Calendar reshuffle on the way?
In Argentina Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta discussed the potential for new rounds to be added to the MotoGP calendar. Austria is contracted to return to the GP fold for the first time since 1997 with the Red Bull Ring playing host and for the first time Ezpeleta broached the subject of a maximum number of races.
The Spaniard confirmed that the manufacturers and Dorna have agreed that there will be a maximum number of 20 races on the MotoGP calendar in future. With 18 races on this year's schedule the Austrian race will raise that number to 19 leaving the potential for one new venue to be added in future. With Thailand having hosted a highly successful WSBK round this year it is very likely that this will be added in the near future.
"We agree the maximum number of races from 2017 will be no more than 20," said Ezpeleta. "We have many existing agreements until 2016 then after that we will know. For sure next year Austria will enter the championship and if nobody changes this will give us 19 races and in 2017 we may have the option to add a new Grand Prix.
"In South East Asia we have been to Thailand with WSBK and it was very successful and there is a proposal for a race there. At the moment we have no other circuits in South America, the Brazilian deal was very difficult to secure and we don't have a proposal there anymore. It will be difficult to have a race there but we are open to a proposal from Brazil but we have to have a safe circuit."
Given the difficulties of the previous attempts to return to Brazil it's highly unlikely that we will see a return to the largest economic market in South America. One option that has consistently been rumoured over the last few years has been an expansion of the calendar in the Middle East with Bahrain and Abu Dhabi having been touted as potential races.
At the season opening Qatar Grand Prix however Ezpeleta confirmed that any plans to add races in the region would be dependant on Qatar's agreement.
“Qatar is our organiser for MotoGP and WSBK. Anything we do in the Middle East will be in agreement with Qatar. If we have an approach from other countries in the Middle East it is something we will discuss with Qatar.”