April 2020

Paddock Pass Podcast Episode 142: Retro Review - The 2015 MotoGP Season, Part 1

The Paddock Pass Podcast crew continue their look back at great seasons of the past, and this time, they come to 2015. Remembered mainly for the events at Sepang that year, it is easy to overlook what a wild and fascinating year it truly was. So much happened in 2015, in fact, that we decided to cut it into two parts.

It was the first year of the Paddock Pass Podcast, and the first year that Steve English, Neil Morrison, and David Emmett were assembled in the paddock throughout the year, and so we all have strong memories of that season. We kick off our review with a look back at the run up to the 2015 season, what happened during 2014 and testing for 2015.

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Dorna Press Release Debrief: Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta gives an update on 2020

Dorna released the following press release today, containing the transcript of an interview MotoGP.com did with CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta:

Debrief: Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta gives an update on 2020

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

On Wednesday the 29th of April, Dorna Sports CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta sat down with motogp.com for an interview about 2020, plans, contingencies and more. Here is the transcript, you can find the video here.

"Today we announced the cancellation of the three Grands Prix; Germany, Assen and Finland. The reason is because we are contemplating the possibility to start in July but the problem is with the situation and authorities it will be difficult to do with spectators, so any of these Grands Prix without spectators is very difficult to do. It’s for that reason that we’ve decided with the three local promoters to pass onto next year with those three, instead of putting them on a new date."

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP 2020: Plans for an August start... and the doomsday scenario

Optimists hope the MotoGP season will start in August, while pessimists think that a single-class, three-race championship at one circuit is more likely

The 2020 MotoGP world championship could get underway at Red Bull Ring in August.

Following the cancellation or postponement of the first ten rounds of the 20-round series there is now the hope that the Austrian circuit will host the season-opening race on August 16.

The Formula 1 championship is aiming to start its season at the same venue, on July 5, with no fans allowed and COVID-19 testing required for all team staff. If that event goes off well, with no regional spike in COVID-19 cases, then MotoGP could follow six weeks later, using the same format.

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First COVID-19 Cancellations: Sachsenring, Assen, And Kymiring MotoGP Rounds Scrapped For 2020

So far, the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the 2020 MotoGP season has been to delay everything. But today, we had the first cancellations. The races at the Sachsenring in Germany, Assen in the Netherlands, and the Kymiring in Finland have all been canceled for 2020.

Canceling the remaining three races due to be held before the summer break gives Dorna and the FIM some room to see how the outbreak of the coronavirus plays out, as countries start to gently ease restrictions. There was too much uncertainty surrounding the three rounds in late June and early July to know under what conditions they would have been able to go ahead.

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Petronas Yamaha Boss Razlan Razali, Part 2: On Making The Sepang Circuit A Success, Managing A MotoGP Team, And Working With Yamaha

In the first part of Tammy Gorali's interview with Razlan Razali, team principal of the Petronas Yamaha SRT team, and formerly CEO of the Sepang International Circuit, the Malaysian team boss talked about how the outbreak of COVID-19 has affected the circuit, and the 2020 season. He also talked about how he views rider contracts, and whether he would welcome Valentino Rossi into the team in 2021.

In the second part, Razali goes into more depth on the decisions he made as CEO of the Sepang circuit, including why he chose MotoGP over F1, the circuit eventually deciding to drop the contract with F1. He talks about the importance of the Malaysian market, and getting local fans into the circuit as spectators.

Part of that drive turned into the creation of what is now the Petronas Yamaha SRT team. Razlan Razali tells Gorali about the team's journey from vehicle to get Malaysian riders into Grand Prix racing via Moto3 into fully fledged team with riders across all three classes. Razali also talks about how they see their riders for 2021, despite the loss of racing. And he discusses the Petronas' team relationship with Yamaha, and the bike the Japanese factory has brought for 2020.

Q: You stepped down from the position of Sepang circuit CEO this month. You were a very bold and unique CEO, like saying to the F1 championship "thank you guys - go and drive somewhere else"...

