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Extra Qatar MotoGP Test Scheduled To Replace Sepang Test

The cancellation of the MotoGP test at Sepang - a result of the state of emergency imposed by the Malaysian government in response to rising numbers of cases of Covid-19 in the country - threw a spanner in the works for the MotoGP teams preparing for the start of the 2021 season. Losing days of testing meant less time for the MotoGP rookies to acclimatize to the new class, and less track time to gather data for the coming season.

To address this issue, Dorna and IRTA announced that there will be an additional test in Qatar at the beginning of March. In addition to the original test scheduled for March 10th - 12th, there will be three more days of testing a five days earlier. On March 5th, there will be one day of a shakedown test, where the test riders will get to ride the MotoGP machines to ensure they are all working as expected, as well as a chance for the MotoGP rookies - Enea Bastianini, Luca Marini, and Jorge Martin - to get their first taste of a Ducati Desmosedici.

They will be joined by the rest of the MotoGP field on March 6th and 7th, for an official two-day test. The entire paddock will then stay in Qatar for two days, when the originally scheduled three-day test starts on March 10th, until March 12th.

What happens after that is still open to question. GPOne is reporting there is a chance that the season opener, scheduled for March 28th at Qatar, will be moved forward a week to avoid clashing with the first F1 race of the season in Bahrein. That would also make sense in terms of logistics: it would mean that most people could stay in Qatar, rather than risk flying home and finding themselves unable to return should further measures to contain the Covid-19 pandemic be imposed.

That would also set up a chance to replace one of the two races in the Americas, with both Austin and Argentina likely to be dropped from the schedule unless the Covid-19 situation in the US and Argentina changes dramatically. Having a second race in Qatar on consecutive weekends would bring the calendar back up to 19 races, and the addition of a race at Portimao - the most logical place for a replacement race, given its proximity to Jerez and the experience of the circuit in hosting a race last year.

However, nothing is yet certain, and everything is still subject to change. As happened at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic last year, the situation changes almost on a daily basis. The advantage for Dorna, IRTA, the teams, and the factories, is that at least they have a season's worth of experience running MotoGP under a coronavirus protocol. That makes changing plans much easier. But as ever, the coronavirus remains in control.

The press release announcing the change appears below:


Qatar Test schedule updated
Two Official Test days and a Shakedown Test have been added to the calendar

Thursday, 14 January 2021

Following a recent meeting between the Championship organisation and the MotoGP™ Class Teams, changes to the Qatar Test schedule have been agreed. Two extra Official Test days and a Shakedown Test day will now also be held at Losail International Circuit in March, ahead of and in addition to the previously confirmed Qatar Test, allowing the teams extra preparation ahead of the 2021 season.

On the 5th of March, a Shakedown Test will take place in which participation will be limited solely to test riders and MotoGP™ class rookies.

On the 6th and 7th of March, all riders may participate in two extra Official Test days.

The new MotoGP™ class test schedule is therefore as follows:

3rd-4th March: Setup
5th March: Shakedown Test – rookies and test riders only
6th-7th March: Official Test
10th-12th March: Official Test

Any further updates or information will be provided as soon as available.

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Sepang MotoGP Test Canceled - Early Part Of 2021 Calendar Still Subject To Coronavirus

The MotoGP Test At Sepang, due to be held from 19th - 21st of February, has been canceled, Dorna announced today. The King of Malaysia, at the request of the Malaysian government, has declared a state of emergency in Malaysia which is due to last until August 1st. The state of emergency has been declared in an attempt to stem the Covid-19 pandemic which continues to spread around the world.

The cancellation comes despite the best efforts of Dorna, IRTA, and the circuit to make the Sepang test as self-contained as possible. Dorna and IRTA had put forward a proposal to house everyone involved in the test at the Sama Sama hotel, located next to Kuala Lumpur International Airport, to the exclusion of other guests. Everyone - riders, teams, officials - would travel between the hotel and the circuit only, with no time outside of the MotoGP bubble. As the Sama Sama hotel is where most teams and riders involved stay during the test anyway, very little would change.

This proposal had a great deal of support, but in the end, the Malaysian government declaring a state of emergency made it impossible.

