In any ordinary year, the MotoGP season would be four races old – but these aren’t ordinary times.
As the early days of April amble away, we are yet to see a wheel turn in anger and it’s anyone’s guess when we will.
To date, six races have been rescheduled or postponed.
The world championship is in a world of hurt.
70 per cent of MotoGP riders are either Italian or Spanish – that figure swells if you include crew – but these age old rivals are now joined in a battle not against each other but against an enemy they cannot see, let alone control.
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Better days are ahead, apparently, and when the sun comes out again, so will the bikes.
But it will be different and the riders will need to be ready.
“Even just taking three or four months away in the off-season and coming back to testing, your first laps out of the pit box you go ‘Jesus these things are fast!’” expert Fox Sports commentator and race winner Chris Vermeulen explains.
“It pushes your heart and lungs to the back of your spine and your mind’s not really keeping up with how quick it accelerates and that’s when we were able to ride dirt bikes at home in the break, most of these guys aren’t allowed on anything at the moment, they’re stuck indoors.
“Sure they’re going to be training and cycling and not putting on weight but to get their mind and body physically ready… it could be interesting the first round back, put it that way.”
Then there’s pressure caused by factors other than the physical ones.
A shorter season means less room for mistakes. One crash, and there goes the championship.
And how many races does it take to crown a champion anyway?
Motorcycling governing body the FIM’s regulations stipulate 13 – unlucky for some.
Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta has conceded the number in 2020 may need to be less.
Vermeulen says just one race would suffice if you were the winner but adds more seriously: “Four or five rounds wouldn’t feel like enough to quantify a world champion, maybe seven, eight or nine and you’d start to see a pattern.”
The former factory Suzuki rider also has concerns for the financial implications.
“Motorcycle racing, more so than other motorsport, is funded within the industry itself, the biggest income is manufacturer backing,” Vermeulen explains.
“Right now who is buying a motorbike and who is selling any motorbikes? Where is the money coming from for the manufacturers?
“Then there’s the private teams, how does this affect sponsors and the rider market?
“The majority of private teams and Moto2 and Moto3 teams are sponsored by Italian and Spanish brands.”
Acknowledging the same concerns, Dorna have now guaranteed the ‘economic well-being’ of independent teams by issuing ‘considerable advance payments’ for April, May and June.
While the financial considerations could be unnerving for off-contract Aussies Jack Miller and Remy Gardner, Vermeulen says it could work to the younger rider’s advantage: “If the teams don’t have much money they could go and get riders out of Moto2, guys that aren’t going to cost them much, they could be a lot cheaper than trying to keep some of the big-name MotoGP riders.”
Vermeulen, a self-confessed Scrooge, says riders and engineers should expect to take a pay cut as teams assess how many staff they need to go racing.
He also says a freeze on development could assist to lower costs including running the 2020 bikes again in 2021.
“It wouldn’t change the spectacle would it?”
And he’s right.
For now though, there are more questions than answers as MotoGP, and the world, aims to get back on track.