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Another Step Closer: Dorna, Andalusia, Jerez Agree Conditions For MotoGP And WorldSBK Races At Jerez

The return of World Championship racing took a big step towards reality on Thursday morning. At a teleconference, Dorna, the regional government of Andalusia, and the city council of Jerez agreed on conditions to hold two MotoGP races and a WorldSBK round at the Jerez circuit. The conditions would included a vastly reduced paddock, and holding the races behind closed doors, with no fans present. Those conditions have been turned into a proposal and submitted to the Spanish government for consideration.

If approved, the agreement would see MotoGP race at Jerez on consecutive weekends, on the 19th and 26th of July, and WorldSBK race in Jerez a week later, on the weekend of August 2nd. Those rounds would be added to the existing and revised provisional MotoGP and WorldSBK calendars, pending the approval of the FIM. The FIM is expected to nod through those changes.

How firm those calendars are is open to question. At the moment, the two Jerez races - if they happen - would be the first races on the MotoGP calendar, followed by the Brno and Austria rounds, both of which have a chance of going ahead. Czech TV reported yesterday that the organizers are hopeful of being able to hold the race behind closed doors, and the Red Bull Ring is in talks with the Austrian government to allow F1 to kick off its 2020 season at the circuit in July, followed by MotoGP in August.

The WorldSBK season is still scheduled to resume at Donington Park in the UK on the weekend of July 5th. No announcement has been made on that race, but given that the UK is still struggling with the disease where other countries are further along the road to recovery, the chances of it being held look slim.

Though the news of the Jerez MotoGP rounds is positive, it still faces significant obstacles. Dorna have sent the Spanish government a proposal, with no guarantee that the health ministry will approve them. But Dorna has been in extensive talks with the Spanish government on the subject of organizing races for a very long time, and must have indications that the government would look favorably on it.

With tourism a key industry for the Andalusia autonomous region, the regional government is keen to have races there. Despite the fact that no fans will be allowed to attend, the race will once again showcase the area as a destination once tourism returns.

The press release from Dorna appears below:


Agreement to make a proposal to the Spanish government to hold two Grands Prix and a WorldSBK round at Jerez

Thursday, 07 May 2020

The Regional Government of Andalusia, the City Council of Jerez de la Frontera and Dorna Sports have agreed to make a proposal to the Spanish government that, if approved, would see the Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto hold two MotoGP™ Grands Prix and one WorldSBK round at the end of July and the start of August.

After an electronic meeting this morning between Juan Antonio Marín, Vice President of the Regional Government of Andalusia; Mamen Sánchez Díaz, Mayor of Jerez de la Frontera; and Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna Sports; the three parties have agreed to make a proposal to the Spanish government to organise two FIM MotoGP™ World Championship Grands Prix at the Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto on the weekends of the 19th and 26th of July, respectively.

Also proposed is a MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship round at the venue, to be held on the 2nd of August.

Once authorisation from the Spanish government has been given, the three events will be proposed to the FIM for inclusion on their respective calendars. The first MotoGP™ event would be the Grand Prix of Spain, becoming the season opener for the MotoGP™ class, and the second would be the Grand Prix of Andalusia.

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A Ray Of Hope? Plans Being Made For Jerez Double Header To Kick Off MotoGP Season On July 19th

There are signs of hope that the start of the 2020 MotoGP season is drawing near. According to reports in the Diario de Jerez, the journal of record for the city of Jerez and surrounding regions, Dorna is set to hold a virtual meeting with the city council of Jerez and the regional government of Andalusia to discuss plans to start the MotoGP season at the Jerez circuit, with two races to be held on consecutive weekends, on July 19th and 26th.

There are still a lot of hurdles to be crossed before the racing can happen, but the hope is that with the COVID-19 outbreak starting to ease off in Spain, with the number of daily new cases at about a third of the level it was at the peak of the pandemic, and daily deaths a quarter of what they once were, the health authorities will start to ease the severe restrictions in Spain. If the current pace of improvement continues, the situation could look much more positive in two months' time.

If the races can be organized, then they will almost certainly be held behind closed doors, and with a highly restricted paddock. As Mat Oxley set out in his blog this week, Dorna are trying to put together a massive testing program to help alleviate concerns of regional and national authorities. Dorna have been working closely with various authorities in Spain, Italy, and the Czech Republic, while the Red Bull Ring is handling discussions with the Austrian government, as they are trying to organize races for F1 and for MotoGP.

