Where did everybody go?

The strange case of MotoGP, Qatar and the virus that won’t be stopped. What’s next for motorcycle racing?

As an adult, it’s hard, it’s really hard, to find joy as you did as a child. Little things like a Slinky don’t thrill you as it once did. But when you do find that nugget of life that adds zest to your waking days, well… Hell. You jump on it like a winning lottery ticket in a trailer park. The best part is the planning – “What kind of food do I get?” “What time should I get there?” You literally feel the endorphins jumping around in your body like a three-year-old in a bouncy house! You’re finally excited about something. But when that event gets canceled as in, “We interrupt this program to bring you this special report…” Or the lame, “Due to circumstances beyond our control…” Its literally like someone taking a slice of pizza away from you before you take the first bite! Savage!

Well, that’s exactly how I, and I’m sure the rest of the MotoGP world, felt when Dorna handed down the news that the Premier Class would be canceled. It felt as though my heart was literally breaking!

But in the wake of this pandemic, it is better to err on the side of caution.
So as not to bore you with everything you already know, here’s what’s factual, as of press time.

First of all, the situation keeps changing literally hour by hour and it seems everyone is a doctor. “More people die from the flu than this.” “It’s political, man!” And whatever nonsense your average Joe keeps saying to any jackass that will listen.

To put in perspective how this has blown up. Sunday before the opening round in Qatar, I was happily tweeting to friends how happy I was to be going to see the opening round of maybe the greatest season, yet, in MotoGP! I was stoked!

Then came the news that the premier class was going to cancel because of the restrictions Qatar placed on visitors from Japan and Italy. I was devastated. But I understood, a little.

Then, more bad news, The Thai GP was going to be canceled as well. This was before one wheel was turned in anger at Qatar, ahead of the Moto2 and Moto3 races.

A reprieve of sorts was given as it was announced that the Austin, Texas round at the Circuit of the Americas was to be the opening round for the premier class.

“Great!” I thought. Joe Roberts was kicking ass in Qatar, it would be a madhouse for him to be at his home race. But just as I settled into how lit the after-party in Austin would be, news came that Austin was canceled.

Well, since the two-wheeled circus was in South America two weeks after Austin, Argentina looked to be the opening round. Well, guess what? As of the writing of this piece, Argentina has since said “no mas!” Actually, they said, “Come back in November and bring snow tyres!”

This, all in a week! What a week! The MotoGP 2020 calendar has changed its schedule more in a week than a woman changes her mind on what to wear out on a Saturday night!

As of now, May 3 will be the opening round, at Jerez. But its Wednesday night as I write this and who knows what might happen by Thursday afternoon. If the schedule stays true to what it says at press time, the last round of the season at Valencia will take place on November 29, which could count as an early Christmas present for some.

But the reality is that 8 out of 9 weeks will be flyaway races! The irony to all this is that with all that traveling riders and teams will be doing, they open themselves up to getting sick. With all that travel, immune systems break down because of the fatigue placed on the body which makes everyone involved in the series more susceptible to getting sick. And then we’re back to square one!

But the show must go on! Why? Because MotoGP is contracted to TV for a certain number of races and damn it if a lil’ ole thing like a pandemic is gonna stop the moto-circus!

How do the riders feel about all this? Surprisingly and I’m sure wisely, riders have been extremely quiet on the matter. But what can they do? 80% of athletes just want to do… what they do. Most aren’t political or have something controversial to say, they just want to… do what they do! A Colin Kaepernick they are not.

But as I’ve stated before, the situation is constantly changing and not for the good. All of Italy has been in quarantine. Flights have been suspended from Spain to Italy and vice versa. The NBA has suspended its season as of press time because a player has tested positive for the virus. College basketball games are being played in but barred from the public. and there’s talk that racing will follow suit.

While Dorna President Carmelo Ezpeleta has stated, MotoGP wants to complete its season, we all have to realize something. No one really knows anything at this point.

Dorna President, Carmelo Ezpeleta.

Every time I go to type something, another story about this virus breaks.
It’s frustrating on my end as well. I want to tell you what a rider needs to do to dethrone King Marquez but instead, I’m playing WebMD.

I will say this, props to Europe for taking this virus seriously and doing what it takes to try and stop it. Props to MotoGP for visibly shuffling about trying to decide the fate of the season, with respect to the fans!

I don’t know what to tell you GP Freaks. I’m more nervous and scared for humanity than for the start of our season.

This virus seems more serious than they are letting on. I hope I’m wrong. I hope I’m wrong and I hope my next article is about how that next race just might have been the best race I’ve ever seen. But sadly, I think not.
Let’s root for humanity first and the lives of those affected, then let’s focus on the season!

Stay healthy and safe GP Freaks!

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