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FIM President Jorge Viegas On Iannone Doping Ban: "Everything Will Be Published After The CAS"

Since the announcement on Wednesday that Andrea Iannone's suspension for violating the FIM doping code had been reduced to 18 months, there have been questions surrounding the verdict. In interviews and press releases, Iannone himself, his lawyer, and Aprilia had all contended that he had been found innocent of intentionally ingesting drostanolone, a banned exogenous anabolic androgenic steroid. The International Disciplinary court of the FIM, the CDI, had accepted Iannone's claim that he had accidentally ingested the substance by eating contaminated meat, Iannone and his entourage told the media.

Whether this was an accurate reflection of the verdict or just spin by Iannone's legal and PR team was impossible to know. The FIM had only issued a press release stating the verdict of the court: that drostanolone had been found in a urine sample taken after the race in Sepang, that a hearing had been held, and submissions made to the court, and that the verdict of the court was that Iannone was suspended for 18 months, from 17th December 2019 to 16th June 2021.

After the verdict was published, there were calls for the reasoning behind the verdict to be published, but the FIM has refrained from comment. There is a good reason for that: Iannone has 21 days from the verdict to lodge an appeal with the CAS, the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and until that time, the issue is still technically sub judice, and the FIM cannot say anything for fear of prejudicing any appeal that might happen.

But the FIM will provide much more openness on the Iannone case once the legal process has run its course, FIM president Jorge Viegas told Israeli journalist and TV commentator Tammy Gorali. In the course of a long interview, conducted remotely while Viegas was at his home in Portugal and to be published on MotoMatters.com later this month, Viegas promised transparency.

"At this moment, the FIM will not comment at all on the punishment of Mr. Andrea Iannone," Viegas told Gorali. "We have a commission of judges which is totally independent from the executive power of the FIM. The FIM is one of the parts in this, and in the whole anti-doping process."

"We have our lawyer that was involved in the process, and they have their lawyer. They went before the three judges from the commission. The judges asked for additional documents and evidence, and then they decided based on that. And now, in this moment, what happened is that we are in the time period during which the FIM, Mr. Iannone, or WADA can file an appeal with the CAS in Lausanne. So until this period ends, which is roughly a month, a bit less, nobody in the FIM is allowed to comment on the matter."

Despite not wanting to comment on the case, Viegas was at pains to point out that the FIM took doping very seriously, and that the CDI did not reach its verdict lightly. And the FIM president promised more transparency once the process was complete.

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Dorna Announce Financial Support Package For MotoGP Teams

Dorna has announced a financial support package for the Grand Prix teams. The independent MotoGP teams are to be given money for the months of April, May, and June, and payments are also to be made to the Moto2 and Moto3 teams.

Though no amounts are mentioned in the press release, Spanish daily AS.com is reporting that each of MotoGP's private teams - Petronas Yamaha, Red Bull KTM Tech3, Reale Avintia Ducati, Pramac Ducati, LCR Honda, and the Gresini Aprilia squad (still technically an independent team) - is to be given an amount of €250,000 per month for the three months of April, May, and June, with this amount to be paid whether any racing happens or not.

The Moto2 and Moto3 teams are also due to receive further support, beyond the €25,000 per rider they have been promised. Again, no details have been released, but given that without the teams, Dorna cannot organize a racing series, the amounts should be enough to at least guarantee their survival.

In the press release, Dorna emphasize that these payments were made with the support of the FIM and their investors, Bridgepoint Capital and CPPIB, the Canadian pension fund which holds a stake in Dorna. This should also not come as a surprise, as without the teams, Dorna cannot survive, and if Dorna does not survive, then its owners would have to write off an enormous investment and lose a lot of money.

So far, the announcements have only covered the Grand Prix paddock, and not World Superbikes. At some point, the WorldSBK teams will also need financial assistance to survive, though the sums involved should be far smaller. But at this point, no announcements have been made.