The chances of being able to hold the Brno round on the scheduled date is also looking better. Today, Brno regional TV reported that plans to hold the race at the Czech circuit behind closed doors are also at an advanced stage.

If racing can resume, and the season kicks off again at Jerez in July, then it is likely that the calendar will be rejigged to schedule racing in Europe first of all. There are plans to hold multiple races at the same circuit to get to the ten or eleven races Dorna feels is necessary to have something resembling a full season.

That would also give the series time to see how the COVID-19 pandemic develops, and how international air travel resumes. Once international - and more particularly, intercontinental - air travel is possible, then Dorna can consider whether the races planned for the Americas and Asia are feasible.

Significant obstacles remain, of course, not least the matter of arranging for marshals to attend the races. But it appears that the plans Dorna has been making and continually updating are starting to look as if they might actually be put into practice.

All around Europe, governments are starting to ease restrictions. The German government announced that the Bundesliga professional soccer league will restart with games to be played behind closed doors, with the date for the first games to be decided on Thursday. Restrictions on groups and restaurants are to be eased in The Netherlands, and Spain and Belgium have also announced an easing of the lockdown.

We may be moving out of the stage described by Japanese journalist Akira Nishimura as "optimistic pessimism" and into the next stage, of "pessimistic optimism". 6 weeks ago, the possibility of there being no racing at all in 2020 looked very real. Now, the question is when and where, barring a new spike in cases in Europe.

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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.

The next moves on the MotoGP rider market are likely to take some more time. Valentino Rossi has been told that there will be a factory bike with factory support from Yamaha if he decides to race in 2021, which is looking increasingly likely as the start of the season is delayed further, giving him fewer races to base a decision on. KTM is likely to stick with their current riders, and Aprilia looks likely to retain Aleix Espargaro, though the second rider is in question.

The Ducati seats seem to be open, with an abundance of candidates. Ducati have made clear they want so see some racing before making a decision, and are in no rush to make their minds up.

Current MotoGP rider line up for the 2021 season:

Rider Bike Contract until
Monster Energy Yamaha
Maverick Viñales Yamaha M1 2022
Fabio Quartararo Yamaha M1 2022
     
     
Repsol Honda
Marc Márquez Honda RC213V 2024
     
     
Suzuki Ecstar
Alex Rins Suzuki GSX-RR 2022
Joan Mir Suzuki GSX-RR 2022
     
Avintia Ducati
Tito Rabat Ducati 2021

Press release from Suzuki announcing Joan Mir has extended his contract:


SUZUKI CONFIRMS THE RENEWAL OF JOAN MIR FOR 2021 AND 2022

Team Suzuki Press Office – May 2.

Team Suzuki Ecstar and Suzuki Racing Company are pleased to announce that Joan Mir will remain in blue colours for the 2021 and 2022 seasons. The news of the renewal of his contract comes shortly after that of Alex Rins, who will also be with the team until 2022. The pairing provide a solid and competitive unit for Suzuki as they look towards the future and aim high in terms of results.

Joan Mir made his MotoGP debut with Team Suzuki Ecstar in 2019, following a highly successful Moto3 season in 2017 which saw him crowned champion. The 22 year old who hails from Palma de Mallorca came quickly through the ranks early in his career and proved to be a fast learner when making his ‘top class’ debut too. Gelling well with his new team, he secured 8th place in his inaugural race in Suzuki colours, going on to score another nine Top 10 finishes in 2019 despite an injury hit mid-season.

Once fully recovered, Joan was able to pick up an impressive 5th place finish at Phillip Island last season, and in the 2020 pre-season tests he was showing fantastic form and pace with the latest generation GSX-RR.

The current situation surrounding the Covid-19 crisis makes for a strange environment for both the team and the rider at the moment, with so much uncertainty in the air. However, this latest announcement ensures a firm eye is kept on the future and proves the confidence which Team Suzuki Ecstar have in their young rider.

Shinichi Sahara - Project Leader:

“We are proud to have reached an agreement with Mir alongside Rins and maintain the current lineup. This will give us a continuity that will be very helpful for the development from a technical point of view. The consistency of keeping the same riders is very important, because it helps us keep track of the progress made and means we stay on the right path. Beside this, Joan is a talented rider, he has already shown strong skills last year and we believe he could harvest some important successes with our team as soon as his experience grows.”

