Dissecting the MotoGP calendar

This might be a strange topic of conversation, as the calendar doesn’t overly change year on year, and the races are when they are.

This year’s throws up several logistical nightmares though, as well as the ongoing sagas at two of the circuits. Several back-to-backs, a couple of uncertainties…yeah things don’t really change in MotoGP, just the names.

What we know for sure

The season will start in Qatar on March 26th, and finish at Valencia on November 12th. That much is certain. We also know that Brno is secure for the next few years, after a couple of years of uncertainty over whether they could afford to host the race – see the trouble Silverstone is having with F1 for a similar parallel.

Provisionally, the circuits remain the same from last year. We still have Argentina, Circuit of the Americas, Jerez, Mugello, Assen and the like. Key word: provisionally

The two maybes

Currently just pencilled in, but more than likely to happen come hell or high water, are the British and Malaysian Grand Prix.

Let’s start with Blighty. As most of you will be aware, the Circuit of Wales hosts the rights to hold the British Grand Prix. The problem with that being that the Circuit of Wales doesn’t exist. Despite being unveiled as a plan in 2011, several dilemmas, delays and funding non-starts mean that the plans haven’t been fully approved, never mind ground being broken. Ergo, the race has been held at Silverstone for the past two years, and will be for the next two. It’s likely just a case of rubber-stamping the deal, and its not a deal I’m happy about.

The head of the BRDC, Derek Warwick, has publicly stated that he hopes the Circuit of Wales doesn’t get built. Now, that’s probably because MotoGP makes them a fortune, but it’s not right is it? Silverstone, owned by the BRDC, sub-contracts the race, and he hopes that the people he’s sub-contracted from don’t build the track. The sheer nerve of the bloke.

Anyway, here’s hoping the takeover of Donington gets it up to scratch again so if CoW doesn’t happen, it can get the hell away from the snoozefest that is Silverstone.

Now, onto Malaysia. Their issue is a little cloudier, but the race will undoubtedly happen because a contract is in place. They are looking to dump Formula One, and will likely not renew their contract with the big boys once it expires in 2018. The Malaysian Government reported spends RM300 million each year to stage F1, and do not get that much back in return. People are supposedly upset at losing F1, and some are concerned it might see the closure of the Sepang circuit, but government officials have moved to squash such concerns.

This is opposed to MotoGP, where the race costs less to stage and they make money on the event. The Malaysian government see MotoGP as the star in their collection, and that won’t be going anywhere.

Logistical problems

Personally, I’ve always seen the first three rounds as a little problematic, but nothing that hasn’t been overcome before. Travelling from the Persian Gulf, to the middle of nowhere in Argentina, up to Austin in Texas, in the space of four weeks. 13088 air miles, to be precise. That’s a lot of haulage, and it’s impressive.

This year, though, the calendar throws up three back-to-backs, meaning three times in the year they have to move a hell of a lot of equipment and motorbikes across a large distance in four days.

The first is in early June, when the paddock has four days to travel, at a minimum, 1085km from Mugello to the circuit de Catalunya. There is a direct flight from Bologna, but would that be cost-prohibitive?

The next is at the end of June, when a minimum of 658km must be travelled from Assen to the Sachsenring. A lot less, sure, but still enough in four days. These are tallying up to a lot of time on the road in quick succession, especially when you consider the time before and after, travelling from bases to the circuits, then back home again.

The final European one is much smaller, with just 337km to travel from Brno to the Red Bull Ring in early August, but still the point stands. It’s not going to be easy for teams to up sticks and get moving across continental Europe with a very short turnaround time.

None of this is to mention the massive triple-header in October, when the field goes from Motegi in Japan, to Phillip Island in Australia, to then go to Sepang. 9179 miles in the space of a fortnight, not including going to Motegi and getting home from Sepang. Sheer madness.

This, bearing in mind, is entirely to allow for the five week summer break. If you gave each of these back-to-backs a week out of that, you could still have a three week break in the summer. Hell, you could start the season a couple of weeks early. Don’t worry about a clash with Formula One, because they sure as hell don’t care about clashing with us.

It’s nothing that MotoGP hasn’t seen and done before, but with the influx of injuries several races last year had, and how a few of the higher-up riders missed several races last year (and many probably raced when they shouldn’t have), wouldn’t it make sense to put less pressure on the teams and allow them time to properly recover from a race weekend?

Here’s the calendar in full.

Round Date Country Track
1 26-Mar Qatar Losail
2 09-Apr Argentina Termas De Rio Hondo
3 23-Apr USA Circuit of the Americas
4 07-May Spain Jerez
5 21-May France Le Mans
6 04-Jun Italy Mugello
7 11-Jun Spain Catalunya
8 25-Jun Netherlands Assen
9 02-Jul Germany Sachsenring
10 06-Aug Czech Republic Brno
11 13-Aug Austria Red Bull Ring
12 27-Aug Great Britain* Silverstone*
13 10-Sep San Marino Misano
14 24-Sep Spain Aragon
15 15-Oct Japan Motegi
16 22-Oct Australia Phillip Island
17 29-Oct Malaysia Sepang
18 12-Nov Spain Valencia
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