Latest News

Official At Last: Valentino Rossi Confirmed At Petronas Yamaha SRT For 2021 MotoGP Season

Valentino Rossi at Misano in 2020 - Photo Cormac Ryan Meenan

The deal is done at last. Today, the Petronas Yamaha SRT team has announced that Valentino Rossi will partner Franco Morbidelli in 2021. Rossi has signed a one-year extension of his contract with Yamaha, to race in the Petronas Yamaha SRT team.

This has been a long and difficult negotiation since the beginning of the year. Back then, Yamaha had faced the problem of trying to fit three riders into their factory Monster Energy team.

Ducati had been chasing both Maverick Viñales and Fabio Quartararo, and Yamaha did not want to lose their two young riders. Rossi had told Yamaha that he wanted to wait for the first five or six races before making a decision on whether he would retire, or stay on for another year. Yamaha moved to fend off Ducati's attempted poaching of Viñales and Quartararo by signing them to the factory team, and offering Rossi a factory-supported Yamaha M1 if he decided to continue.

That meant Rossi and Petronas were condemned to one another, if you can use such a phrase for the most successful premier class rider in history and the best satellite team in MotoGP. And each side had their own list of demands: Rossi wanted to bring his entire crew with him, along with various others, Petronas were willing to take only his crew chief David Muñoz and data engineer Matteo Flamigni. Then there was sorting out the mass of sponsors on both sides.

At Jerez, it became clear that Rossi would only be allowed to bring Muñoz, Flamigni, and rider coach Idalio Gavira to Petronas. That sparked a long negotiation over the rest of the conditions, the final details of which were only settled in the week between the two races in Misano, when Petronas Yamaha boss Razlan Razali visited the VR46 headquarters along with Yamaha racing boss Lin Jarvis. That resulted in the deal signed in Barcelona.

Rossi's move leaves the remainder of his crew in a difficult position. Mechanics Alex Briggs and Brent Stephens have been told there is no place for them in Yamaha, mostly a question of travel costs. Briggs lives in Australia, and Stephens in New Zealand, and both were used to flying home in between races. American Mark Elder will stay with Yamaha, as will Belgian Bernard Ansiau, it is believed.

The fact that this is a one-year deal is another reason Petronas were not keen on taking Rossi's crew. Briggs, Stephens, and Ansiau have all been with Rossi for a very long time, most since he arrived in the premier class with Honda. If they had decided to retire along with Rossi, Petronas would have been forced to look for replacements. That was not a task they relished after investing so much time in putting together their team at the beginning of the 2019 season.

Will 2021 be the end of Valentino Rossi's MotoGP career? It is too early to say. He already has a podium this season, and believes he is capable of more. If he fares worse in 2021 than he does this year, then he may decide to hang up his helmet, especially given that there are talks of the VR46 team making a move up to MotoGP.

But that is all still a long way off. For the moment, Valentino Rossi stays on for another year.

Below are the press releases from Petronas and from Yamaha announcing the deal:

Valentino Rossi to join PETRONAS Yamaha SRT in 2021

9-times World Champion confirmed to continue in MotoGP with the Malaysian squad together with Franco Morbidelli

PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team is proud to announce that Valentino Rossi will join the squad for the 2021 MotoGP season. Valentino Rossi needs no introduction, considered by many as the Greatest Of All Time through a record-breaking career in the premier class of the sport since 2000.

Rossi – Urbino, 16th February 1979 – has competed in the premier class since 2000 and is the only rider in history to win 125, 250, 500 and MotoGP World Championships. In the premier class alone, Valentino boasts seven world titles, 89 race wins, 199 podiums, 55 pole positions and 76 fastest laps. As part of PETRONAS Yamaha SRT in 2021, the Italian will compete aboard a Yamaha YZR-M1 for the ninth season in a row.