Davide Brivio:

“We are very happy to have reached an agreement with Joan Mir and have him complete our lineup for the next two years. We consider Joan a very talented rider and it is important to continue together to take full advantage of the experience that we have built so far and trying to improve even more. We are also happy to have a young team with two very strong riders such as Alex and Joan, which has always been our real target. This allows us to look to the future with confidence.

“I would like to thank Joan for trusting us with his future and also the whole Suzuki Motor Corporation who supports us. Being able to extend the agreements with both Alex Rins and Joan Mir during such an extraordinary and strange moment in history is a sign that give us high hopes for the future, and encouragement to all the fans to look ahead with positivity and optimism, with the hope of being able to get back on track as soon as possible.”

Joan Mir:

“I’m extremely happy to sign with Suzuki for another two years - renewing is the best thing that could happen and it’s a dream come true again! It’s really important for me to continue because now I have more time to learn and more time to show my potential. Two years can go by quickly, but I am ready to arrive at a higher level, and we are working every day to make that happen. I am also so pleased on a personal level because I have a really good team and crew around me. I really want to thank everyone at Suzuki for their confidence in me, and let’s see if I can get the results that we’re capable of.”

#SuzukiStaySafe #WeWillReunite #RidersAtHome #StayAtHome

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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.

As three of the four most northerly races (Silverstone being the fourth), the Sachsenring, Assen, and the Kymiring had the most limited window for rescheduling, with the weather being a factor much earlier on than races in southern Europe. In addition, the Sachsenring and Assen both have a limited number of noise days, during which they can exceed normally much stricter noise limits.

The cancellation comes as a blow for the TT Circuit in Assen. This is only the second time in it's 95-year history the race has been canceled. The last time the Dutch TT at Assen was not held was between 1940 and 1945, after Nazi Germany invaded The Netherlands during the Second World War. It has featured unbroken on the Grand Prix calendar since the World Championship started in 1949.

It is also a grave financial blow. In normal years, the TT Circuit generates half its annual income from the Dutch TT, and the loss of all activity at the circuit is forcing it to dig into its financial reserves. The 2020 race was due to be the 90th edition of the Dutch TT, with a range of special events planned. That will now have to wait until next year.

The cancellation of the remaining races before the summer break point to the strategy to be pursued by Dorna, as I understand it was Dorna who made the decision to pull the plug on the German, Dutch, and Finnish rounds. With the first half of the season lost, resuming the schedule more or less as planned after the summer break is the simplest strategy it seems. Though the rounds at Jerez, Le Mans, Mugello, and Barcelona have only been postponed so far, there is some room to fit at least some of them into the season in the second half of the year.

There are obstacles, of course: Brno looks impossible, given the current situation in the Czech Republic, which would mean a start at Austria. There is also the possibility of a test being held beforehand, with Jerez being the rumored location.

But there is still a long way to go before any racing can resume, and we are still in a very fast-moving situation. Less than 9 weeks ago, the 2020 season looks to have been going ahead as normal. Since then, the world has gone from full lockdown to the start of easing restrictions. It is hard to say what the world will look like in another 9 weeks time.

The press release from Dorna and the FIM appears below:


HJC Helmets Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland, Motul TT Assen and Grand Prix of Finland cancelled

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

The FIM, IRTA and Dorna Sports regret to announce the cancellation of the HJC Helmets Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland, the Motul TT Assen and the Grand Prix of Finland. The ongoing coronavirus outbreak has obliged the cancellation of all three events.

The HJC Helmets Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland was set to take place at the Sachsenring from the 19th to the 21st of June, the Motul TT Assen at the TT Circuit Assen from the 26th to the 28th of June, and the Grand Prix of Finland was set to see the new KymiRing make its debut on the MotoGP™ calendar from the 10th to the 12th of July.

The cancellation of these events also obliges the cancellation of the corresponding FIM Enel MotoE™ World Cup, Northern Talent Cup and FIM Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup track activity at the same events.

Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna Sports: “It is with great sadness that we announce the cancellation of these three important Grands Prix on the MotoGP calendar. The German GP is raced on a truly unique track with an incredible history, and the KymiRing is an exciting new venue set to welcome Grand Prix motorcycle racing back to Finland for the first time since 1982. And the iconic TT Circuit Assen had the unique honour of being the only venue to have held a round of the motorcycle racing Grand Prix World Championship every year, uninterrupted, since the Championship began in 1949.

“On behalf of Dorna I would like to thank all the fans for their understanding and patience as we wait for the situation to improve. We very much look forward to returning to the Sachsenring and the TT Circuit Assen in 2021, and eagerly await the Grand Prix debut of the new KymiRing next season.”

