Petronas Yamaha team manager Wilco Zeelenberg feels that if the 2020 MotoGP season starts any later than May, as now looks inevitable, it would be 'impossible' to run all of the remaining rounds.

But the Dutchman has long believed that 15 races is plenty to crown a world champion and thinks double-headers should also be considered to make up the numbers.

Coronavirus travel disruption has so far seen the MotoGP season-opener pushed back from Qatar on March 8 to Mugello on May 31, but the chances of the Italian round going ahead on time appear slim to none.

In an interview with Niki Kovacs, Zeelenberg also confirmed that the Sepang circuit, which owns the Petronas squad, had been in discussions about potentially hosting two MotoGP rounds this season:

"There is constant communication about the future [with Dorna]. We spoke for example about [having] two races in Malaysia, which finally didn't happen, but that was an idea.

"In my mind, it's fairly difficult to have 19-20 races this season if we don’t change the system a little bit.

"If we start in June or July and still do 20 rounds that will be very hard for the riders and nearly impossible. If you get injured you would miss 5 or 6 rounds and for me this is unacceptable."

A former grand prix rider, Zeelenberg then switched to team management in the World Superbike paddock (including overseeing Cal Crutchlow's 2009 WSS title) prior to joining MotoGP in 2010 to run Jorge Lorenzo's side of the factory Yamaha garage.

At that time WorldSBK ran two races per weekend, since extended to three outings.

If the circumstances force the MotoGP calendar to be slashed, Zeelenberg doesn't see why grand prix shouldn't break with tradition and run a pair of races at each round.

"Looking for example to Superbike, doing two races per event… If it's really necessary to do 15-16 [MotoGP] races, then with two races per weekend you only have to do eight events for 16 races," he said.

"So you can do double races, but which countries do you choose? I don't know which are more important. Do we need to go to many counties, or do many races?

"Anyway, 20 and going to 22 races [in the future] is a nightmare for me! That's already too much for me. If we are not able to find a world champion with 15 races, something is wrong!

"But we all live from this product called MotoGP and I think Dorna and IRTA are doing a great job. We can be proud about that because the championship is very tight and nice. So we put ourselves in their hands and let's see.

"If we can race from July to December, we can still do a lot of races. And I can see us going out [racing again this year]. But at the moment I don't know when we can fly, for example."

Zeelenberg will again oversee Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli in the MotoGP class this season.

 

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