Valentino Rossi and team-mate Maverick Vinales have given their reaction to the news that the opening rounds of the 2020 MotoGP World Championship will not take place as planned, due to the coronavirus outbreak.

This weekend's Qatar season-opener has been cancelled for the premier-class, with round two in Thailand 'postponed' indefinitely.

That means, provisionally at least, Rossi is now due to start his 25th grand prix season at Austin from April 3-5. But under the present circumstances, the US event also looks far from certain.

"It's really bad news," Rossi said. "Such a pity... After a winter spent training, we were ready to start the season, both physically and psychologically. After the test in Qatar I really wanted to start with the first race.

"The MotoGP class cancellation for Qatar is difficult news to take, also for the fans, because now we do not know how long we will have to wait before we can start racing.

"It is certainly a long time, considering the next GP in Thailand has been postponed for all classes. I hope everything will get better in the next weeks."

Vinales, who had been fastest of all at the Qatar test, added:

"It‘s a shame that the Qatar GP has been cancelled for us and that the Thai GP has been postponed, because these are tracks that I really like, and I think that I‘m very strong there.

"We finished the Qatar test with very positive feelings, so I was impatient for the first race. I also feel sorry for the fans in Qatar and Thailand, who must be disappointed. But I fully understand the critical situation we are experiencing with the coronavirus.

"We hope only that the situation will return to normal as soon as possible so that we can start the World Championship soon."

As an Italian-based team, Monster Yamaha would have been 'heavily affected' by Qatar's decision to place all recent travellers from Italy in quarantine for two weeks, meaning MotoGP was left with no choice but to cancel.

"It's a unique and difficult situation, in many aspects," said team director Massimo Meregalli. "Of course, we're all very disappointed not to be able to start racing this weekend, which is what we would love to do the most. We also feel apologetic to the fans, who we have to ask to stay patient for a bit longer before we can start the 2020 MotoGP season in the premier class.

"But unfortunately, given the circumstances, FIM, IRTA, and Dorna didn‘t have a choice. Had they kept the MotoGP class on for the Qatar GP then a large part of our team, and even the paddock, would not have been able to attend the event, which would have resulted in all kinds of problems, from logistics and staff shortages to riders being unable to attend.

"The decision to cancel the MotoGP class was certainly not taken lightly, nor was the postponement of the Thai GP an easy call to make for the Thai government, but the growing concern about the spread of the coronavirus should be taken very seriously.

"Having to miss the first two rounds is less than desirable, but we can all agree that health and safety should always come first. As a team, we respect these decisions and hope to be back in action shortly."

Although Qatar has been cancelled for the MotoGP class, the Moto2 and Moto3 event will go ahead as planned since the smaller classes were already present at Losail for their final pre-season test.

 

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