The press release from Dorna appears below:


COVID-19: financial support measures for teams announced

Friday, 03 April 2020

The ongoing coronavirus outbreak is affecting many people, industries and sports across the world, including the MotoGP™ World Championship.

With the agreement of the FIM and the full commitment from shareholders Bridgepoint Capital and CPP Investments, Dorna Sports is proud to be able to assure help for MotoGP™ Class Independent Teams through this difficult moment in the history of our sport, as well as teams in the Moto2™ and Moto3™ classes.

Through the International Road-Racing Teams Association, MotoGP™ Independent Teams will each receive considerable advance payments during the months of April, May and June, irrespective of whether activity is restarted or not. This is in order to guarantee the economic well-being of the Independent Teams and their staff, as well as to secure their subsistence for the future.

In addition, IRTA has already made payments to all Moto2™ and Moto3™ teams to support them during this difficult period. Further measures for the intermediate and lightweight class teams will be considered in due course.

As previously stated, Dorna Sports is working hard to try and ensure that this crisis leaves all those in the MotoGP™ World Championship with only one consequence; that of a modified calendar.

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Another One Down - Le Mans MotoGP Race Postponed Until Further Notice

The COVID-19 outbreak continues to wreak havoc on the 2020 MotoGP calendar. Today, Dorna announced that the French Grand Prix at Le Mans, due to be held on 15th-17th May, has been postponed until further notice.

As happened with Jerez, no new date for Le Mans has been announced. MotoGP, like all other international sports, faces a huge problem in putting together a calendar, in the face of uncertainty over how long restrictions on travel and events will continue. In large parts of Europe, the target date is currently April 30th, but that date looks likely to be extended. Despite positive signs that the spread of the disease is slowing, it is very far from being under control.

The postponement of Le Mans now makes Mugello the first race on the provisional calendar. But with the COVID-19 outbreak still widespread in Italy, the chances of the Mugello round taking place on the weekend of May 31st look slim.

The press release announcing the postponement appears below:


SHARK Helmets Grand Prix de France postponed

Due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, the event at Le Mans has been postponed

Thursday, 02 April 2020

The FIM, IRTA and Dorna Sports regret to announce the postponement of the SHARK Helmets Grand Prix de France, which was set to be held at the Bugatti Circuit in Le Mans from the 15th to the 17th of May. The ongoing coronavirus outbreak has obliged the event to be rescheduled.

As the situation remains in a state of constant evolution, new dates for the French GP and the recently-postponed Gran Premio Red Bull de España cannot be confirmed until it becomes clearer when exactly it will be possible to hold the events. A revised calendar will be published as soon as available.

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Andrea Iannone Handed 18-Month Doping Ban By FIM CDI, Will Appeal To The CAS

The International Disciplinary Court of the FIM has reached a decision at last. Andrea Iannone has been found guilty of having a banned substance in his bloodstream, and suspended from competition for 18 months. The ban is backdated to December 17th, 2019, meaning that Iannone will be eligible to compete from the 16th June 2021.

The ban of 18 months is a reduction from the maximum allowed by the rules of 4 years, and an acknowledgement that Iannone did not ingest the banned substance - anabolic steroid drostanolone - with intent. According to a press release from Aprilia the court accepted that drostanolone ended up in Iannone's urine sample due to food contamination.

But the court ruled that, as the FIM anti-doping rules clearly state, riders are responsible for everything that enters their body, and they have a duty to avoid anything which might cause accidental contamination. That includes being aware that products that appear on the FIM list of banned substances are used in the production of meat in certain parts of the world. Iannone's defense that he ingested drostanolone accidentally, while eating steak during the Pacific flyaways, was not considered sufficient.

Iannone will now appeal to the CAS, the Court of Arbitration for Sport. But the current outbreak of the coronavirus is likely to hamper the progress of any appeal. The CAS has suspended all in-person hearings until May 1st, and with the outbreak still spreading in Switzerland, further delays are quite possible. Getting a hearing before he has served a large part of his disqualification period may prove difficult.

