Jerez, Spain

Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta: "We Will Reschedule Races When We Know When The Season Can Start"

There is a desire for certainty in these uncertain times. Everyone involved in motorcycle racing is wondering what happens next, and when we will be able to start racing again. News websites are filled with countless interviews, news articles, and opinion pieces full of theories as to what the next race may be.

If there is one person in a position what the race might be, it is Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna, and the man who heads the organization which runs both the MotoGP and WorldSBK championships. Spanish sports daily spoke to Ezpeleta to find out where motorcycle racing stands in 2020.

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Jerez MotoGP Round Postponed - Calendar Updates Put On Hold

The start of the MotoGP season has been delayed once again. Today, Dorna and the FIM announced that the Spanish Grand Prix, to be held at Jerez on May 3rd, has been postponed due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. The postponement affects the MotoGP, Moto2, and Moto3 classes, as well as MotoE. It also means the loss of the official IRTA test scheduled for the Monday after Jerez.

Unlike previous races, however, a new date for the Jerez round has not been announced. This reflects the reality of an ongoing, fast-moving situation, in which Dorna is dependent on too many external factors to be able to draw up a schedule which is likely to hold up over the next few months. Until the course of the global pandemic becomes clearer, any calendar is provision at best.

For a deeper dive into the problems facing Dorna as they attempt to assemble a new calendar, see this article posted last night.

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Crew Chief Diego Gubellini On Fabio Quartararo: Fast, Smart, And Mentally Strong

Fabio Quartararo at the 2020 Sepang MotoGP test

The announcement that the Petronas Yamaha SRT team had signed Fabio Quartararo for the 2019 MotoGP season was met with some skepticism. Why, the critics said, would you sign a rider with just a single victory to his name after four seasons in Grand Prix, and with two other podiums, both of which had come in his first year in Moto3?

Quartararo soon proved the critics wrong. The Frenchman impressed by qualifying in fifth place for his first race, and then again by setting the fastest lap of that first race after starting from pit lane due to stalling on the grid. Four races later, he put his signing beyond doubt, qualifying on pole and battling for the podium until a broken quickshifter took him out of contention.

Since then, Quartararo has gone from strength to strength. The Petronas Yamaha rider ended the 2019 season in fifth place, with six poles and seven podiums, two of which came as thrilling battles to the line with world champion Marc Márquez. He starts 2020 as one of Marc Márquez' main challengers.

Behind every great motorcycle racer is a smart crew chief, and Quartararo is no exception. The Frenchman has Diego Gubellini at his side, an engineer with over 20 years of experience in the Grand Prix paddock, including seven seasons as crew chief with the Gresini, Aprilia, and Marc VDS teams. In 2019, he joined the Petronas Yamaha SRT team to work with Fabio Quartararo.

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Coronavirus: The State Of Play, What Happens Next, And Why

The outbreak of novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, has wreaked havoc on many things: public health, international transport, the global economy, and much more. But as is a site about world championship motorcycle road racing, we are concerned above all on the effect it has had on the MotoGP and WorldSBK seasons. As of Friday 13th March 2020, Dorna and the FIM had postponed the Buriram, Austin and Argentina rounds of MotoGP, and the Jerez round of WorldSBK, and were forced to cancel the MotoGP class at the season opener at Qatar.

Things have changed so fast over the past two weeks that it is almost impossible to keep up. As Twitter racing wit SofaRacer put it, "A month ago, the state of Marc Márquez’ shoulder was the big talking point of the season. Halcyon days." Since then, a small, contained outbreak of a new flu-like disease has gone from a curiosity in a remote location far from any traditional racetracks to a global pandemic, sweeping through the racing heartlands of Italy and Spain.

Pace of change

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2020 MotoGP Calendar Updated Again - Austin Postponed To November, Valencia Moved A Week

The ongoing outbreak of novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, has forced yet another change to the MotoGP calendar for 2020. Due to the restrictions on movement imposed in Italy, in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus, the US round of MotoGP at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, has been postponed until November.

The MotoGP paddock will gather in Austin on November 15th, instead of April 5th. November 15th was originally the date planned for the final round of MotoGP in Valencia, but to make way for Austin, Valencia has been pushed back a week, and will now be held on the weekend of November 22nd.

That means that as of today, March 10th, the MotoGP class will kick off their season at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit in Argentina on April 19th, with the paddock returning to Europe two weeks later for Jerez.

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Jerez Moto3 Test Friday Times: Ogura Edges Out McPhee

If the Moto2 lap record was broken at the Jerez test, the Moto3 pole record was absolutely destroyed, with 15 riders circulating below Gabriel Rodrigo's best pole time of 1'45.745 from 2019. Ai Ogura ended the test as fastest overall, over a second under the lap time of Rodrigo, while Petronas Sprinta's John McPhee was just five hundredths slower than the Honda Team Asia rider.

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Jerez Moto2 Test Friday Times: Luthi Smashes Lap Record

Tom Luthi has ended the Jerez Moto2 test as fastest, smashing the existing pole record by over eight tenths of a second in the process. The Intact GP rider was fast over a flying lap on Friday, after spending Thursday focusing on used tires, and posting an impressive race pace.

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Jerez Moto2 Test Thursday Times: Bezzecchi Fastest, Canet Impresses

Marco Bezzecchi has ended the day as the fastest of the Moto2 riders, the Sky VR46 rider taking four tenths off Remy Gardner's best time from Wednesday. But it was Aron Canet who impressed, the rookie building on a fast time yesterday to finish second on the Speed Up. Red Bull KTM Ajo's Jorge Martin ended the day in third on the Kalex, the Spaniard still suffering with a leg injury picked up at a private test, while Thomas Luthi was fourth quickest, half a second behind Bezzecchi.

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Jerez Moto3 Test Thursday Times: Rodrigo Leads McPhee

Gabriel Rodrigo has ended the second day of the Moto3 test at Jerez as fastest, just nipping ahead of the Petronas Sprinta rider John McPhee. Ai Ogura led a Japanese duo, a tenth faster than Tatsuki Suzuki, Suzuki finishing the day in fourth. It was something of a Honda whitewash again, Hondas taking the top six places, Raul Fernandez the first KTM in seventh, nearly half a second behind Rodrigo.

Combined times from all three sessions:

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Jerez Moto3 Test Wednesday Times: Garcia Impresses On First Day Of Official Test

Excellent conditions at Jerez mean that the Moto3 riders are also well under the pole record after the first day of the official IRTA test at the Spanish circuit. Estrella Galicia rider Sergio Garcia was fast straight out of the box, setting the fastest time in the first session of the day. Petronas rider John McPhee ended the day in 2nd, setting his best time in the second session in the middle of the day, just six hundredth slower than Garcia.

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