Could MotoGP consider a European-based 10 round calendar?

MotoGP should be focusing on a condensed, European-based 2020 schedule to get the season going, according to KTM Motorsport Director Pit Beirer

Pol Espargaro - KTM Factory Racing

With no obvious sign that the coronavirus is abating in Europe for the time being, KTM Motorsport Director Pit Beirer has suggested MotoGP might be forced into drastic measures to slash the calendar and just focus on a number of key rounds.

Following the confirmation round five of the season in Jerez has now been postponed, Dorna and the FIM have been busy attempting the reschedule events to keep the calendar filled with 19 events.

However, as time goes on there are concerns this is not a realistic aim, with Beirer suggesting the governing bodies should focus more on ten key events in Europe – potentially behind closed doors - to decide this year’s champions and allow teams to focus on 2021.

“If we could have ten world championship races for each class, we would have a working championship for the teams, could do a decent job for our sponsors and fans and decide the world champions," Beirer told Speedweek.

"It must still be our goal to hold reasonable championships [this year]. But for that we need a certain amount of freedom of travel.

"If we can get eight or ten Grand Prix together in Europe, everything will be fine. That would still be better than not racing at all. First the travel bans have to be relaxed, then events with spectators have to be allowed again. It will take a little longer.

"Europe has just started to take very tough measures that were important. Now you have to wait for the results of these restrictions. At the same time, the incubation period is up to 14 days. So, the number of infected people continues to rise before the trend reverses.

"And if the number of sufferers continues to rise, no one dares seriously to talk about the new MotoGP season. But I hope that we can use the figures from China as a guide. Then we have a period of eight, ten or twelve weeks.”

Is a 10-round European calendar feasible?

First and foremost, it would take the FIM to give this season some sort of special status for it to count as a World Championship since the current regulations state it would only count if contested over 13 events.

However, in these unprecedented times it could call for some unprecedented measures, though as previously stated it doesn’t exclude the prospect of making events double-headers if necessary.

Given Europe is now the epicentre of the worsening crisis, compared with China which has seemingly flattened its curve and Japan which is still operating fairly normally within reason, it might seem odd Beirer thinks the continent is a viable option.

However, with all teams based in Europe, at a time of financial hardship, it would make more economic sense for MotoGP – if it is able to – to keep logistics to a minimum if it is safe to do so.

That said, KTM could be biased. The Austrian firm is one of Europe’s biggest brands and a pricey calendar weighted in the Americas and Asia limits the appeal for publicity somewhat. By the same definition though, companies like Yamaha, Honda and Suzuki – which do big business in Asia – are unlikely to want to sacrifice them for a European schedule.

More likely is the prospect of making the second half of the season European heavy with the option of running overseas events into winter and maybe into early 2021. If that happens, expect Dorna to introduce a deferral of regulations that could make it mandatory to use 2020-spec bikes next season to ease the costs and time needed to develop.