“These days I have felt like an older man. I have dedicated myself to housework, feeding the cat and fixing some things that I had pending at home “, said Franco Morbidelli (Yamaha Petronas), winner of the last race, to unleash laughter in the press room practically empty of the Cheste circuit, which will host the European GP this weekend and where the Valencia GP will be held next week, the penultimate on the calendar before the appointment in Portimao (Portigal). “I have spent ten days in confinement, I have only gone out to go to the gym, and it is private,” began the Italian, a member of the Valentino Rossi’s pilot academy, who continues to test positive for coronavirus.
His – also that of Iker Lecuona, quarantined after his brother gave positive – is the example that makes everyone’s hair stand on end. The end of the season is approaching and this already complicated World Cup – only 25 points separate the first and fourth classified: Mir and Morbidelli – joins the panic of being struck down from the list of aspiring world champions because of the covid.
“We have become a bit more strict at home,” said Joan Mir (Suzuki), the leader. By the time he returned to Andorra after the two races at the Alcañiz circuit, his partner, Alejandra, had already had a PCR test. Just in case. Since then, the Mallorcan has not left his home, in Andorra, other than to train. By bike and motorbike. But alone, he points out: “We have not had contact with anyone. We haven’t gone out to dinner for a day. And we have made the purchase on-line”. “It has been a very stressful situation,” he adds.
He is not sure what he will do after this first race in Valencia. The World Cup Teams Association has recommended to pilots not to abandon the bubble, that coronavirus-free space that they try to be the paddock of MotoGP. Security has been tightened for these last three weeks of racing. All the members of the paddock they will have to stay confined in their hotels until the second grand prize ends, on Sunday 15th, and not go out except to go to the circuit. The pilots can hardly choose to go home. “Staying here locked in the motorhome for those four extra days can be very hard,” Mir concedes. Among his colleagues there is a diversity of opinions. Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha Petronas), for example, will return to Andorra by car. “It is the safest means.” Rins (Suzuki), on the other hand, will stay in Cheste, within the circuit, for the remaining ten days until next Sunday. “My girlfriend, Alexandra, has come with me, and here we will be confined.”
The one from Barcelona affirms that he has not changed his routines too much, already marked by prudence. “I have done the same as the previous week. In the end, you have that need to leave the house, go to a restaurant, go for a walk in the mountains or go out with the dogs ”. What he has done, as an added precautionary measure, is to carry out an extra PCR, last week, in addition to the two required by the promoters of the World Cup two days before traveling.
There were no symptoms, but the head was stronger. “It is complicated because even if you take precautions there is always a risk. There was a great prize in which I was fatal. I got a good bang. And, the truth, paranoia takes over your head. That night I couldn’t sleep waiting for the result of the PCR ”, he confessed.
Pol Espargaró will also stay in Valencia: “The team does it, so it’s a minimal effort for us drivers, which I think we have to do.”