Opinion: Why does MotoGP test where we race?

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One complaint that was issued more than any other this week during MotoGP’s three-day testing visit to Phillip Island was the weather. Now, with beautiful sunshine, no rain, and track temperatures approaching 50ºC, no one was complaining about said weather; but that’s kind of exactly the point.

Last time we visited the southern Australian circuit, it couldn’t have been more different. Possibly the coldest weekend of the entire season (cold enough to see a number of sessions cancelled on Friday), a huge crash rate, and a track for Sunday’s race that was a good 20ºC cooler than it was at any point during this week’s test.

So here’s my point; if conditions at the test were so different as to be of virtually no benefit in gathering data for when we come back here to race anyway, then why do we bother testing at tracks where we race?

And, with the MotoGP calendar already close to bursting (although set to gain potentially two or three new races in 2018, with Finland already signed up), maybe we’ve got the perfect opportunity to take the travelling circus to somewhere else, and help expand the sport’s fanbase?

One obvious example is the new Buriram track in Thailand, already home to a World Superbike round but desperate to see MotoGP arriving too. That might happen sooner than later, though if paddock rumour is to be believed; with the track set to join the calendar and with ongoing surface problems at Malaysia’s Sepang, we could be testing there anyway.

But there’s also a new track being built in Australia, at Adelaide’s Tailem Bend, that would be a perfect alternative to Phillip Island without taking anything away from the home of the Australian Grand Prix and its ten-year contract to host the race.

And instead of heading to Qatar a month before the first round of the season, maybe we’ve got an opportunity to further expand the sport into some of it’s developing markets – I hear that South America is nice at this time of the year, and Brazil is just putting the finishing touches to it’s new Circuito dos Cristais in Belo Horizonte.

Sure, it’s a radical idea, and sure there’ll be some opposition from riders and teams keen to gain any possible advantage that they can – but it would help expand the sport and, who knows, it might even make the first few rounds even more exciting!

Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer