The drizzle had stopped by the time the intermediate class took centre stage but the wet surface still gave us quite a few adventures in the gravel trap and a handful of noteworthy saves. One man who seemed to thrive in the conditions was Kasma Daniel, who put his name at the top of the timesheets on his final flying lap. The Malaysian rider demoted Hector Garzo to second position, a quarter of a second behind the leader but only three thousandths of a second ahead of Lorenzo Baldassarri.
Le Mans, France
Wet weather tyres finally got some proper airtime in a soaked Le Mans and the conditions seemed to even out the field even more, with the lead changing hands on every other lap but unlike their lightweight class colleagues, there was no action whatsoever in the gravel trap. The timesheets were an unusual sight at the end of FP1, with Bradley Smith snatching the lead at the checkered flag, a tenth of a second faster than the Ducati invasion led by Johann Zarco. Another of the late leaders, Danilo Petrucci occupied third spot, ahead of colleagues Jack Miller and Andrea Dovizioso.
A cool rainy Le Mans made for a gloomy welcome to France for the lightweight class and the result was a handful of early crashes, with turn 3 getting most of the action. As rain paused and riders settled with the conditions halfway through proceedings, the action moved from the gravel trap to the timing screens, although the final few minutes brought back the rain and inevitably the tumbles. Throughout all those shenanigans, there was one man constantly in control of the timesheets, Andrea Migno posting the only 1:54 time of the morning after leading FP1 intermittently.
And so we enter the final stretch of the 2020 MotoGP season – and the fact that six Yamaha engineers are stuck in Andorra due to one of them contracting Covid-19 is a reminder that the end of the 2020 season might come sooner than expected. MotoGP heads to Le Mans, for the French Grand Prix, not in May, when the series usually heads there. That means cooler temperatures, not just in terms of air temperatures, but in solar intensity as well. Le Mans in early October gets 4 hours less sunshine than in mid May, and with the sun much lower in the sky, it doesn't heat the asphalt as much even when it is hidden by curtains of cloud, or drenched in rain.
But Le Mans has some saving graces. Firstly, the weather in October is pretty much as you might expect, something which proved problematic in Barcelona, where temperatures were about 10°C colder than expected. That means that the selection of compounds Michelin has brought to Le Mans are much more capable of dealing with the conditions likely to prevail. That, in turn, should mean that teams and riders have a wider choice of tires during the weekend, and aren't just stuck with the softest compounds available.
One unnamed Yamaha engineer has tested positive for Covid-19 in the period between Barcelona and Le Mans, and as a result of MotoGP's bubble structure, the group of six engineers, including M1 project leader Takahiro Sumi, have been quarantined in Andorra and are to miss the French Grand Prix at Le Mans. Yamaha is flying in additional engineers to assist with their roles while the six are absent.
The group was staying in Andorra between races, traveling as a group. Because they were in a group, all six have been forced to miss Le Mans while further tests are being carried out, and while Yamaha decide what to do for Aragon. The infected engineer is not currently showing symptoms, fortunately, and is able to continue working, as are the other members of the group. But they are being forced to work remotely, as opposed to being actually at the track.
The MotoGP schedule is already packed, the riders coming off a free weekend after completing one triple-header before embarking on the next, at Le Mans and Aragon twice. But about half the MotoGP grid has an appointment on the Algarve before they start a weekend of racing at Le Mans. On Wednesday and Thursday, thirteen full-time riders and seven test riders will take to the track at Portimao for a combined MotoGP test and track familiarization session.
The test serves several purposes: for the manufacturers to gather information about the track, and find a base setup and gearing to serve as a starting point for when MotoGP returns for the final round of the 2020 season; for Michelin, to get an idea of the kinds of tires needed at the circuit; and for the riders to assess the circuit in terms of safety and to understand the layout. The test riders will be riding MotoGP machines, while the contracted riders will be using production bikes to get to know the track.
The current 2020 MotoGP calendar is as follows:
After today's announcement of a MotoGP calendar for the remainder of 2020, Dorna and the FIM today also announced a schedule for the MotoE World Cup. The electric bike racing series, which sees a grid full of riders on Energica Ego Corsa machines competing at MotoGP rounds, will compete in seven races at three of the scheduled MotoGP rounds.
The MotoE series kicks off alongside the rest of the MotoGP paddock at Jerez, with races on the Sunday of the first two rounds of the season. They rejoin MotoGP at Misano in September, with one race at the first round in Misano, and two races, on the Saturday and Sunday of the second round. MotoE finishes at Le Mans, with another two races, one on Saturday, one on Sunday.
As with the MotoGP calendar, this schedule is provisional, and dependent on national and local governments allowing events to go ahead.
The calendar appears below:
There is a plan for the 2020 MotoGP season. With the COVID-19 outbreak receding all across Europe, Dorna have been given a second chance at setting a calendar for the 2020 MotoGP season.The newly published calendar will see 13 races held at circuits in Europe in the first instance, with the possibility of four overseas races being tacked on at the end of the year, if conditions permit. The calendar is explictly still provisional, subject to local rules and regulations concerning the COVID-19 pandemic.
The races will be held at 8 different circuits in 6 countries, with a number of circuits hosting races on two consecutive weekends, to maximize the number of rounds held, and minimize logistical complications. The races planned in Europe will all be held behind closed doors, with no fans or media present, and a very restricted number of paddock staff present.
When the COVID-19 pandemic first forced Dorna to start moving races, they postponed them to later in the year. First Thailand, then Austin, and finally Argentina were moved to new slots in October and November. But when it became clear that Jerez and Le Mans could not take place on their planned dates, those races were postponed indefinitely, with no new date given for when they might be held.
Now, the first signs of races being canceled are appearing. Today, the promoter of the French Grand Prix announced that they hope to make a decision on the fate of the Le Mans race by May 15th, the date that would have been the first day of practice for the French Grand Prix had it not been postponed.