At the moment, the Qatar test, set to take place from 10th - 12th March, will still go ahead. This, of course, is still subject to how the Covid-19 pandemic develops over the next two months. The situation in Qatar is relatively stable, with case numbers and deaths still very low and showing only a small rise over the winter. Qatar may not want to allow a large group of people to enter from a region where the pandemic is still not under control. However, Qatar's vaccination program is already underway, with everyone over 65 years of age and with certain chronic illnesses currently being given the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine expected to come on stream very soon.

If the Qatar test has to be canceled, then the fallback position would be a test at either Jerez or Portimao, with Jerez being the most likely option. The Moto2 and Moto3 classes are currently scheduled to test at Jerez from March 16th-18th, though that, too, is far from certain.

At the current moment, the start of the season is far from clear. Although no announcement beyond the cancelling of the Sepang test has been made - and no further announcements can be made, given the uncertainty of the current situation - MotoMatters.com understands that the opening races of the season are far from certain to go ahead. Most at threat are the overseas rounds at Termas de Rio Hondo in Argentina, and the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, as a result of the restrictions currently in place and expected developments.

Should Argentina and Austin be dropped, then that would leave room for Qatar to be rescheduled later in the year, or for one of the reserve circuits, such as Portimao, to be inserted between Qatar and Jerez. With the race at Jerez due to happen on May 2nd, that leaves a lot of time for the pandemic to be contained - either through better weather, as was the case in 2020, or as a result of vaccination. However, the first few races, at least, are still expected to happen without fans present, or at least with only limited numbers allowed in.

The current understanding of the 2021 season is that it will go ahead, and there will be more races than there were in 2020. But as was the case early in 2020, the coronavirus is in charge, as French Grand Prix organizer Claude Michy put it.

The press release from Dorna appears below:


Sepang Tests cancelled
Tuesday, 12 January 2021

The FIM, IRTA and Dorna Sports regret to announce the cancellation of both the Shakedown Test and the Official Sepang Test.

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdowns and complications have obliged the cancellation of both events, which were set to take place at Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia in February.

The Qatar Test, currently set to take place at Losail International Circuit from the 10th to the 12th of March, continues to be confirmed and any further updates or changes will be provided as soon as available. 

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Davide Brivio Leaves Suzuki For F1 Role

Less than two months after winning Suzuki's first MotoGP championship in 20 years, Davide Brivio has decided to leave his role as manager of the Suzuki Ecstar MotoGP team and move to lead the Alpine F1 team in four-wheel racing's premier class. The move was reported last night by Autosport and confirmed by a press release from Suzuki this morning.

The move comes as a massive shock to Suzuki and the MotoGP world. It is also a serious blow to Suzuki's MotoGP project. Brivio was instrumental in putting the team together to run Suzuki's return to MotoGP in 2015. Brivio joined Suzuki in 2013, at the very beginning of the project which launched the GSX-RR upon the world, and has overseen the team's steady success.

Brivio has been a key player in finding and hiring the staff for the team, as well as being the main driver behind Suzuki's philosophy of trying to hire and develop young talent and turn them into champions. That choice was proven to be correct by Joan Mir winning the 2020 MotoGP title.

The Italian has a history of success. Davide Brivio first entered the World Superbike championship in 1990, running a private team for Yamaha. He then went on to run Yamaha's factory WorldSBK team, before switching to MotoGP in 2002, leading the project when Grand Prix racing went four stroke. Brivio was instrumental in persuading Valentino Rossi to leave Honda and join Yamaha, going on to win five championships for Yamaha with both Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, until he departed Yamaha for Ducati with Rossi.

When Rossi left Ducati at the end of 2012, that left Brivio at a loose end, a situation which Suzuki leaped upon to their benefit. Brivio has been instrumental in not just staff decisions, but he was also one of the drivers behind persuading Suzuki to set up a separate racing department, along the lines of the other major manufacturers. That organizational change made decision-making a great deal easier, and gave the racing department and team much more freedom to act without requiring the approval of Suzuki's top management.

Davide Brivio leaves behind a huge legacy in MotoGP, and big boots for Suzuki to try to fill.