Any and all updates regarding the affected calendars of the FIM Enel MotoE™ World Cup, the FIM Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup and the Northern Talent Cup will be provided as soon as available.

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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.

It is the third race in a row where the promoter or circuit has announced that the race has been postponed, rather than Dorna or the FIM. Yesterday, the TT Circuit Assen posted an update on its website to say that the Dutch round of MotoGP had been postponed, and the ADAC, promoter of the German round at the Sachsenring, announced on April 16th that the German Grand Prix has been postponed without a date.

No new dates have been given for the race, as none can be given at the moment. There are still too many external dependencies to be able to plan for the future. Restrictions are slowly starting to be lifted in Europe, but there is still a long way to go before a realistic calendar can be posted.

The text of the announcement is below:


The decision to postpone the Finnish MotoGP race is made by Dorna Sports, which owns rights of the competition

The Finnish government has recommended that events for more than 500 people not be held before August due to a coronavirus pandemic. Decision of postpone of MotoGP Finland competition is made by Dorna Sports and race track owner KymiRing in accordance with the instructions of the Finnish Government.

Dorna Sport has promised to announce the future of MotoGP Finland as soon as possible.

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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.

Postponing the Finnish round of MotoGP would not come as a surprise, as the circuit was still not homologated for MotoGP. Given the track's location, the options for rescheduling it in 2020 are very limited. Cancellation is a more likely option, though nothing official has been announced yet.

The presumable loss of Finland means the first possible race could be Brno on August 9th, but the Czech Republic is also tending towards keeping the borders closed beyond the summer of 2020.

Austria is a more likely candidate for the season to start. Both F1 and MotoGP are examining the option of racing at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg behind closed doors, F1 in July, MotoGP in August. However, for that to happen, a lot of international restrictions on travel will need to be lifted. The countries in the Schengen Area in the EU currently have bans in place on non-EU nationals entering.

There are the first signs of hope, however. Austria and parts of Italy have started opening some shops, Spain is due to start allowing children to go outside again, and in a press conference today, Ernst Kuipers, head of the Dutch National Acute Care Network, said he believed that pressure on hospitals in The Netherlands had eased enough to start to think about ending some restrictions earlier than the May 31st date currently given by the Dutch government.

The COVID-19 outbreak appears to be past its peak in many European countries. Dr. Jason Oke, a medical statistician at the University of Oxford, told the BBC radio program More Or Less that his calculations showed that coronavirus deaths had reached a peak in the UK on April 8th, and the disease is now in a slow decline. This decline in cases and deaths could prompt an easing of restrictions sooner rather than later, though governments in Europe are erring on the side of caution, fearing a resurgence of the disease.

If there is not a second spike in cases as restrictions are eased, then some form of racing could resume in the second half of 2020. How, when, and where is still up in the air, but there is reason for cautious optimism that there will be at least some semblance of a MotoGP and WorldSBK season in 2020.

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No MotoGP In June? Germany And The Netherlands Announce Bans On Events Through End Of August

The 2020 world championship motorcycle racing calendar continues to slide due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On Tuesday evening, it became apparent that there will be no racing in either MotoGP or WorldSBK before the end of June. After last Wednesday's announcement by German Chancellor Angela Merkel that large-scale events would be banned in Germany through August 31st, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte extended the ban on large-scale events in The Netherlands to September 1st.

These two announcements have a direct bearing on the WorldSBK and MotoGP calendars. Officially, the next two MotoGP races are at the Sachsenring on June 21st, and Assen on June 28th. Those races will now have to be either postponed or rescheduled until after August 31st.

The announcements also mean that the WorldSBK races will have to be rescheduled. The German round was due to be held at Motorsport Arena Oschersleben from July 31st to August 2nd. The Dutch round of World Superbikes had already been rescheduled from mid-April to August 21st to 23rd.

That round will now have to be rescheduled once again, though finding a slot in an increasingly crowded calendar will be difficult. The Assen circuit has the German DTM touring car championship scheduled for the first weekend of September, then the British Superbike championship weekend set for the weekend of September 20th.

The track has its two other biggest events - the Truckstar Festival and the Gamma Racing Day, both of which draw crowds in the tens of thousands - set for July and August. The Truckstar Festival has already been canceled, but if the Gamma Racing Day is rescheduled, that would put pressure on an already packed program.

