In Argentina, we have over two thousand karting drivers, and each state has its own championship. So far everything is stopped, the whole country is standing, and of course karting too. It is not known how long the economy will stop and the social quarantine… – tells Polish Karting Jose Bravo, the CEO of the Argentine karting service Curva1Kart.
What is the situation in Argentina? What are the series and how many kart drivers are there? How do Argentines cope with quarantine and coronavirus outbreaks? You’ll find answers to these questions in an interview with Jose Bravo, a journalist at the Argentine Curva1Kart website. Jose answers Paweł Surynowicz’s questions.
Tell us all about the current situation in Argentina. What do people say, how do they behave?
In Argentina we are complying with the third stage of quarantine by COVID-19 or known as coronavirus. Here the government called it „Preventive and Mandatory Social Isolation” and it applies to everyone, except some items such as health workers, the media and essential jobs. People reacted well at first, but it was difficult because it is a very big social change. There were quite a few fines for those who did not comply. We have been in quarantine since March 20 and will continue, but with more flexibilities. Currently there are about 4500 infected, more than 1400 recovered and 262 dead. They hope that the peak of infection will be in May or June, so we are still in quarantine, but now it has become flexible in different places.
In my province, Mendoza, the government authorized 1 week ago to open to all businesses in general, with mandatory health measures, social distancing, and the use of mouth caps or chinstrap. Whoever does not use it receives a fine. This measure is fully complied with by the population. They were also enabled to go for a walk or run, for distraction. The most affected items are gastronomy (restaurants, bars, etc.), sports, tourism and entertainment (cinemas, theaters, discos) that do not have an opening date. Some rumors say that they will only be enabled next year. National borders are closed and also between provinces, only freight transport and some authorized people circulate. Commercial flights were suspended until September 1, and long-distance buses are also suspended. The government has given subsidies to retirees and also financial aid to lower-ranking families and informal workers, who are not in the system.
What is the situation of the sport of karting in Argentina?
Here everything is stopped, there are no sports. When the first 30 or 40 cases of coronavirus arrived, I don’t remember correctly, the restrictions began. First, it was not possible to hold an event with more than 200 people and then each federation decided to suspend its activities until March 31. With the extension of the quarantine, the federations also extended the suspension of the sport indefinitely. In Argentina, even in all of South America, there are no sports, nor can you carry out tests or training. It is a rare situation that has never happened before, affecting all motor sport workers, which are many, since motor racing in Argentina is the second most popular sport in the country. Some expect the activity to start in June or July, although others are more pessimistic who believe that it will only be in August and September, something that would be very difficult because for mechanics, teams, journalists, photographers, being out of work for 4 months is quite complicated.
What is the structure of karting in South America? What are the series, what categories? How many players are there?
In South America there are karting championships in all countries, although the strongest are Brazil and Argentina. Argentina is a very large country and only in Buenos Aires (capital of the country) there are about 10 karting championships and each province has at least one contest. There is only 1 national championship and this year it will be 1 date at the end of November. The most competitive and professional championships are held in Buenos Aires, most with known 2-stroke engines and chassis (Tony Kart, Prague, CRG and others), but many also use “Argentine” chassis that are manufactured in the more than 10 factories that there is here. In provincial or less competitive championships, 4-stroke engines with gears of Chinese origin are used. They are low cost and maintenance. In Argentina, karting on dirt tracks is also very, very strong. They are run with nationally manufactured chassis (there are more than 15 factories), generally with 4-stroke engines and patterned tires (similar to those used for rain). How many pilot are there? I do not know an exact figure, but I think that in the provinces with more activity I estimate that there are more than 400 pilots and throughout the country I imagine that there will be close to 2000 pilots among those who carry out their most amateur and professional activities.
What do you think will be able to play and finish this season?
It seems to me that the coronavirus situation will significantly affect karting championships around the world. We all want karting to start now, but we must be aware that health comes first because without good health you cannot play sports. I think that many championships will be transformed into tournaments, that is, they will have fewer dates to finish a year different from all. Likewise, it will also depend on the situation in each country regarding the pandemic. Here are categories that have presented work protocols regarding the coronavirus, to carry out their events when they are authorized by the government, but there is still no specific date.
What will the world look like when everything finish? Will it be the same?
The big unknown will be how our social life will be when this ends. When we all meet again on the track, how will we greet each other? Will there be hugs on the podium? How will we conduct an interview? Social distancing is somewhat complex. I think that people will quickly return to adopting the usual customs, greeting each other with a kiss, a hug, shaking hands, but the truth is that we have to wait for that to arrive to know how we will really react.
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