The official press statement from Suzuki appears below:


DAVIDE BRIVIO AND TEAM SUZUKI ECSTAR PART WAYS
Team Suzuki Press Office - January 7.

After eight years at the helm of Team Suzuki Ecstar in the role of Team Manager, Davide Brivio and Suzuki have announced an end to their collaboration.

The Italian has been present in the MotoGP World Championship paddock for more than 20 years and has been involved with Suzuki since 2013. He held the position of Team Manager when Suzuki embarked on their new MotoGP project, and has remained in place throughout their rise to success, which was this year topped-off by the incredible World Championship crown achieved by Joan Mir, and the Teams’ Championship title for Team Suzuki Ecstar.

Brivio is pleased with the milestones achieved with Suzuki but now wishes to pursue new challenges in his professional and personal life, away from MotoGP.

Team Suzuki Ecstar appreciate the work done by Davide Brivio, and the excellent goals achieved together. The Suzuki squad now look to the future with sights set high for the 2021 season.

Davide Brivio:
“A new professional challenge and opportunity suddenly came to me and in the end I decided to take it. It has been a difficult decision. The hardest part will be to leave this fabulous group of people, whom I started this project with when Suzuki rejoined the Championship. And it’s hard to say goodbye also to all the people who have arrived over the years to create this great Team. I feel sad from this point of view, but at the same time I feel a lot of motivation for this new challenge - which was the key when I had to decide between renewing my contract with Suzuki or starting a completely new experience.

“Achieving a MotoGP title is something that will remain in the Suzuki history books and it will always have a special place in my life memories. I would like to deeply thank all the Suzuki management for their trust and confidence in me, which they had since the beginning. I would like to thank every single member of our MotoGP group in Japan and at the track, all the Suzuki network, and of course all the riders who rode for the Team in this period, especially Joan and Alex who did a great 2020 season.

“Joan becoming World Champion was a dream come true for me and for all the people who worked hard and accompanied me on this magnificent journey. I wish the best to Team Suzuki MotoGP, I hope that the results in the future will be better and better and I will always be a Suzuki fan. Thanks very much Suzuki!”

Shinichi Sahara – Team Suzuki Ecstar Project Leader:
“Sincerely, it was shocking news for us about Davide’s departure from Team Suzuki Ecstar. It feels like somebody took a part of me, because I always discussed with him how to develop the team and the bikes, and we’ve worked together for a long time. In 2020 we achieved fantastic results despite the unusual and difficult situation due to Covid-19. And 2021 will be an even more important year for us to keep the momentum. Now we are trying to find the best way to cover for the ‘Davide loss’. Luckily in most cases I have had quite a similar way of thinking to him, therefore it is not so difficult to keep the direction we should go as Team Suzuki Ecstar, I think. We would like to wish him the best of luck for the future.”

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Pedrosa And Kallio To Stay As KTM Test Riders In 2021

Dani Pedrosa and Mika Kallio are to continue as test riders for KTM's MotoGP project throughout 2021. The two test riders, who have played a fundamental role in the success of the Austrian factory's MotoGP project, will carry on in their respective roles for another season.

The two riders have had a huge impact on the development of the KTM RC16, and their division of labor has been key in fast-tracking the project through 2020. Kallio continues his role as workhorse, doing preliminary testing of parts and testing durability, while Pedrosa works on preselecting packages of parts which work together to produce the best performance. Those packages are then passed to the factory riders for final approval before being used in a race.

The role of the test riders will be even more important in 2021, as KTM have lost concessions for next season after their astounding success in 2020, racking up three wins and five other podiums. As a result, Miguel Oliveira, Brad Binder, Danilo Petrucci, and Iker Lecuona will only be able to test at officially sanctioned test, putting more of the burden of testing on the shoulders of Pedrosa and Kallio.

Losing concessions also means that KTM will only be allowed three wildcards in 2021, as opposed to 6 for factories with concessions. Mika Kallio will continue to appear as a wildcard, Dani Pedrosa having made it abundantly clear that he has no interest in racing any longer.

