On Wednesday the 29th of April, Dorna Sports CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta sat down with motogp.com for an interview about 2020, plans, contingencies and more.
“Today we announced the cancellation of the three Grands Prix; Germany, Assen and Finland. The reason is because we are contemplating the possibility to start in July but the problem is with the situation and authorities it will be difficult to do with spectators, so any of these Grands Prix without spectators is very difficult to do. It’s for that reason that we’ve decided with the three local promoters to pass onto next year with those three, instead of putting them on a new date.”
Q: It’s the first time that Assen will have not been on the calendar…
“This is the situation. This coronavirus problem is something we’ve never seen and so unfortunately it’s not a possibility. The authorities of the Netherlands have forbidden events until the end of August and so it’s completely impossible. After that in Assen it will be difficult to organise a Grand Prix and more difficult again without spectators.”
Q: F1 have announced their calendar. So what could a possible MotoGP™ calendar look like?
“Our idea right now is to start at the end of July. Where and when are still to be decided. We’re sure our initial program is to start in Europe and race from the end of July until November and see what’s happening, and if the non-European races will be possible after November. In the worst case, if it’s not possible to travel outside of Europe, we’ll at least keep a Championship of least 10 to 12 races between the end of July and the end of November.”
Q: Bridgepoint have bought 10,000 coronavirus tests. What can you tell us about this?
“We are working just on the 10,000 coronavirus tests which we agreed with Bridgepoint. Then what we are doing is to try to make a protocol, which is the way we’re working within Dorna now to see how the races could be without spectators and with a limited number of people working in the paddock, which will give different situations regarding transportation, accommodation, hospitality. Then everyone will be tested before leaving their house, then tested when they arrive at the circuit and also when they return home. This is the idea. We are working with another company which belongs to Bridgepoint to acquire these 10,000 tests.”
Q: What’s the possibility of having multiple races at the same circuit?
“We are considering that. To do maybe – not during the same race weekend – doing two consecutive race weekends at the same circuit.”
Q: How are conversations with the riders, teams and manufacturers?
“We have regular contact. Two weeks ago we had a meeting with all the manufacturers together and we decided the technical situation for 2020 and 2021 for the three categories. Then I’m speaking regularly with everyone about our plans for the near future. We are doing that. Some of the riders call me and I’m happy to discuss the situation with them. I must say that everybody is healthy and looking forward to starting as soon as possible. They understand that the situation is different and everybody’s happy to try to start as soon as we can, but in a safe manner.
“The first program we are thinking of the possibility to move by car if necessary but I think that by July, with many safety measures, it will be possible to fly within Europe.”
Q: What message do you have for the fans?
“Our main thing is to maintain our fantastic numbers regarding the interest in MotoGP around the world. Unfortunately this year it seems it will not change during the season. It will be difficult to have spectators at the races but we will have our fantastic television coverage which will permit the majority of people to watch the races.
“After many months without motorcycle races, the expectation for that will bring many people to watch them.
“My message is that we’ll be sure to come back and we’ll be back stronger from this situation. We’re not working just on 2020 but on 2021 and beyond and we’re trying to maintain the races, which is the most important thing.”
Q: How many staff will be present in the paddock? How will we implement the reduction in personnel?
“We talked to the teams and arrived at a consensus that maximum number for a MotoGP manufacturer team will be 40, for satellite or independent teams will be 25, 20 for Moto2 and 15 for Moto3. Then there will be, of course, all the people who produce the television signal; all this crew, then the minimum number of people from Dorna who are in charge of race organisation. This will give us an average of around 1600 people. This is the possibility to control the MotoGP family. Unfortunately at the moment there will be no media and no TV. Maybe, but not sure, maybe some photographers to supply images to everybody.”
Q: What’s the situation with WorldSBK?
“With Superbike we are in the same situation. We are working. The idea is that because many of the circuits we will plan to be at for MotoGP also do Superbike races, then we will be maybe able to have a Superbike race the weekend immediately after a MotoGP race. This is something we are studying together with the Superbike people to work out the best calendar but it’s also a priority for us to have Superbike races.”