Dorna boss Ezpeleta declares WorldSBK a ‘necessary’ series

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Carmelo Ezpeleta, Chief Executive Officer of Dorna Sports, is the man with both the blue riband MotoGP championship and WorldSBK under his control.

At the recent Jerez round he made a relatively rare visit to a WorldSBK event an gave his thoughts on how to continue both world championships despite all the problems, and what needs to be done in the future to keep it all going strong.

Q: Do we now know how and where we will finish the Superbike calendar, as there seem to still be question marks?

CE: We are still expecting to announce one more race but at the moment all the rest of the races we have communicated will happen, and the rest we will communicate in the next days. There are possibilities inside Europe and outside Europe but there are contracts that we need to respect and we cannot cancel the contracts alone. We will be the demand from the promoter or not and then it is our opportunity or not to join more races.

Q: Misano? Is that likely to happen in November?

CE: Still in discussion. Some of the races I am sure will be one more, maximum two, but we are still in discussion. We do not announce because we are not able to announce yet.

Q: Are you are already thinking about the calendar in 2021 if the situation remains like this. What can happen in your opinion?

CE: Of course we have started to think about 2021. We will do exactly the same that we did this year, that is contemplate different scenarios. The first scenario for 2021 for both Superbike and MotoGP is to be the normal scenario, to do the races as they are with the spectators and everything. And then talking with the different promoters, we will see how is the evolution of that. We hope that during the season in both Superbike and MotoGP they will have some places with some spectators, I hope, but we cannot confirm yet. But there is some evolution they give to us. The only thing is most probably we will announce the calendar a little bit later than normally. Normally in Superbike it has been the end of November, maybe we will do 15 days later, something like that. Of course at the moment we are working with all the promoters to see what the situation is in any country. One thing that is good is that we have shown that in Superbike and MotoGP, we have been able to maintain the paddock isolated. This is a good asset for us to go everywhere and the question of spectators or not is a question of the country. Our request is to keep the paddock isolated. If this is kept up we think it is a good opportunity to present ourselves and then we are working in this way.

Q: In the Spanish media they say that the situation linked to the virus in Barcelona and Catalunya is not good. What do you expect?

CE: We expect the same as before because we show the paddock of MotoGP or Superbike is enough to keep isolated and we have to maintain this protocol as strict as we can. The rest of the country is not under our control. The only thing is that we have are showing in front of all the authorities, we are able to go everywhere with safety and without contamination from our side. If there is any problem, like what happened in Formula One with Checo Perez, we have enough measures to continue working. This is our issue. The rest, we can say nothing.

Q: It cannot be easy to convince the circuit to race without spectators?

CE: It is not easy. Well, we do it many races this year in MotoGP; it depends on how you demand. It is not easy if you are not taking any fee from the circuit; it is less difficult than if you are taking any fee. One thing that is important is that I want to take the opportunity to explain here. Especially this year the season of Superbike is possible because we are joint company with the Italian subsidiary and the Spanish subsidiary, and MotoGP. Honestly, I doubt any other promoter without the connection with MotoGP would be able to make the season we are making. I do not need to say that but it is to convince the people who are still reluctant, looking at the old times, but this championship in Superbike is possible because Superbike is part of the Dorna group. If not… I tell you it would be very difficult.

Q: Aragon as a region was declared as a zone of high risk by the German government during the Jerez weekend. Do you envisage any problem getting foreign people to these races. Have you confirmed things with the local authorities?

CE: In this year nothing is confirmed until 15 days before the race. Then it is something we need to be accustomed to working in this way. In Aragon today, we continue with the programme of MotoGP and Superbike and we do not think it is a special problem. We are talking day-by-day with all the promoters. I repeat; the good thing of that is that we can arrive at every place isolated. With no contamination for the people. If we can continue showing that we can go everywhere.

Q: Aside from the Coronavirus problem, after some years of ownership of Superbike is Dorna happy about the development of WorldSBK, from when you took it over to now?

CE: Absolutely happy, yes. Superbike is necessary - to have a championship derived from the series bikes. It is very important. And we say always, as close with the series bikes is better for the championship, better for the teams, better for the riders. We are step-by-step going to have the final objective to have two separate championships with two separate philosophies. I think this is working very well and we are extremely happy with the two championships.

Q: Carmelo, thank you.

CE: No, no. Thank you.