Aprilia have committed to standing behind Iannone. In a press release, Aprilia Racing CEO Massimo Rivola pointed to the court's finding that Iannone had not intentionally ingested the banned substance, and expressed surprise that this did not result in Iannone being cleared completely.

"The judges recognised Andrea’s complete good faith and unawareness of assuming the substance, confirming the food contamination argument," Rivola stated. "For this reason, the penalty imposed does not make any sense. In light of the motivations written by the judges themselves, Andrea should have been acquitted, as has always occurred to other contaminated athletes, but this situation leaves us a lot of hope for the appeal which we hope will be very quick. We want Andrea back on his Aprilia RS-GP. We will be by his side all the way to the end of this matter and we will support him in his appeal."

Despite Aprilia's expression of support, what this means for Iannone's career is uncertain. Under normal circumstances, an 18-month ban would mean he would be unlikely to return to MotoGP. But the COVID-19 outbreak has shaken things up considerably, making everything uncertain.

Even if racing only starts very late in 2020, it will be difficult for Iannone to find a seat in MotoGP. By the time he will be eligible to race again, he will be almost 32 years old. And becoming eligible in June 2021 means that most of the seats will already be occupied by riders with two-year contracts for 2021 and 2022. Anyone signing Iannone for the 2022 season will be taking a major gamble that Iannone still has the motivation and the ability to compete. They will be choosing between an unknown quantity in Iannone with a relatively short remaining shelf life, and a young Moto2 rider with potential to be a long-term star.

The official FIM press release, containing the judgment from the CDI, and a corresponding press release from Aprilia appear below:


FIM Anti-doping
FIM Grand Prix World Championship

FIM International Disciplinary Court (CDI) imposes 18 months suspension on MotoGP Rider Andrea Iannone

The FIM International Disciplinary Court (CDI) handed down on 31 March 2020 a decision imposing a period of ineligibility of eighteen months on Italian MotoGP Rider Mr. Andrea Iannone, commencing on 17 December 2019 (i.e. the effective date of the Provisional Suspension) and which shall end on 16 June 2021.

Following a routine In-Competition doping test conducted at the round of the FIM Grand Prix World Championship held in Sepang, Malaysia on 3 November 2019, Mr. Andrea Iannone tested positive for Drostanolone metabolite 2α-methyl-5α-androstane-3α-ol-17-one, a WADA prohibited substance under heading “S1. Anabolic Agents, 1. Anabolic Androgenic Steroids (AAS), a. Exogenous AAS” of the FIM Anti-doping Code.

Following notification of his adverse analytical finding Mr. Iannone was provisionally suspended by the FIM since 17 December 2019.

A hearing before the CDI on the merits of the case was held in Mies (Switzerland) on 4 February 2020. At the end of the hearing the CDI panel decided to suspend the hearing pending the additional and final written submissions of the parties (i.e. 28 February 2020).

Mr. Iannone is disqualified from Round 18 of the 2019 FIM Grand Prix World Championship held on November 1-3, 2019, in Sepang (Malaysia) and Round 19 of the 2019 FIM Grand Prix World Championship held on November 15-17, 2019, in Valencia (Spain) with all of the resulting consequences including forfeiture of any medals, points and prizes.

An appeal against the CDI decision may be lodged before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland within 21 days from the date of receipt of the CDI decision pursuant to Article 13.7of the FIM Anti-doping Code.


FIM SENTENCE - FOOD CONTAMINATION ARGUMENT ADMITTED BUT ANDREA IANNONE SUSPENDED FOR EIGHTEEN MONTHS

MASSIMO RIVOLA: “ABSURD PENALTY, IT’S A SENTENCE THAT EVEN ACKNOWLEDGES IANNONE’S INNOCENCE. WE WANT ANDREA BACK IN THE SADDLE AND WE’LL SUPPORT HIM IN HIS APPEAL TO THE CAS”

Aprilia Racing acknowledges the FIM measure that imposes an eighteen-month disqualification for rider Andrea Iannone.

