Tim Mathys offers his thoughts on the sport during the COVID-19 pandemic

Due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic there’s a lot of uncertainly in life at the moment and not just in the Motocross world. If Motocross does resume this year, it looks as though the Motocross Des Nations will run during the MXGP season, something Infront won’t have a lot of choice in this year, however, the organisers have stated they might implement it (the MXoN taking place during the MXGP season) in the future. Standing Construct Factory GasGas team manager, Tim Mathys was kind enough to give us his thoughts on the matter.

“As a team for us it wouldn’t be a problem having the MXoN in between GP’s. In fact we do the same job at an MXoN like at a GP so, if our riders can ride a 450, it doesn’t change a lot. However, if one of them has to ride a 250 then it is a different situation.  That being said, personally I don’t think it is a good idea to have the MXoN in between the GP’s. It would take away a lot of the charm and image of this big race which has to be “the grand finale” of the MX season like we know it for years and years. There is also the question what the USA guys will do as they possibly will be finishing their SX season or having started their outdoor season at that time. And let’s be honest, an MXoN without an American A-team just isn’t an MXoN”, Mathys told GateDrop.com. 

Mathys also believes that the best option now is to wait to hear from all the country governments before making any decision about the future as things are very likely to change in the future. In a statement from Infront yesterday, it does sound like this is what they’re going to do.

“I think that we all have to be realistic and we must be brave enough to accept that things won’t be so easy as some people are pretending now. First of all we simply don’t know how things will evaluate in all the different countries we normally will race. I think that what is happening at the moment is quite bizarre: changing the calendar within a few hours every time a country has given a press conference with the provisions in force “at that time”. We visit approximately 15 countries and all these countries for sure will change their approach several times in the coming weeks. If we continue changing every time the calendar when a new plan is made public by one or another country then we will have had 30 different calendars in 2020 which doesn’t make sense. I think a better approach would be like what other sports are doing, waiting until there is a more general clear view and then take, in consultation with all parties, a decision about the remainder of the season and how to plan it. Especially the collective consultation, that is important”, added Mathys.

This article continues below

It’s very unfortunate that this has happened but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, sponsors could be a major problem in the future for some teams. Whilst Mathys acknowledges he’s in a good situation with Standing Construct, he’s fully aware it will be incredibly tough for some other teams currently in the paddock. Will current sponsors be able to stay on-board for 2021 and beyond? Getting in new sponsors for a start of a new season will also be difficult.

“I would like to point you to the fact that there is an economical massacre going on, also in the Motorsport business. Many factories related to mx are closed and are in a very bad situation. As a consequence of that they can’t pay the teams the agreed budgets for this season and the question remains if they will be able to sponsor the teams in 2021 and beyond at all. Also, sponsors outside of the sport are having big financial troubles. Luckily we have with Standing Construct a major sponsor who can still work and who will be able to survive this crisis and even respect all made agreements. But unfortunately that is not the case with many other companies which are forced to close. If these companies are in financial troubles and have to fire a lot of employees they just can’t afford financially but also morally to put some money in sport. Besides this economical crisis they are having now there is also the big question if the consumers will return quickly and if they will start buying bikes and mx stuff again soon”.

Looking at the 2020 MXGP season, Mathys doesn’t believe that racing 18 rounds of the series in five months will be good for the sport – perhaps if we can get back to racing, if the calendar was cut down, that would be the best way moving forward. Whilst having 20 rounds of MXGP is great for fans and media coverage, due to what’s currently happening, it would be totally understandable to reduce the number of rounds in 2020.

“These are just realistic facts we have to keep in mind and take with us when discussing a possible 2020 revised schedule. In many other major sports there is an open communication about this problematic situation. Many of them have already accorded measures to save some costs and budget if the competition restarts or even already for next year. Most of the governing bodies in these different sports also have accorded some support to the teams. We have to be realistic and understand that the promoter in mx doesn’t have the same possibilities as other motorised sports do. But sending the teams on a period of 5 months to 18 races all around the World, most of them without any free weekend in between causing some huge extra logistical costs will not help in surviving the sport. The promoter has done a lot of good things in the past and has most of the time taken wise decisions. I hope they will do the same this time, in favour of the sport we all love so much”, concluded Mathys. 

As always some interesting thoughts from someone in the paddock and it’s going to be interesting what the future holds but for now, we are just going to have to wait and see. One thing for sure is that Infront have a very difficult job on their hands, we can all appreciate that.

Article: Andy McKinstry

Pic: Massimo Zanzani