The move will see Rossi join the satellite team in what will be only their third season in the MotoGP category, after the Malaysian squad made their debut at the Qatar GP in 2019. That first season in the premier class saw PETRONAS Yamaha SRT rack up six pole positions and seven podiums, and win the Independent Teams’ Championship. This year has already seen two pole positions, four podiums and three race wins, and the lead of the outright Teams’ Championship, for the outfit.

The announcement of Rossi alongside fellow countryman and friend Franco Morbidelli completes the PETRONAS Yamaha SRT line-up for 2021 – a line-up eager to write another chapter of MotoGP history next year.

Razlan Razali - Team Principal

On behalf of PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team and all its partners, it is an absolute honour to welcome Valentino Rossi – an iconic rider and legend into the team next year. His experience will be a great asset to the team as we move into our third season in MotoGP and we are sure we will be able to learn a lot from Valentino. At the same time, we will do our absolute best to assist him to be competitive to reward him for the trust he has in us as a team. We are humbled by this opportunity and ready to take on the challenge. We believe that the combination of Valentino and Franco will provide a truly formidable force on track to help us in our goal of being as competitive as possible together next year. We can’t wait!

Johan Stigefelt - Team Director

To be able to sign a rider like Valentino Rossi, for what will be only our third year in the MotoGP championship, is amazing. We have evolved from a Moto3 team to a Moto2 team to a MotoGP team in a short time frame and now to be leading the MotoGP teams’ championship and signing one of the greatest riders the sport has ever known is incredible. It has been a long time since Valentino was in a satellite team and we will try our best to help him feel like new again. We want to make sure that he feels comfortable in our team, which we trust in and believe in so much. Our target is to get even better as a team, help Rossi deliver the best results possible and make 2021 a memorable year.


Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. and nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi have officially signed a one-year contract renewal for 2021. The Grand Prix racing icon will take part in next year‘s MotoGP World Championship as a Factory Yamaha rider for the PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team, with full support from Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd.

Montmelò (Spain), 26th September 2020

Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. is pleased to announce that it has signed a one-year renewal agreement with Grand Prix racing legend Valentino Rossi. Fans all over the world will be delighted to know that the nine-time World Champion will be participating in the 2021 MotoGP World Championship as a fully supported Factory Yamaha rider for the PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team.

Due to the global Covid-19 outbreak, Rossi was obliged to state his future intention to continue as a MotoGP rider before competing in a single 2020 MotoGP race. However, having completed seven GP weekends since then, the 41-year-old is certain that he made the right decision. He reunited with his beloved YZR-M1 showing competitive pace and has a lot of fight left in him.

The Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team wants to thank Rossi for his continuous contribution and effort. Currently competing in their 15th MotoGP season together, to date they have secured 4 world titles, 142 podiums, 56 victories, and competed in 250 races.

Rossi can be assured of the team‘s full support for the remainder of the 2020 championship. Everyone is fully focused on completing this season on a high note, as the team continues to push for the three World Championship titles.


We are delighted that Valentino will be staying in MotoGP for another year, and we are sure the fans of the sport feel the same way. A substantial part of the MotoGP fanbase will have grown up with Valentino and followed him throughout his career.

"This current and final season with the Factory Yamaha Team is his 25th in the motorcycle Grand Prix racing World Championship and his 15th year with Yamaha.

"Early on we assured Valentino that, should he stay in MotoGP for 2021, Yamaha would continue to give him full support and a Factory YZR-M1. In the end, this is exactly what he decided to do.

"I previously stated that this Covid-19 influenced MotoGP season would not be the appropriate year for such a legendary rider to close his career. Valentino has always been so popular with the fans all around the world, so it‘s great that he has decided to continue for at least another season. Hopefully the fans will be allowed back into the tracks next year to savour watching the GOAT in action again.

"I would like to thank the management of the PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team for their enthusiasm and full collaboration to welcome Valentino into their team. They are still quite a ’young‘ team, but they are very professional and serious contenders for race wins and feature in the top of the championship standings, so we are sure that Valentino will feel comfortable and be able to perform at his best level.


