For the sake of health, safety, and entertainment.
The Losail International Circuit in Doha, Qatar has played host to MotoGP preseason tests since March 6, 2021. The double-header test sessions wrapped up today and MotoGP riders will take to the track for the first two races of the year on March 28 and April 4, 2021. With five full weeks between initial setup and the end of the second race weekend, the MotoGP paddock will function as a temporary village for the beginning of the season.
To help curb the potential for COVID-19 contraction, Qatar officials are extending vaccines to the entire MotoGP paddock. The State Government of Qatar recently accelerated its COVID-19 vaccination program in 2021. As a result, the country is able to offer the racers, teams, and media personnel access to the vaccine. While members are able to accept the offer on an individual basis, the program should go a long way to ensuring health and safety not only at the Losail circuit, but during the rest of the worldwide MotoGP tour.
By vaccinating a large portion of the paddock, the race series should also enjoy a higher level of stability in 2021. During the 2020 season, fan-favorite and racing legend Valentino Rossi tested positive for COVID-19 and missed two races as a result. Tech 3 KTM rider Iker Lecuona was also infected later in the season and missed the penultimate round at Valencia (Spain). In the lower ranks, current MotoGP rookie and Moto2 title contender Jorge Martin missed both races at Misano (Italy).
COVID-19 not only delayed and shortened the 2020 MotoGP season but also impacted the race participants and final results. If Qatar officials can administer the vaccine to a majority of the paddock, MotoGP can rest assured that it will put the best product in front of viewers in 2021.