In an interview with MotoGP.com, CEO of Dorna Sports Carmelo Ezpeleta delivered an update on the plans for 2020.
“Today we announced the cancellation of the three Grands Prix; Germany, Assen and Finland. The reason is because we are contemplating the possibility to start in July but the problem is with the situation and authorities it will be difficult to do with spectators, so any of these Grands Prix without spectators is very difficult to do. It’s for that reason that we’ve decided with the three local promoters to pass onto next year with those three, instead of putting them on a new date.”
“The authorities of the Netherlands for forbidden events until the end of August and so it’s completely impossible” states Ezpeleta when discussing Assen’s first absence from the calendar since the beginning of the World Championship. “After that in Assen it will be difficult to organise a Grand Prix and more difficult again without spectators”.
After the announcement of F1’s calendar, the Dorna CEO was asked what a possible MotoGP calendar may look like. Whilst Ezpeleta didn’t give a definitive answer on the calendar, he did give an optimistic start for the season.
“Our idea right now is to start at the end of July. Where and when are still to be decided. We’re sure our initial program is to start in Europe and race from the end of July until November and see what’s happening and if the non-European races will be possible after November. In the worst case, if it’s not possible to travel outside of Europe, we’ll at least keep a Championship of least 10 to 12 races between the end of July and the end of November.“
Testing for coronavirus is extremely important for such a tightly packed community like the MotoGP paddock, Ezpeleta discussed the new protocol they will be implementing with the help of Bridgepoint.
“We are working just on the 10,00 coronavirus tests which we agreed with Bridgepoint. Then what we are doing is to try to make a protocol, which is the way we’re working within Dorna now to see how the races could be without spectators and with a limited number of people working in the paddock, which will give different situations regarding transportation, accommodation, hospitality. Then everyone will be tested before leaving their house, then tested when they arrive at the circuit and also when they return home.”
Ezpeleta divulges that he is regularly in contact with riders, teams and manufacturers to keep them up-to-date with the plans for the future, even happily taking calls from riders to discuss the situation with them individually.
“Some of the riders call me and I’m happy to discuss the situation with them. I must say that everybody is healthy and looking forward to starting as soon as possible. They understand that the situation is different and everybody’s happy to try to start as soon as we can, but in a safe manner.”
Naturally, due to the risk of infection and how quickly it would spread within the paddock, the number of personnel for each team will be reduced in an effort to safeguard everyone involved.
“We talked to the teams and arrived at a consensus that maximum number for a MotoGP manufacturer team will be 40, for satellite or independent teams will be 25, 20 for Moto2 and 15 for Moto3. Then there will be, of course, all the people who produce the television signal; all this crew, then the minimum number of people from Dorna who are in charge of race organisation. This will give us an average of around 1600 people. This is the possibility to control the MotoGP family. Unfortunately, at the moment there will be no media and no TV. Maybe, but not sure, maybe some photographers to supply images to everybody.“
In a message to the fans, Ezpeleta said “we’ll be sure to come back and we’ll be back stronger from this situation. We’re not working just on 2020 but on 2021 and beyond and we’re trying to maintain the races, which is the most important thing”.