MotoGP prepared to compete until Christmas or behind closed doors

The 2020 MotoGP World Championship could run well into December or behind closed doors to ensure it meets the remaining quota of 19 rounds

Carmelo Ezpeleta

The 2020 MotoGP World Championship could still run to 19 rounds this season as organisers Dorna weigh up the prospect of shuffling the calendar around to run late into the year.

The onset of the Coronavirus spread has wreaked havoc on motorsport schedules around the world with this weekend’s MotoGP race in Qatar cancelled, while the following round in Thailand has also been postponed until later in the year.

With the FIM publishing a revised calendar which confirms Qatar has dropped off the schedule and Thailand will take place in October now, Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta reveals there are other measures that could be adopted to ensure the remaining 19 events will take place as now planned.

These include extending the schedule to stretch to December with some of the more winter climate viable events. There are also discussions reported to be taking place that could see MotoGP race behind closed doors with no spectators, in what would surely be a last resort move.  

“Contractually with the FIM there are 13 races but our aim is to do 19 remaining races,” Ezpeleta told the media at the Losail International Circuit. “There are possibilities that even in the worst case, even with more cancellations that we will have time. Maybe we will race in hot countries at Christmas!

“We are like that, our duty is to make races and we will do races. I was talking with the FIM President today, who is coming tomorrow, and maybe they need to postpone the FIM Prize Giving ceremony [scheduled for November 21-22] but the most important thing for us is to make races.

“Everything is possible,” Ezpeleta explained. “The most important thing for us is to have any solution all together with everything. We say always that Dorna, in agreement with IRTA and FIM, is a company that makes races and this is our obligation despite any other things.

“For us it is more important than the economical side or whatever. It is to make races, I assure you with the collaboration with IRTA, the MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3 team managers we will try to do as many races as we can.

“I will not say now if I am optimistic but the only thing I promise to you is that we will work hard for any solution to happen make the 19 remaining races.”

Thailand MotoGP

MotoGP stays optimistic in ever-changing situation

This time last week Ezpeleta was reiterating once again that Coronavirus did not pose a threat to the MotoGP World Championship. Just days later the opening two rounds had been cancelled or shifted, pushing the opener back to ‘Grand Prix of The Americas’ in Austin on 3-5 April 2020.

Trouble is, Dorna is trying to navigate a situation that is ultimately out of its control. The rejigging of the calendar is good news for fans – perhaps less so for the teams that now face five race weekends in six weeks – but while the United States is due to go ahead, it too has restrictions on some nations and there is plenty of time for this to evolve.

Moreover, if certain events were taking place tomorrow – such as those in France and Italy – there would be no racing either.

Dorna will hoping Coronavirus abates in the next few weeks – something it hasn’t done for months – or face cancelling more events.