The press release from KTM appears below:


Pedrosa and Kallio to continue as Red Bull KTM test riders for 2021
MotoGP 2020

Red Bull KTM have renewed contracts with former Grand Prix winners Dani Pedrosa and Mika Kallio to form the backbone of the MotoGP™ testing team for 2021 and continue work evolving the promising KTM RC16.

38-year old Kallio has been a key part of the MotoGP development crew for half a decade. The Fin debuted the KTM RC16 at the 2016 Gran Premio de la Comunitat Valenciana and has completed wild-card appearances and substitute racing duties since 2017; notably contesting six rounds with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing in 2019 and the final round of the 2020 campaign for Red Bull KTM Tech3.

35-year old Pedrosa joined the KTM team upon his retirement in 2018 and as one of the most decorated MotoGP racers of the modern era. The Spaniard brought 13 years of top-flight experience in the premier class to the KTM MotoGP project.

The work of both Kallio and Pedrosa and the testing squad helped KTM to win three Grands Prix with two different riders in 2020 and register eight podium finishes thanks to the advancement and potential of the KTM RC16.

Mika Kallio: “It is great to continue this project. Five years have passed already with this crew and I cannot believe time has gone so fast. It has been rewarding to see the development of the bike and all the phases which have got us here. Especially in 2020 with victories and podiums; it has been amazing. It is good to see all the hard work and dedication paying off for everyone involved in the project. I have worked with KTM for eleven years now during my career, which is basically half of my whole time in racing. KTM is my second family and I am proud and privileged to continue being with this company. I think the results of this year motivate both the crew and riders towards an even better 2021, so I am already looking forward to the upcoming season. I think we have now what it takes to fight at the top.”

Dani Pedrosa: “KTM is very keen to keep improving and I’m only too happy to keep working with them and helping their riders onto bigger goals. I want to thank Pit Beirer, Stefan Pierer and Red Bull for all their trust in me.”

Pit Beirer, KTM Motorsports Director: “We’re pleased to be able to keep the stability and all the knowledge we have with our current testing team. In 2020 we could show how well and how fast we are working behind-the-scenes for our MotoGP programme and both Mika and Dani’s input were important in the progress we have made. It’s only been four years but it gives the whole company a lot of pride and excitement to be able to set new targets and to make more memories in MotoGP.”

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Gresini Confirm Independent Team Status In 2022

The first step toward the 2022 MotoGP grid has taken place. With a new five-year contract period between Dorna, the manufacturers, and IRTA as representative of the teams starting in 2022, grid slots are open for application once again. Gresini Racing, led by Fausto Gresini, is to separate from Aprilia and become an independent team once again, they announced in a press release.

It is no secret that Gresini was to become independent, as both Fausto Gresini and Aprilia have spoken about it openly. The press release merely makes official what was already known. The partnership between Gresini and Aprilia had been a marriage of convenience from the start, a stepping stone to allow the Noale factory to return to MotoGP in 2015 without setting up major infrastructure. That was why Aprilia was still regarded as an independent team, rather than a full-factory effort, for the purpose of the Independent Team Standings.

Though the press release reveals no details of Gresini's future plans, the team has been in extended talks to run as a Suzuki satellite team. The VR46 team, which is also expected to become a full-time MotoGP operation in 2022, is also a candidate for the Suzuki bikes, should they become available. But there is also an option that Gresini continue with Aprilia as a satellite operation, alongside Aprilia's own full-factory team.

Gresini is one of a number of changes expected to take place in 2022. As mentioned, the VR46 team is expected to become a full-time two-bike MotoGP effort, taking over the slots from the Esponsorama (formerly Avintia) team. VR46 will be making their debut from the 2021 season, where they are running Luca Marini in the Esponsorama team aboard a Ducati Desmosedici GP19.

Beyond that, there may be some changes in the bikes which independent teams will be running. Gresini and VR46 have been linked to Suzuki, as have Petronas, who are rumored to be looking to switch from Yamaha to Suzuki. If the Yamaha satellite bikes are vacated, then VR46 would be almost certain to take over those machines. Aprilia are also interested in having a satellite team, though whether an independent team would be interested in running Aprilia RS-GP machines unless they were heavily subsidized is open to question. All six MotoGP manufacturers have stated their intention to remain, barring unforeseen circumstances.

