The 2021 Superbike World Championship (WSBK) was a nail-biter. Yamaha rider Toprak Razgatlıoglu and six-time WSBK champion Jonathan Rea battled down to the final round at Indonesia’s brand-new Mandalika Circuit. While Rea and Razgatlioglu will revive their rivalry in 2022, Alvaro Bautista's return to Ducati and Scott Redding’s maiden ride on the BMW M 1000 RR will also highlight the first round of the WSBK season.
Racers will take to Spain’s MotorLand Aragon circuit for the season opener on April 8-10, 2022, where many of the pre-season plotlines will play out. Luckily, WSBK organizers are planning for fans to be in the stands, watching the drama unfold in person.
“Everything depends on the further course with Omicron, but it looks like it will go like 2019," explained MotorLand Managing Director Santiago Abad. “We are planning an open paddock, but that has not yet been decided. We also plan with hospitality.”
Of course, MotorLand Aragon and WSBK organizers will have to abide by local health guidelines, but Spain has gradually eased travel restrictions throughout 2022. In January, the Spanish government declared COVID-19 an endemic disease. While the authorities acknowledge the risk of seasonal outbreaks, EU residents only need to complete Spain’s Health Control Form48 hours before traveling to the country. With a month to plan for the Aragon season opener, Abad is keeping all options on the table.
“We are currently working on an update of the COVID protocol," added Abad. “We may ask for the certificate for vaccinated or recovered. It depends on what the regulations require for events with fans."
The last time a WSBK event hosted fans was the 2020 season opener at Australia’s Philip Island Grand Prix Circuit. The race weekend spanned February, 28-March 1, 2020. By the time the series was scheduled to move on to the Losail Circuit in Qatar on March 13-15, 2020, the initial pandemic shutdowns stalled the series until late July, 2020. Hopefully, the organizers will be able to invite fans back for the 2022 season opener, as it’s shaping up to be another competitive season.