Carmelo Ezpeleta decided to participate in the traditional press conference preceding the Grand Prix. The Losail stage will be the opening round this weekend, but the lack of MotoGP riders on the track makes this seasonal debut slightly bittersweet for the World Championship. The CEO of Dorna decided to speak at the conference before leaving the microphone to those who will be the true protagonists of the race weekend, that is the riders of the hard-fought Moto2 and Moto3 classes.
Ezpeleta wanted to take stock of the situation with the journalists present in Qatar, who unfortunately are in much lower numbers than normal, talking about the new MotoGP calendar and the various possibilities on the table. The will is to compete all over the world, a concept reiterated several times by the CEO of Dorna.
"The regulation minimum is 13 races, but we aim to do 19 of them - said Ezpeleta - we are ready for anything, even to run in countries where it is hot at Christmas. We have a hard head, our duty is to do the races and we will do them. Viegas, the FIM President, is coming here tomorrow and we may even decide to postpone the Federation's year-end ceremony. The most important thing will remain to do the races."
Ezpeleta: "We have a hard head, we are ready for anything, even to race at Christmas"
The Dorna boss explained why he had wanted to attend this conference.
"There have been many questions from many journalists, so we decided to have a Press Conference to make a statement about where we are and what’s happened up to now, and what we plan to do from now until the end of the season. The collaboration with the Qatar authorities has really been very good. When this all started, the situation was changing day by day, we tried to accommodate ourselves with the agreement with everyone in the paddock to do all we can. Last Saturday we started to see some problems with some nationalities coming to Qatar. Then we started to consider that. We are lucky that the Moto2 and Moto3 test was the week before, so everyone was here. This made it easy to have the two races we will have here.
Ezpeleta specified that it had never been in doubt that the Moto3 and Moto2 categories would go ahead as scheduled
This is something that that we decided from the beginning with the Losail International Circuit, the Qatari Federation and the government of Qatar to do the Moto2 and Moto3 races, with Asia Talent Cup, also. Later we were discussing day by day, and there were a large number of conversations between Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon. We were discussing different possibilities and until Sunday morning everything was more or less okay, people from Italy were able to arrive in Doha during the day, then suddenly in the middle of the day, and because the situation in Europe changed, that changed the situation here. We heard that people from Italy or other countries would have to be quarantined here in Qatar, obviously this is difficult and we could not do it, so we started to think of other possibilities.
Ezpeleta: "We had organized a charter flight from Nice to bring the Italians of the MotoGP paddock"
Many possibilities have been addressed in order to guarantee the smooth running of the GP, such as organizing a charter flight from Nice to get the Italians to the Paddock.
"One of these things was to organise a charter for all the people living in Italy, a flight, from France, to bring the minimum number of people needed to participate. Even talking with some people that if one team or manufacturer is obliged to have a maximum number, to agree with the other team to have the same maximum number with the other teams. On the Saturday afternoon we had that agreement. Then what we said was for everyone to act as soon as possible, but then on the early Sunday afternoon, a flight coming from Rome was forbidden to enter here, with the possibilities just going back to Rome or being quarantined here for 14 days. We were trying, then, to organise a flight from Nice to then organise some positions for the MotoGP community; mechanics, engineers or riders, to be allocated in one place, come for the race and go back. But we say that this on Sunday after was not possible. It’s important to say the collaboration with the Qatar authorities; I was talking with the Minister of Sport and the Minister of Health, we were trying - and Qatar also - to have the race. This is the situation right now. What will happen in the future? This is something we can’t prevent. The situation keeps changing around the world, every day. The only thing I can say is that we will try to do everything possible; postpone or whatever. Our aim today is to work together, as we’ve been doing all this time, to try to make the Championship. In the best possible conditions, but to try to maintain the Championship with the maximum number of races we can. We are prepared to do that.
A possibility that unfortunately remained just that.
"This is the position. The next race? The United States. We don’t know anything, we are waiting to send all the material until the last moment. If the situation changes between now and that moment, we will make that decision. It’s true that we tried to move United States to the end of the year, changing for some of the Spanish races. It’s easy to say but to make those changes in the short time we have, to do these races at the end of March, it’s impossible for a circuit to organise a MotoGP race between now and the end of March.