2022 is a key date in MotoGP racing because Dorna runs its contracts on a five-year cycle. Dorna signs contracts with manufacturers and teams for a five-year period, to ensure the continuity of the sport. In return, Dorna subsidize the teams and factories during that period, to give them the best chance of survival for the duration of the contract.

Below is the press release from Gresini announcing their plans for 2022:


GRESINI RACING: FROM 2022, THE MOTOGP PROJECT IS REALITY

As a pleasant confirmation for an institution as solid as historical within MotoGP, from 2022 Gresini Racing will be again in the premier class as Independent team.

The team led by Fausto Gresini, which is already present across all categories of the MotoGP World Championship, is back to its natural spot and will be relying on its own support only. A five-year agreement was signed between Gresini Racing and IRTA (2022-2026), a further proof of the commitment by the Faenza-based team.

Gresini Racing has been present in the premier class since 1997 and therefore is among the longest-lasting teams and one with a very solid tally: 41 podiums, 14 wins and three runner-up spots in the category.

FAUSTO GRESINI – TEAM MANAGER GRESINI RACING

“We’re happy to announce this agreement with IRTA, which will see us in MotoGP for five years starting from 2022. We will not be representing Aprilia as a factory team anymore, so we will continue as an Independent Team, doing so with as much will and commitment. There’s a lot of work to do and many things to define and communicate. Obviously we’re already working on this huge project, and we will reveal the details little by little. Stay tuned!”

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Marc Marquez Still In Hospital, Infection Found During Surgery

Marc Marquez is to remain in hospital in Madrid after surgery on his right arm. The Spaniard had an operation to attach a plate and a bone graft to promote bone growith on the humerus he fractures at Jerez. A sample was taken of the fractured bone, and that showed signs of infection. That is not uncommon in non-union fractures such as that suffered by Marquez. The Repsol Honda rider is being treated with antibiotics for the infection.

The press release from Honda appears below:


Update on Marc Marquez

Marc Marquez’s post-operative clinical situation has been deemed satisfactory by his medical team at the Hospital Ruber Internacional, in Madrid. However, the cultures obtained during the pseudarthrosis surgery have confirmed that there was a previous infection in the fracture, which will see Marquez undergo specific antibiotic treatment in the coming weeks.

Marquez will remain at the Hospital Ruber Internacional, in Madrid.

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Marc Marquez Has Third Surgery To Fix Non-Union Fracture Of Right Arm Broken In Jerez

Marc Márquez has had a third operation on the fractured right humerus he injured at the opening round at Jerez, and then broke again some ten days later. After many hours of speculation, the Repsol Honda team issued a press release confirming earlier reports that the Spaniard had undergone an operation at the Clinica Ruber in Madrid, to fit a new plate and take a bone graft from his hip to promote bone growth. The third operation was deemed necessary after the fracture has failed to heal as quickly as hoped.

Márquez' woes began at the first MotoGP race of the 2020 season at Jerez, after the Repsol Honda rider ran wide at Turn 4 and rode through the gravel on lap 5, and lost 9 seconds as a result. The Spaniard rejoined, and then set about slicing his way through the field, eventually ending up in third place and hot on the heels of Maverick Viñales.

It all went wrong again for Márquez on the exit of Turn 3. The rear of Márquez' Honda RC213V stepped out, bit, and flicked him off into the gravel on the outside of the corner. As he tumbled through the gravel, the front wheel of his Honda smashed into his right arm, breaking his humerus.

Márquez was lined up for surgery on the Tuesday after the first Jerez round, and by the following day was sending videos to his team of himself doing pushups on his freshly plated arm. He persuaded Honda and his team to try to race at Jerez 2, and was passed fit to try by the circuit medical staff.

That turned out to be a bad idea. Márquez sat out all of Friday, and rode in FP3, posting a respectable time just 1.3 seconds off the pace of Maverick Viñales. But in FP4, he felt a sudden tweak in his arm, and realized he was unable to continue. He withdrew, in the hope of being fit to race two weeks later at Brno.

Márquez' hopes were dashed a week later, when he got up to open a heavy sliding glass door to let his dogs out of his house, and felt something move inside the arm. He was taken to hospital, where scans revealed that the plate inserted had failed to unite the bone fragments, which had separated again.

