Ezpeleta not ruling out reduced 2021 MotoGP calendar

Dorna Sports CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta says preserving MotoGP’s current competitiveness is more important than swelling the calendar again in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. 

The global COVID-19 outbreak has forced MotoGP to trim down its 2020 calendar from 20 rounds to just 13 events across just eight circuits in 2020, marking the shortest calendar since the 1995 season.

Over the next two years, MotoGP was set to return to Indonesia and Brazil, with Portugal also touted for a return as part of a rotating set of races on the Iberian Peninsula that would include the four Spanish events currently on the calendar.

This was set to swell the schedule to 22 races by 2022, which Ezpeleta admits may not even be possible should a COVID-19 vaccine not become widely available by then.

Speaking exclusively to Motorsport.com, Ezpeleta insisted any attempts at calendar growth in the next few years must not compromise MotoGP’s current competitive state. 

Asked about the planned rotation of future Spanish races, he said: “The world situation from next year will not be the same as we’ve had until now. I am not in a position to say that the 2022 calendar will be the one we planned before the coronavirus.

“We have the rotation contracts, some of them signed and others agreed. But I don’t even know if we can hold 22 grands prix. We will have to adapt to the circumstances as we have done this year.

“It will also depend on whether the coronavirus vaccine is found. If there is not by then, we will still have to hold fewer races and rotate between all of them.

“We will not deny anything. What I am clear about is that we cannot do without the best thing we have, which is the level of competitiveness seen on the track.

“Having 15 or 16 bikes within a second [of each other] is what we have to preserve.”

Earlier in the year, MotoGP announced cost-cutting measures in response to the uncertain financial situation coronavirus has brought about, which included a freeze on bike development for 2020 and for 2021 for the non-concession manufacturers.

Cutting the two-bike rule was also floated by Ducati, but was rejected by the other five manufacturers.

Ezpeleta believes the saving made by scaling back to one bike per rider wasn’t worth the changes it would have made to the spectacle.

“There were those who wanted to eliminate one of the two bikes in MotoGP,” he added. “Hardly anyone was in favour. That was a very relative saving and would have had a major impact on the show.

“The flag-to-flag races are great, and a rider can race on Sunday with that second bike after falling off in the warm up too.”

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