May 2020

Interview: Andrea Coleman, Head of Two Wheels For Life, On Fundraising In The Age Of The Coronavirus

Two Wheels For Life medical worker helping to provide healthcare in remote parts of Africa

Over 30 years ago, together with her husband Barry and ex-rider Randy Mamola, Andrea Coleman started a charity aimed at improving healthcare in rural communities in Africa by using motorcycles as transport. Health workers were provided with vehicles and locals were turned into mechanics to sustain a safe and efficient operation. Coleman, who used to be a racer herself, was devastated to see the state of the roads and the difficulty health workers faced in reaching remote villages, and started the Riders for Health non-profit organization to address this. These days, Coleman heads the nonprofit organization Two Wheels for Life, which supports Riders while raising the funds needed to carry on the mission in Africa.

With no MotoGP action in 2020 so far, and any races which might take place probably behind closed doors, the charity connected to and relying on the championship and its spectators is suffering greatly. “Normally at this time of the MotoGP racing season we would have raised around £40,000 by making sure fans have exclusive experiences provided by Two Wheels for Life thanks to Dorna generosity, but currently this year we raised £2000 pounds”, Coleman said, speaking from her home in the UK.

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Editor's Blog - Optimism, Pessimism, And How To Think About The COVID-19 Situation

These have been strange times. The outbreak of the SARS-CoV2 virus and subsequent global COVID-19 pandemic has been a roller coaster, turning the world on its head as countries around the world do their best to contain the outbreak.

Four months ago, it seemed like a distant problem that would barely affect us. Three months ago it looked like a serious problem which might affect racing at some point. Two months ago, as the pandemic grew, the scale of the impact was starting to become clear.

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Suzuki Ecstar Extend With Joan Mir Through 2022

Another piece has slotted into place for the 2021 MotoGP season, and like the last announcement - Alex Rins at Suzuki Ecstar MotoGP - it is far from a surprise. Today, Suzuki announced it has extended its deal with Joan Mir for another two years, for the 2021 and the 2022 seasons.

The deal had been long coming. Talks had been ongoing for a while, to such an extent that Joan Mir dropped a very heavy hint that the deal was done in an Instagram Live question and answer session, saying that he "wasn't allowed to say anything" but that he would have news soon.

Mir's signing makes it two factory teams which are full up, Suzuki joining the Monster Energy Yamaha team. Two more riders are signed for the future: Tito Rabat has another year on his deal at Avintia, and will be riding in 2021. And Marc Marquez is locked in at Repsol Honda for four more seasons after this, and will race for them through 2024.

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Covid-19 And MotoGP, Where Are We Now? How Marshals May Be The Next Stumbling Block

Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta, pictured here at Brno 2019

On the day that practice was supposed to get underway for the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez, we are still a very long way from any racing happening. Instead of riders warming up for the fifth race of the season, they are preparing for the third eSports race of 2020, to be played on the brand new MotoGP 20 computer game. It is also the first Virtual Grand Prix, featuring riders from all three classes, instead of just MotoGP.

It's something, for many fans, but it's not the same. Seeing bikes battle it out for an hour so in a computer game, and enjoying the banter between the riders, is entertaining, but it misses the visceral pleasure of real racing. Three days of practice, the roar of engines, the squeal of rubber, the scraping of kneepads over asphalt, the smell of hot oil. The carpet of yellow flowers which line the grass around the Jerez circuit. The party in downtown Jerez, with bikes riding up and down, and fans crowding the bars and restaurants, their deafening chatter about the events of the day making conversation all but impossible.

When will those days return? Nine or so weeks into the global lockdown due to the outbreak of COVID-19, it is clear that a return to what we traditionally think of as a motorcycle race is still some way off. That's the bad news. But the good news is that it is looking increasingly likely that there will be some form of world championship motorcycle racing this year, as countries start to look at lifting restrictions on travel and events. There appears to be reason for cautious optimism, though the SARS-CoV2 virus is still very much in the driving seat. Plans are starting to be made, but they are at the mercy of the virus. If the disease flares up again, those plans get torn up and Dorna moves onto the next lot.

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