Almost 250 days since MotoGP™ last turned a wheel in competition, the 2020 FIM World Championship season will finally begin this weekend at the Circuito de Jerez–Angel Nieto. Riders and management representing Red Bull KTM give their thoughts ahead of the very first Grand Prix ‘double-header’ in Spain.
The Gran Premio Red Bull de España and the Gran Premio Red Bull de Andalucía are the first of thirteen rounds confirmed on the delayed 2020 schedule and the behind-closed-doors events are likely to take place in fiercely hot conditions in southern Spain. Nearly 150 days will have passed from the last outing for MotoGP around the Losail International Circuit in Qatar at the IRTA test in March and the first rush of Free Practice 1 this coming Friday; almost double the time riders and teams had away from the track during the off-season.
Temperatures are bound to be significantly higher compared to the usual May date for the fixture. Both Red Bull KTM Factory Racing and Red Bull KTM Tech3 will focus on quickly getting up to speed and the KTM RC16s ready for the demanding climate. An official testing day will open proceedings on Wednesday. Jerez will stage the second round of the Moto2™ and Moto3™ categories.
For the first time since 2006 the premier class of Grand Prix racing will begin on European soil: fourteen years ago MotoGP also fired into life around the mix of corners at the 4.4km Spanish circuit.
Pol Espargaro: “I think for all the Spanish riders it is important – and nice – to start racing at Jerez, even if the stands will be empty. It will be strange and even painful to see because emotions at Jerez are usually so big. Anyway, I think Dorna have done an amazing job to get this organized so soon after the COVID-19 confinement and we are all looking forward to starting. It is going to be a tricky year and very different to past seasons but we are all excited to feel that racing spirit and the nerves on the racetrack again.”
Brad Binder: “I'm really happy to be back to racing. It'll be challenging with the protocol and how we approach the whole weekend but at the same time I’m super-excited to get started. Two races back-to-back is like a blessing and a curse at the same time. It’s cool to have that second chance to go back and redo the Grand Prix and find a feeling you might have from FP1 but it is also nice sometimes to reset on a Monday after the race and think ahead to another [different] challenge. However, this will be good for me – the chance to have extra time.”
Miguel Oliveira: “I’m happy and obviously excited to be racing again. Jerez has always been a special Grand Prix for me because it’s the one closest to home. It will be extra special this time because we can finally start the season. I’m glad, happy and excited to see the guys in the box again. It will be different without the fans in the grandstands - and with a lot of restrictions - but we hope for the best racing-wise and will give the maximum as always.”
Iker Lecuona: “I’m really happy to start the season finally. The situation has been so different for everybody compared to a normal racing year. At last, it’s good to begin my first championship in the premier class with a good team and a good bike. I’m ready!”
Pit Beirer, KTM Motorsports Director: “We’re really excited that we can finally get back to the racetrack; it was even emotional to watch our trucks heading out of the motorsport headquarters to make their way to Spain and we’re looking forward to following them. We have to thank Dorna and everybody who worked to make this first Grand Prix possible. There was a huge effort behind it and now there is a lot of excitement to begin. We cannot wait for Jerez now, especially because we have four brand new bikes which we haven’t race yet and we have four healthy and hungry riders. I hope they can have a great first race and then for the rest of the calendar that follows.”
Mike Leitner, Red Bull KTM Race Manager: “It will be a special season this year and a very different way to start with two back-to-back races at the same track. It won’t be a disadvantage for the rookies because they will have more time to learn and potentially perform even better at the second attempt. It is important that the riders stay healthy in the short calendar we have. I think we have done the maximum we could with tests in Red Bull Ring and Misano. The riders are motivated, so we’ll go to Jerez and see what the outcome is.”