‘Really bad news’ is ‘difficult to take’ – Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi can't hide his frustration as MotoGP racing is effectively placed on hold amid the fears over the spread of the coronavirus

Valentino Rossi - Yamaha MotoGP

Valentino Rossi has reacted to the news that the opening two rounds of the 2020 MotoGP World Championship have been cancelled as nations scramble to contain the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.

In an unprecedented move, the FIM, Dorna and IRTA have been forced to cancel the MotoGP class in Qatar scheduled for the weekend after the Middle Eastern nation introduced travel restrictions and a quarantine period for anyone arriving from Italy.

Just hours later, the Thai government intervened to force the axing of the following Buriram race – scheduled for 20-22 March – raising question marks over the calendar thereafter too.

The news has been greeted with immense disappointment from riders, including Rossi who would have been subject to the aforementioned quarantine controls had be travelled to Doha.

Indeed, Rossi is worried it could be a long time before the MotoGP season can begin given the fast-changing situation and the increasingly strict travel restrictions departing and arriving in certain countries.

“It's really bad news. Such a pity... After a winter spent training, we were ready to start the season, both physically and psychologically. After the test in Qatar I really wanted to start with the first race.

“The MotoGP class cancellation for Qatar is difficult news to take, also for the fans, because now we do not know how long we will have to wait before we can start racing. It is certainly a long time, considering the next GP in Thailand has been postponed for all classes. I hope everything will get better in the next weeks.”

The news is a particular blow for the Yamaha team having largely dominated the timesheets during the recent MotoGP test in Qatar and demonstrated the strongest race pace.

By contrast, it’s excellent news for Honda as it looks to make improvements to its RC213V package following a difficult Qatar test. Moreover, its reigning champion Marc Marquez can now return to full fitness having claimed he wouldn’t be fully recovered from shoulder surgery by the opening round.