Dorna Sports chief executive officer Carmelo Ezpeleta has addressed important questions about the 2020 MotoGP season, which has been significantly affected by the potential spread of coronavirus.
Already, the MotoGP class has been cancelled from the opening round in Qatar, and the entire Thai Grand Prix has been postponed, with more schedule changes expected.
Speaking at a press conference at the Losail International Circuit, Mr Ezpeleta explained how Dorna Sports plans to navigate the issue and what might happen should more races be cancelled.
“Last Saturday we started to see some problems with some nationalities coming to Qatar,” he said.
“We heard that people from Italy or other countries would have to be quarantined here in Qatar, obviously this is difficult and we could not do it, so we started to think of other possibilities.
“One of these things was to organise a charter for all the people living in Italy, a flight, from France, to bring the minimum number of people needed to participate. Even talking with some people that if one team or manufacturer is obliged to have a maximum number, to agree with the other team to have the same maximum number with the other teams. On the Saturday afternoon we had that agreement.
“Then what we said was for everyone to act as soon as possible, but then on the early Sunday afternoon, a flight coming from Rome was forbidden to enter here, with the possibilities of going back to Rome or being quarantined here for 14 days. We were trying, then, to organise a flight from Nice to then organise some positions for the MotoGP community; mechanics, engineers or riders, to be allocated in one place, come for the race and go back. But we say that this on Sunday after was not possible.
“What will happen in the future? This is something we can’t prevent. The situation keeps changing around the world, every day. The only thing I can say is that we will try to do everything possible; postpone or whatever. Our aim today is to work together, as we’ve been doing all this time, to try to make the Championship. In the best possible conditions, but to try to maintain the championship with the maximum number of races we can. We are prepared to do that.
“This is the position. The next race? the United States. We don’t know anything. We are waiting to send all the material until the last moment. If the situation changes between now and that moment, we will make that decision. It’s true that we tried to move United States to the end of the year, changing for some of the Spanish races. It’s easy to say but to make those changes in the short time we have, to do these races at the end of March, it’s impossible for a circuit to organise a MotoGP race between now and the end of March. We announced today the change of the date of Thailand, thanks to the Aragon government to make the race a week early, and a week later we’ll have Thailand.
“We have a lot of possibilities as we are considering everything but the main aim of FIM, IRTA and Dorna is to maintain the Championship. Second, to all the MotoGP community, don’t pay attention to the rumours, please, because we are together.
“We are talking to all the people around the world. We will try to do the championship and we are strong enough to try to do it. The first article we have in any agreement with the promotors is we need to respect the laws of the country. If a law is in place, we can’t do anything. Until a law forbids us to go anywhere, we will continue. When the law says at that moment, we will think in the future.
“Our aim; FIM, IRTA and Dorna, is to maintain the Championship with the maximum number of races. The rest, we will take measures. There have been some put in place here with the Losail International Circuit regarding the spectators not being allowed into the paddock, regarding the possibilities if something happened in the MotoGP community if there is a case, we are prepared with special equipment to deal with that. And we’ve shared between the Moto2 and Moto3 teams some measure to ensure the situation gets better.
“We have the local authorities, the world health authorities all connected to try to do the maximum thing. We want to tell everybody that we want to do the Grand Prix and I am sure we can do it. Obviously it will not be a normal championship and we’ll change things, whatever, always maintaining that the sporting side is equal for everybody and to be accommodating to the situation.”
Carmelo said that the Americas and Argentina GP are expected to go ahead.
“Today both are ok. But I’m not sure what is happening in the future, what I’m saying is we have enough opportunity to save the problems. After USA and Argentina, we will be in Europe. Then it depends on what the situation is in Europe. This is the most critical thing. The problem is the number of spectators together and the number of people in the paddock of nationalities who have been forbidden. We are thinking about solutions for both things. When any measure is coming we have some ideas to react.”
Racing without spectators?
“Everything is possible. The most important thing for us to have a solution that covers everything. We say always that Dorna, with the agreement with FIM and IRTA, is a company who makes races. And this is our obligation despite any other things. For us the most important, more than economy or whatever, is to make races. I can assure you with all the people of IRTA and all the MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3 managers, we will try to do as many races as we can. I will not say now that I am optimistic but the only thing I can promise to you is we will work hard for whatever solution has happened, to make the races. The 19 remaining races.”
For the World Championship to stand, at least 13 races need to be run, and Dorna expressed its commitment to making it happen.
“Contractually with the FIM, the minimum number for the World Championship is 13. Even in the worst case, with lots of cancellations, we have time. Maybe we will race in countries where it’s hot at Christmas but our duty is to make races and we’ll make races. Maybe they’ll need to postpone the FIM prize-giving ceremony but we’ll make races.”
Revised season calendar
|08 March||Qatar*||Losail International (Circuit Moto/Moto3 only)|
|05 April||Americas||Circuit of the Americas|
|19 April||Republica Argentina||Termas de Rio Hondo|
|03 May||Spain||Circuito de Jerez – Ángel Nieto|
|17 May||France||Le Mans|
|31 May||Italy||Autodromo del Mugello|
|07 June||Catalunya||Barcelona – Catalunya|
|28 June||Netherlands||TT Circuit Assen|
|09 August||Czech Republic||Automotodrom Brno|
|16 August||Austria||Red Bull Ring-Spielberg|
|30 August||Great Britain||Silverstone|
|13 September||San Marino||Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli|
|27 September||Aragón||MotorLand Aragón|
|04 October||Thailand||Chang International Circuit|
|18 October||Japan||Twin Ring Motegi|
|25 October||Australia||Phillip Island|
|01 November||Malaysia||Sepang International Circuit|
|15 November||Comunitat Valenciana||Comunitat Valenciana-Ricardo Tormo|
Spencer has a keen eye for hard news, and does some of his best living on deadline day. He loves more than anything to travel on his motorcycle, and is adamant that Melbourne Bitter is a world-class lager. He also knows how to operate the big computery thing in the office. By night, Spencer plays guitar with Melbourne punk outfit LOUTS.