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.
If the races can be organized, then they will almost certainly be held behind closed doors, and with a highly restricted paddock.
As Mat Oxley set out in his blog this week, Dorna is trying to put together a massive testing program to help alleviate concerns of regional and national authorities.
Dorna has been working closely with various authorities in Spain, Italy, and the Czech Republic, while the Red Bull Ring is handling discussions with the Austrian government, as they are trying to organize races for F1 and for MotoGP.
The chances of being able to hold the Brno round on the scheduled date is also looking better. Today, Brno regional TV reported that plans to hold the race at the Czech circuit behind closed doors are also at an advanced stage.
If racing can resume, and the season kicks off again at Jerez in July, then it is likely that the calendar will be rejigged to schedule racing in Europe first of all. There are plans to hold multiple races at the same circuit to get to the ten or eleven races Dorna feels is necessary to have something resembling a full season.
That would also give the series time to see how the COVID-19 pandemic develops, and how international air travel resumes. Once international – and more particularly, intercontinental – air travel is possible, then Dorna can consider whether the races planned for the Americas and Asia are feasible.
Significant obstacles remain, of course, not least the matter of arranging for marshals to attend the races. But it appears that the plans Dorna has been making and continually updating are starting to look as if they might actually be put into practice.
All around Europe, governments are starting to ease restrictions. The German government announced that the Bundesliga professional soccer league will restart with games to be played behind closed doors, with the date for the first games to be decided on Thursday.
Restrictions on groups and restaurants are to be eased in The Netherlands, and Spain and Belgium have also announced an easing of the lockdown.
We may be moving out of the stage described by Japanese journalist Akira Nishimura as “optimistic pessimism” and into the next stage, of “pessimistic optimism”.
Six weeks ago, the possibility of there being no racing at all in 2020 looked very real. Now, the question is when and where, barring a new spike of cases in Europe.