Motorcycle racing is possible at Assen through October, given the climate. Racing at the Sachsenring or Oschersleben would be better done in September than in October, with the risk of a cold snap making it too cold to hold practice safely.

Dorna is making plans to hold events behind closed doors, if conditions permit. These events would see a skeleton crew of between 1,000 and 1,200 people in the paddock to run the event, including riders, the minimum number of team staff, and the bare minimum of race officials and Dorna organizational and TV staff. But such a set up would not be allowed in The Netherlands, at least, as current measures put in place to counter the coronavirus outbreak prohibit any gatherings of people outside of essential services.

So far, the FIM and Dorna have yet to make an official announcement about the postponement or rescheduling of the races in Germany and The Netherlands. That announcement is likely to come at the end of this week, once they have had time to discuss with the circuits in question.

With the Sachsenring and Assen canceled, the next world championship event on the calendar is WorldSBK at Donington Park, due to be held from July 3rd-5th. Currently, restrictions put in place to combat the spread of the coronavirus will last until at least the first week in May, but the UK government has made it clear they expect to have to extend that period beyond that.

For MotoGP, the next officially scheduled race would be at the Kymiring in Finland. But that circuit has still not officially been homologated, a process which is being hampered by the fact that FIM safety officer Franco Uncini is in Italy, and unable to leave.

The earliest racing might reasonably be expected is August. The Czech MotoGP round at Brno would be the obvious place to start, but the Czech Republic has declared a state of emergency and banned all travel into the country. That ban will be in place until the state of emergency ends, but the current expectation is it could last well through the summer.

That would put Austria as the likely candidate for the first MotoGP race. Austria is starting to slowly lift the restrictions it placed to counter the COVID-19 outbreak. An event behind closed doors might be possible in mid-August, something which the F1 series is also contemplating in July.

However, huge obstacles remain. The Schengen Area inside the EU - which contains most of the European countries which are due to host MotoGP and WorldSBK - remains closed to non-EU citizens until May 15th at the earliest. Given the large number of non-EU nationals working in MotoGP - including a significant number of riders - any race would be impossible until that ban is lifted, at least.

In the end, it is still too early to say when the first MotoGP or WorldSBK event might take place. At this moment in time, too much depends on a whole range of national, regional, and international governments and authorities. Until restrictions start to be lifted on an international scale, the obstacles to a return to racing will remain insurmountable.

 

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Alex Rins Extends Contract With Suzuki Through 2022

In a welcome diversion from the ongoing onslaught of COVID-19-related news, the Suzuki Ecstar team have announced that they have signed Alex Rins for a further two seasons, meaning that the Spaniard will be riding for the team in the 2021 and 2022 MotoGP seasons, such as they may be.

The only thing about the news is perhaps the timing, in the middle of the COVID-19 lockdown. It has been clear for a while that both Rins and Suzuki were treating each other as their first priority in contract negotiations. Suzuki has made no secret of wanting to hang on to both of its current riders, and with Rins having won the races at Austin and Silverstone last year, Suzuki's first victories since Maverick Viñales' win at Silverstone in 2016.

The next target for Suzuki will be to try to extend with Joan Mir. Mir had an impressive season as a rookie, and has sparked some interest from other factories, but the best option for the Spaniard is likely to stay put.

Rins' signing brings the total rider signings for 2021 to five. Below are the riders with contracts so far:

Rider Bike Contract until
Monster Energy Yamaha
Maverick Viñales Yamaha M1 2022
Fabio Quartararo Yamaha M1 2022
     
     
Repsol Honda
Marc Márquez Honda RC213V 2024
     
     
Suzuki Ecstar
Alex Rins Suzuki GSX-RR 2022
     
     
Avintia Ducati
Tito Rabat Ducati 2021

The Suzuki press release appears below:


SUZUKI AND ALEX RINS EXTEND THEIR PARTNERSHIP FOR 2021 AND 2022

Team Suzuki Press Office – Sunday, April 19.

Alex Rins will remain an official MotoGP rider for Team Suzuki MotoGP for the 2021 and 2022 seasons. The renewal of the contract between Suzuki Racing Company, a branch of Suzuki Motor Corporation, and the 24-year-old Spaniard arrives during a very peculiar moment in history, as the 2020 World Championship has been unable to start due to the exceptional situation of the Covid-19 crisis. But this contract renewal confirms that Suzuki, the Team, and the Rider are all thinking about the future and focused on achieving even better results.

