Phillip Island Likely To Start MotoGP Season From 2012

The cold temperatures at Phillip Island two weeks ago once again raised the issue of whether it is wise to stage the Australian Grand Prix there right at the tail end of the Antipodean winter, when the weather can be very cold and wet. Valentino Rossi led the calls for the race to be moved to the start of the MotoGP season, which would be the Australian late summer.

Dorna CEO was very receptive to the idea of moving the race to earlier in the year, but his hands are tied by a couple of factors, meaning that this change is unlikely to happen for 2011. However, in an interview with Israeli TV journalist Tammy Gorali, Ezpeleta revealed that he will by pushing to make the change for the 2012 season. "For sure, we will change this for the following year if we can't change for next year," Ezpeleta told Gorali, adding that his preference would be for the race to start the season.

The problem Ezpeleta faces is that the Qatar circuit already has a contract with Dorna to stage the first race of the season, the MotoGP year always opening under the lights at Losail. Ezpeleta said that he will be talking to the QMMF, who own the Losail circuit, to get this changed, and he was confident they would  not object. "We will talk with Qatar about this," Ezpeleta told Gorali, adding "we have a good relationship with Qatar." But the change is unlikely to happen for 2011, Ezpeleta said. "Most probably, the [2011] calendar will stay the same. We will make an announcement before Valencia."

Ezpeleta faces a bigger challenge to moving the Phillip Island race than just Dorna's contract with the Qatari federation, however. The Formula One season holds the Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne in late March, right around the period that the MotoGP round could be moved to. The Victoria government may not be keen on staging two such popular events so close together, and having MotoGP and Formula One within a few weeks could pose a formidable logistical problem. Formula One is unlikely to move its race to cater to MotoGP, though the continuing feud between Bernie Ecclestone and the state of Victoria about funding the Melbourne street circuit could see changes made to the F1 calendar anyway. 

There is, of course, also the small matter of the Phillip Island WSBK round which takes place in early March, but just as MotoGP must bow to Formula  1, the Phillip Island organizers will likely give up World Superbike's spot on the schedule to MotoGP, and WSBK will be switched to the end of the year.

Moving Phillip Island to the start of the season would solve a number of issues for Dorna. Firstly, by having the first round of MotoGP in Australia, the season could get underway much earlier, around early March. This, in turn, would mean that Qatar could be run a couple of weeks later, in early April, when nighttime temperatures rise a little, reducing the risk of dew forming on the track. An earlier start and a later date for Qatar would be significant gains for the MotoGP calendar.

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Comments

Generally everyone wants good weather and dry races. The only Southern event is held in Aus.Switch Valencia and Phillip Island is so obvious. Tradition and the rest. Had Dorna and Co. applied their minds to the case of probability we might have enjoyed a MotoGP qualifying session today.

That makes sense to me.

I get it that everyone loves PI but maybe if the two hemispheres can't play nicely it is time to look at a different location. Are there any FIM tracks further north in Australia? I know blasphemy...

They sure as heck could move Laguna to a different time if any tracks needed that time slot. Laguna has rideable weather almost every weekend throughout the year. Again blasphemy...

Why should WSBK give up their opening round to satisfy the needs of Motogp? Why should WSBK then face the same issues that Motogp face? Why would the organisers of the PI round feel any better about a cold WSBK race than a cold Motogp race?

From a fan perspective, I'd rather it stay the same.

David.. Pitt Bull was right..
You need to have a word to Dorna and make Phillip Island the last race of the year.
Iam a motorcycle mechanic and the whole of Australian motorcycle community base there plans around Riding down to Phillip Island for the Super bikes at the start of the year and the Motogp race late in the year. So the later the Phillip Island event is held the better it would be for every one here Weather wise (on there long trip to PI). Also if they have two major races at the start of the year that means we will have the Motogp, SBK and F1 all in one month and nothing else to do for the rest of the year. only allowing the country to become a red neck colony like America with their Nascar! but with our V8 supercars ( www.v8supercars.com.au )

It has rained only twice since the motogp bikes have visited PI ( four strokes only)
There was more track times at PI then Estoril over the first two days of the meeting.

It always seems like we're stuck waiting for the next MotoGP season to start, meanwhile F1 and WSBK have a few races in the bag by the time MotoGP starts. It would be nice to have the opening race in Phillip Island in March. They could always make the summer break a week or two longer, space out a few races a little more. It's great having races back to back but then again aren't they still trying to cut costs? I would think that the logistics of having races so close can only be more expensive...

Lets hope they all go along with it. SBK may get the worst of it, if they move to where Moto GP is. Oh well :)

Only inappropriate gear.
Freezing wet Friday.
Freezing wet Saturday.
Freezing wet Sunday morning leading intp pleasant and sunburnt Sunday afternoon.
All worth it as Casey hung the rear out a foot into T12 lap one, already dominant.
Brilliant weekend!

Vale wants to change his travel plans, so the rest of the world has to jump? Please no.

Oh dear it's raining at Estoril, better change that race. And let's stop going to the UK, it's always raining there.

Go Westy tonight!

Before people get too excited about moving to earlier in the year, a few years back there was a WSBK round washed out at Phillip Island. I've had a brief look but can't find the references to it.
But from memory, Race Officials decided the race would go ahead, Troy Corser parked his bike across the exit of Pit Lane to prevent riders leaving the pits, as he considered it too dangerous with lots of standing water. And I think it was Troy Bayliss who went out and did a sighting lap before deciding it was unsafe.
There was a big kerfuffle.
The other memory is of people saying Phillip Island in March it is almost guaranteed to rain, WHY IS THE WSBK RACE HELD SO EARLY???
Perhaps someone can help with the references.
But my point is March is autumn, October is spring, rain is a distinct possibility.
They have one bad weekend in how many years??? And they want change the world????
Reminded of that old saying, be careful what you wish for, it may come true.

For those who've never lived here, the weather in Melbourne has to be some of the most unpredictable in the world at times. We are renowned for regularly having 4 seasons in one day, as well as variable changes on a regular and unpredictable rate. The saying here goes, "if you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes".

As mentioned earlier, WSBK race 2 was abandoned in 2001 (I was there), as there were rivers of water running across the track in several areas - and the Phillip Island circuit is by no means flat!
Colin Edwards rode the lap to test the conditions and made the call in the end.

Moving MotoGP to March is no guarantee of solving anything regarding weather problems as some people believe it will, it will just cause angst with WSBK, and F1. Leave well alone.