The countdown has begun: just over a month, and the engines will be starting again. As per tradition, the Sepang circuit will host the new season, with the winter tests scheduled from February 19th to 21st, preceded by the shakedown (also open to MotoGP rookies) from February 14th to 16th.
Of course, 2021 is still facing the health emergency caused by the coronavirus and, starting from the tests, extraordinary measures will have to be taken to prevent any chance of contagion (as much as possible).
Dorna has been working for some time now with the Malaysian government and the Sepang circuit to define a strict protocol, also designed to prevent the seven-day quarantine currently planned for those entering Malaysia.
The plan currently provides that all operators have a swab test - which has to be negative - 48 hours before leaving for Malaysia. Upon arrival at the Kuala Lumpur airport, they’ll then have to take another test and self-isolate until they receive their results (within 24 hours).
Riders and teams will not be free to choose the hotel where they’ll be staying, but they’ll all be accommodated in the Sama Sama hotel, which will become a kind of base camp for the MotoGP. The hotel is directly connected to the KLIA 1 airport and already usually hosts many teams from the world championship during tests and the Grand Prix. This time, however, it’ll be a forced choice, in order to create a bubble that is as safe as possible. Leaving the hotel or traveling to Kuala Lumpur will not be allowed.
Technicians and riders will only be able to go to the Sepang circuit, and then return to the hotel, in order to limit the risk of contagion.
The same protocol will also be implemented for the tests in Qatar (scheduled from March 10th to 12th), with the difference that in Doha the teams will be able to choose their hotels in Doha.
So limitations will also continue in 2021 but, right now, there don’t seem to be any risks for the two tests or even for the start of the championship on March 28th in Doha. Instead, we’ll have to wait to understand if, as expected, they’ll be able to fly to Argentina and the USA after Losail or if, instead, they’ll have to fall back on Europe.