Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta admits that the 2020 MotoGP championship is hanging in the balance, but the sport will consider the possibility of the cancellation of the season as a last resort.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the opening races of the 2020 MotoGP season to be called off or postponed as well as triggering a number of sports events to be cancelled. Although the Moto2 and the Moto3 seasons kicked off at Qatar during a weird race weekend when the premier class of MotoGP was missing due to the travel restrictions, it looks uncertain when the health situation will allow a proper start to the championship.
Dorna Sports issued a statement to reaffirm that racing remains its top priority in 2020 as the aim is to begin racing as soon as it is safe to do so. The organization also confirmed that cancellation of the championship is only considered as a last resort.
“Our number one focus has always been and will remain on trying to run the 2020 season with as many Grands Prix as possible, finishing within the 2020 calendar year. However, we will always act in line with health and safety advice from governments and relevant health authorities,” read the MotoGP statement.
Despite the intention of Dorna Sports to commence racing as early as possible, its boss Carmelo Ezpeleta warned that it could take a long time before the situation improves in a way that travel restrictions will be lifted, allowing the MotoGP championship that features an international field to travel without any limitations.
"In the event of force majeure, we can reduce the number of grand prix. If we have fewer races, I don’t worry. We can still choose world champions. Frankly, if we get the chance to restart the world championship, we will do it. It doesn't matter how many races,” he is quoted as saying by speedweek.com.
Development freeze until 2022
While the coronavirus crisis casts doubts over the calendar of the 2020 MotoGP season, the championship has introduced its first cost-cutting measures. As a result, engine and aerodynamic development will be frozen for two full years until the 2022 season, meaning that the main features of the bikes will be unchanged until the end of 2021 as the bike specification that will be used at the start of this year’s MotoGP championship will be homologated.
The development freeze will mean that manufacturers can save costs by not developing their actual machines that are yet to hit the race tracks during a grand prix while they don’t need to invest in a new bike for 2021 as the current machines will be carried over. It will also help the budget of the independent teams as they can lease the bikes at a lower price.
Tech3 team owner Herve Poncharal confirmed that the decision practically means that the bikes that were shipped to Doha, Qatar will be used for two seasons.
"It was a very good decision. It will reduce the investment for the manufacturers because it means most of the R&D for next year is already done.”
“That will help the manufacturers in this tough situation but also the teams because the lease fee, which is the main technical cost for the teams, will need to be reduced because the 2021 bike will be the same," he is quoted as saying by crash.net.
The ongoing coronavirus crisis puts its participating teams, mainly the independent ones in serious financial troubles. Without any races, teams cannot generate income while they still have to cope with costs including salary for their staff.
In order to guarantee the economic well-being of the independent outfits, they will receive considerable advance payments during the month of April, May, and June, irrespective of whether the activity is restarted or not. The agreement was discussed and signed by the series’ governing body, the FIM and the shareholders Bridgepoint Capital and CPP Investments.
“In addition, IRTA has already made payments to all Moto2™ and Moto3™ teams to support them during this difficult period. Further measures for the intermediate and lightweight class teams will be considered in due course,” read the MotoGP statement.