I am very happy to continue riding in 2021 and to do it with the PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team. I thought a lot before taking this decision, because the challenge is getting hotter and hotter. To be at the top in MotoGP you have to work a lot and hard, to train every day and lead an ’athlete's life‘, but I still like it and I still want to ride.

"In the first half of the year I made my choice and I talked with Yamaha, who agreed with me. They told me even if there was no place for me in the Factory Team, the factory bike and the factory support were guaranteed.

"I am very happy to move to PETRONAS Yamaha SRT. They are young, but they‘ve shown to be a top team. They are very serious and very well organised. For this year I also changed my crew chief. I‘m very happy with David, and I think we haven‘t reached our best yet. This was one of the reasons why I chose to continue, because the atmosphere in the team is something I like a lot.

"It‘ll be nice to have Franco as my team-mate, as he‘s an Academy rider, it‘s going to be cool. I think we can work together to make good things happen.


Back to top

MotoGP Riders To Test At Portimao Before Le Mans MotoGP Round

MotoGP is set to make its debut at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve in Portimao in November, as the last race of the 2020 season, and as a brand new track on the calendar, the teams, factories, and riders have no data on the circuit. To help them prepare for the race, Dorna has organized a test at the circuit ahead of the race.

The timing of the test is a little unfortunate. The test is due to take place on October 7th and 8th, directly before the French Grand Prix at Le Mans. Though only a limited number of riders are due to take to the track - one from each team and factory, with the exception of KTM and Aprilia, the factories who have concessions for the 2020 season - those riders face a punishing schedule. Two days of testing at Portimao on Wednesday and Thursday, a flight to Le Mans on Thursday night, then practice for the French Grand Prix on Friday morning. That is then the first weekend of three, with a double-header at Aragon following on from Le Mans.

Test riders will also be present, including Jorge Lorenzo, making his return at last for Yamaha. Team boss Maio Meregalli told pitlane reporter Simon Crafar that Lorenzo would be returning at the Portimao test, logistics issues having prevented him from testing earlier. Throughout the pandemic period, Yamaha was unable to fly their Japanese engineers to Europe to work at the test, and so switched their testing strategy to test at Japanese tracks with their Japanese test riders.

The press release from Dorna announcing the test appears below:

Portimão test to take place in October

Newly-announced venue set to host two-day test for manufacturer test teams and some MotoGP™ class riders

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Following the announcement that the 2020 FIM MotoGP™ World Championship season finale will take place at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve in Portimão, a two-day test at the venue can now be confirmed. This will take place on Wednesday the 7th and Thursday the 8th of October, just before the Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France.

The test is primarily for MotoGP™ manufacturer test teams and will provide valuable data to premier class teams, as well as technical suppliers, ahead of Portimão’s debut on the calendar.

Test riders present will include Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha), Michele Pirro (Ducati), Dani Pedrosa (KTM) and Stefan Bradl (Honda).

Some MotoGP™ class riders will also be present on Wednesday the 7th of October. They will be strictly limited to riding street machinery in order to familiarise themselves with the track.

The provisional entry list of MotoGP™ class riders is as follows:

Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team)
Jack Miller (Pramac Racing)
Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP)
Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)
Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu)
Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3)
Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)
Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing)
Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing)
Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini)
Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda Team)
Iker Lecuona (Red Bull KTM Tech 3)
Bradley Smith (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini)
Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol)

The final entry list of MotoGP™ class riders will published once confirmed.

Back to top

Jorge Martin Tests Positive For Coronavirus, Could Miss Misano

Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto2 rider Jorge Martin has tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the resumption of racing this weekend at Misano. The Spaniard, currently third in the Moto2 standings, tested positive for the virus during the standard testing procedure put in place as part of Dorna's COVID-19 protocol, and as a result, was not allowed to travel to Misano for the race. Martin has been in quarantine since receiving the test results.

Martin is now awaiting the results of a second test, to confirm the first test. If that test returns a negative result, he will be allowed to travel to Misano, but if it comes back positive gain, then Martin will have to follow the recommendations laid out by the government of the country he lives in, which for Martin is Spain. That means self isolating for 10 days, which would mean he would miss the first race at Misano, but might be able to race in the second round.

