What the disrupted 2020 MotoGP season lacks in number of events will be more than made up for by the gruelling back-to-back schedule, with a 'real champion' ultimately crowned.

That's the opinion of IRTA president and KTM Tech3 boss Herve Poncharal, when asked if the present 13-European rounds - at just eight different circuits - is enough.

"Oh yes, because although we have a few less races than were planned for 2020, to come out on top of these 13 rounds - which are almost back-to-back - is going to be so difficult," Poncharal told Crash.net.

"The calendar we have right now is a tough season and it will crown an incredible rider, for sure. The guy who leads at the end of 2020 is going to be a real champion."

A record 20 events had been planned for this year, before the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

In addition to the 13 confirmed events on the revised schedule, which starts at Jerez this weekend, the fate of the three remaining flyaways (Thailand, Malaysia and Argentina) is still to be officially decided.

"We know that especially the South East Asian races, Sepang and Buriram, are still trying to see what they can do. Carmelo [Ezpeleta, Dorna CEO] has made it clear that they could happen, but the final decision will be taken by the end of July. So we'll wait and see," Poncharal said.

"For me, even if we don't have any flyaways and the calendar stays as we have now, this is more than enough and the champion will be a great champion."

'It's going to be a psychological war'

The compressed, high-pressure nature of the new season, with 13 races squeezed into four months, means, "you'll have to be strong, without making any big mistakes. Push to the limit, but not overdo it," Poncharal said.

But the Frenchman dismissed the notion that some riders might take a cautious or tactical approach, to ensure they don't suffer an early setback in the title fight.

"I don’t believe a word of that!" Poncharal laughed.

"You are 20-something years old. It's been eight months since you last raced a MotoGP bike. You have been dreaming of this moment. You want to show that this is your territory. And you are going to take it easy? I don’t believe it!

"I believe that this year we will have an even better show than last year.

"Because Marc is still Marc, the favourite and master. And for sure Marc will try to win race one to show he's still the boss.

"But Fabio is so ambitious and so happy with his situation. He knows he's got three years in front of him -'20, '21, '22 - so he can push without thinking 'don't make a mistake, you're going to lose a contract'.

"Then Maverick not only wants to be seen as the number one opponent of Marc, but he will have Fabio as a team-mate next year and wants to show to Yamaha 'I am the one that can win a title'.

"The Ducati, Suzuki guys also look strong, although I don't know how fit Dovi will be. Then there's Vale, who wants to show he's not ready to stay home and there are other riders that haven't signed for 2021 yet and need to prove themselves.

"Yes, because this will be a short season with a lot of back-to-back races, a DNF will hurt more than in a longer season with more races. But on the other hand, it's going to be a psychological war. You have to show who is the boss from race one.

"So everyone will be pushing 100% from Jerez and it's going to be an incredible fight. I don't think anybody will be taking it easy!"

MotoGP championship leader

Year

Round 6

Round 12

End of season

2002 (16 rounds)

Rossi

Rossi

Rossi

2003 (16 rounds)

Rossi

Rossi

Rossi

2004 (16 rounds)

Rossi

Rossi

Rossi

2005 (17 rounds)

Rossi

Rossi

Rossi

2006 (17 rounds)

Capirossi

Hayden

Hayden

2007 (18 rounds)

Stoner

Stoner

Stoner

2008 (18 rounds)

Rossi

Rossi

Rossi

2009 (17 rounds)

Rossi

Rossi

Rossi

2010 (18 rounds)

Lorenzo

Lorenzo

Lorenzo

2011 (17 rounds)

Stoner

Stoner

Stoner

2012 (18 rounds)

Lorenzo

Lorenzo

Lorenzo

2013 (18 rounds)

Pedrosa

Marquez

Marquez

2014 (18 rounds)

Marquez

Marquez

Marquez

2015 (18 rounds)

Rossi

Rossi

Lorenzo

2016 (18 rounds)

Lorenzo

Marquez

Marquez

2017 (18 rounds)

Vinales

Dovizioso

Marquez

2018 (18 rounds)

Marquez

Marquez

Marquez

2019 (19 rounds)

Marquez

Marquez

Marquez

While three sets of 'triple headers' are the most demanding feature of the revised calendar, MotoGP is already familiar with the format from the usual Japan-Australia-Malaysia flyaway run.

