After months off, affected by the global Covid-19 pandemic, MotoGP has announced a 13 event race calendar starting next month. The series is set to take place at eight European circuits, with back-to-back rounds at five of them and no fans expected to be allowed in.
Some high profile circuits have been cut from the 2020 calendar. There will be no British Grand Prix at Silverstone, the Dutch TT at Assen loses its record as the only circuit to have hosted a Grand Prix every year since the world championship started in 1949, the new KymiRing in Finland will have to wait until 2021 to make its debut and the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello will also not take place this year.
Instead two rounds will take place at the Spanish circuits of Jerez, Aragon and Valencia, as well as in Austria and at Italy’s Misano circuit, with the first round at Jerez on 19 July. Barcelona, Brno and Le Mans will also host individual rounds. All three classes will take place at each round, with the supporting MotoE electric bike races having five races and Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup getting six outings across three race weekends – meaning that there will be four race classes on site most weekends. Australia and Japan have already pulled their GPs, but a decision will be made on the four outstanding non-European events by the end of next month and the door remains open on the Malaysian, Thai, American and Argentinian Grands Prix. Unlike the European races, they will only go ahead if fans are permitted to attend and will take place between the last scheduled European race, planned for Valencia on 15 November, and 13 December, which it is understood is provisionally pencilled in as the date for a rescheduled Malaysian Grand Prix.
Speaking of the new calendar, Carmelo Ezpeleta, boss of MotoGP organisers Dorna said: “It has been hard work from our side and from the side of the promoters (individual circuits) finally we obtained these possibilities. Once we had the protocol approved then we are able to propose this calendar. In principle we have some circuits where we will repeat races one week after another, because this is easy for movement and to maintain the protocol, although there are others where we will have just one race. We thought when we ran into the problem of the pandemic, we realised we can do 13 races and then if it’s possible to go outside Europe it will be interesting. The races outside Europe need to be confirmed before the end of July, then also our agreement with the manufacturers and with the teams is to finish the championship no later than the 13 December, that means we need to decide which of the races to do, if all of them are possible, and we will decide which races we will have outside Europe. This is something we will put in the calendar as a proposal and we will decide on it no later than the end of July.”
Ezpeleta says that he wants MotoGP to be a true world championship with Asian and American races at the end of the year, but is cautious about making a commitment. Commercially any non-European races need to have paying spectators to be viable, and he says that the final decision will be made by the end of July, in order that teams and riders can prepare properly for the campaign. He added: “We need to wait because as we’ve commented before, to do the races outside Europe it’s necessary to do it with spectators. We are waiting to see the development of health measures in other countries, in the States, Argentina, Malaysia and Thailand, and then we will see what is possible to include in the calendar. If there are no races outside Europe then the championship will finish like every year in Valencia, if not it depends which races are able to do it, but Malaysia is one possibility, yes.”
Not only will no fans will be allowed to attend the races, but the number of personnel will also be restricted. Teams will be expected to work with a reduced number of personnel on site, the exact numbers determined by their race class and team status, while there will be reduced TV crews, no VIP hospitality units and only a few media, at least to begin with. “The protocol is the hardest one we have,” concludes Ezpeleta. “We’ve presented it to everyone. If the situation improves later there could be some changes, but always in agreement with the authorities, but today it’s the protocol we have presented to everyone – from the teams to the FIM, it’s the protocol we will use from the beginning of the championship.”
2020 MotoGP calendar (MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3)
19 July – Jerez – Spanish GP
26 July – Jerez – GP of Andalusia
9 August – Brno – Czech GP
16 August – Red Bull Ring – Austrian GP
23 August – Red Bull Ring – Styria GP
13 September – Misano – San Marino GP
20 September – Misano – Emilia Romagna GP
27 September – Barcelona – Catalan GP
11 October – Le Mans – French GP
18 October – Aragon – Aragon GP
25 October – Aragon – Teruel GP
8 November – Valencia – European GP
15 November – Valencia – Valencia GP
Superbikes back too?
Last week British superbikes announced a reduced six round, 18 race, series starting in August, while world superbikes, which is also organised by Dorna, is looking to piggy back on the MotoGP calendar by starting in Jerez on the first weekend of August. It is also understood that plans are being made to hold a British WorldSBK round at Donington Park in October. As that month is crowded with MotoGP and British superbike dates, the only viable date would appear to be the weekend of 10-11 October, which is weekend after the Leicestershire circuit hosts the penultimate round of the BSB series, and would likely see the WorldSBK stars come straight from a race in Barcelona the previous weekend.