Since then, Márquez has had scans on his arm every week to monitor progress on his arm, but the fracture has failed to heal properly, creating what is known as a non-union fracture. Márquez has put off a third operation to treat this problem for as long as possible, in the hope that the arm would heal of its own accord. But that has failed to happen.

Márquez finally opted for further surgery at the beginning of the month, with a specialist clinic in Madrid performing the surgery. The operation removed the old plate and replaced it with a new one, and took a bone graft from his hip to promote bone growth. This operation has proven to be very successful in the case of a non-union fracture, as the bone taken from the crest of the hip has a lot of blood vessels running through it and very strongly promotes the growth of new bone. It is often used in cases where bone growth has been much slower than expected.

Though the success rate for the procedure used for Marc Márquez is high, he still faces a long recovery period. Typical recovery period for a non-union fracture of the humerus treated with corticoperiosteal free flap is six months, though that can vary from between 3 and 12 months. That would mean that Márquez is extremely likely to miss the Sepang test scheduled for the middle of February, and potentially the start of the 2021 season, due to kick off at Qatar on March 28th.

That, of course, presupposes that the provisionally scheduled 2021 test and race calendars can go ahead as planned. Given the experience of 2020 with the Covid-19 pandemic, there are good reasons to believe the first part of the season may be disrupted or rescheduled, until the European winter spike in Covid-19 cases eases off, and the effects of vaccination programs start to kick in. Any delay or rescheduling would give Marc Márquez additional time for his recovery.

If Márquez is forced to miss the first few races of the season, the Repsol Honda team will once again be forced to look for a replacement until the eight-time world champion is able to race again. Stefan Bradl would naturally be a candidate, but there is a good chance that Honda might turn to Andrea Dovizioso. The Italian had been in extended talks with HRC for a role as test rider and replacement in the case of injury, but those talks had failed when the two parties had been unable to come to terms. But with a role as a straight replacement rider, there would be fewer complications putting Dovizioso on the Repsol bike.

All that is still some way in the future, however. First Marc Márquez and Honda will have to wait to see how his recovery progresses. That will take at least a month, and possibly more, before the speed of his recovery can be assessed.

The Repsol Honda press release announcing the surgery appears below:


Marc Marquez undergoes a new operation

Marc Marquez has undergone a new operation on his right arm as a result of the slow healing of the humerus bone, which has not improved with specific shock wave treatment.

Today the rider has undergone surgery at the Hospital Ruber Internacional, in Madrid, for a pseudarthrosis of the right humerus.

The surgery, carried out by a team made up of doctors Samuel Antuña, Ignacio Roger de Oña, Juan de Miguel, Aitor Ibarzabal and Andrea Garcia Villanueva, consisted of the removal of the previous plate and the placement of a new plate with the addition of an iliac crest bone graft with a corticoperiosteal free flap.

The surgical procedure lasted for eight hours and was uneventful.


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2021 WorldSBK Provisional Calendar - European Start To Season, Overseas Finish, Indonesia Provisionally Added

The FIM today published the preliminary and provisional calendar for the WorldSBK championship for the 2021 season. Like all aspects of international events, it is very much a provisional affair, subject to local and regional restrictions on movement and events in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The biggest change to the season is the rescheduling of the Philip Island round of WorldSBK. Instead of being the opening race of the season, it is now due to take place in the second half of November, with a date still to confirmed. Travel to Australia is still nigh on impossible, but the hope is that restrictions will look very different by the end of 2021, as vaccines start to be rolled out.

Moving Phillip Island to November means that the 2021 WorldSBK calendar is set to kick off in The Netherlands in Assen, with all three classes starting their seasons at the first round. The WorldSBK paddock then moves around Europe for the summer, with a race every two to three weeks up until the British round at Donington Park, due to be held at the start of July. Only the World Superbike class will be racing at Donington, with no information as to which other series will be racing there as support classes.

The WorldSBK season resumes two months later at Magny-Cours in France in early September, before heading south to Barcelona, then Jerez, and then Portimao. The Portuguese round - the second race in the country, with Estoril scheduled for May - will be the final race in Europe, before the WorldSBK and WorldSSP classes head overseason.

