Avintia Ducati boss Ruben Xaus warns MotoGP team is in ‘red zone’

Avintia Ducati's Ruben Xaus reveals the MotoGP team is in the 'red zone' with finances as it fights for survival amid the coronavirus pandemic

Avintia Ducati MotoGP team

Avintia Ducati manager Ruben Xaus has warned the team is facing a fight for survival amid the prospect of the 2020 MotoGP World Championship season being scrapped over the coronavirus.

The Spanish outfit is one of 11 teams reorganising its finances in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has so far seen the opening eight rounds of the season cancelled or postponed.

However, while most privateer teams have a fairly close alignment with a manufacturer, Avintia is unusual in that it leases its bikes from Ducati and is known to operate on the smallest budget in the field.

As such, it is realistically the team most at risk by the current pause on racing despite receiving a 250,000 euros aid package from Dorna intended to cover costs for the next three months.

Revealing the team cannot be expected to ask sponsors to honour their contracts if they are getting no exposure from racing, Xaus admits the team – which also competes in Moto3 and MotoE - finds itself in the ‘red zone’.

“If the sponsors see the motorcycles on TV, then they pay you,” Xaus told Sky Italia. “If they don't pay, we are missing 15 percent of the budget or two million euros," Xaus estimates. "Sponsors usually pay in late February or March. Few sponsors pay in advance. We're lucky that some sponsors did."

"But that's not a big amount. It is enough for the shop to continue for two or three months. Today, like the other private teams, we are in the red zone. We lack the budget to lease trucks.”

Revealing 65-70% of its budget is spent on leasing the Ducati machinery intended for Johann Zarco and Tito Rabat, Xaus says the team is discussing reducing that fee with the manufacturer.

“Even the manufacturers understand that we cannot pay for motorcycles that don't drive. We talk to Ducati two or three times a week and so far they have behaved very fairly. We will agree on a sum for Ducati this season. It depends on how long the championship will last, how many engines, how a lot of material we need and how the logistics work.”

Avintia begins a fight for survival

Of all the teams on the MotoGP grid, it’s no surprise to find Avintia as the only true privateer entry sending up the first rescue flare in its fight for survival.

While the ongoing pause – and the prospect of no racing happening at all in 2020 – is troubling for all teams, for a team that relies heavily on investment from sponsors, it could be terminal.

It’s unlikely to be the only MotoGP team to be crunching some depressing numbers if no racing takes place – big and small - but Avintia represents the greater worry for all of the independent teams that make up the entirety of the Moto2 and Moto3 grids too.

If Avintia is the first team to enter the so-called ‘red zone’, it definitely won’t be the last, with only Dorna holding the cards as to whether they can formulate a rescue package for those who will be desperately in need soon.