Ezpeleta: "The calendar has been changed, but we are ready for anything. Things change every day"
Dorna recently announced the change to the calendar, with Aragon being moved and Thailand now in October.
We announced today the change of the date of Thailand, thanks to the Aragon government to make the race a week early, and a week later we’ll have Thailand. We have a lot of possibilities as we are considering everything but the main aim of FIM, IRTA and Dorna is to maintain the Championship. Second, to all the MotoGP community, don’t pay attention to the rumours, please, because we are together. We are talking to all the people around the world. We will try to do the Championship and we are strong enough to try to do it.
Ezpeleta also made it clear that in the face of certain decisions, Dorna was unable to do anything.
"The first article we have in each promoter agreement is that we are required to respect the laws of the place. If there is a law in a country, we certainly cannot ignore it. If the law allows us to think of alternatives. The first article we have in any agreement with the promoters is we need to respect the laws of the country. If a law is in place, we can’t do anything. Until a law forbids us to go anywhere, we will continue. When the law says at that moment, we will think in the future. Our aim; FIM, IRTA and Dorna, is maintain the Championship with the maximum number of races. The rest, we will take measures. There have been some put in place here with the Losail International Circuit regarding the spectators not being allowed into the paddock, regarding the possibilities if something happened in the MotoGP community if there is a case, we are prepared with special equipment to deal with that. And we’ve shared between the Moto2 and Moto3 teams some measure to ensure the situation gets better. We have the local authorities, the world health authorities all connected to try to do the maximum.
Ezpeleta: "When we return to Europe after Austin and Argentina, there may be new problems"
According to Dorna's CEO, the championship will take place regularly.
We want to tell everybody that we want to do the Grands Prix and I am sure we can do it. Obviously it will not be a normal Championship and we’ll change things, whatever, always maintaining that the sporting side is equal for everybody and to be accommodating to the situation. Today both Americas and Argentina are ok. But I don't know what is happening in the future, what I’m saying is we have enough opportunity to save the problems. After USA and Argentina, we will be in Europe. Then it depends what the situation is in Europe. This is the most critical thing. Today, authorities have banned number of spectators, the problem is number of spectators together and number of people in paddock of nationalities who have been forbidden. We are thinking solutions of both things. When any measure comes, we have some ideas to react.
Ezpeleta also returned to the possibility of holding some GPs behind closed doors and in this case it seemed to be a possibility.
"Everything is possible. The most important thing for us to have a solution that covers everything. We say always that Dorna, with the agreement with FIM and IRTA, is a company who makes races. And this is our obligation despite any other things. For us the most important, more than economy or whatever, is to make races. I can assure you with all the people of IRTA and all the MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3 managers, we will try to do as many races as we can. I will not say now that I am optimistic but the only thing I can promise to you is we will work hard for whatever solution has happened, to make the races. The 19 remaining races."
Ezpeleta: "Recover the Qatar MotoGP? We will think about it towards the end of the year"
The possibility of recovering the MotoGP round in Qatar is remote, but not excessively so.
"The MotoGP race in Qatar is cancelled and this is clear. Now in Qatar they will be very focused on everything they have to do for the football World Cup. If any possibility arises for the end of the season, we will think about it. We should eventually find agreement with everyone, but based on my discussions with the teams, I understand that everyone wants to do as many races as possible. The conditions would be the same for all participants. The SBK race was cancelled for the same reasons, there are many Italians also in the SBK teams ".
Ezpeleta is also well aware that this weekend will offer a great chance for additional visibility for Moto2 and Moto3.
"We always try to promote both Moto2 and Moto3. They are very important categories for us. This weekend the focus will be on them and this is not bad. The teams were here, so this will allow us to have a GP. With the coronavirus, the situation changes every day and a lot of imagination is needed to think about what will happen between here and in a few days. For us it will be essential to do the maximum number of races giving the same sporting possibilities to everyone. "