The 2016 MotoGP Season - What We Know, What We Expect

With the news that the Brno round of MotoGP has been handed to a consortium consisting of local and regional governments, and that they are working to secure the long-term future of Brno, a major piece of the puzzle surrounding MotoGP's schedule for 2016 slotted into place. Brno, along with Indianapolis, had been the two biggest question marks still hanging over the calendar.

Most of the schedule fell into place once Formula One announced its calendar several weeks ago. The combination of an unusually late start (F1 kicks off in Melbourne on 4th April, two weeks later than last year) and an expansion of the schedule to 21 races has left few gaps for MotoGP to fit into. The upside to F1's late start is that MotoGP can get a head start on its four-wheeled counterpart, and kick the season off before F1 begins.

Preseason testing is slightly altered for 2016. Instead of two tests at Sepang, the MotoGP teams will head from Sepang to Phillip Island, and then on to Qatar, for a final test before the start of the season. Testing starts on the first three days of February, spending the 1st to the 3rd at Sepang, for the first start of the year. From there, the circus moves to Australia, for a three-day test at Phillip Island from 17th to the 19th February, before heading back across the equator to Qatar. MotoGP will test at the Losail circuit on the 3rd, 4th and 5th of March.

Two weeks later, the paddock returns to Qatar for the start of the season proper. Racing starts under the floodlights as usual on 20th March, with practice starting on Thursday, as it has done for some time now. Two weeks later, the circus crosses the Atlantic to Austin, the likely sole US round to be held on 3rd April. From there, MotoGP heads south to Argentina, the Termas de Rio Hondo round due to be held on 10th April.

Those three dates are set, but beyond that, the calendar is yet to be finalized. Sources at Brno suggested that the 2016 calendar would mirror the 2015 schedule, with most of the races moved a week earlier to fit in with F1. Le Mans, Mugello and Barcelona would follow two weeks apart, with a three-week break between Barcelona and Assen, which will take place on 26th June, having been moved from Saturday to Sunday. It is possible that Barcelona could be moved up a week to 12th June, as that would put an extra week between the MotoGP and the F1 races, and be run on the same weekend as the Montreal F1 race, which starts in the evening European time. The date for the Assen round of MotoGP clashes with the British F1 round at Silverstone, but in that case, MotoGP will start earlier, probably at 1pm, with Moto3 taking place after MotoGP has finished. From there, MotoGP will head to Germany for the Sachsenring race, likely to be held on 10th July.

The month of August was the hardest part of the puzzle for Dorna to put together. Brno and Indianapolis were the two stumbling blocks: Brno had not paid monies owed from 2014 and 2015, and Indianapolis was not disposed to pay the sanctioning fee asked by Dorna. Dorna, for their part, were not willing to lower the sanctioning fee, as the amount the circuit has paid so far does not cover the cost of staging the race in the Midwest. When MotoGP was still racing at Laguna Seca, Transatlantic freight costs could be shared between two races. MotoGP backed out from Laguna, after the circuit was unable to pay the already heavily discounted sanctioning fee, and Indy has been left to cover the full cost of flying the entire circus back and forth across the Atlantic. It is not a cost which the circuit seems disposed to bear.

Brno signing up meant that Indy has almost certainly forfeited its place, though officially, nothing has been agreed yet. What is certain is that MotoGP will be heading to the Red Bull Ring at Spielberg in Austria, on either the first or the second week of August. Dorna are believed to want to run Austria back-to-back with Brno, but the Brno circuit would like a week's grace between the two races, fearing reduced attendance at the Czech round. The Red Bull Ring and Masaryk Circuit at Brno are just over 320 kilometers apart, and will be drawing from a very similar pool of fans. German fans from the Munich area will be able to choose between two races roughly equal distances apart. Austria and Brno are likely to take on two of the weekends between 7th and 21st of August.

The British round of MotoGP is likely to take place on the August Bank Holiday once again, the 28th August being the most likely date. That would see it clash with the Belgian F1 Grand Prix at Spa, meaning that the British race would either have to start at 12 noon UK time, to start before F1, or at 3pm local time, once the race has finished. Officially, the race should take place at the Circuit of Wales in Ebbw Vale, but it looks unlikely that the track will be ready in time. Silverstone is the most likely candidate to host the race once again.

From Silverstone, MotoGP will probably head to Misano and Aragon once again, at two week intervals. That would put Misano on a weekend without an F1 weekend on 11th September, and Aragon on the 25th, when F1 is at Sepang in Malaysia, and on much earlier in the morning. After that, it is off to the three flyaways once again in Japan, Australia and Malaysia, before heading back to the final round of the season at Valencia.

All of these dates are far from fixed, with the exception of the first three races of the season and Assen, and are definitely subject to change. An official provisional calendar is expected soon, possibly as early as Misano. 

