Miller: Pre-event Covid tests 'quite scary', Quartararo 'crossing fingers'

For many riders, one of the most nerve-wracking moments of a MotoGP weekend remains passing a pre-event PCR test.
Miller: Pre-event Covid tests 'quite scary', Quartararo 'crossing fingers'

While the Covid pandemic is finally easing in medical terms, many countries still require a negative PCR test - taken shortly before departure - as an essential requirement for entry.

That includes Qatar, venue for this weekend's MotoGP season-opener, which recently announced that the pre-flight PCR test had to be taken no later than 48 hours before departure. Most countries allow 72 hours.

Should a rider (or anyone else) return a positive PCR under such circumstances, they are out of the race weekend before it has even started. While travel by road is possible between many European events, access to the MotoGP paddock also required passing a Covid test.

Ducati's Jack Miller knows what it's like to receive a nasty pre-flight surprise when a positive PCR stopped him flying from Australia to attend Ducati's planned 2022 pre-season launch in Italy.

"As you know, I caught Covid on my farm. I don't go anywhere, I don't do anything, and somehow I still managed to catch it there," Miller said.

It's that kind of experience which makes undergoing a pre-event Covid test among the most nerve-wracking moments of a race weekend.

"It's quite scary as a rider, because if you're going to have to miss a race due to that, it's not going to be nice," he said.

"So it makes us nervous, but it is what it is. It's good to have the championship moving, and we just have to try and stay as safe as possible, now more than ever."

Reigning world champion Fabio Quartararo feels that even with every precaution taken, Covid is difficult to control for riders constantly travelling the world.

"About Covid, I'm just crossing the fingers," said the Frenchman. "I had it already a long time ago, but I know you can catch it again. You can catch it everywhere. So this we can't control."

Although Qatar requires a pre-flight PCR test, once granted entry to the country restrictions have been relaxed relative to last year when the 'bubble' system was in place limiting paddock members to designated hotels and the Lusail track.

"I don't mind the whole bubble side of things, it's not bad," said Miller. "At the end of the day, I don't go out and do anything anyway.

"So it doesn't affect us so much, except we don't have to catch a bus to the track. It’s nice to have the freedom to leave for the track when you want to.

"It looks like things are getting easier and easier, so I'm not complaining."

Eight-time world champion Marc Marquez, another rider to have previously caught Covid, pointed out that the easing of restrictions means it's now easier than ever to be exposed to the virus.

"It's true that another factor this season can be Covid. I [caught] Covid this winter and it was like the flu, but now with all the [PCR tests] we need to take care," he said.

"But it will be difficult sometimes because now we restart with things like sponsor events, interviews. Life is coming back to normal and I think sooner or later the championship needs to move also to a normal way, to be more fair for everyone.

"Because if not, like we saw in the Malaysia test already, some mechanics – not from Honda - [could not fly to Indonesia]. But we hope for the general world that everything comes back to normal and it looks like we are on the way."

Valentino Rossi and Iker Lecuona both missed MotoGP races during 2020 due to Covid.

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