Upon initial analysis of the sentence, it is satisfying to see how the total absence of intention was recognised and the accidental nature of the assumption of steroids, in fact recognising the argument of food contamination, something that had never before occurred. This scenario opens up new possibilities of appeal for Andrea Iannone, but the puzzlement remains for a penalty that is entirely inconsistent with the reconstruction contained in the sentence itself which recognises in the facts, albeit without acquitting him, Andrea Iannone’s innocence.

In observance of the sports values which have always inspired our operations and which outline zero tolerance for any practices prohibited by the regulations, Aprilia Racing has always reiterated our complete faith in our rider and we do so now with renewed emphasis after this sentence and we will support him in his appeal to the CAS.

MASSIMO RIVOLA - APRILIA RACING CEO

"The sentence leaves us baffled because of the penalty levied against Andrea, but also very satisfied in its motivations. The judges recognised Andrea’s complete good faith and unawareness of assuming the substance, confirming the food contamination argument. For this reason, the penalty imposed does not make any sense. In light of the motivations written by the judges themselves, Andrea should have been acquitted, as has always occurred to other contaminated athletes, but this situation leaves us a lot of hope for the appeal which we hope will be very quick. We want Andrea back on his Aprilia RS-GP. We will be by his side all the way to the end of this matter and we will support him in his appeal.”

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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 AS.com spoke to Ezpeleta to find out where motorcycle racing stands in 2020.

The bad, if completely unsurprising news is that Ezpeleta has as little idea of when we might start racing again as anyone else does. Dorna, like everyone else at the moment, is dependent on how the COVID-19 outbreak continues to develop and spread, whether its spread can be contained, and how long local, regional, national, and international bodies continue to impose restrictions on travel and on events.

That, Ezpeleta told AS.com's Mela Chercoles, is why the race in Jerez was postponed without a new date being set for it. "We can't reschedule it until we know when we can start," the Dorna CEO said. "It would be risky to set a date now. If the situation doesn't change, then what we will do is move races gradually." Dorna is already in talks with Le Mans, and after that, will talk to Mugello, and Barcelona.

Instead, the calendar will be rescheduled once there is clarity on when racing is possible again. "The main thing now is to recover and to see how things develop. Then, when we know we can start racing again, to adjust the season in the best way possible," Ezpeleta said.

Everything depends on when it will be practically possible to race again, Ezpeleta explained. Though FIM President Jorge Viegas recently revealed that the FIM's contract with Dorna requires them to hold at least 13 races during a MotoGP season, Ezpeleta said it was better to focus on what was actually possible. "We will do the races we can, without putting too much strain on the end of the season, which is already very busy," he said.

To that end, Dorna was not inclined to run too late into the end of the year. The 2020 season would not be allowed to compromise the 2021 season. Better to cut their losses in 2020, and focus on making a success of next season, and having as full a season as possible. "We will do a shorter season this year so that we can do as much as possible next year," Ezpeleta explained.

That, in itself, will be difficult enough. "We will have to see what will be possible for the next few seasons, because the world won't be the same after this," Ezpeleta said. The economic and psychological effects of the coronavirus pandemic will linger for a long time, and have effects in all sorts of aspects, as we laid out in an article last week.

To that end, Dorna is already offering financial assistance to the teams, at least in the Grand Prix paddock. Ezpeleta told AS.com that Dorna was already paying the Moto2 and Moto3 teams €25,000 a rider to cover costs, paid through IRTA, the teams association inside of the Grand Prix paddock. Separate measures were being put in place for the independent MotoGP teams, though that was still under negotiation. The objective, though, was to offer financial support for at least the next three months.