Alex Rins joined Team Suzuki Ecstar in 2017, making his debut in the MotoGP class. His first year was marked by a severe injury at the beginning of the season, but Rins recovered strongly and didn’t take long to show his true potential with consistent races in the second half of the year. Alex built on his experience and continued his growth throughout 2018, this saw him take his first MotoGP podium in Argentina, with third place.

The 2019 season rightfully placed him among the top Championship contenders, with consistent race results in the Top 5 and two outstanding victories: at the Texas GP and in Silverstone.

The 2020 pre-season tests showed great potential and a good level of feeling between Rins and the upgraded Suzuki GSX-RR, but the results are still to come due to the stand-by situation that is affecting the 2020 MotoGP World Championship.

Shinichi Sahara – Project Leader:

“This renewal of two more years with Alex Rins makes me and Suzuki very proud because it represents a building block in our project to grow young riders and progress alongside them. With this extension, we have stayed with a young, talented, determined and fast rider like Alex for a total of 6 years, and this is exactly what we aimed for when we signed him the first time in 2017. He has grown a lot, and with him also his crew and the whole team has grown too. We’ve achieved podiums and victories, and I feel that the best is still yet to come. Unfortunately, the situation now doesn’t allow us to prove under race conditions all the progress that we’ve made or the results I believe we are capable of, but this Coronavirus situation is new for everyone and we need to adapt. For sure we are remaining upbeat, and this agreement confirms that we are always thinking of the future with optimism and positivity.”

Davide Brivio:

“We are very happy to confirm Alex Rins as a Factory Rider of Team Suzuki MotoGP for two more seasons; 2021 and 2022. With this agreement we take our relationship to 6 years, and we believe that this stability will prove positive for all of us. I must say that this agreement was just awaiting a ‘stamp’ on it, because both Suzuki and Alex had the will to continue together and a basic agreement for the continuation was already achieved months ago. So now that everything is done we can finally proudly announce it. As a team our aim is to keep the whole working group together and become even stronger, we had a fantastic end of the season last year and this is the starting point we want to rely on when we will be able to start racing again.”

Alex Rins:

“My wish was to continue with Suzuki and finally this is what I did. I believe that the project has the potential to be a winning one, I have the desire to win, and so we match perfectly. It’s the perfect place for me, and we are working hard all together to get big results. I have always believed in the team and for this reason it was easy to get to the basic agreement very early on. Then we took some time to finalise the details and follow all the internal processes.

Now we have to understand what’s going to happen with the 2020 season, we are ready to compete at the maximum level, as we already showed in the pre-season tests. In this very moment the whole world is facing an unexpected situation that affects pretty much all countries and we need to be patient and see how it evolves. We will make ourselves ready for when we will be called to start racing, whenever this will happen. Dorna is doing all they can to allow us to compete, but they are of course taking into account what matters most; the safety and health of people. We can only stay ready and wait to be told when we can start, and in the meantime focus on training.”

To watch the livestream on Instagram: @SUZUKIMOTOGP: CLICK HERE

#SuzukiStaySafe #RidersAtHome #StayAtHome

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Racing Behind Closed Doors With A Skeleton Crew – One Option For Resuming Racing

While the COVID-19 pandemic holds the world firmly in its grip, Dorna continues to examine options for returning to racing once that becomes possible. Although any decision on when racing is possible is entirely out of Dorna's hands, they are still drawing up plans for a range of options for when the current round of global lockdowns and travel restrictions end.

One option Dorna is considering is holding races behind closed doors, with an absolute minimum of staff present. A leaked email, which started circulating on Wednesday, asked the teams to provide a list of the minimum required members of staff they would need to run a race. The request explicitly excluded hospitality and PR staff, as the aim is to only allow team members who are essential to the task of racing.

Does this mean that Dorna believe this is the only way MotoGP and WorldSBK will be able to go racing again? Not at all. When contacted by email, IRTA CEO Mike Trimby explained that the purpose of the email being sent was to be prepared for all possible situations in the future.

"Clearly, we are exploring all options but every one depends on what restrictions are removed on travel and mass gatherings. And such restrictions will vary from country to country," Trimby said.

"The purpose of the survey sent to teams was to establish the minimum numbers of people that we would need to safely run an event behind closed doors," Trimby explained. "Having that information would enable us to move quickly to provide genuine information to promoters or governments if an opportunity was to arise." The option of racing behind closed doors was not the only one being investigated by Dorna, but it could be the best chance of racing again, at least in the short term, Trimby said.

