From the generous donations of riders, teams, sponsors and partners in the fight against COVID-19, to the emerging videos of racers back on two wheels after eased lockdown restrictions, Carmelo Ezpeleta’s plan to resume the series is the most recent wave of optimism for the sport.
Speaking on the Spanish MotoGP Podcast, Carmelo Ezpeleta outlined what a possible 2020 calendar could look like, with “between 12 and 16 races.”
“Our idea was to start at the end of July and to continue planning events in Europe until the middle of November. The plan right now, as it stands, is that those outside of Europe would have to come to Europe at least 14 days before the Grand Prix and stay in Europe. Then, all the teams, including the Europeans, will have to do a test before leaving their countries, no later than 4 days before they arrive at the first Grand Prix, which will be in Spain.”
He explains that the series could still have a significant number of races that will be Europe-centric, with no mention of an audience present. However, with some countries reinstating restrictions, it really is dependent on the spread of the virus and its effects on each country’s regulations regarding gatherings and international arrivals.
Though there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding coronavirus’ impact on the 2020 MotoGP and many other sporting events, fans’ spirits have been kept up by frequent Virtual GPs, and morale-boosting actions from many involved in the sport.
MotoGP teams, riders, sponsors, and partners have been pulling together to help the cause. Ducati’s fundraising appeal #raceagainstCOVID, the Marquez brothers’ donation of protective equipment to their local hospital, and Pramac Racing Team’s standby diesel GSW705V generator for Wuhan are just some of the acts of kindness to help those affected.
But perhaps most heart-warming was Valentino Rossi’s words of support to his potentially oldest fan. Whether Rossi followers or not, most MotoGP lovers couldn’t help but smile when the Number 46 surprised 103-year old Italica Grondona who defeated coronavirus. On being discharged from hospital, the Italian woman received a call from an unexpected Doctor.
“Hello? This is Valentino Rossi. Yes, the rider. I would like to express my congratulations. You are tougher than me, a true racer. If I had your energy, I would continue to compete for 20 more years. I’d like to invite you to a MotoGP race, when the championship will restart, so you can confess to me your secret.”
The whole country was given a lift hearing the news of her recovery, particularly as one of those hit the hardest by the impact of the virus. Italian residents have spent just under two months under strict lockdown, but over the last few days, restrictions have been eased.
As a result, Rossi and fellow Italian riders Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci have been able to jump back on their bikes and restart “some serious training.” Likewise, in neighbouring Spain, the government have allowed people to go outdoors for the first time in several weeks. Reale Avintia Racing’s Tito Rabat shared videos back on the track and Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins announced “Lets get back to work.”
The end goal may still be unclear, but it certainly helps to see MotoGP riders and even the CEO optimistic and planning ahead.
Check back for our follow-up news story, where we consider how less races, no audience and the possibility of a cancelled GP could impact the fans. Tell us how you feel on social media, along with what your ideal 2020 MotoGP would be, to be featured in our next Fan Torque.