That would complicate Martin's Moto2 title challenge. He is currently third in the standings, 8 points behind leader Luca Marini and tied on points with Enea Bastianini. But with a maximum of 8 races left, there are still opportunities for him to recover points.

Martin is the third person to test positive for COVID-19. Previously, a camera operator working with French TV and a rider in the Red Bull Rookies Cup also tested positive. He may not be the only rider to miss Misano, however, as rumors continue to circulate about at least one more case in the support classes.


Back to top

Marc Marquez To Delay Return To MotoGP Until Fully Fit, Out For '2 to 3 Months'

Marc Marquez will not be returning to race at MotoGP at any point in the near future, and may not return at all in 2020. Today, the Repsol Honda team issued a press release lacking in much detail beyond the fact that they will delay Marc Marquez' return until he is fully recovered from the injury to his right humerus which he suffered at the first race in Jerez.

The press release stated that the expected recovery period is "two to three months before Marc can return to the RC213V". Two months from today, August 22nd, would be October 22nd, a few days after the first race at Aragon. Three months would be mid-November, just in time for the last race of the 2020 MotoGP season at Portimao. Whenever he returns, it is unthinkable that he would be in with a chance of defending his MotoGP title.

The press release glosses over the details of his injury, but it appears that the right arm is in a far worse state than expected. Marquez was able to attempt to ride a motorcycle just a few days after surgery, but once he felt something change in his arm, he stopped. Opening a heavy set of glass doors rebroke his arm, requiring more surgery. Whether that created more damage than Repsol Honda are letting on is an unanswered question.

Below is the press release from the Repsol Honda team announcing Marquez' extended absence:

Marc Marquez and HRC focus on recovery

Marc Marquez will continue recovering in the coming weeks. The MotoGP World Champion together with HRC, have consulted with and compared the opinions of a number of specialists in regard to the injury to the humerus of the right arm that Marc suffered on July 19 at the Spanish Grand Prix. As a result, all parties have decided to modify the planned recovery process. The objective of both Marquez and the Repsol Honda Team is to return to the World Championship when Marc’s arm has fully recovered from the serious injury that occurred in Jerez. It is estimated it will take between two to three months before Marc can return to the RC213V. HRC has not set a Grand Prix for the return of the reigning World Champion and will continue to report on the evolution of his recovery.

Alberto Puig - Team Manager

"There has been a lot of talk about Marc's recovery and the various deadlines, but from the first day after the second operation we have said that the only objective that exists is for him to be one hundred percent. We do not want to rush. Once Marc is in a position to return and compete at the level he knows, then we will think about the next objective."


Back to top

Johann Zarco Handed Penalty For Crash With Franco Morbidelli

Johann Zarco has been penalized for the crash with Franco Morbidelli, which happened during last Sunday's MotoGP race at the Red Bull Ring. The two riders faced the FIM Stewards on Thursday, the Stewards hearing their stories separately. After reviewing the evidence and listening to the riders, the Stewards decided to punish Zarco for irresponsible riding.

The Frenchman will have to start the next race from pit lane. But the penalty does not apply solely to the Styrian Grand Prix, to be held this Sunday. Rather, Zarco is to serve the penalty at the next race where he takes the start. If he is ruled unfit to ride at Spielberg this weekend, then the penalty will be held over until Misano.

Below is the official FIM press release:

FIM MotoGP™ Stewards Notification of Sanction: Johann Zarco

After the incident during the Austrian GP MotoGP™ race involving Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) and Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) that brought out the Red Flag, the FIM MotoGP™ Stewards Panel held hearings on Thursday the 20th of August with both riders involved.

After evaluation it was determined that there was evidence of irresponsible riding from Johann Zarco, which has resulted in a penalty. The Frenchman will start his next MotoGP™ race from pitlane.