Never seen before are repeat visits to the same circuit, on successive weekends - as will occur at Jerez, Red Bull Ring, Misano, Aragon and Valencia.

Does Poncharal think the second weekend will just be a continuation of the order seen at the first, or will there be a shake-up?

"For me it will be more like two separate events, because firstly from one week to another the weather might change dramatically. Also, after race one there will be people that are disappointed so clearly the second one is like a revenge.

"You always want to do better, so from one race to another there will be a lot of talk between the riders and crew. Some will say 'don't change too much' but some will be disappointed in race one and go for a drastic new set-up, or new strategy.

"When we published the calendar, I thought some of the riders might find it boring to go back to the same track. But their comments were very positive.

"I think it will be very interesting, also for the media and fans. After seeing race one, you will try to understand what will happen in race two. Again, it's difficult to predict, you might see a similar scenario or a very different scenario. Who knows?

"What I can tell you is that Jerez in July will be really, really hot. Boiling. It's going to be interesting to see how we are going to work with tyre management, rider fitness."

There could be some surprises right from the start…

"Oh yes! And Jerez is such a tough track. Physically but also technically very demanding. You have some very fast corners at the end of Section 4. Chassis setting is quite difficult. It's a circuit that sometimes gives a lot of chatter.

"You have some strong braking zones and areas where 'things happen', like two years ago at the end of the back straight or the very last corner, which is famous for so many incidents."

Not just the usual suspects

When the MotoGP field takes part in Official testing at Jerez on Wednesday, almost five months will have passed since they were last on track together, in Qatar.

The world is now a very different place, but if the ultra-close times from winter testing can be replicated during the racing season, fans watching from home should witness a hard-fought contest.

"At the Sepang and Qatar tests, we had 18 riders within one-second," Poncharal said. "The six factories were all up there. Not only the top four manufacturers, but KTM and Aprilia are a lot closer. So the grid looks incredibly competitive."

And where does that leave Poncharal's 2020 Tech3 KTM line-up of Miguel Oliveira and rookie Iker Lecuona?

"All I can tell you is that the target is to be a lot closer in time to the winner, to reduce the gap compared to last year, but to name a position is very difficult because you see how many factory Yamahas, Hondas, Ducatis, Suzuki are now on the grid. Sometimes there will be big names that will not even reach the top ten," Poncharal said.

"For sure we hope to be regularly in the top ten with something like 10-15 seconds to the winner. That would be great. And, if I have to give a position, why not Miguel in the top 5 somewhere and eventually fighting for a podium?"

Oliveira will leave for the official KTM team at the end of this season, when Ducati race winner Danilo Petrucci will join Tech3.

Revised 2020 MotoGP Calendar (including free weekends)

Round

Date

Race

Circuit

 

15 July

Official Test

Jerez

1

19 July

Spain

Jerez

2

26 July

Andalusia

Jerez

 

2 August

 

 

3

9 August

Czech Republic

Brno

4

16 August

Austria

Red Bull Ring

5

23 August

Styria

Red Bull Ring

 

30 August

  
 

6 September

  

6

13 September

San Marino e Della Riviera di Rimini

Misano

7

20 September

Emilia Romagna e Della Riviera di Rimini

Misano

8

27 September

Catalunya

Barcelona

 

4 October

  

9

11 October

France

Le Mans

10

18 October

Aragon

Aragon

11

25 October

Teruel

Aragon

 

1 November

  

12

8 November

Europe

Ricardo Tormo

13

15 November

Comunitat Valenciana

Ricardo Tormo

(Final European race)

 

22 November

  
 

29 November

  

 

6 December

 

 

 

13 December

 

Deadline for any Flyaway races.

MotoGP 2020: List of 'To Be Confirmed' events

1

4 October

Thailand

Buriram

2

1 November

Malaysia

Sepang

3

22 November

Argentina

Termas

MotoGP 2020: List of Cancelled events

1

8 March

Qatar (MotoGP class)

Losail

2

31 May

Italy

Mugello

3

21 June

Germany

Sachsenring

4

28 June

Netherlands

Assen

5

12 July

Finland

KymiRing

6

30 August

Great Britain

Silverstone

7

18 October

Japan

Motegi

8

25 October

Australia

Phillip Island

9

15 November

Americas

COTA

 

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