The Portuguese MotoGP Grand Prix is to go ahead on May 6th as scheduled. After a long delay, the FIM today confirmed that the Estoril round of MotoGP is to go ahead, and the 2012 calendar will remain the full 18 races.
There had been intense speculation that the Portuguese race would be dropped from the MotoGP calendar. The round had struggled with finances, being usually surprisingly poorly attended, given the outstanding location of the track close to major tourist attractions such as the city of Lisbon, the coastal resorts of Cascais and Estoril and the UNESCO World Heritage site at Sintra, overlooking the Estoril circuit. Where normally the Portuguese government would step in to support the race, the Euro crisis and the Portugal's debt problems have forced the state to make massive spending cuts, and for a long time, it looked like the MotoGP race would fall victim to cuts.
The circuit had been given until February 15th to issue guarantees of paying the sanctioning fee, and though the official FIM press release does not mention it, it appears that the financial side of the race has now been settled. With the Sachsenring race already having been confirmed for 2012 - although the negotiations are continuing over a five-year contract for the German circuit have yet to be concluded - the confirmation of the Portuguese round of MotoGP now finalizes the calendar.
The schedule for 2013 is likely to look very different, however. Estoril and Jerez are the two top targets to be dropped from the calendar, with both Austin and Argentina set to organize MotoGP rounds next year. Further changes are also likely, with uncertainty over funding for both Valencia and even Barcelona, and with India and Korea waiting in the wings.
Below is the final 2012 MotoGP calendar released by the FIM:
FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix
|29 April||Spain||Jerez de la Frontera|
|20 May||France||Le Mans|
|17 June||Great Britain||Silverstone|
|29 July||United States***||Laguna Seca|
|26 August||Czech Rep.||Brno|
|16 September||San Marino & Riviera di Rimini||Misano|
|28 October||Australia||Phillip Island|
|11 November||Valencia||Ricardo Tormo – Valencia|
* Evening Race
** Saturday Race
*** Only MotoGP class