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Petronas Yamaha Boss Razlan Razali, Part 1: On Canceling 2020, Rider Contracts, And Having Valentino Rossi As A Rider

2020 was set to be a huge year for the Petronas Yamaha SRT team. After an astonishing debut year, Fabio Quartararo had a full factory bike and factory backing from Yamaha, and was expected to win races and challenge for the title. Franco Morbidelli had a year of experience of the M1 under his belt, and a better bike ready to take on the season. Both riders had been fast during testing, showing signs they would live up to their promise.

It was also set to be a big year for Razlan Razali, who was due to step down as CEO of the Sepang International Circuit, home to the Malaysian round of MotoGP and owner of the Petronas team, after nearly twelve years, to focus solely on his role as Team Principal of the team. He had a lot on his hands in that role: expanding sponsorship and the profile of the team, handling the success of last year, and fielding questions about 2021, with all the signs pointing to Petronas Yamaha having Valentino Rossi in the team.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has changed all of that. With the death toll around the world now already past 200,000, measures to curb the disease have been put in place across the globe. That has put any thought of international motorcycle racing on the back burner. That, in turn, has forced teams to change their plans, and raised a number of questions which teams had never even thought they would need to answer.

To get a perspective on how things have changed for the Petronas Yamaha team, and for Razlan Razali in particular, leading Israeli journalist and broadcaster Tammy Gorali spoke to the Team Principal. She covered a wide range of subjects with Razali, who spoke from his experience both as CEO of a Grand Prix circuit and as the head of the only team with riders in all three classes.

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Organizer Officially Announces Postponement Of Finland MotoGP Round

It was already apparent on Wednesday that the Finnish round of MotoGP would have to be postponed. Today, we have confirmation. Lahti Events, the promoter of the Finnish MotoGP round, announced on its website that the race, due to be held on July 12th, has been postponed.

The Kymiring circuit was still due to be homologated, but clement weather during a mild winter had allowed the contractors to make good progress on construction of the facilities at the track.

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Paddock Pass Podcast Episode 141: Retro Review - Imola WSBK 2002, The Greatest Motorcycle Race Ever

The next instalment of our Paddock Pass Podcast racing history review takes a look back at what is arguably the greatest motorcycle race ever held: the 2002 World Superbike finale at Imola. That weekend, Colin Edwards and Troy Bayliss went head-to-head for the World Superbike championship, and Edwards emerged triumphant.

To discuss the special race, the crew, consisting of Steve English, Jensen Beeler, and WorldSBK guru Gordon Ritchie take a look back at the season which led up to that astonishing finale. They talk about Edwards' and Bayliss' championships the two previous seasons, Honda's building of the RC51 or SP2 to take on the Ducati, and how the much freer rules in 2002 affected the balance of power between the twins and the fours.

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Another Domino Falls: Finland Extends Ban On Large Events Until July 31

Yesterday, the Dutch government announced it was extending the ban on public events until September 1st, putting an end to hopes of racing in June. Today, the Finnish government have ended any hope of MotoGP racing in July. At a press conference on Wednesday evening, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin announced that all gatherings of over 500 people are to remain banned until July 31st.

That would make it impossible to hold the Finnish Grand Prix, due to be held on July 12th at the new Kymiring circuit, 130 km northeast of Helsinki. Although no announcements have been made officially, the race in Finland was the first race left on the calendar after announcements in Germany and The Netherlands made it impossible for the races at the Sachsenring and Assen to be held.

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Gordon Ritchie WorldSBK Blog: Second; Best?

How much WorldSBK rights holders Dorna value their second division championship will only be fully known after the COVID-19 lockdown across most of the world has been lifted. Nobody seems to think that is about to happen anytime soon. And to state the obvious, you cannot hold a World Championship of any kind unless all the riders and teams, scattered across the entire globe, are allowed to first travel, then race and finally get back home again afterwards.

The WorldSBK calendar, as we have seen twice already, is being actively rescheduled, ‘back-weighted’ to the autumn months and will be heavily truncated unless a miracle happens between now and July. (On a personal note my 2020 wall planner is taking on the appearance of a Jackson Pollock action painting, with WorldSBK rounds having been inked in and scrubbed out already).

It was interesting therefore to note that Dorna made an official comment on the whole virus situation recently, and even managed a kind word or two about WorldSBK next to the gilded MotoGP lettering, which got its usual top billing.

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