MotoGP: What will the calendar look like in the future?
More successful than it’s ever been with rising viewing figures and profits through the roof, there’s more and more countries and circuits clamouring to be a part of the MotoGP circus than ever before. And, with each track potentially bringing as much as £5 million to the table in order to be able to host a round, series organisers Dorna are keen to push the calendar from its current 19 races to potentially as many as 22 in the future.
But with a swing towards developing markets as attendance at traditional European races continues to fall, there could be some set to lose their spot on the calendar in the coming years too… With that in mind, we look at where MotoGP is likely to be heading in the future.
Indonesia: joining MotoGP in 2021
One of the confirmed new additions to the calendar, MotoGP will finally head to Indonesia in 2021 after a number of false starts. Set to run on a street circuit in the new development of Mandalika near Lombok, the track will consist of a series of roads that will be in everyday use – but will be designed from the ground up as a race circuit, complete with safety features like gravel traps and sufficient run-off areas.
Reinforcing the deal, Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta travelled to the capital of Jakarta to meet President Joko Widodo last week, for an official reception hosted by the Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation at the presidential palace. A bike-mad country with millions of fans and bike owners, it’s a very important market for Japanese manufacturers, as evidenced by the hordes of peoples that greet riders when they’ve travelled there for PR events in recent years.
Mexico: potentially joining MotoGP in 2021?
Seriously considered for a spot on the calendar as soon as this year, that was quickly halted when it was realised that extensive safety works would be needed at Formula One’s Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico City. However, while the rumours have cooled down since then, they haven’t gone away, and it looks increasingly likely that MotoGP will head to Central America in the near future. Posing its own problems thanks to high altitude and a circuit that has little in the way of run-off, especially though it’s final stadium section, there’s a big push from manufacturers to make the race happen in another key market for them.
Finland: joining MotoGP in 2020
Set to make its debut on the calendar this year until an unusually heavy winter last year saw construction halted for six months at the new Kymiring track, a test for MotoGP’s test teams at the track later this year all but confirms that it’ll now take its place on the schedule next year. At a custom-built circuit designed for motorbike racing and in a country with a rich heritage of both four- and two-wheeled motorsport, it should sit alongside other central European races like Austria and the Czech Republic in July and August.
Spain: losing one race?
With four races inside Dorna’s home country of Spain, there’s considerable push to cut down on that – but it seems that it won’t be a straight case of chopping one off. With Jerez all but untouchable now as Qatar looks set to invest heavily in it and Valencia paying a big premium to host the end of the season, it’ll instead be the other two at Barcelona and Aragon that are in danger. But with both races key parts of Dorna’s empire, it looks like instead of losing one, they’ll instead share a grid spot going forwards, alternating between the venues every year.
Qatar: staying until 2031
Signing an incredibly long extension to their contract that will keep them on the calendar for at least another twelve years, MotoGP isn’t leaving Qatar any time soon. Coming alongside a huge £150 million renovation of the track that will see a new surface and LED floodlighting for 2020, it will remain the opening round of the year for the foreseeable future.
Kazakhstan: ready to race
Steps ahead of their rivals by already having a circuit fully constructed and ready to race on, Kazakhstan has been fighting for a MotoGP spot for years. Promoting their investment this year by sponsoring Kazakh rider Makar Yurchenko in Moto3, MCN’s spies in the paddock nonetheless say that it’s unlikely they’ll make it onto the grid any time soon. However, they could well be designated a reserve track in case other circuits are unable to fulfil their commitments.
Brazil: joining in 2021?
Signing a deal last year to join the calendar in 2021, there’s big desire from Dorna to add a second South American leg. But while there’s an agreement, there’s no track yet, after former venue Jacarepaguá was torn up to make way for the Olympics in 2016. It’s unlikely that it’ll appear in only two years’ time, but that doesn’t mean it won’t make an appearance soon.