This is a logical step for Dorna. The lesson of the 800cc era in MotoGP was that the Grand Prix paddock relied on the teams, not the factories, to exist. Without the teams, there can be no MotoGP, and so Dorna's priority is to ensure that enough teams can survive to ensure the championship can continue once racing is possible again.

That was the underlying message of Carmelo Ezpeleta in the interview. The 2020 MotoGP season has not been written off, but it is clear that we are rapidly approaching the point where a full season is no longer possible. The priority for Dorna is to ensure that the teams can survive through 2020, and that preparation can begin as early as possible for 2021. That, Dorna hopes, will see some kind of return to normality.

When racing does resume, whenever that might be, there will at least be a test before the first race. KTM Racing boss Pit Beirer told Motorsport.com's Gerald Dirnbeck that the MotoGP teams would get to test before racing resumes. That was necessary to help the riders get back up to speed, Beirer said. By the time racing resumes, the MotoGP riders won't have been on a bike for the best part of three months, at the very least.


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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.

The press release announcing the postponement appears below:


Red Bull Gran Premio de España postponed

Due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, the event at the Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto has been postponed

Thursday, 26 March 2020

The FIM, IRTA and Dorna Sports regret to announce the postponement of the Red Bull Gran Premio de España, which was set to be held at the Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto from the 1st to the 3rd of May. The ongoing coronavirus outbreak has obliged the event to be rescheduled.

As the situation remains in a state of constant evolution, a new date for the Spanish GP cannot be confirmed until it becomes clearer when exactly it will be possible to hold the event. A revised calendar will be published as soon as available.

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Filling The Gap: Dorna Announce Virtual Race With Top MotoGP Riders, Free Access To Videopass Content

With on-track racing a distant prospect for the foreseeable future, Dorna is acting to fill the hole created by the COVID-19 outbreak. Today, they announced that on Sunday, March 29th, they will be holding a virtual race around Mugello using the official MotoGP video game.

The race is to start at 3pm CET, and will feature some of the top MotoGP riders playing the game. Valentino Rossi, Maverick Viñales, Fabio Quartararo, Alex Rins, and Marc Marquez have all signed up for Sunday's virtual race.

In addition, Dorna is opening up its video vault to everyone. It is making all of the contents of the MotoGP.com website available for free, to anyone who signs up, with the exception of users in France and Italy, for contractual reasons. Users can register for the videopass, and gain access to all of the races in the MotoGP.com archive, as well as documentaries, features, and more. Watching the races from different camera angles, on board and the helicopter, is highly recommended.

The free access to the videopass content will end once racing resumes once again, whenever that is.

The Dorna press release appears below:


MotoGP™ set to bring fans a Virtual Race, VideoPass access and more
On motogp.com and across social media, we're focused on bringing fans more of what they love, when they need it

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

For most, MotoGP™ is more than a sport, it’s a passion, and that can make a long break away from racing difficult for any fan. But with the ongoing global coronavirus outbreak, the challenges many face at the moment far outweigh those of simply missing out on sport or entertainment. And that’s why MotoGP™ is putting everything at fans’ fingertips to try and add a little sunshine back into a difficult daily life – starting, but by no means ending, with a Virtual Race.

Virtual Race

Soon, some of the sport’s biggest names – from Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and teammate Maverick Viñales to the likes of Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT), Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) – will be back in action, but this time online playing the official MotoGP™ videogame from developer Milestone. As the MotoGP™ eSport Championship powers on for 2020, there is no better time to see what they’ve got in virtual reality… and on Sunday, we will!

The track for the Virtual Race will be the stunning Autodromo del Mugello, with six laps around the digital rendition of one of the world’s greatest racetracks set to decide the first ever Virtual Race winner. And just before it gets underway, a five-minute qualifying time attack will decide the grid. The whole event, including qualifying, will be broadcast at 15:00 (GMT +2) on Sunday the 29th of March on motogp.com, esport.motogp.com and selected TV broadcasters, as well as across social media platforms including YouTube (via the MotoGP™ and MotoGP™ eSport channels), MotoGP™ eSport Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook (via both the MotoGP™ and MotoGP™ eSport pages).