2016 is likely to be the last year of the current shape of the calendar. From 2017, Thailand is expected to join the schedule, MotoGP heading to Buriram in the wake of World Superbikes. A round at Sentul in Indonesia is expected to be put on the calendar in the near future, though whether it will be ready in time for 2017 or not remains to be seen. 

Though Carmelo Ezpeleta has said that the calendar could be expanded to 20 races, that will meet with opposition from the riders. The 18-race calendar is punishing enough, adding two more would be too much to ask, the riders feel. Injury and physical and mental exhaustion would make a 20-race schedule unsafe.

That would mean dropping races from the calendar, and with four rounds in Spain, those are the races most under threat. The tourism ministry in Andalucia is keen to keep the race in Jerez, as it brings in a lot of money to an economically depressed region, and Jerez has tried to profile itself as the city of motorsports. Aragon has a long-term contract, and strong support from regional government for much the same reason as Jerez, for the employment the circuit brings. Valencia and Barcelona are the two events most under threat, mostly as a result of local politics. The regional government in Valencia is still embroiled in the aftermath of a financial scandal surrounding the running of the F1 race at the street circuit in the city, and there is constant pressure to both clean up its act and reduce spending. The new mayor of Barcelona, elected on an anti-austerity platform, has stated publicly that she believes that the highly successful MotoGP race at the Montmelo circuit near Barcelona is capable of paying its own way, and that she would rather spend the money paid to Dorna on helping to house the homeless in Barcelona, rather than subsidize a profit-making enterprise. One or both of those rounds could be dropped, the other alternative being to alternate the race between the two venues.

2017, though, is still a very long way away. First, there is the small matter of the rest of the 2015 season.

 

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Comments

There'll be a back to back somewhere in August! If Brno go for 7 August, that'll clash with F1 in Hungary and given their proximity, perhaps not ideal, although not necessarily insurmountable. However, they can't really go for the following week of 14 August as that will give a race in Brno, Spielberg and Silverstone on 3 consecutive weekends on the basis of 28 August for the UK round. Damn Bernie and his F1 schedule meddling!

Jerez and Valencia need to go in my opinion.

However if they need to stay what they could propose is to rotate 2 out of the 3 the races between Jerez, Aragon (once its contract is over), and Catalunya.

Then eventually move to rotating to 1 out of the two, most likely Aragon and Catalunya.

Maybe Spain should just have their own seperate "world championship." I think its a joke that the USA (the biggest motorcycle market in the world) and Japan (where most of the motorcycles are made!) have to make do with one round. Couple that with the fact that neither country will have a rider representing them. When is the last time that happened?

Let's just think about that for a moment.

Two countries - the United States of America and Japan.

One is the largest consumer on the planet, while the other is the largest producer of motorcycles in the world.

Isn't it sadly ironic that they can't come up with a single, worthwhile rider between them?

"Win on a Sunday, sell on a Monday" was once the famous American saying, but has America lost it's will to win?

Japan will happily continue to produce, but will America simply continue to consume, rather than choose to compete?

It's staggering that a rich, technologically advanced country like the USA - the first country on earth to land a man on the moon over 45 yrs ago, hasn't yet developed a decent road bike or MotoGP machine.

Equally, it's sadly amazing that, with a huge population of around 320 million people, the United States can't find a single person to represent them on the world stage in MotoGP when Hayden leaves at the end of the year.

Please, don't ask for more MotoGP - not when there's so little real appetite for it.

Japan leads race bike development for a number of reasons, one of the biggest is the lack of a aerospace industry. All that engineering talent that would have gone into making airplanes in japan was redirected into automotive and motorcycle engineering. Also Japanese industry used to be formed into Keiretsu so that the motorcycle divisions of the companies were supported by other heavy manufacturing divisions so talent could flow back and forth between them. In the US it just didn't work like that, car manufactures had no interest in motorcycles and the motorcycle industry stood alone and had no other business to support them in hard times. Also because there wasn't a lot of movement of engineer's between other industries and motorcycling there really wasn't anyplace for new idea's about engineering and manufacturing. So the industry stagnated and eventually traded on marketing of image rather than engineering excellence.

As for American racers the destruction of AMA didn't help but I think the obsession with child safety stopped much of the possible talent from entering the field. Lets face it if you don't start racing till you're 16 or 18 you're never going to develop the skills needed to race at that level before you age out. Maybe we'll get some more americans doing the Isle of Man where the cost is much lower and there aren't as many races so you can be a lot older and still compete John McGuiness is 43 and he won the senior TT this year.