Back to top

Yamaha Withdraws Request To Unseal Engines

Yamaha has withdrawn its request to unseal the engines to replace internal components which they believe caused issues for Maverick Viñales, Valentino Rossi, and Franco Morbidelli at Jerez. Yamaha had made a formal request to the MSMA, the MotoGP manufacturers' association, to open the engines and swap out defective parts.

Initially, the suspicion fell on sensors inside the exhaust port, but it is now believed that the problem was caused by the valves. Yamaha had set out its reasons to make the change in its submission to the MSMA. Under the technical regulations, the manufacturers are allowed to unseal the engines to replace parts only if they can get unanimous permission from the other MSMA members, and that such a change does not confer a performance advantage and is necessary on safety grounds.

That is where Yamaha's case appears to have fallen down. The other manufacturers were not convinced by Yamaha's explanation, and asked for more information to be able to make a decision on approval.

This put Yamaha in a very delicate situation. They would have liked to change out the parts, but to get permission to do so, they would have had to reveal a level of technical detail which could have given away too much information to their rivals. Instead, Yamaha have decided they can manage the rest of the season on the engines they have.

The fact that the Red Bull Ring was the toughest track for engines left on the calendar may have influenced their decision. After Spielberg, the factories face the front straight at Barcelona once, and a double header at Aragon, though Aragon's fast back straight is downhill.

Yamaha's predicament is in part a result of the dysfunction inside the MSMA. The manufacturers' association has long been unable to agree on anything, with the disagreement between Ducati and the other manufacturers at Qatar 2019 over their use of the rear swingarm spoiler being the final breach. With no goodwill between manufacturers, they are not inclined to give each other any leeway in situations such as this.

Naturally, this is likely to come back and bite the other manufacturers in the future. If another manufacturer suffers a similar issue to Yamaha in the next few years, and it is a factory which denied Yamaha's request, Yamaha are likely to treat them in exactly the same way, and deny a request to unseal engines.

Yamaha must now juggle their remaining engines for the rest of the season. Three engines have been withdrawn for allocation: 1 each for Rossi, Viñales, and Morbidelli, all three having suffered issues at Jerez. The engine in bike which was involved in the crash between Franco Morbidelli and Johann Zarco has not been withdrawn: the engines are designed to withstand crashes, but the extreme temperatures at Jerez may have put the bikes outside their operating limits. That leaves Rossi, Viñales, and Morbidelli with four engines for the remaining ten races, and Fabio Quartararo with five.

The engine lists to be published by Dorna on Sunday morning may reveal a little more. However, the engine lists only track whether engines ARE used, not whether the CAN be used. Only in the next few weeks will we learn whether Yamaha will use them for the races, for practice, when there is least to lose, or leave them crated as a back up option in case one of their other engines fails.


In an interview with the website, Lin Jarvis explained Yamaha's decision.  "We made a request a week ago to replace some valves in the engines that we had stopped using since the two failures we had in the Grand Prix 1," Jarvis said. "We were then requested to provide more specific evidence, both from the manufacture of the valves and also the specific properties of the valves."

In the week since that request had been submitted, Yamaha had understood much more about the cause of the failures experienced at the first race in Jerez. "During the one week since, we investigated deeply inside the factory and also we are in contact with our vendor and finally we were unable to provide the documents that were required and requested. And also at the same time we discovered much more about the valve issues that we had. So finally we withdrew. It was a very short meeting yesterday in that sense because we formally withdrew our request."

Jarvis said they had worked out a way of managing the situation with the engines unchanged. "We will manage the situation. We are completely confident that we can manage without any safety issues on the track. We will do that by a combination of changing engine settings and also managing the rotation of engines throughout the seasons." 

What is to be understood by "changing engine settings" is uncertain, but there are continuing reports that Yamaha has been forced to reduce the revs on its engines.

Back to top

Johann Zarco To Undergo Schapoid Surgery, Face FIM Stewards

Johann Zarco did not come away completely unhurt by the massive crash he had with Franco Morbidelli in the Austrian MotoGP race at the Red Bull Ring on Sunday. Scans made on Monday revealed that the Frenchman had suffered a fractured scaphoid in his right wrist in the crash.

