With the original MotoGP calendar subject to constant amendment in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, the sport needs to balance salvaging some form of season with maintaining 'a credible number of races'.

20-rounds had been planned for this year, but around half that number is now seen as a best-case scenario.

Dorna is currently looking to start the championship in late July, remaining at European venues until November when the season will either end or head for any allowed overseas events.

"In the worst case, if it’s not possible to travel outside of Europe, we’ll at least keep a Championship of least 10 to 12 races between the end of July and the end of November," said Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta.

Ezpeleta also confirmed that MotoGP is considering having "two consecutive race weekends at the same circuit," which would mean only 5-6 tracks are needed for those 10-12 races.

However, under the current 'force majeure' circumstances, there is no minimum number of races required for a MotoGP World Championship. "Frankly, if we get the chance to restart the world championship, we will do it. It doesn't matter how many races," Ezpeleta told Speedweek.com.

Ezpeleta told BT Sport that while he is 'optimistic' the July/August start will materialise, MotoGP's fallback plan is then to begin in September, followed by "the most difficult" option of holding the entire championship "at the end of the year".

With mid-December seen as the cut-off date in order to avoid scheduling issues for 2021, might the last resort end-of-year scenario leave room for only a 'showdown'-style championship of around 6 races?

The personal opinion of Petronas Yamaha team principal Razlan Razali is that anything less than 10 races this season would call the credibility of the title into question.

"We stand guided by the decisions made by Dorna, FIM and IRTA and I think minimum 10 races is still a credible number of races given the current situation," Razali told Crash.net.

"But anything below that I think is not worth it. And for a rider to win a championship with less than 10 races, 5-6 races, I think what's the point?"

Nonetheless, the Sepang squad will adapt to whatever is decided.

"If Dorna, IRTA and FIM declare a reduced championship then we just have to accept it. It's still a championship, valid, legal and we will have to perform whether it's five, ten or whatever races."

Razali understands Dorna will be under immense pressure from all angles, not least many of the teams, to host even a handful of races this year in order to restart the flow of money into the sport.

"I can understand the financial impact, I think if even a quarter of the events are run, it helps the financial factor," he said. "But then you have to weigh between that and the credibility of the races, the championship and all that."

And the more races that are held, the better it will be for team finances.

"Everybody planned for 20 races and to some extent everything is paid based on 20 races. So the easiest calculation is to look at the per-race situation and try to squeeze in as many races as possible, including having multiple races at one circuit."

The current drought of money has prompted Dorna to provide special financial support to help tide the Independent teams over for April, May and June.

But Razali - who believes a cut-off date for cancelling the 2020 MotoGP season should also be discussed - admitted it's hard to make payments as usual when most sources of income have dried up and team members, for example, through no fault of their own, are unable to work.

"A racing team depends on funding. If there's no racing you won't get the sponsorship money and we are a team with 60 team members from 22 nationalities," he said.

"For 2020 even teams like us need to be very careful in our financials. It's not rosy, we're not immune to it. We are struggling and I think everyone is the same.

"To me, out of this whole episode, whether it's team members or riders, common-sense must prevail. You can't be in denial thinking 'no, I want the same as what was before'. It just doesn’t happen. Everybody is affected by this."

Don't expect normality in 2021

Razali backs cost-cutting measures such as the recent technical freeze across the three classes but feels the measure may need to remain in place beyond the current end-of-2021 deadline.

"I think that's a good move," he said of the technical freeze. "I wouldn't be surprised potentially if it goes all the way through 2022 because we'll still need to recover next year.

"We can't expect that 2021 will be the same as it was in 2019."

Could a short season be good for Quartararo?

Razali's star rider Fabio Quartararo famously made very few mistakes during his rookie MotoGP campaign, something that will be even more valuable over a short season.

The Frenchman also has a factory-spec bike for this year and was fastest on four of the six days of pre-season testing. But that seems a long time ago…

"Everybody has had such a long break. The last time they were on the bike was Qatar in February and most have not been on any form of motorbike since," Razali said.

"So we hope that at least in their respective countries, once the lockdowns are lifted, everyone can at least train on some kind of motorbike before they actually jump on the MotoGP bike.

"But they are professionals, talented, and I'm sure it's not going to be a problem.

"If it's a ten-race season, we'll take it and make sure our boys and the team perform well."

 

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