VideoPass

It doesn't stop there. As well as the Virtual Race, fans can now enjoy a whole host more racing as motogp.com makes all content – from races to interviews to documentaries and everything in between – free to watch with a VideoPass trial that’s valid until racing starts again*. It includes the race archive stretching back to 1992 and up to the 2020 Qatar GP, giving fans chance to enjoy each and every moment in recent MotoGP™ history whenever they want.

All documentaries are also free, covering everything from Marc Marquez’ many glories to the likes of fellow World Champions Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner, as well as the history of the sport. The first two episodes of Off the Racing Line are also available, focusing on life off-track for Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) and Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3).

Social Media

Fan engagement and entertainment can also be found across social media platforms. MotoGP™ recently asked for fan art on Twitter to celebrate the creative, with some truly incredible talent shining through from across the globe using the hashtag #MotoGPArt – the best of which can be found in a virtual gallery HERE. There are also quizzes twice a week on Instagram stories, as well as plenty of content from both the Championship and riders on TikTok. New series on IGTV, Facebook and YouTube also keep the content coming, and MotoGP™ is also showing classic races on Facebook Live several times a week.

So as we wait for the sunshine to return, get in gear to enjoy some eSport competition and watch the likes of Rossi take on our Virtual Race. And then go back through the archives to re-watch everything you love and catch up on anything you’ve missed – and make sure to stay tuned to social media as we wait it out. Together.

*excluding France and Italy

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Assen WorldSBK Round Postponed To August - Further Changes On The Horizon

The COVID-19 outbreak has caused further delay in the WorldSBK calendar. Today, it was announced that the Dutch round of WorldSBK, due to be held at Assen on the weekend of April 19th, has been postponed, and put back to August.

The postponement of the Assen round became inevitable on Monday night, after the Dutch government extended its ban on public events until June 1st, and tightened restrictions on travel and gatherings.

Preparations for the change had been going on for some time, as the TT Circuit in Assen has a full calendar of events, with some kind of activity taking place on most days of the year. The new spot slots the WorldSBK race in between two other major events, the Gamma Racing Day, from 7th-9th August, and the Assen DTM round, from 4th-6th September.

The postponement of Assen is unlikely to be the last change to the WorldSBK calendar. The calendar has now been labeled as provisional by the FIM and Dorna, a wise move given the current state of the coronavirus crisis. The rounds in Italy and Spain are also likely to be postponed and rescheduled, given the current state of affairs in those countries. Another calendar revision is expected later this week.

The new calendar and press release accompanying it appears below:


MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship/FIM Supersport and Supersport 300 World Championships
UPDATE: 2020 Provisional calendar, 24th March 2020

With an ongoing international impact from the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the following change has been made to the upcoming Assen round of the 2020 Motul FIM Superbike World Championship calendar.

The FIM, Circuit Officials & Dorna WSBK Organization informs that, due to unforeseen circumstances, the Pirelli Dutch Round will be rescheduled.

Rescheduled:

  • Pirelli Dutch Round (previously 17th – 19th April) rescheduled for 21st – 23rd August.

FIM and Dorna WSBK Organization are continuously working with Circuits and Government Officials following up the situation in each country and will inform accordingly if there are further changes to the 2020 Calendar.

Further updates to follow soon.