The Frenchman is to travel to Modena in Italy to have surgery on the scaphoid, before returning to Spielberg to attempt to ride in the Styrian Grand Prix, the second race at the Red Bull Ring to be held this weekend. The surgery is to be carried out by the same team who plated Andrea Dovizioso's collarbone when the Italian broke it in an MX accident a couple of weeks before the season started.

The medical regulations mean that Zarco would have to wait for at least 48 hours after surgery before he is allowed to participate, meaning that the Frenchman would be forced to miss at least part of practice on Friday, depending on what time surgery is performed on Wednesday. He will also have to undergo a fitness test on Thursday before he is allowed to ride.

Zarco will also have to face the FIM Stewards at the Red Bull Ring. He and Franco Morbidelli have been called in front of Freddie Spencer and the FIM Stewards to explain the crash at Turn 2 at the Red Bull Ring. Morbidelli accused Zarco of deliberately braking in front of him and causing the crash, while Zarco claims that he braked later than normal on that lap.

The press release from the Avintia Ducati team appears below:


After the heavy crash and later impact during the Austrian Grand Prix race at the Red Bull Ring - Spielberg on Sunday, Johann Zarco had a medical check-up on Monday morning as pain persisted in his right wrist. After knowing the results Zarco will travel to Italy and undergo surgery on Wednesday after a small fracture on the scaphoid in his right hand.

The recovery period, the check-up at the medical centre and the rider's own feelings will determine his availability for this weekend's Styian Grand Prix.


"On Monday I did some controls on my right wrist because it was still some pain, and I got a little fracture on the scaphoid. I will go to Italy to do the operation on Wednesday morning, with a doctor that has very good contact with Ducati, this is the doctor that many times operates riders. Then we will come back to Austria, and I will be on Thursday at the track to have a meeting about the big incident that happened on Sunday. If the feeling is OK on the wrist and the medical center declares me fit to ride I will try and see if I can ride the bike. The advantage this weekend is we already have all the references from the week before, so this is not a big drama if I miss few sessions and I can take one more day to feel if my wrist is ok. Now, the main thing is the operation, and after that see if my feeling improves. The team is working on the bike to prepare it, and I know everything will be ready if I come back on the bike. Maybe there will be some rain, so also this is a chance because on the rain we have less effort on the bike and for me will be really a good chance with the rain if I can race without much effort on the wrist."


Back to top

2020 WorldSBK Calendar - As Of August 18th

Below is the 2020 WorldSBK calendar, correct as of August 18th, but subject to change if the situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic changes:

Date Country Circuit WorldSBK WorldSSP WorldSSP300
28 Feb – 1 March Australia Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit X X  
31 July - 2 August Spain Circuito de Jerez - Ángel Nieto X X X
7 - 9 August Portugal Autódromo Internacional do Algarve X X X
28 - 30 August Spain MotorLand Aragón X X X
4 - 6 September Spain MotorLand Aragón X X X
18 - 20 September Spain Circuit de Barcelona - Catalunya X X X
2 - 4 October France Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours X X X
16 - 18 October Portugal Circuito Estoril X X X



Back to top

Estoril Replaces Misano On 2020 WorldSBK Calendar

The 2020 WorldSBK calendar has been given another reshuffle. After the Argentina round was dropped for 2020 last week, this week, the race at Misano has been removed from the calendar, to be replaced by a race at the Estoril circuit in Portugal.

With the removal of Argentina, it made no sense to hold the Misano round on its originally scheduled date in November, but it seems that other factors, such as money and the danger of another flare up of the coronavirus, may have played a roll. Instead, the Estoril circuit, near the Portuguese capital Lisbon, has been placed on the calendar, with a round to be held from 16th-18th of October.

