With each COVID-19 wave, MotoGP organizers have adapted schedules and protocols to meet local government guidelines. For that reason, the championship has only hosted three races (two in Qatar and one in the U.S.) outside of Europe over the past two seasons. Despite MotoGP’s ambitious 2021 calendar, organizing body Dorna axed six rounds due to spiking coronavirus cases.
Even before the season got underway, the race series canceled its annual test at Malaysia’s Sepang Circuit due to a 14-day shutdown in the country. With the Omicron variant spreading rapidly, Dorna is hoping to avoid the same fate this year by imposing strict COVID-19 policies throughout the Shakedown test on January 31-February 2, 2022, and the official MotoGP class test on February 5-6, 2022.
“All the experts have received an email with the instructions to follow for Sepang, these are very strict rules that will allow the tests to be carried out with the lowest possible risk,” revealed MotoGP rider manager Carlo Pernat. “The hotels have been established and communicated, as well as the transfers from the structures to the circuit will be managed directly by the organization and there will be no possibility of getting out of the bubble. It seems to be back to 2020, but right now it is necessary to do so.”
All MotoGP personnel will lodge at either the Sama-Sama Hotel or the Movenpick Hotel. Upon arrival, every team member will undergo a PCR test. From there, Sepang test attendees will need to self-isolate in their hotel rooms until the test results arrive 12-24 hours later. MotoGP will only allow travel to and from the circuit, creating a virtual bubble for all participants.
The health checks don’t end at the track though. In order to enter the Sepang paddock, members will need to provide proof of double vaccination and a negative test within the past 48 hours. As expected, Dorna will implement the same protocols for the tests at Indonesia’s Mandalika Street Circuit on February 11-13, 2022. Hopefully, the series can preserve its calendar with these COVID-19 measures, especially with the 2022 calendar featuring the most races (21) in MotoGP history.