Date Country Circuit WorldSBK WorldSSP WorldSSP300
28 Feb – 1 March Australia Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit X X  
13 – 15 March Qatar Losail International Circuit* X X  
8 - 10 May Italy Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola X X X
22 - 24 May Spain MotorLand Aragón X X X
12 - 14 June Italy Misano World Circuit “Marco Simoncelli” X X X
3 - 5 July United Kingdom Donington Park X X X
31 July - 2 August Germany Motorsport Arena Oschersleben X X X
21 - 23 August The Netherlands TT Circuit Assen X X X
4 - 6 September Portugal Autódromo Internacional do Algarve X X X
18 - 20 September Spain Circuit de Barcelona - Catalunya X X X
2 - 4 October France Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours X X X
9 – 11 October Argentina Circuito San Juan Villicum X X  
23 - 25 October Spain Circuito de Jerez - Ángel Nieto X X X

*Postponed

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Engine And Aerodynamics Homologation Backdated To Qatar

As we reported yesterday, based on reports by Italian website GPOne.com, engine and aerodynamics development is to be frozen. But it appears that the story was wrong in at least one respect: engine homologation will not be taken from this week, but be backdated to Qatar.

What this means in practice is that the factories will have to submit engine designs for homologation as they were intending to use them at Qatar. Honda had already done this, having submitted engines for homologation at the season opener at Qatar, at which the MotoGP class was not present. But the bikes and engines were, as were a few key staff. The other factories did not submit their engines at Qatar, but have now sent sample engines to Dorna for homologation.

Aerodynamics is also to be frozen, although these are to be homologated by submitting technical drawings of the designs. Technical Director Danny Aldridge will assess those designs against the MotoGP regulations and approve or reject them on that basis.

This means that once racing gets underway again, whenever that may be this season, the factories without concessions - Ducati, Honda, Yamaha, and Suzuki - will have to race with the engine designs already submitted to Danny Aldridge for homologation, and all six factories . They will be allowed one more upgrade during the 2020 season.

Dorna issued a press release explaining the procedure in response to a few news stories which had been floating around. Initially, engine homologation had been expected to take place at the first race of the season, which at the time of the Qatar season opener was expected to be in April. That would have allowed factories to continue developing their engines and aerodynamics, although they would have had to rely on test riders rather than factory riders due to test restrictions.

The fact that Honda chose to submit their engines for homologation at Qatar demonstrates the caution with which the factories approach this. Homologation an engine approved by a test rider without contracted riders having a chance to try it would have been a massive risk, with the penalty for getting it wrong substantial: being forced to use that engine for the entire season.

Dorna also made a point of clearing up another point of confusion. In the past few days, the idea of freezing all development had been floated in the media, but Dorna was keen to quash any such suggestion. They had never considered any such suggestion, the press release stated, for the very good reason that it would be impossible to police.

The Dorna press release announcing the move appears below:


MotoGP™ class scrutineering carried out remotely

Manufacturers supply sample engines and digital drawings of their aero-body in order to complete homologation

Monday, 23 March 2020

There are a number of questions that the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and subsequent delay in competition raises for the MotoGP™ World Championship, and one of those is the technical homologation. In the MotoGP™ class, the engine must be the same specification for the whole season – the only exemptions being for factories qualifying for concessions – and each rider also has the limit of two aero-body versions per season and per rider that they are allowed to homologate.

Normally, the engine specification for the season is homologated on the Thursday of the first Grand Prix, as is the first of the two aero-fairings. Due to the cancellation of the MotoGP™ class at Losail, that wasn’t possible for every factory. However, the QNB Grand Prix of Qatar remains the official starting point of the season and the point at which the rules for homologation begin being enforced.

Like every year, the 2020 engine specifications (except KTM and Aprilia machines as they qualify for concessions) must remain the same during the whole season and each rider has to homologate the first aero-fairing.

The FIM, IRTA, MSMA and Dorna all agree that for reasons of equality and fairness the homologation must therefore be carried out remotely and digitally as soon as possible.

Under normal circumstances, factories have two options. Either they can supply a list of sample engine parts to the organisation, providing a means of comparison with engines used throughout the season to verify no changes have been made, or they can supply digital drawings. Normally, each factory chooses to supply either a full sample engine or a sample for all the parts that the engine contains.

