The MotoGP World Championship closes today in Portimao, with the Portuguese GP, to a very complicated season due to the coronavirus. The season has been successfully saved and in front of the championship, one more year since 1992, Carmelo Ezpeleta. The Dorna CEO takes stock of ACE the course of the pandemic.
-I am calling you to take stock of the 2020 season, although I must begin by congratulating you.
-So thank you very much.
-He has saved a season that could easily be ruined by the coronavirus pandemic. Has it been the most difficult year in the history of the World Cup?
– I do not know if it has been the most difficult, because I have only been since 1992 and the same was a more complicated previous one, but it has been difficult.
-I find it very difficult to believe that there was a more complicated one from 1949 to 1992. What has been the most complicated at the organizational level of this one?
-Man, at the beginning of everything, put yourself in a situation, because you wonder what the hell is happening. You had to understand what was happening and then react to the situation and talk to everyone. When I saw that everyone wanted this to be done, from then on it was more filmed. Then we had to wait until the circumstances did not complicate things further. The hardest part was putting yourself in a situation at first. When we came back from Qatar, we thought we could do the championship, but two weeks later we saw what happened and there were 24 hours in which we were doing the numbers of what it meant not to do races this year. Later, when we spoke with everyone, we decided that we would go ahead and it was all more filmed.
– Could it be said that at first the panorama that was painted from some places seemed exaggerated?
-Not exaggerated, but we did not have all the information and we did not know the true scope that all this had later. At the lunch in the AS Newsroom in March, after returning from Qatar, I said that the Qatari health minister had told me that the issue was very serious, but since the same thing was not said here, we expected events. There we still believed that the World Cup could be held with some postponement under normal circumstances, but a week and a half later we realized that what was coming was very fat and we got to work. We were talking about March and in no way did the scenario move to July, which is when we started MotoGP.
-When you talk about how everyone’s desire encouraged you to push forward, who exactly are you referring to?
-I mean, first, the FIM, who had the same interest as us, and then the teams and drivers, who called asking what we believed. At first, neither they nor we knew anything. From thinking that we could not do any, we went on to thinking of doing five or ten, and I saw that everyone was for work. It was important that we spoke with Dorna’s council and allowed us to subsidize the teams until the championship started, so that they could survive, that helped a lot.
-Will this 2020 facilitate a better 2021 even though we are still under the effects of the pandemic?
-Sure sure. If we hadn’t done the 20th, the 21st would be much worse. Now, the 21st, the hard way, we will try to do it like this, but from there it will get better.
-Would teams have disappeared by 2021 without this 2020?
-I don’t know if they would have disappeared, but they would have had a very bad time and I preferred not to risk seeing what would happen.
-What do you say to the critics who say that this cannot be considered World Cup, because it has only been run in Europe and repeating some circuits?
-They have no idea. (Smile). It is not even worth answering them.
-I am surprised by your diplomacy …
-But let’s see, the World Cup began to go out of Europe in the 80s. From 49 to 80 it was not worth it either because it had not gone to Japan? And, for many years, the only World Cup race held outside of Europe was Japan. And we, in ’93, which was a much better World Cup than in ’92 and ’91, we had 13 events, 13. What story is that? It does not have color. Also, a World Cup is good or bad for those who participate, not depending on where it is run. Those are things that people who are not here say.
-The best in the world have run, as always, although without Marc Márquez since the second race. How much has his absence weighed the championship?
-Of course it has affected. As affected in 1999 by missing Doohan from the third race. Doohan had been the dominator of the previous years and affected his absence, as it has now happened with Marquez’s, but everyone else has run as desperate.
-In reference to that, Mir has a very good phrase when he says that you have to remember that nobody has kidnapped Marc, that he has been injured trying an incredible comeback of which so many times he was victorious …
-It is true. And I say that Marc Márquez would not be Marc if he had not done what he did. It has made Márquez great to shoot at the top of everything. I always give an example of the 2010 Estoril race, when second place was going well for him and he wanted to win the race, and he won it. Marquez is like that, thank God. He tried what he tried and it helps us see that this has a risk, even for such a good guy for Márquez. And taking into account that, if in that crash the bike did not hit him in the arm, he could have continued racing during the year. This is a risky sport and Márquez, who is terrific, took some risks and that’s why he couldn’t run.
– Are you worried about your situation with a view to next year?
-I talk to him a lot and I think he is optimistic. I don’t want to poke around. For now, he tells me that he wants to take things easy and I believe him one hundred percent.
-From the outside, more information is missed and that generates at least uncertainty.
-I think they are doing well. They don’t have to give news. They have no obligation to anyone and are on their way.
-Do you think there has been medical negligence with him?
-I have no idea about that and in life I will give an explanation about it. I think the doctors who treat our pilots are all very good and will have made the decisions they have made. I don’t want to talk a word about it.
-Tell me about Mir. Does it surprise you that in just five years in the championship you are already two-time champion and with a MotoGP title?
-Something will have when it has been like that. The Moto3 World Championship he won was also spectacular. It is very good, it has been seen, and it is necessary to point a very important goal to Suzuki and Davide Brivio, who knew how to see him when he was not even winning in Moto2 yet. That is an issue to consider, because they knew how to see what Joan had inside. There were a lot of people who criticized that I got into MotoGP so soon, but I also know that I had more offers, so those who know about this knew that Joan Mir was special.
-By the way, what a circuit is Portimao. Why has it taken so long to get to the World Cup?
– The truth is that it is a circuit. They fixed it, because it had some asphalt problems, and we are going to do everything possible to keep it on the calendar.
-What grade do you give the 2020 World Cup given the circumstances that have complicated everything?
-I don’t usually do that, but this year I give everyone a 10. This World Cup deserves a 10. It has been an exceptional year and that note is the behavior of the circuits, the teams, the drivers … We have had a very low number of positives in COVID-19 compared to the number of tests we have done , which have been about 25,000 with around 30 positives. I have seen the concern on people’s faces these months about not catching it. It was true what Mir said about the fear that he was given to catch and lose the World Cup. I have seen people very aware and outside of here we have had some cases that we have isolated.
-How many possibilities are there that the 2021 calendar that they have published will be one hundred percent fulfilled?
-I believe that we will do at least 18 races in 2021 and they will be held on the scheduled dates, in order to offer a consolidated show from March to November. I don’t think next year will be like this, because the vaccine is on the way. I think it will start the same, but then it will improve if another catastrophe does not happen, which is something that cannot be ruled out in this rare situation. The World Cup next year will be much more normal than this.