Phillips on: Experiments

COVID-19 forces new experiences

· 3 minutes read

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The 2020 FIM Motocross World Championship is in a state of flux – everyone is now waiting to proceed with normal life after the COVID-19 outbreak. Infront Moto Racing have had to take certain measures to combat the massive hole in the current schedule, which includes extending the term way into the winter and beyond the annual Motocross of Nations.

This was something that no one had foreseen, of course, and will be a new experience for all. Could this be a glimpse at what the future looks like though? Although running Grand Prix events through the months of October and November seems like a strange proposition – and one that will have traditionalists up in arms – it was discussed as recently as last year. Giuseppe Luongo said in December that he had pitched the idea of running races during the winter months, similarly to Formula 1 and MotoGP, and then making the MXoN earlier on in the season.

(Ray Archer)

Teams are typically against that idea and understandably so. There are many unknowns that go along with that scenario, not to mention the fact that the Motocross of Nations suddenly becomes a very unnecessary risk in the middle of a title fight worth millions to different parties. Those factors alone have made it rather difficult for Infront to experiment with this, even for a single season. The COVID-19 situation has left everyone with no other choice though and suddenly running the MXoN in the middle of the term, even if it is still sat on its traditional date, is the best option for all involved.

The only alternative to that would be running a fifteen-round series and simply asking the promoters in France, Argentina, Portugal, Spain and Italy to just wait until next season. Tough luck, folks! It is funny that running a series as short as that just seems ludicrous at this point, yet it happened as recently as 2011. Things move quite quickly in this sport. Anyway, back to the subject at hand. Running the MXoN when there are still five rounds to go is early enough where a lot of riders will not be willing to lay too much on the line – it will not be so late that making significant progress in the points is near impossible.

(Ray Archer)

It is actually going to be quite tricky to determine whether running the MXoN at that point is a success. There is no doubt that fans will still turn out in droves – that will never change – and it will be impossible to measure whether the European guys are phoning it in. It will be easy to write off a bad day by using that excuse, but there is no way to prove it. The only way that it could truly be deemed a failure is if guys like Jeffrey Herlings and Tim Gajser refuse to compete. There is no way to glaze over that. Would that happen? It is rather tricky to predict how fans would react – the backlash would either fall on riders or Infront.

This is the crux of the situation though. If this goes horribly wrong, which is extremely unlikely, there is not a single party that can be blamed. If someone points the finger at Infront Moto Racing, then the blame can immediately be put on the COVID-19 virus. This was not the original plan. Hands have been forced! This is truly the best way to experiment with a concept that has been batted around. If it works, then this schedule may suddenly become the norm. There is truly no telling what the future holds – do not be surprised if this is not an anomaly though. The coronavirus-adapted schedule could be a catalyst.

Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Ray Archer

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