This means that if a manufacturer has riders using different engine specifications, like for example an Independent Team rider using an engine design from a past season, they must supply every sample.

Honda are the exception, as they were the only manufacturer that did supply all their sample engine parts at Qatar. The rest of the factories were not able to do so this year due to the extenuating circumstances, and have instead sent their sample engines to the organisation, which must match those in the machines at the first 2020 event.

Digital drawings of each rider’s first aero-body must also be supplied and these must likewise be homologated if they are within the technical restrictions provided in the rulebook.

The FIM, IRTA, MSMA and Dorna make every effort to focus on simplicity for both the manufacturers and the enforcement of the rules. MotoGP™ has never considered a shutdown period in which all factories must cease any and all development for a set period of time, at any time of year, primarily due to the difficulty of policing such a regulation.

Development on any other part of the machine not subject to homologation may therefore continue, as is the case during any season.

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MotoGP Engine And Aerodynamics Development To Be Frozen This Week

Engine and aerodynamics development in the MotoGP class is set to be frozen this week. Under normal circumstances, engine and aerodynamics development for factories without concessions is only frozen on the Thursday before the first race, but the COVID-19 outbreak means that we are a very long way from anything resembling normal circumstances.

Engine development was due to be frozen before the opening round at Qatar on March 8th, but the rapid growth of coronavirus cases in Italy caused the Qatari government to ban entry to Qatar for all Italian citizens, rendering it impossible for the MotoGP class to go ahead at the Losail International Circuit. Fortunately for race fans, the Moto2 and Moto3 riders were already in the country for a test, and the opening round could go ahead.

The cancellation of the first MotoGP race had the beneficial side effect for the MotoGP manufacturers that they could continue with development, of both engines and aerodynamics. Tests were scheduled for Jerez in the week after Qatar, but as the vast scale of the COVID-19 crisis became apparent, increasing restrictions on movement forced the factories to cancel the test in Jerez.

Since then, countries around the world have moved further and further toward a lockdown of all movement. But because the situations between countries have varied, the restrictions imposed on the various manufacturers has also differed.

For that reason, MotoGP has decided to freeze engine and aerodynamics development this week, Italian website GPOne.com is reporting. MotoGP Technical Director Danny Aldridge has reportedly already given the factories notice that development will be frozen from Wednesday next week.

This will entail a slightly different approach to the normal engine development freeze. Under normal circumstances, the manufacturers have to present a sample engine to Danny Aldridge, which will then serve as the homologation unit. Only parts identical to the ones used in that engine may be used throughout the season.

Without the ability to present a sample engine, the factories will have to send technical drawings of the engines, with a list of parts and their specifications for homologation. The system for aerodynamics homologation will not change so much, as factories were required to send technical drawings complete with physical dimensions to Aldridge for verification. The one change here is that Aldridge will not be able to verify the dimensions physically, using the jig created for that purpose.

The purpose of the engine and aerodynamics freeze is twofold: first, it creates a more level playing field, as restrictions on movement in Italy are likely to be much more restrictive and last for longer than in Japan, meaning that potentially, testing could go on in Japan for Yamaha, Suzuki, and Honda, while Ducati, Aprilia, and KTM were all locked down.

Secondly, and more importantly, it also reduces costs. By freezing engines and aerodynamics, the factories can't pour more money into developing their 2020 bikes. With large parts of the world locked down, sales of motorcycles have come virtually to a standstill, and with a recession likely to continue even after the threat of the coronavirus has passed, the motorcycle industry is in for a tough couple of years.

This is likely to be just one part of a range of measures taken by Dorna to manage the fallout of the COVID-19 crisis. GPOne's Paolo Scalera suggests that Dorna could look other ways of trying to reduce costs, not just for this year, to ensure the long-term health of the sport.

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