Even holding races behind closed doors would be difficult, however. The minimum number of people required to just hold races in all three Grand Prix classes is somewhere between 1000 and 1500. Those people have to travel from many different countries, the most important being Spain, Andorra, Italy, Japan, France, Austria, Sweden, Germany, and the United Kingdom, as the bases for most teams, manufacturers, tire suppliers, suspension makers, and of course IRTA themselves. The riders themselves come from 19 different nations, though riders from South Africa, Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Argentina have bases in Europe for a large part of the season anyway.

Those 1000-1500 people would all have to travel to any race being held, either by commercial flight, car, bus, or train, which would require international flights to start operating again and borders to open up again. They would also have to find somewhere to stay, which would require hotels to be open.

Most importantly of all, governments would have to believe that such events could be held without the risk of someone involved in the sport carrying the virus without knowing it and sparking another round of infections. Preventing that might require all sorts of preventative measures, including testing and contact tracing.

Alongside this plan, Dorna continues to liaise with IRTA, the FIM, and the MSMA about other options. At the moment, all Dorna can do is draw up plans to deal with the many different scenarios they may face. That includes racing behind closed doors, but also calendars starting in July, August, September, and October, and trying to work out with circuits when the series could race there at different points in the year.

Making plans for a world championship motorcycle racing season is like trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle with half of the pieces missing. It will get easier once we get a clearer picture of how the COVID-19 outbreak is developing, and as countries coordinate on strategies for containing and eventually eradicating the disease.

Below is the email sent by IRTA to all of the teams:


Dear All,

I hope that you, your staff and your families are keeping well during these difficult times.

You will have seen that, unfortunately, Dorna have already had to announce the postponement of several events and, with some, it has not been possible to confirm a new date for the events.

Dorna are working hard to secure new dates but are constrained by not being able to forecast when governments will reduce restrictions on travel or mass gatherings of people. Accordingly, one option being investigated by Dorna is the possibility of holding some events “behind closed doors”. This means no spectators and also no team guests, including sponsors with permanent passes.

To get government approval for such events it would be necessary to indicate to governments the number of people required to put on an event and, most likely, their nationalities and from which country they would be arriving.

We are attaching a form which I ask you to complete and return as an Email attachment as soon as possible. You should list on that form details of the very minimum staff that you would need at a closed-door event in Europe to safely run the races.

As only working trucks will be admitted you do not need to include hospitality staff or workers involved in their setting up. Other staff not deemed vital would include PR and media staff and perhaps some management personnel. Many of these could operate from their home bases whilst maintaining live links with staff at the circuit.

We have indicated on the forms that number of staff that we consider to be the absolute maximum for the class. That should not be taken as an “allowance” and you should enter your own, realistic figures.

We are obviously aware that in the Moto3 and Moto2 classes some teams operate with riders in both classes. Those teams should please complete a form for each class.

If you have any queries on this matter then please do not hesitate to contact me.

Best regards,

Mike Trimby


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Grand Prix Commission Freezes Development For 2020 and 2021 MotoGP Seasons

With the COVID-19 outbreak wreaking havoc on the 2020 motorcycle racing season and the global economy, the Grand Prix Commission, MotoGP's rule-making body, have announced a raft of measures aimed at cutting costs.

The most significant change, already widely trailed, is that development of engines and aerodynamics is to be frozen for the rest of this year. What that means in practice is that all six MotoGP factories  (Aprilia, Ducati, Honda, KTM, Suzuki, and Yamaha) will have to race in 2020 with the engines they submitted for homologation in March of this year. Normally, concession factories (Aprilia and KTM) would be allowed to develop their engines during the season, but to cut costs, that development has been banned for this season.

In addition, the GPC agreed that the MotoGP manufacturers without concessions (Ducati, Honda, Suzuki, and Yamaha) will have to start the 2021 MotoGP season with their 2020 engines. This means that their engine designs will remain unchanged for any races which may occur in 2020, and for all of the 2021 season.

In terms of aerodynamics, all factories will have to use the aero package homologated for use in March for the 2020 season, and start the 2021 season with that package. They will then be allowed one upgrade for the 2021 season, as normal.

The Grand Prix Commission have imposed even greater restrictions on the Moto2 and Moto3 classes. All development is frozen for those classes in both 2020 and 2021. Given the much smaller budgets for the Moto2 and Moto3 teams, and the involvement of small manufacturers such as Kalex, Speed Up, and NTS in Moto2, that makes much more sense.

