The timeline for restarting motorsport in Asia still remains unclear despite China having returned to “normality” according to Head of Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific Alex Gibot, who has described life in the country following the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
As has been the case with fellow motorsports executives with knowledge in the region, Gibot is expecting national series to restart first, followed by regional championships.
The Frenchman, who lives in Shanghai, returned to China after setting up a temporary base for himself and three other PMAP colleagues at Sepang following February’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour while the COVID-19 virus ravaged through China.
Gibot has recalled his tale of re-entering the country and going into self-isolation.
“As soon as I arrived at Shanghai airport, everything was well organized, even if it was three hours before we could leave the terminal,” he told Endurance-Info.
“We left the plane in small groups and there were several mandatory stops in the terminal.
“The first thing we had to do was complete a medical form before being checked by a doctor and you would go in different directions depending on the result.
“There were three queues on the way out: a green one to get you a taxi home; a yellow one which put people on a bus to a hotel to be put in quarantine; and a red one which took you straight to a hospital.
“Three days after coming back, I received a call to say someone on my flight had COVID-19.
“Personally, I didn’t have any symptoms but within 15 minutes someone arrived at my home, kitted with PPE, to give me a check-up. It’s all been perfectly organized.”
Gibot says conditions in China have drastically improved in the weeks since, with businesses reopening, including Porsche dealerships, although number of new measures are in place throughout the city.
“Normality has resumed for the past two or three weeks, even though wearing a mask has become mandatory when going out, but the shops have reopened,” he said. “During lockdown, I was able to keep active in my condominium.
“Porsche dealerships have reopened, which is positive for sales. March was still a good month and April seems to be similar.
“The only constraint is having to wear a mask outside and when you board public transport, you need to present a QR code.
“In the streets, the usual traffic has come back but gatherings still cannot be organized.
“Porsche is locally launching the Taycan soon, normally this would have been in front of 500-1,000 people but now it will be streamed.”
As far as a return to racing, Gibot said several options are being explored although stressed the challenges of holding events in multiple countries.
“Travel is still a bit limited,”he said. “Since the end of March, a foreigner cannot enter China without authorization.
“So as a Frenchman, I can leave but I wouldn’t be able to come back.”
He explained the biggest barrier will likely be country-specific regulations that could prohibit travel for particular drivers or teams.
“We are both a manufacturer and a series organizer [envisage racing returning soon], but the situation for championships remains unclear,” Gibot said. “We’re working on several plans.
“Hopefully we can get Porsche Carrera Cup Asia started in Sepang in July, but we’re all in the same boat with the level of uncertainty.
“An additional headache we have to navigate is different countries having different rules and in Carrera Cup Asia we have drivers from 10-12 different countries.
“Hosting a national event will be much easier so we’re planning the next two Porsche Sports Cup China events but we are organizing something around an unpredictable time.”
The first race event in China since the COVID-19 pandemic took place last weekend with a round of the Honda Cup single-make series at Ningbo Speedpark.
Laurent Mercier contributed to this report