The future of the MotoGP round at Brno has finally been secured. The regional authorities have stepped in to secure funding for the Czech Grand Prix for the next five years, starting from 2016. A deal has been struck with the Czech Ministry of Education and Sports, the City of Brno, and the Moravian regional government to ensure that the Czech round stays for the foreseeable future.
The round had been in doubt for some time, as haggling over finances between the circuit, the city council and the regional government saw the sanctioning fee go partially unpaid for the past several years. The rights to the round have now been placed with a new and separate organization, run by the various regional and national governments involved, who will organize the round at the Brno circuit. With the financing in place, the race will continue for at least the next five years, and probably beyond.
With a deal for the Brno round now wrapped up, the 2016 MotoGP calendar has taken a step closer to be announced. The order of the races will remain largely unchanged, though the moving of the F1 calendar means that the races are to start earlier. The season will kick off at Qatar as usual, probably on the 20th of March. From there, the paddock heads overseas to Austin and Argentina, before returning to Europe for the remainder of the season. The changes to F1 mean most of the races will be a week earlier than they were last year, though the dates are completely settled.
Brno was part of the summer puzzle which needed to be sorted out before the calendar could be finalized. The Austrian round at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg will be held back-to-back with Brno, the question mark being if and where Indianapolis will fit in. The ball is in Indianapolis Motor Speedway's court, IMS having to decide whether they can afford to host a round of MotoGP next year. That decision will have to be made soon, and will depend to an extent on funding. If Indy returns, there will be an 19-round season, if not, it will remain at 18 rounds.
Bigger changes are expected in 2017, when Thailand is expected to make its debut, along with the possibility of a round in Indonesia. A lot has to happen before that can take place, however.
Below is the press release announcing the deal with Brno:
MotoGP™ to return to Brno in 2016 and beyond
MotoGP™ rights holder Dorna Sports SL reached a deal with the Czech authorities in order to secure the Czech GP presence on the FIM MotoGP™ World Championship calendar for at least the next five years. A joint effort of the Moravian government and the city of Brno will lead to the creation of a new body acting as the promoter of the event and working alongside Dorna Sports towards MotoGP™ return to the iconic Czech venue in 2016 and beyond.
Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna Sports, declared: "The Czech GP is one of the highlights of the Championship as it's been on the calendar for 50 years and as we see this weekend again, it's a very popular event. We are very happy to reach an agreement with the Czech authorities that will ensure the future of the Grand Prix in the Czech Republic for at least the next five years."
Czech ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, Katerina Valachova, commented: "We're proud to announce that Brno will host MotoGP again in 2016 and the four following years, thanks to the creation of a new public body involving the Meridional Moravia Government and the City of Brno."
The first Czechoslovakian Grand Prix was held at Brno in 1965, on the original 13.94 km long road circuit. The current circuit was first used for grand prix racing in 1987 and hosted the Czechoslovakian GP through until 1991. Brno did not appear on the calendar for 1992, but the event was revived in 1993 as the Grand Prix of the Czech Republic and has taken place every year since.