Additionally, the Grand Prix Commission banned in Moto2 and Moto3 the ride-height altering devices from which are just now starting to appear in MotoGP. Since the switch to Moto2 and Moto3, those classes have been regarded as steps on the ladder toward MotoGP, and so technical restrictions have been put in place to put the focus on rider development rather than technology. Banning ride-height altering devices - which would include the holeshot devices used by most MotoGP manufacturers now - makes sense in this context. This ban extends indefinitely, and is not limited to either 2020 or 2021.

The press release containing the revised rules for 2020 and 2021 appears below:


FIM Grand Prix World Championship
Decision of the Grand Prix Commission

The Grand Prix Commission, composed of Messrs. Carmelo Ezpeleta (Dorna, Chairman), Paul Duparc (FIM), Herve Poncharal (IRTA) and Takanao Tsubouchi (MSMA), in the presence of Jorge Viegas (FIM President), Corrado Cecchinelli (Director of Technology) Carlos Ezpeleta (Dorna) and Mike Trimby (IRTA, Secretary of the meeting), in an electronic meeting held on 15th April 2020, made the following decisions:

Technical Regulations

In view of the Covid-19 global crisis, and following various conversations with manufacturers and teams in all classes, the GPC has approved the following technical proposals.

These are all aimed at reducing costs globally in all three classes for both manufacturers and teams, whilst maintaining fairness and equality in order to conserve both the entertainment value of the sport and the integrity of the competition.

MOTOGP CLASS:

Currently, all manufacturers that don’t qualify for concessions have to homologate an engine specification for the whole season. Manufacturers are allowed to homologate a different specification for riders in Independent teams.

Until now, manufacturers with concessions didn’t have this limitation and could change specification during the year.

In addition, all manufacturers were allowed two aero body designs per rider per season; the one they started with at Qatar plus one upgrade.

The GPC has approved the following changes, effective immediately:

2020 SEASON:

There will be no update of any homologated parts during the 2020 season. This applies to all manufacturers, both Non-Concession and Concession.

2021 SEASON:

Both Non-Concession and Concession manufacturers must start the 2021 season using March 2020 homologated parts. Thereafter, normal upgrade regulations will apply for the rest of the 2021 season as per current regulations meaning no engine evolution for non-concession manufacturers and only one aero-body update per rider for all manufacturers.

For the first event of 2021 riders will be allowed to choose between any engine or aero-body specification that the manufacturer homologated in 2020.

MOTO2 CLASS:

The organisers supply all Moto2 Class riders with equal Triumph 765cc engines.

Until now, the only limitation in terms of allocations of technical parts was the allowance of one upgrade to the Aero Body per manufacturer.

The GPC has approved the following changes, effective immediately:

AERO BODY:

The current 2020 Aero Bodies as homologated by the chassis manufacturers at the 2020 Qatar GP, plus any version homologated in 2019, will be frozen until the end of the 2021 season. No further upgrades are permitted.

FRAME AND SWINGARM:

Each chassis manufacturer may submit any current or previously used frame or swingarm for homologation. These designs will be frozen until the end of the 2021 season, with no further specifications permitted.

Each Team will then be required to declare a maximum of 2 specifications of frame and swingarm per rider from their chassis manufacturer homologation list. Any replacement or substitute rider will be required to use only the declared parts for the rider they are replacing.

MOTO3 CLASS:

Currently in the Moto3 class, the manufacturers must provide all their riders with the same full bike.

Until now, riders were allowed to choose 2 gear ratios per season.

The GPC has approved the following changes effective immediately:

Bike specification, as declared by each manufacturer at the Qatar GP 2020, will be frozen for the 2020 and the 2021 seasons, meaning no further upgrades will be permitted on any listed performance parts, chassis, swingarm, engine, aero body, gearbox or throttle body.

The GPC has also approved the number of engines each rider is allowed to use with respect to possible revised calendars for both 2020 and 2021. These will be published within the revised regulations.

MOTO2 AND MOTO3 CLASSES:

RIDE HEIGHT DEVICES BANNED

Ride height devices, to aid the rider during the start of the race, are permitted within the current rules for MotoGP. However, due to possible high development cost that these devices could require, it is felt that this technology does not fit within the ethos of both Moto3 and Moto2 of a cost-effective championship. Therefore, the such technology is banned for these two categories, with immediate effect.

The use of any device that modifies or adjusts the motorcycle’s ride height while it is moving is forbidden.

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