Phillip Island date change debate drags on

Published: 14 January 2011

Plans to switch the Australian MotoGP race to a much earlier date on the world championship schedule in 2012 are still under discussion.

Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta and a host of top riders including Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo are demanding the Phillip Island race move to a slot at the beginning of the season from its current October date.

Ezpeleta is so anxious to get the date changed that he has threatened to remove Phillip Island from the calendar unless organisers agree to stage the race six months earlier in 2012, as was first reported by MCN on December 14.

There are fears that cold and wet conditions at the traditional October date make it too dangerous and Ezpeleta has warned that the circuit will not be homologated in the future if it does not move to a March date on the schedule.

Discussions with officials from the Australian Grand Prix Corporation are on-going and Ezpeleta held further talks earlier this week.

One issue for the AGPC is that it also stages the Australian Formula Grand Prix in Melbourne in late March and is reluctant to have to organise its two major events so close together.

And recently Australian officials were claiming it is written in its contract with Dorna that it can host the Phillip Island clash in September or October until 2016.

When asked by MCN during an impromptu media debrief at Ducati’s 2011 MotoGP squad launch in Italy earlier this week, Ezpeleta said: “We are still talking and only yesterday (Tuesday) the Australian Grand Prix Corporation contacted us. They are looking at different possibilities.

"In any case, any contract is subject to the homologation of the circuit and this can depend on the climatic conditions. The Brno circuit might be homologated but right now you could not race on it because of the snow.

"Our position has not changed at all. We want the race moving to earlier in the year for 2012 and the Corporation is aware of our position.”