concerns” and has already started to affect travel and transportation, which along with recommendations of European health authorities, led to its decision of postponing the Barcelona test.
The organizer’s second winter test at Circuit Paul Ricard, meanwhile is currently still confirmed for March 20-21.
The Barcelona test is the first sports car event to be postponed outside of China due to Covid-19, with China GT Championship officials having already canceled the opening round of its series as well as the planned Asia GT Festival that was scheduled to launch this year.
Emerging Global Pandemic to Impact Additional Motorsports Events
With motorsports in China set to be at a standstill for at least the next few months, it’s believed that Covid-19, which is on the verge of becoming a global pandemic, is likely to impact other sports car racing events in the coming weeks.
SRO Motorsports Group announced a contingency plan on Tuesday for its planned GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS season-opening round at Monza, while other motorsports sanctioning bodies are also preparing for potential of impacted events.
Anne Schuchat, the principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S., has stated that the current global circumstances suggest that the virus will likely cause a pandemic.
“It’s not so much a question of if this will happen any more, but rather more a question of when this will happen and how many people in this country will become infected and how many of those will develop severe or more complicated disease,” she said on Tuesday.
The U.S. currently has 57 confirmed cases, although the fear of the virus spreading from globally-attended events appears to be the biggest short-term concern.