MotoGP fans around the world - and to an even greater extent, everyone involved in MotoGP - have been waiting for a calendar for the 2011 season for a long time now. The problem has been that MotoGP has an informal agreement with Formula One to avoid scheduling conflicts between the two series, and thereby force TV companies to choose between one or the other.
In practice, this means that Formula One dictates the MotoGP calendar, and this is exactly what appears to have happened to the provisional 2011 MotoGP calendar. An early version was leaked two weeks ago, a version that looked to be fairly reliable, but rescheduling by Formula One - shuffling some of the 20 races which it has on its calendar - meant that too many MotoGP races would conflict with F1 events.
As a result, the FIM has finally managed to produce a provisional version of the 2011 MotoGP calendar, which has seen a surprising amount of reshuffling of events happen. The season starts in Qatar on March 20th, as previously announced, and the season night race is expected to be spread over four days instead of the usual three, to allow the race to be run earlier at night, avoiding the drastic temperature drops that can happen between 11pm and midnight in the desert. It also means the season starts some three weeks earlier than in 2010, seizing back some of the ground MotoGP had ceded to the World Superbike series.
After Qatar, the changes begin in earnest. The Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez has been moved forward four weeks to take place in early April, and the race at Estoril moved up two weeks to fill the void created by the moving of Jerez. The Le Mans MotoGP round is also moved up a week, taking place a week earlier than previously planned and taking the place of Estoril. Barcelona and Mugello swap places, with the Catalunya GP moving to early June while Mugello takes place in the first week of July. The British round at Silverstone is moved back a week, easing the mad dash to the ferry which we saw this year to get to Assen for the Dutch TT.
MotoGP will once again return to the splendid isolation of the Motorland Aragon circuit, giving Spain four GPs for one more year. While the final change in the calendar is the moving of the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang, which will now take place a week after Phillip Island, rather than a week before. The season ends, as ever, at Valencia, on November 6th.
The 2011 MotoGP schedule is almost identical to the calendar for this year, with just some reshuffling of dates. But this is likely to be the last year of what has become a very familiar schedule, with major changes expected in 2012. The new 1000cc formula is also likely to see a host of new tracks appear on the calendar, including Abu Dhabi, and probably the new circuit currently being built in Greater Noida, close to Delhi, India. The schedule is also likely to be revised to minimize the amount of flying involved, and group the non-European rounds closer together, with Laguna Seca and a second US round (either Indianapolis or Austin, Texas) being run without a European round in between.
2011 MotoGP calendar
|May 15th||France||Le Mans|
|June 12th||Great Britain||Silverstone|
|July 24th||United States***||Laguna Seca|
|August 14th||Czech Republic||Brno|
|September 4th||San Marino & Riviera di Rimini||Misano|
|September 18th||Aragon||MotorLand Aragon|
|October 16th||Australia||Phillip Island|
* Evening race
** Saturday race
*** Only MotoGP class