The provisional MotoGP calendar has taken a little longer than normal to appear. An initial calendar had been expected at Brno in late August, but no calendar was forthcoming at the Czech Grand Prix. The next rumored date for the calendar to be released was the weekend of the Misano round of MotoGP, but once the paddock assembled at Misano, it became apparent it would emerge a few days later - MotoMatters.com was told by an IRTA representative that the calendar would be announced on Tuesday or Wednesday this week. On Tuesday, the Austin Statesman newspaper reported that the calendar would be out on Friday, but the excessive enthusiasm of Loris Capirossi saw the former racer and current MotoGP safety advisor leak the 2013 calendar on his Twitter page on Thursday night.
The calendar is largely the same as 2012, with one or two minor variations, and a couple of major question marks hanging over the early rounds. The championship kicks off in Qatar on March 31st, MotoGP having learned from starting late last year, when both the World Superbikes and Formula One seaons were already well underway. The opening weekend will almost certainly be a four-day race event once again, especially as moving the race to late March increases the risk of the dew which settles on the track late in the evening making the surface treacherous around race time. Qatar always faces this difficulty: because the race is both the first race of the season and a night race, there is a constant struggle to find a weekend early enough in the year, yet without the risk the evening dew poses for the riders.
With Estoril now dropped from the calendar, the series will instead cross the Atlantic for the Argentinian and Texas Grand Prix. Both races are listed as to be confirmed, both for different reasons. The race in Argentina is under political threat, both from the Spanish goverment and from the Spanish oil giant Repsol, due to the forced nationalization of Repsol's Argentinian subsdiary Repsol YPF. While this situation is not yet under control - and while work is still to be completed on the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit - then the Argentina race remains very much in doubt. There are legal issues surrounding the Austin race as well, with the dispute continuing between Kevin Schwantz' company 3FourTexasMGP and the ownership of the Circuit of the Americas, the track in Austin which is to host the race. The race is almost certain to go ahead, but an ugly and protracted legal battle looms over the rights to organize the race. The lawyers are likely to do well out of this.
The series then moves to Europe, for what many regard as the traditional opening of the MotoGP season, the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez. The race is marked as subject to contract, with the situation surrounding the race still not clear. The city council of Jerez is very keen to see the race go ahead, but the regional authority for Andalucia is unsure they can afford to finance the race. A season without a race at Jerez is, for the moment, unthinkable.
After the inevitable sojourn at Le Mans, the series then heads to Italy for the Mugello round of MotoGP. After a gap of two years, the race is to return to the first weekend in June, a far better date for Mugello than early July. Crowd numbers have fallen since the dates were swapped, and though part of that is probably due to the economic crisis engulfing Europe, and having Valentino Rossi underperforming on the Ducati, another part is also due to the fact that the heat in July means the Italians prefer to spend their weekends at the beach rather than at the racetrack.
The Barcelona round follows, the race returning to the slot after Mugello once again, while the Dutch TT in Assen takes place on the last Saturday in June, as it has historically always done. Two weeks later, the series heads to Germany for the race at the Sachsenring, before flying west for the second of the three US rounds, the US Grand Prix at Laguna Seca. After a four week break, the final US round of MotoGP takes place at Indianapolis, the Indy round remaining on the calendar, as it is popular with fans, if not always with the riders.
The Indy round of MotoGP is the first of two three-race back-to-back weekends. From Indianapolis, the teams fly to Brno for the Czech Grand Prix a week later. Seven days after that, the three Grand Prix classes race at Silverstone, the British GP having been moved at the request of the circuit in an attempt to space out the three world championship races (Formula One, World Superbikes and MotoGP) hosted at the track. The paddock then heads to Misano two weeks later, and Aragon another fourteen days after that.
The second of the three-race back-to-backs follows, with the three flyaways in the Asian-Pacific region once again behind held on consecutive weekends. The order is altered for 2013, the series kicking off in Malaysia, then heading to Phillip Island in Australia, before ending the eastern tour at Motegi in Japan. The series then ends as usual at Valencia, which will the be followed a day later for the kickoff of the 2014 season with the traditional two-day test.
Though the calendar shown is a version which has been leaked, there is no doubting the authenticity of it. The first three weekends match the provisional test calendar which MotoMatters.com was shown at Misano. That does not mean that this calendar is set in stone, however: the schedule is subject to be changed as soon as the Formula One calendar appears. The draft 2013 F1 calendar is expected some time after the FIA World Motor Sports Council meets on September 28th, though given the proximity to that event, it seems safe to assume that MotoGP and WSBK have already held consultations on their respective calendars, to attempt to minimize clashes between the two series. Anyone wishing to book accommodation for race next year should ensure they are able to cancel it without charge, at least for a few more months until the calendar is finalized.
On Friday, the FIM issued a press release confirming the calendar leaked on Thursday by Loris Capirossi.
Below is the provisional MotoGP calendar for 2013:
|31 March||Qatar*||Losail, Qatar|
|14 April||TBC||TBC (Argentina)|
|21 April||TBC||TBC (Austin, Texas)|
|5 May||Spain (STC)||Jerez|
|19 May||France||Le Mans|
|21 July||USA***||Laguna Seca|
|25 August||Czech Republic||Brno|
|01 September||Great Britain||Silverstone|
|15 September||San Marino & Riviera di Rimini||Misano Marco Simoncelli|
|29 September||Aragon||Motorland Aragon|
|20 October||Australia||Phillip Island|
|10 November||Valencia||Ricardo Tormo Valencia|
* Evening Race
** Saturday Race
*** MotoGP Race Only
TBC - To Be Confirmed
STC - Subject To Contract
Order of TBC rounds uncertain. Paddock rumors suggest that the first of the two races will be in Argentina, with Texas following, but this is far from certain.