Senior MotoGP figures are under no illusions about the complexity of holding world championship races in 2020, even after the worst of the coronavirus has passed.

Officially only Qatar has so far been cancelled while Buriram, COTA and Termas were moved to later in the season with Jerez, Le Mans, Mugello and Barcelona now awaiting a new date.

In reality, if even half of the scheduled 20 rounds can take place it will be 'like a dream'.

Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta has warned that MotoGP probably won't be able to start until a vaccine is available and IRTA president Herve Poncharal confirmed the sport is largely powerless against the pandemic.

"Right now, to talk about a possible start of the championship, possible dates and venues, is something nobody can know," Poncharal told Crash.net. "We don't decide. The virus is deciding and the [Government] Authorities.

"Everybody knows the situation worldwide. I was talking to [a circuit boss] today who told me it would be difficult to hold any events, cultural or sporting, in his country before the end of the year.

"The whole world is in a difficult situation. I think more than 50% of the world's population is locked down at the moment, which is unbelievable."

While the coronavirus is affecting every facet of daily life Poncharal explained that, due to the very nature of a world championship, MotoGP will be among the last to return to normality.

"Our 'strength' is that we are a world championship with a lot of different nationalities, in terms of riders, motorcycle manufacturers, paddock staff etc. This is what makes MotoGP exciting and is one of our strong points," he said.

"On the other hand, this same strong point can be a weak point because it means first, we need to travel. And when we will be allowed to travel again? When will the planes be flying again? When will the borders be fully open again?

"We can't answer that now. Also because some countries took measures at different times. For example, southern Europe was hit before northern Europe. So maybe southern Europe will be clear of the virus before the north.

"For sure when the lockdown ends, it won't be gone instantly but reduced in stages. Maybe you will be allowed to go outside, but you won't be able to travel abroad and still have to keep a certain distance from other people or wear a mask.

"But when you are working in a race team, for example as a mechanic or crew chief, you can't keep a two-metre distance to everybody else. It's impossible.

"So although we've been hit abruptly by this, to get out of it will take time."

'Closed doors'

MotoGP certainly isn't alone in its current predicament, with all major sporting events desperately searching for a way to put the show back on the road.

One idea being mooted for everything from Football to F1 is to hold closed-door events, without any fans. Travel and social distancing restrictions would still need to be relaxed, but at least it would avoid a ban on large public gatherings.

"The top championship in motorcycle sport is MotoGP and the top championship in car racing is Formula One. So it will also be very interesting to see what Formula One is going to do, when and how they will restart," Poncharal said.

"Will it be behind closed doors without any spectators? Can we afford that? At the moment no, but maybe we have to think of a different, cheaper organisation and then maybe we can try to run without spectators if it is the only thing we are allowed to do."

With each country controlling its own travel restrictions, both for internal and external movement, ensuring every single member of the paddock can attend a race will also be a monumental task.

"When will everybody – all the nationalities that are in our paddock– be able to travel freely to a certain place in the world?" Poncharal said.

MotoGP called off its Qatar event because Italian nationals would have faced an instant quarantine on arrival, but if a similar situation arises in future it could be a case of 'the show must go on'.

"So far, we have always said if one of us is missing we don’t race. But now things are in survival mode sometimes you have to change a bit. If one or a few nationalities couldn't travel we would need to see if it's riders, mechanics…. We would need to adapt."

Qatar eventually went ahead for the Moto2 and Moto3 classes simply because they were already present following their final pre-season test.

But in a sign of how far MotoGP is willing to go to hold races, Ezpeleta had offered to arrange "a private flight for all the Italians from Nice, with everyone checked [for the virus] when getting on board and again when arriving in Doha. Then all staying in the same hotel. A lot of things were offered, but all rejected [by the authorities]."

'If we have ten races, we will be incredibly lucky'

The rejection of such ideas - even before the worst of the pandemic had struck - illustrates why Ezpeleta and Poncharal would be delighted if ten races can be salvaged this season.

"As Carmelo said and I share that point of view, if we have ten races, we will be incredibly lucky," Poncharal said. "Seeing the situation as of today, if you told me ten races I would say, 'wow, like a dream' and we would celebrate. For me this is the best-case scenario."

The Frenchman, who formed the Tech3 team alongside Guy Coulon and Bernard Martignac in 1990, wouldn't be surprised if the coronavirus also forces changes to next year's line-up, set to feature a record 21-rounds with the addition of Indonesia.

"Nobody can talk about the 2021 calendar because who can say now which country, and which organiser, will be able to hold a race? It's very difficult. Let's try to see what we can do," Poncharal said.

"Everybody is eager to race. Dorna's only mission is to make races, all the Independent teams in MotoGP and all the Moto2 and Moto3 teams live only for racing. It is 100% of their activity. So we have to race.

"Anything that is possible to do, even pushing the 2020 calendar back later than usual, racing until December 15, why not? We will be flexible. But I don’t know if the authorities will let us race, and if so, where.

"But for sure we won't have the full calendar in 2020. And in 2021 we’ll have to see.

"Maybe the crisis will be less severe and we can have a more normal calendar in 2021. Maybe the crisis will hit the world economy so hard that we will have less races even if the virus is gone. Nobody can say…"

Latest 2020 MotoGP Calendar (including free weekends)

Round

Date

Race

Circuit

1

8 March

Qatar (MotoGP cancelled)

Losail

 

3 May

Spain (postponed)

Jerez

 

17 May

France (postponed)

Le Mans

 

31 May

Italy (postponed)

Mugello

 

7 June

Catalunya (postponed)

Barcelona

2

21 June

Germany

Sachsenring

3

28 June

Netherlands

Assen

 

5 July

 

 

4

12 July

Finland

KymiRing (Subject to homologation)

 

19 July

 

Summer break

 

26 July

 

Summer break

 

2 August

 

Summer break

5

9 August

Czech Republic

Brno

6

16 August

Austria

Red Bull Ring

 

23 August

 

 

7

30 August

Great Britain

Silverstone

 

6 September

 

 

8

13 September

San Marino

Misano

 

20 September

 

 

9

27 September

Aragon

Aragon (rescheduled)

10

4 October

Thailand

Buriram (rescheduled)

 

11 October

 

 

11

18 October

Japan

Motegi

12

25 October

Australia

Phillip Island

13

1 November

Malaysia

Sepang

 

8 November

 

 

14

15 November

Americas

COTA (rescheduled)

15

22 November

Argentina

Termas de Rio Hondo (rescheduled)

16

29 November

Valencia

Ricardo Tormo (rescheduled)

 

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