Fastest on four of the six days of 2020 MotoGP pre-season testing, Fabio Quartararo had more reason than most to be excited for the first race in Qatar this weekend.

But that's now been cancelled due to travel restrictions in response to the coronavirus, with round two in Thailand also postponed as the country clamps down on events with large numbers of spectators.

Quartararo, elevated to a factory-spec Yamaha at the Petronas team after a brilliant rookie campaign, admits he's 'really sad' to see the Losail night race abandoned but will be cheering on his team-mates in the Moto2 and Moto3 class.

The smaller grand prix categories are able to compete as usual since teams and riders were already in Qatar for their final test.

“I’m really, really sad that the Qatar GP is cancelled for the MotoGP class," Quartararo said.

"We just need to focus on our training until the first race of the season, but anyway Moto2 and Moto3 are still going ahead and our team is there, so we will cheer for them and of course it looks like they’re going well and we all enjoyed a good pre-season.

“Thailand also is postponed due to the Coronavirus but it’s true that personal safety is a priority as we need to all be healthy. Of course we are really sorry for the fans and we will make a good show for them as soon as we can!”

Quartararo wasn't the only Petronas MotoGP rider looking in excellent form by the end of testing.

In fact, although he didn't finish a day on top of the timesheets, team-mate Franco Morbidelli took his A-spec M1 to a better lap time than Quartararo in Losail, finishing second overall behind only Monster Yamaha's Maverick Vinales.

“It’s a shame because after the nice pre-season I was really looking forward to the race, but these things go beyond the sport and beyond racing," Morbidelli said.

"We have to be sure that if we go to an event it’s safe for everyone inside the paddock so we accept the decision. It’s just a matter of waiting some more time before the first MotoGP.

“Moto2 and Moto3 are going to race still in Qatar so we will follow them and cheer for our Moto2 and Moto3 team-mates, and hope that the fans will enjoy these two races.

"I’m sorry they have to wait some more time for MotoGP to start, but I hope it won’t be long. I will continue my preparation as I did over winter and focus on the first race. Whenever it will be, I’ll be ready!”

As things stand, the first MotoGP race of the year is now set for Austin, Texas from April 3-5, followed by Argentina two weeks later. But both remain at the mercy of any increased entry restrictions for international passengers, or ban on large public gatherings.

The US has 128 recorded cases of the coronavirus so far while Argentina - which recently insisted that its event was not at risk - reported its first case yesterday (Tuesday).

Sepang team principal Razlan Razali said he "shares the disappointment" of all MotoGP fans following the Qatar and Thailand changes, while acknowledging his Moto2 and Moto3 teams have an opportunity to "take the limelight" at Losail.

Xavi Vierge and Jake Dixon will be making their Petronas Moto2 debut this weekend, with John McPhee and Khairul Idham Pawi representing the team in Moto3.

Meanwhile, given the uncertainly over the grand prix calendar beyond this weekend, Razali's MotoGP riders can only use the extra time to train and prepare: "One thing is certain, when the first race does take place both Franco and Fabio are primed and very eager to race!

"Of course, a primary concern of the team and our sponsors is that everyone in the sport and supporting the sport stays safe and healthy so we will continue to follow the best advice and support the FIM, Dorna and IRTA in their approach to this challenging situation.”

Quartararo was fastest on all three days at the opening Sepang MotoGP test, then quickest on day two in Qatar. Alex Rins was fastest for Suzuki on day one at Losail, then Vinales on day three.

The Sepang Circuit is due to host the penultimate round of the season on November 1, with Thailand expected to be rescheduled for early October.

Latest 2020 MotoGP Calendar

Round

Date

Race

Circuit

1

8 March

Qatar (no MotoGP class)

Losail International Circuit

2

22 March

Thailand (postponed)

Chang International Circuit

3

5 April

Americas

Circuit of the Americas

4

19 April

Argentina

Termas de Rio Hondo

5

3 May

Jerez

Circuito de Jerez - Angel Nieto

6

17 May

France

Le Mans

7

31 May

Italy

Mugello

8

7 June

Catalunya

Circuit de Barcelona - Catalunya

9

21 June

Germany

Sachsenring

10

28 June

Netherlands

TT Circuit Assen

11

12 July

Finland**

KymiRing

12

9 August

Czech Republic

Brno

13

16 August

Austria

Red Bull Ring - Spielberg

14

30 August

Great Britain

Silverstone

15

13 September

San Marino

Misano

16

4 October

Aragon

MotorLand Aragon

17

18 October

Japan

Motegi

18

25 October

Australia

Phillip Island

19

1 November

Malaysia

Sepang

20

15 November

Valencia

Comunitat Valenciana - Ricardo Tormo

 

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