Putting together the calendar for any motorcycle racing series is always a puzzle, depending on a huge number of factors such as circuit availability, travel distance, expense and a host of others. Alongside all of these more obvious factors, the MotoGP calendar also takes into account the scheduling of Formula One. An informal agreement exists between the bosses of Formula One and MotoGP to avoid direct calendar clashes wherever possible, in order to ensure the highest possible TV audiences for both series.
During the last round of changes to the Formula One calendar, the FIA appear to have forgotten about this gentlemen's agreement, as the revised dates have caused three clashes with the provisional 2010 MotoGP calendar announced earlier this summer. The three events that will fall on the same weekend are the Le Mans MotoGP round and the Monaco F1 Grand Prix; the Mugello MotoGP round and the Turkish F1 race; and perhaps most worrying of all, the Misano MotoGP race and the F1 race at Monza, just a few hundred kilometers up the A14 highway in Milan.
The date which is likely to cause the fewest problems is the Mugello / Turkey clash. The Turkish Grand Prix could easily be run an hour earlier than normal, allowing the Mugello MotoGP race to start at the normal time. The other two clashes are much more problematic, as the races are both scheduled not just in the same time zone, but in the same country. In both cases the MotoGP rounds are likely to be the dates that get moved. Monaco and Monza are two of the biggest events on the Formula One calendar, the Monaco race attracting large audiences even among casual viewers. In contrast, the Le Mans and Misano MotoGP races only attract moderate attendances, despite Misano lying in the center of Italy's motorcycle racing heartland. So far, no word has been forthcoming on when or whether new dates for these races will be set.
The World Superbike calendar may also face some upheaval for 2010 as well. After Donington failed to secure sufficient funding to complete the track alterations needed for the Formula One round due to be held there, the circuit management is in deep financial difficulties. The DVLL, which runs the circuit, is now technically insolvent, according to the car racing website Pitpass.com, and the Formula One round has already been pulled from the circuit. If the DVLL were to go bankrupt, it is unclear whether the Donington round of World Superbikes would be able to go ahead. For the moment, the the 2010 World Superbike round - scheduled to take place on August 1st - is still listed on the Donington Park circuit website. Just how long that will last remains to be seen.
Whatever does happen, the continuing calendar confusion is making planning for next year a little difficult. MotoGP and World Superbike fans planning their vacations for next year need to hold off for a couple of months, until the calendar is finally settled.