MotoGP To Return In July, According To Dorna’s Ezpeleta

MotoGP To Return in July - Dorna's Ezpeleta
Ezpeleta at the Sachsenring last summer. Photo by T. Boerner.

Dorna Sports CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta said in an interview today that the goal is to restart the 2020 MotoGP racing in July. The series was halted after the opening round in Qatar, which saw only the Moto2 and Moto3 classes lineup for racing due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The 2020 MotoGP calendar has been trimmed to 17 rounds, with the German GP, Dutch GP, and Finnish GP being canceled. Including Qatar, there are 13 set dates on the schedule, though they are all subject to change. Four rounds—the Spanish GP, French GP, Italian GP, and Catalunya GP—are all on the schedule, but without dates.

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The first returning race is set for August 9 at Brno for the Czech GP. As it stands, the Valencia GP is marked as the final round on November 29. The flyaway portion of the series will be six consecutive rounds starting on October 4 with the Thai GP, followed by the Japanese GP, Australian GP, Malaysian GP, Americas GP, and the November 22 Argentina GP.

Given the current provisional schedule, adding in the four undated rounds will require racing almost every week. Outside the box options being considered are back-to-back rounds at the same venue.

“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,” Ezpeleta said, “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.”

It remains to be seen if the races will be held in front of a live audience, or if they will even be televised. The final outcome will hinge on how many people will be allowed at various racing venues.

“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,” Ezpeleta explained. “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 organization. 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.”

MotoGP To Return in July - Dorna's Ezpeleta
Ezpeleta at the Sachsenring last summer. Photo by T. Boerner.

Thorough testing of everyone involved in MotoGP may be part of the procedure for every race. According to Ezpeleta, “We are working just on the 10,00 coronavirus tests which we agreed with Bridgepoint [Dorna’s owner]. 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. This is the idea. We are working with another company which belongs to Bridgepoint to acquire these 10,000 tests.”

The cancellations of the German, Dutch, and Finnish GPs were difficult ones. It was the return of Finland to the MotoGP calendar, and the Dutch GP has a historical status. “The German GP is raced on a truly unique track with an incredible history,” Ezpeleta said, “and the KymiRing is an exciting new venue set to welcome Grand Prix motorcycle racing back to Finland for the first time since 1982. And the iconic TT Circuit Assen had the unique honor of being the only venue to have held a round of the motorcycle racing Grand Prix World Championship every year, uninterrupted, since the championship began in 1949.”

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“The authorities of the Netherlands have forbidden events until the end of August,” Ezpeleta revealed, “and so it’s completely impossible. After that, in Assen it will be difficult to organize a Grand Prix and more difficult again without spectators.”

“Our number one focus has always been and will remain on trying to run the 2020 season with as many Grands Prix as possible,” Dorna said in a statement earlier this year, “finishing within the 2020 calendar year. The priority of all parties involved is to race, safely, and bring our fans more of what they love—motorcycle racing.”

2020 MotoGP Schedule as of April 29

  1. March 8: Qatar GP, Losail International Circuit, Qatar (Moto2 and Moto3 only; MotoGP canceled due to COVID-19 outbreak)
  2. August 9: Czech GP, Automotodrom Brno, Czech Republic
  3. August 16: Austrian GP, Red Bull Ring – Spielberg, Austria
  4. August 30: British GP, Silverstone Circuit, United Kingdom
  5. September 13: San Marino GP, Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, San Marino
  6. September 27: Aragon GP, MotorLand Aragon, Spain
  7. October 4: Thai GP, Chang International Circuit, Thailand
  8. October 18: Japanese GP, Twin Ring Motegi, Japan
  9. October 25: Australian GP, Phillip Island Circuit, Australia
  10. November 1: Malaysian GP, Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia
  11. November 15: GP of the Americas, Circuit of the Americas, United States
  12. November 22: Argentina GP, Termas de Rio Hondo, Argentina
  13. November 29: Valencia GP, Circuit Ricardo Tormo, Spain

Race Dates To Be Determined

  • Spanish GP, Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto, Spain
  • French GP, Le Mans, France
  • Italian GP, Autodromo di Mugello, Italy
  • Catalunya GP, Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Spain

Canceled Rounds

  • German GP, Sachsenring, Germany
  • Dutch GP, TT Circuit Assen, The Netherlands
  • Finnish GP, KymiRing, Finland