MotoGP Racing Creeps Closer to Reality for 2020

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The good news was that Dorna had submitted a plan to hold two races in Jerez on the 19th and 26th of July, and that the authorities in Andalusia and the city of Jerez had supported the plan.

But many obstacles remained in the path to turning the plan into reality. Now, nearly three weeks later, those obstacles are starting to disappear.

The biggest obstacle was removed on Monday, when the Spanish government announced that the enforced quarantine on anyone entering the country would be lifted from July 1st.

The quarantine on entry was one of the major complications for the race in Jerez, as it would mean anyone entering from outside Spain – including engineers from Japan, Italy, and Austria, mechanics from many places around the world, and of course, riders – would have had to self isolate for 14 days upon arriving in Spain, before traveling on to Jerez.

Dorna and IRTA had already planned to have everyone travel fourteen days earlier, but that could have made the situation more complicated. Different countries around the world are at different stages in their restrictions, with Brad and Darryn Binder, for example, still in South Africa, where international flights have been stopped altogether.

The chances of quarantine ending are looking very good. Spain has already announced an easing of restrictions, with various regions moving into a different phase in the lockdown exit strategy on Monday, although gatherings of more than 10 people remain banned.

On Saturday, the Spanish prime minister announced that the two top divisions of Spanish soccer league La Liga could resume matches behind closed doors from June 8th, with the first match scheduled to be played on June 11th.

Significant obstacles remain, however. Despite the Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe announcing the state of emergency would be lifted in the last five provinces where it was still in force, travel restrictions remain in place.

Japanese nationals have to self-isolate for 14 days upon arriving in Japan, though no restrictions apply on leaving. However, it would make returning to Japan between races almost impossible.

In practice, that would mean that Japanese engineers would be away from home and their families for perhaps six months at a time. This seems like too much to ask of their employees, and the Japanese factories are believed to be looking for a solution to this problem. For the moment, however, progress is being made on a resumption of racing.

IRTA president and Tech3 team boss Hervé Poncharal told the MotoGP Round Table podcast that there will be a test on Wednesday, July 15th before racing resumes at Jerez, with all three Grand Prix classes getting two sessions to get back up to speed before the first of two rounds at Jerez, on the 19th and 26th.

No firm plans have been made for the rest of the season, though a new calendar is expected in a week or so. The MotoGP season will be somewhere between 12 and 16 races, depending on whether any of the races outside Europe can happen.

Those races will depend on whether fans can attend, although the possibility of another race at Qatar remains.

Buriram and Sepang look the most likely candidates, while Motegi will probably be dropped, and Phillip Island looks like it will be impossible to organize, given the current restrictions in Australia.

Races will be back-to-back at a limited number of circuits, with fans and media likely to be excluded.

But the viability of these plans still remains out of Dorna and IRTA’s hands. They still have to be given the approval of national governments, which is not a given.

The F1 championship was planning to start its season at the Red Bull Ring in Austria, but so far, its plans have yet to be given approval, raising concerns over whether those races will be able to happen.

In summary, there seems to be more room for optimism over a return to racing. But that optimism still needs to be laced with a dose of pessimism.

Photo: MotoGP

David Emmett

One of MotoGP's most respected journalists, David Emmett is the proprietor of the esteemed MotoMatters. We are very grateful to republish David's work here on A&R...though dread the day we ever again get in a car with him.