First port of call is San Juan Villicum in Argentina, before heading west again to the new Mandalika circuit in Indonesia, once that track has been completed and homologated. There have been few updates on the progress of the track, especially given how severely the tourism sector in Indonesia has been hit, but the Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation has promised the track will be ready by November. After Indonesia, the WorldSBK paddock heads to Australia and Phillip Island.

The thirteenth and final round of WorldSBK is as yet unconfirmed, but believed to be planned for the Middle East. Qatar is one option, though the track is also due to be resurfaced, which could mean WorldSBK makes its debut in Bahrein.

As stated before, this calendar is very much a provisional affair, and extremely likely to change. It is not yet clear which races will be open to fans, and anyone wishing to book travel and accommodation should make sure they have free cancellation or insurance to cover the cost of cancellation or change. But the world may look very different in three months time, once vaccination starts.

The provisional calendar appears below:


MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship/FIM Supersport and Supersport 300 World Championships

2021 Provisional* calendar, 30 November 2020

DATE COUNTRY CIRCUIT WorldSBK WorldSSP WorldSSP300
23 - 25 April The Netherlands TT Circuit Assen X X X
7 – 9 May Portugal Circuito Estoril** X X X
21 - 23 May Spain MotorLand Aragón X X X
11 - 13 June Italy Misano World Circuit “Marco Simoncelli” X X X
2 - 4 July United Kingdom Donington Park X    
3 - 5 September France Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours X X X
17 - 19 September Spain Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya X X X
24 - 26 September Spain Circuito de Jerez - Ángel Nieto X X X
1 - 3 October Portugal Autódromo Internacional do Algarve X X X
15 – 17 October Argentina Circuito San Juan Villicum X X  
12 – 14 November Indonesia Mandalika International Street Circuit*** X X  
STC Australia Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit** X X  
TBA TBA TBA**** X X  

*All dates, events and the attendance of spectators are subject to the evolution of the global pandemic and the approval of the corresponding governments and authorities.
** (STC) Subject to contract / *** (STH) Subject to homologation /**** (TBA) Venue/event/date to be announced

2021 SUPPORTED TEST - Championship Filming and Photo-shoot season opening

  • 29 - 30 March: Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya - WorldSSP & WorldSSP300
  • 31 March - 1 April: Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya - WorldSBK
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2021 MotoGP Provisional MotoGP Rider Line Up Complete: Aprilia To Choose Between Savadori And Smith After Testing

The 2021 MotoGP grid is finally complete. Or complete-ish, anyway. Aprilia have finally made a decision on their second rider for 2021, and their decision is that they will decide after the winter tests at Sepang and Qatar have finished.

Both Lorenzo Savadori and Bradley Smith have been signed for 2021, to fill the roles of second contracted MotoGP rider alongside Aleix Espargaro, and MotoGP test rider. Smith and Savadori will run through the testing program, including private tests and the scheduled official tests at Sepang and Qatar in February and March, and Aprilia will make their decision based on the outcome of that, Aprilia said in a press release.

Aprilia have been forced into this position by their decision to stick with Andrea Iannone throughout his appeals process. Once the Italian lost his appeal against his suspension for doping, Aprilia were forced to look elsewhere, but by that time, there choices were severely limited. Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow had turned down the opportunity. Aprilia had talks with WorldSBK rider Chaz Davies and Joe Roberts, Marco Bezzecchi, and Fabio Di Giannantonio in Moto2. But all those options fell through too, Roberts the last to turn down the Aprilia ride, informing the Italian factory on Sunday night.

The best solution, Aprilia decided, was to continue the project as they had started at the beginning of the year, sticking with their three current riders, and putting one of their test riders in the second seat. Aprilia intend to expand the number of bikes on the grid to 4 in 2022, once the new five-year contract period for factories and teams in MotoGP commences, so doing this opens up perspectives. The idea is to set up a system like Ducati, with a junior satellite team feeding into the factory squad, giving young riders a chance to learn and find their feet in MotoGP.