Estoril has previously featured on both the WorldSBK and MotoGP calendars, with MotoGP last visiting in 2012. Since then, no world championship motorcycle series has visited the track, though reports from other series suggest the track is in need of resurfacing, with low grip and a lot of bumps.

The calendar remains provisional, given how precarious the pandemic situation in various Europe countries continues to be.

The provisional WorldSBK calendar is as follows:

Date Country Circuit WorldSBK WorldSSP WorldSSP300
28 Feb – 1 March Australia Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit X X  
31 July - 2 August Spain Circuito de Jerez - Ángel Nieto X X X
7 - 9 August Portugal Autódromo Internacional do Algarve X X X
28 - 30 August Spain MotorLand Aragón X X X
4 - 6 September Spain MotorLand Aragón X X X
18 - 20 September Spain Circuit de Barcelona - Catalunya X X X
2 - 4 October France Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours X X X
16 - 18 October Portugal Circuito Estoril X X X

* Event to be confirmed

The FIM press release follows below:

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

2020 Calendar, UPDATE: 18 August

The Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM), Circuito Estoril officials and Dorna WSBK Organization (DWO) are pleased to announce an additional round to the 2020 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship. The Circuito Estoril, situated just 30km from the Portuguese capital city of Lisbon, will host the WorldSBK class, along with the FIM Supersport World Championship and the FIM Supersport 300 World Championship from the 16th – 18th of October.

The event will replace the Riviera di Rimini Round at the Misano World Circuit “Marco Simoncelli” as the season-ending round and will be the first time in WorldSBK history that two rounds will be held in Portugal. The track has been on the WorldSBK calendar in the past: the first year of the Championship in 1988 and in 1993, the most recent occasion. The Estoril round has not yet decided about the presence of fans and on-site external media, but a decision will made at a more relevant time, in accordance to the protocols of the moment.

Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of all parties involved, the Riviera di Rimini Round of the 2020 Championship at the Misano World Circuit “Marco Simoncelli” has been cancelled. 2020 was the final year of the current contract and despite the cancellation, a new three-year deal has been secured to bring the fastest production-based Championship in the world to the Adriatic Coast again. 2021 will mark the 30th year of WorldSBK’s presence at the track, with it being on the calendar in all but two years of racing.


Back to top

Andrea Dovizioso To Leave Ducati At The End Of 2020 - What Next In The MotoGP Rider Market?

Desmo Dovi is no more. The eight-year partnership between Andrea Dovizioso and Ducati Corse will come to an end when the flag falls after the last race of the 2020 MotoGP season.

The news was made official by Dovizioso's manager Simone Battistella, after a final meeting with Ducati management to try to agree terms. Battistella told broadcaster Sky Italia that they had been unable to find common ground to continue.

"We have told Ducati that Andrea does not intend to continue for the next years, that he now only wants to concentrate on the next races, but that the conditions to continue together don't exist," Battistella said. "He won't be leaving MotoGP, however, even if there are no negotiations currently happening with other teams. This has been a conclusion reached over the last period. Andrea feels much more calm now that he has taken this decision."

Shortly after the interview was broadcast, Ducati issued a statement by Ducati Corse Sporting Director Paolo Ciabatti via its social media channels. "We met Simone this morning here at Red Bull Ring, and realized that unfortunately, there are not the conditions to continue our relationship with Dovi beyond the end of the current contract," the statement read. "Ducati and Andrea will now fully concentrate on the remainder of the 2020 season, starting from tomorrow's Austrian GP, with the common goal to add more wins to the 13 first places already achieved together, and fight for the title until the end of the championship."

Long decline

The decision was the now seemingly inevitable outcome of the long deterioration of the relationship between Dovizioso and Ducati – and especially Ducati Corse boss Gigi Dall'Igna – over the past couple of years. Dall'Igna felt that Dovizioso needed to push harder and get more out of the Desmosedici. Dovizioso felt that Dall'Igna was focusing solely on creating more horsepower, and fixing the last of the turning issues which have dogged the Ducati for 15 years or more, at least since the switch to the 800cc formula in 2007.

