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David Emmett

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For a few weeks, it looked like racing in 2020 might be impossible. But as the peak of the COVID-19 crisis appears to have passed in many parts of Europe, there are a few rays of hope that racing might resume before the end of the year.

At the moment, Dorna have put plans in place to hold two races at Jerez, on July 19th and 26th, with more races to follow.

These plans see factories and teams start to slowly ramp up their preparations for racing in Jerez. At the same time, the factories are having to come to terms with the still-emerging post-coronavirus economic reality.

Measures have already been put in place to cut costs, including a freeze on engine development and aerodynamics until 2021, while the factories and teams are considering further proposals to cut costs and secure the future of the sport.

On Monday, the Suzuki Ecstar MotoGP team organized a press teleconference with team manager Davide Brivio, in which he discussed this, and many other subjects.

Brivio talked about starting the championship in Jerez, the impact of the coronavirus on Suzuki and on the MotoGP championship, and about Suzuki’s plans for a satellite squad. He also talked about what life in the paddock could look like when racing resumes.

The German round of WorldSBK at Oschersleben has now officially been canceled.

With Germany still imposing restrictions due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and large-scale events being banned in the country until August 31st, it was clear that the race would have to be postponed at the very least.

When postponement proved not to be possible, cancellation was the only option which remained. In its place, Dorna is planning to hold a round of WorldSBK in Jerez.

The return of World Championship racing took a big step towards reality on Thursday morning.

At a teleconference, Dorna, the regional government of Andalusia, and the city council of Jerez agreed on conditions to hold two MotoGP races and a WorldSBK round at the Jerez circuit.

The conditions would include a vastly reduced paddock, and holding the races behind closed doors, with no fans present. Those conditions have been turned into a proposal and submitted to the Spanish government for consideration.

There are signs of hope that the start of the 2020 MotoGP season is drawing near.

According to reports in the Diario de Jerez, the journal of record for the city of Jerez and surrounding regions, Dorna is set to hold a virtual meeting with the city council of Jerez and the regional government of Andalusia to discuss plans to start the MotoGP season at the Jerez circuit, with two races to be held on consecutive weekends, on July 19th and 26th.

There are still a lot of hurdles to be crossed before the racing can happen, but the hope is that with the COVID-19 outbreak starting to ease off in Spain, with the number of daily new cases at about a third of the level it was at the peak of the pandemic, and daily deaths a quarter of what they once were, the health authorities will start to ease the severe restrictions in Spain.

If the current pace of improvement continues, the situation could look much more positive in two months’ time.

Another piece has slotted into place for the 2021 MotoGP season, and like the last announcement – Alex Rins at Suzuki Ecstar MotoGP – it is far from a surprise. Today, Suzuki announced it has extended its deal with Joan Mir for another two years, for the 2021 and the 2022 seasons.

The deal had been long coming. Talks had been ongoing for a while, to such an extent that Joan Mir dropped a very heavy hint that the deal was done in an Instagram Live question and answer session, saying that he “wasn’t allowed to say anything” but that he would have news soon.

On the day that practice was supposed to get underway for the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez, we are still a very long way from any racing happening.

Instead of riders warming up for the fifth race of the season, they are preparing for the third eSports race of 2020, to be played on the brand new MotoGP 20 computer game. It is also the first Virtual Grand Prix, featuring riders from all three classes, instead of just MotoGP.

It’s something, for many fans, but it’s not the same. Seeing bikes battle it out for an hour so in a computer game, and enjoying the banter between the riders, is entertaining, but it misses the visceral pleasure of real racing. Three days of practice, the roar of engines, the squeal of rubber, the scraping of kneepads over asphalt, the smell of hot oil.

On Tuesday, the Dutch government announced it was extending the ban on public events until September 1st, putting an end to hopes of racing in June. And now yesterday, the Finnish government have ended any hope of MotoGP racing in July.

At a press conference on Wednesday evening, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin announced that all gatherings of over 500 people are to remain banned until July 31st.

That would make it impossible to hold the Finnish Grand Prix, due to be held on July 12th at the new Kymiring circuit, 130 km northeast of Helsinki.

The 2020 world championship motorcycle racing calendars continue to slide due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Tuesday evening, it became apparent that there will be no racing in either MotoGP or WorldSBK before the end of June.

After last Wednesday’s announcement by German Chancellor Angela Merkel that large-scale events would be banned in Germany through August 31st, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte extended the ban on large-scale events in The Netherlands to September 1st.

These two announcements have a direct bearing on the WorldSBK and MotoGP calendars.