Carlo Pernat is preparing to leave for Sepang and definitely seems to be on the war path. Enea Bastianini’s manager has, in fact, never hidden his concerns regarding the introduction of the Sprint Race on Saturday in the race program of all the Grand Prixs. And now that the season is actually about to begin, he’s determined to solve some issues that haven't yet been clarified with the Constructors.
These issues mainly concern the contracts of the riders, because the situation is very different among riders who signed a contract at the beginning of the year or, in any case, before the Saturday Sprint Races were introduced, and all those who formalized their agreements to race in 2023, after learning of this change. There are many problems, and Pernat is more than determined to solve them by calling in all the other managers and making sure he talks to the riders personally.
“There are big problems, not just problems. We’ll meet among managers, like Valera, then Viñales manager, but Quartararo’s manager is a no-show for now. We’ll meet in Sepang to talk about the sprint race award points issue, because it’s impossible that they not get any. The constructors have to understand that the riders must receive awards, even for half of the normal races. But they have to watch out, also because we’re ready to get our lawyers to handle this issue. Contracts are stipulated by race, and these are races, not just a show. Points are given. They’ll have to find a way to pay the riders, perhaps with different bonuses, not necessarily half of what they get for a win. But a bonus for the podium must be included. It seems clear to me, and anyone in our shoes would do it. The situation is thawing out in my opinion. The constructors are beginning to understand. But I see the future of the sprint race up to a certain point. It’s a big question mark for me, for so many reasons.”
Pernat believes Dorna also needs to change its approach.
“Dorna needs to understand that the sprint races are races, and riders need to be paid like normal races. The riders agree with us, of course. They race, and they want awards. They’re races that are part of the rankings. You can win or lose a world championship because of the sprint race. If no points were given, it would be different. I understand those who stipulated contracts after the decision of the sprint race, because they probably put them in the same contracts. But the ones who signed before? If a contract says that the rider has a bonus for having won a race, I think it’s clear that the sprint race counts too.”
It’s not just about money, of course, but also about safety.
“I agree that it’s not just about money. However, we, as managers, aren’t the ones who should be talking about safety, but rather about the riders. We can help them, but they have to go to Carmelo Ezpeleta. I remember talking to Livio Suppo to become a super manager, to help the riders, because there will always be more problems of this type. A representative of the riders, one who knows things well, is always needed. Livio is the right person for me. If I were he, I’d go to Malaysia to gather together the riders and do it. I’m going to request a meeting with the riders. I’ll talk to everyone about this issue. It’s the right thing to do, but not to act as a union official, just to tell them that, in the end, they’re the ones who are racing. They have to decide if they’re okay with it or not.”
According to Pernat, this idea isn’t the best to bring more spectators to the MotoGP.
“I don’t think they needed to milk it for all it’s worth. Saturday was already full of things to see. You risk doing the same if not less. If pay TVs were smart, they’d have to agree to show qualifications in the race and promote Sundays. It's common sense. I understand the parade, because it’s needed to create an approach with the audience. While I don’t understand the sprint race, and I don’t agree with it. We’re surpassing the Formula 1, which has six in a season. The gap between the MotoGP and the F1 is increasing while, up until a few years ago, it was in our favor. We’re copying them with twenty-one sprint races. Are we nuts? At the most, do five or six. I don’t know if this thing has a future. The riders could freak out. Imagine what happens after qualifying, the first race, the second race. On some circuits, they’ll be exhausted.”
Even the timing chosen isn’t the best for Pernat.
“The regulation came out only two days ago. In my opinion, it’ll be a mess right from the first race. It should’ve been discussed. I love Dorna as much as anyone. In 1992, we were gypsies. They did an incredible job, also thanks to Valentino Rossi and all the others after. But now they’re doing things I don’t agree with. The sprint race was a gut decision. It should’ve been discussed with everyone, with the riders, with the managers. The Federation should’ve discussed it. Doing all these sprint races seems absurd to me.”