Things went downhill more quickly in the past couple of years, with Dovizioso and Dall'Igna no longer on speaking terms outside of brief work meetings. Dall'Igna believed Ducati had a bike to win the championship, but not the rider – a pattern which the signing of Jorge Lorenzo fits neatly into. Dovizioso believed he could be champion if it were not for Ducati's failure to give him the last piece of the puzzle, a bike which turned better, to help him win the title.

The final stumbling block appears to have been financial. Ducati had asked Dovizioso to take a pay cut for 2021, with reports that he was also being asked to accept a pay cut for the 2020 season as well, due to the financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unsurprisingly, Dovizioso was not so inclined: the Italian had finished as runner up to a dominant Marc Márquez for the last three seasons, racked up 13 victories for Ducati, and been absolutely instrumental in helping to turn around Ducati's fortunes since his arrival in 2013, together with Gigi Dall'Igna.

Rider reshuffle

What happens next for Andrea Dovizioso? Paddock consensus is that he will join Aleix Espargaro at Aprilia. That makes a lot of sense from numerous perspectives. Aprilia want an Italian rider to enhance their status as an Italian brand. With the RS-GP now finally starting to look competitive, Aprilia need an experienced development rider, which Dovizioso unquestionably is. Aprilia are more desperate than Ducati for success, and so potentially have deeper pockets, at least in the short term.

It would also be a small piece of revenge for the Italian factory. At the end of 2013, Ducati poached then Aprilia Racing director Gigi Dall'Igna to lead their racing program. Eight years' later, Aprilia return the favor by tempting Andrea Dovizioso away from Ducati to help lead the development of the RS-GP.

If Dovizioso goes to Aprilia, that would leave Cal Crutchlow without a seat in MotoGP. That would be an issue for British broadcaster BT Sport, who want a British rider in the premier class, but there are no real candidates to ascend to MotoGP, nor attractive seats available.

Ducati's choices

In theory, Crutchlow could return to Ducati, but Ducati have shown no interest in seeing the British rider return. The more plausible explanation is that Ducati promote Pecco Bagnaia from the satellite Pramac squad, as they have done with Jack Miller. Ducati owns the contracts of the Pramac Ducati riders, and Pramac is very much the Ducati junior team, where they prepare talent for ascension into the factory squad.

If Bagnaia is promoted to the factory team, that would leave space in the Pramac squad for some experimentation by Ducati. Enea Bastianini's name has been mentioned a lot recently, as the Italian has impressed in Moto2. Bastianini could be one rider to be promoted to MotoGP in 2021. Luca Marini is another name which has been doing the rounds, the Sky VR46 rider having made a big step forward in the past couple of seasons.

Johann Zarco is another alternative, though the Frenchman is more likely to be placed in Pramac than in the factory squad. What Ducati are after is a rider to win a championship: Zarco has shown he can be competitive and score podiums on the Ducati, but there are lingering doubts that he can cope with the pressure of a factory team, after what happened in 2019 with the factory KTM squad.

Rumors continue to circulate about a possible return to Ducati by Jorge Lorenzo. It is hard to assess how much substance there is to the rumors. Ducati have politely talked around the rumors, without addressing them directly, and Jorge Lorenzo has gone quiet in recent weeks. But it is a popular proposal among pundits, as it generates a lot of debate and engagement.

Lorenzo is beloved by Ducati Corse boss Gigi Dall'Igna, but he faces opposition from Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali. It was Domenicali's opposition that eventually forced Lorenzo out at the end of 2018.

A decision on Ducati's future line up will follow in a month or so, once Ducati have had a chance to digest the news that they have lost Dovizioso, and to weigh their options. "We will take some time to make some considerations, and in the next weeks, we will inform everybody," Davide Tardozzi told Simon Crafar on the broadcast.

If you enjoyed this article, please consider supporting You can help by either taking out a subscription, supporting us on Patreon, by making a donation, or contributing via our GoFundMe page. You can find out more about subscribing to here.


Back to top