"It was supposed to be a day off, instead I'm spending it on the phone." Sky VR46 team manager Pablo Nieto joked from Qatar. The winter tests have just ended, and the team was enjoying some rest before returning to the Losail circuit paddock for the race. The news of the cancellation of the MotoGP race, after the Qatari government's decision to quarantine every Italian arriving in the country due to the Coronavirus epidemic, however, has changed plans.
Moto2 and Moto2 will race, but they will do it alone. The big brothers of the premier class will watch them from home.
Pablo, first of all how are you and all the team members?
“We’re all right, to be honest, here everything is normal. These are two days of rest for us, even if the atmosphere is a bit strange. "
When certain things happen, it is easy to worry.
"It's incredible, the phone has never stopped ringing."
Did you expect the news that the MotoGP race has been cancelled?
"To tell the truth, a bit yes. Every day a different communication came from IRTA (the team association). First, they asked us for forms to fill in for the Italians who were supposed to arrive, then they said to bring forward our travel arrangements, something was happening every day. "
Will there be problems returning to Italy?
"We had to change all the return flights because 3 days ago we received a communication from Turkish Airlines on the blocking of flights to Italy, so we had to find direct flights."
The whole team is there, but are there problems for spare parts?
“Nothing big, just small things, like the leathers for Celestino Vietti who crashed a lot in these tests, things that can be fixed. As for the spare parts, we could do four races ".
How did the riders react to this news?
“They are calm, but it will be strange for them to do a race without MotoGP. I talked to them and explained that maybe the working method will be a little different. Moto2 in practice usually goes after the MotoGP which puts a lot of rubber on the track, so there will be changes. Then we have to see what time we will race, they haven’t communicated the new times yet, but I am convinced that Moto2 will race in the scheduled time for MotoGP ".
Moto3 and Moto2 will become the protagonists if we want to see the glass half full…
“Yes, but it will still be strange. There will probably also be fewer journalists, it will be a very, very strange weekend. I've been in the world championship for twenty years and something like this has never happened to me. "
The Thailand GP has also been postponed and there are also problems in the United States for flights from Italy.
“The calendar is really tight, but I think something can be done. It's just my personal thought, if the situation improves, I think we can race in Thailand before going to Japan, perhaps bringing the Aragon GP forward ".
From an organizational point of view, as a team, what problems are there?
“It's a mess! (laughs) All the bookings are made well in advance, for example only two weeks ago we confirmed all the flights for the triple-header. If Thailand is added, we will have to change everything. In the end, logistics is the biggest problem from a team's point of view. "
Do you agree with this decision?
“Health is the most important thing. We are a traveling circus, our job is our passion, but health comes first”.
Let’s also talk about the sport: the winter tests are over, in a few days there will be the first race. How are things in view of the opening race?
“We are very excited. We were missing something in this last test in Qatar, but we are ready to face the first race. In Moto3 I am satisfied with the work done by KTM, they worked very well on the engine and we are closer to Honda, we will be able to fight it out with them. In Moto2 Speed Up worked well, they also have a fast pace for the race, and Canet surprised me a lot, but we are there too”.
Not to put too fine a point on it, you have everything to aim for the title in both classes.
"The most important thing is to be ready to be protagonists until the last race. We know that there will only be one winner but fighting it out it to the end is the most important thing. "