The MotoGP rider line up for 2021 appears below:

Rider Bike Contract until
Monster Energy Yamaha
Maverick Viñales Yamaha M1 2022
Fabio Quartararo Yamaha M1 2022
     
Repsol Honda
Marc Márquez Honda RC213V 2024
Pol Espargaro Honda RC213V 2022
     
Suzuki Ecstar
Alex Rins Suzuki GSX-RR 2022
Joan Mir Suzuki GSX-RR 2022
     
Ducati Factory
Jack Miller Ducati Desmosedici GP21 2021 (option for 2022)
Pecco Bagnaia Ducati Desmosedici GP21 2022
     
Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
Aleix Espargaro Aprilia RS-GP 2022
Lorenzo Savadori/Bradley Smith* Aprilia RS-GP 2022
     
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Brad Binder KTM RC16 2021
Miguel Oliveira KTM RC16 2021
     
Red Bull KTM Tech3
Danilo Petrucci KTM RC16 2021
Iker Lecuona KTM RC16 2021
     
Petronas Yamaha SRT
Franco Morbidelli Yamaha M1 2022
Valentino Rossi Yamaha M1 2021
     
Pramac Ducati
Jorge Martin Ducati Desmosedici GP21 2022
Johann Zarco Ducati Desmosedici GP21 2021 (option for 2022)
     
LCR Honda
Alex Márquez Honda RC213V 2022
Takaaki Nakagami Honda RC213V 2022
     
Avintia Ducati
Luca Marini Ducati GP19 2021
Enea Bastianini Ducati GP19 2021

* To be decided after preseason testing is complete in February/March

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Valentino Rossi Cleared To Race In Valencia After Narrow Escape With Covid-19 Test

Valentino Rossi had a narrow escape this week, after initially failing another Covid-19 test. The Italian produced two more negative tests, and has been cleared to race at the Valencia round of MotoGP.

The Italian had flown back to Italy on Sunday night, and on Tuesday had a PCR test. That test came back positive with a very low viral load, a result which can occur with people who have had Covid-19 and have had symptoms. Rossi's doctors recommended he do two more tests, and after the first test came back negative, he flew to Valencia to wait for the results of the second test taking 24 hours later. When that test came back negative, he was cleared to race.

A positive Covid-19 test is the one thing the riders fighting for the championship have feared. Joan Mir, who tested negative earlier this week, arranged to limit his exposure as much as possible. He asked his girlfriend to get a PCR test, and only drove back home when it came back negative. He then isolated at home before driving back to Valencia, avoiding contact.

The press release from Yamaha on Valentino Rossi's test appears below:


VALENTINO ROSSI‘S PARTICIPATION CONFIRMED FOR THE VALENCIA GP

Valencia (Spain), 12th November 2020

Today, Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Valentino Rossi received confirmation that he will be able to take part in this weekend‘s Gran Premio de la Comunitat Valenciana. Following a marginally positive PCR test on Tuesday 10th November, the Italian had two further PCR tests done (on Wednesday 11th and Thursday 12th November), both of which came back negative for the Covid-19 virus.

Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. and Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP are delighted to confirm that Valentino Rossi will be able to take part in this weekend‘s Gran Premio de la Comunitat Valenciana.

Following a weakly positive PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test result received on Tuesday 10th November, Valentino Rossi had to have two further PCR tests done (on Wednesday 11th and Thursday 12th November), as per FIM regulations, in order to be allowed to take part in the upcoming Valencia GP. Both follow-up tests came back negative for the Covid-19 virus, confirming Rossi‘s attendance for this race weekend.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

  • On Tuesday 10th November, Rossi underwent the usual PCR test, which is compulsory for those who visit their homes in between races. The result of this first test became available the next day and it was reported as “positive with very low viral load”. The doctors recommended Rossi to take two more tests, separated by 24 hours.
  • On Wednesday 11th November, Rossi took a second PCR test, of which the result came back negative this morning (Thursday 12th November).
  • This morning (Thursday 12th November), Rossi took a third PCR test at home and then travelled to Valencia, Spain, where he self-isolated while waiting for the result. It was again negative, allowing Rossi to reunite with the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP team and take part in this weekend‘s Gran Premio de la Comunitat Valenciana.
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