...is where the majority of riders, teams and major sponsors live so yes I get it- to a point. Having been to them all over the last 15 years or so, they're all great in their own way, however, the automatic sell -out crowds have gone and whilst there are still decent crowds, you will have seen spaces in grandstands for the last five years or so, something you'd never see before the economy turned bad. There's still plenty of tickets for Valencia left despite the potential of one of the most exiting finales in years and a weak Euro making the price very low.
Europe is no longer the big bucks market it was and, after most Japanese companies, and especially Yamaha, had a torrid time over recent years as well as a volatile exchange rate it's understandable they have been increasingly chasing burgeoning South American and Asian markets, and if that means making hundreds of thousands of 100cc put-puts then so be it. It's strange that lots of opinion questions why there aren't loads of new super sport bikes to fuel WSBK over recent times-simple, there wasn't the justification to invest in what's a widely shrinking market as ageing riders in many traditional markets look at something more comfortable and less aggressive than a hyper sports machine; investment in other sectors made more sense.
So personally I can't see why Spain shouldn't lose a round or maybe two, with imagination Dorna can get the global reach better and we are seeing an increasing number of sponsors emerge from these places. Satu Hati and Semakin di Depan are (I think) Asian bike importers and there's many more. The sport has, to a degree, chase the market and the manufacturers, including the Europeans, see that market emerging away from the traditional homelands.

"Satu Hati" (means One Heart) is the marketing tagline for Honda Indonesia.
"Semakin di Depan" (means At the Front More) is the marketing tagline for Yamaha Indonesia.
Which means that both are sponsoring themselves through their Asian branches, in this case Indonesia, where MotoGP is very popular and the market for small bikes below 150cc are the 2nd largest in the world.
Both are producing their small bikes through their own Indonesia-based factories. The only imports are the bigger ones like the recently launched R1.

Seems to me that the odds of making Indy a successful GP weekend long-term would increase if it was tied to the same weekend as the Indy Mile. It would be a benefit to both orgaizations. With Marquez doing the Superprestigio and Bayliss doing lots of flat track it would be a no-brainer to both increase the amount of Europeans making the trip and a great chance to get some of the American dirt track crowd into GP racing. Not to mention maybe getting some European dirt track wild-cards to come over and race. The days of the Trans-Atlantic Match races are long past but maybe their idea can be revived with some flat track events.

Chris

This year's 3-day attendance figure of 145,558 was well-up on last year's 132,817, and only just short of the all-time high of 146,680 set in 2009.

Indy isn't the best attended MotoGP race on the current calendar, but it's not the worst either. Last year's attendance figure placed it 8th out of the 18 races held, so I'm not sure what the problem is and why it's future is said to be in doubt.

Maybe the problem is the calendar which schedules Indy as an isolated, fly-away race in August making it expensive and unprofitable to stage MotoGP?

How expensive is Indy? I've always wondered, so I've done some digging to try to find some answers and have added some links below.

It appears that to air-lift the cargo of an entire MotoGP field (including Moto2 & Moto3) and DORNA to Indy would require 3-4 freight 747 aircraft with around 330 tons (or approximately 300,000 kg) total payload.

How much does that cost? The most recent figure that I've found is 9.10 euro/kg which would result in an air freight charge of around 2.7 million euro.

Who pays? Not sure. The article says that Indy has been asked to shoulder the burden of the bill, but I've read on another website that it's the teams that have to foot their own share of the costs, and that they receive a subsidy from DORNA and IRTA for doing so - the actual amount received being dependant upon their championship standing.

Confused? I was/am, so I went off in search of more information and came across the official KTM blog which stated that teams get the first 5,000 kg free from DORNA, but then have to pay for any excess.

That seemed okay until I read another piece about Tech3 which said that they use 25 flight cases with a combined weight of 8,200 kg, but that larger teams use around 40-50 flight cases. In contrast, a Moto3 team is said to use just 3.

I'm still in the dark. Can anyone shed more light on the matter?

http://www.roadracingworld.com/news/attendance-up-for-2015-red-bull-indi...

http://www.speedweek.com/motogp/news/79469/Forward-Fracht-nach-Indy-kost...

http://blog.ktm.com/motogp-race-circus-on-world-tour-a-tight-race/

http://motogpbrits.com/2014/03/26/behind-the-scenes-with-tech3-operation...

Does Barcelona need any subsidy? If it can't pay it's own way when Lorenzo, Marquez etc are local riders which event can?

Barcelona currently hosts both F1 and MotoGP so what's the problem?

The problem is that the fees charged to circuit owners/promoters to stage such prestigious events are prohibitively high. Both F1 and DORNA take everything except the proceeds from ticket sales. As a result, it's become increasing difficult for circuit owners to break-even - let alone make a profit, without regional or national assistance in some form of grant-aid.

Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is badly in need of track re-surfacing which will cost around 1.5 million euro. But if the circuit operators aren't allowed to make a profit from top world-class events such as these, then there's no money to re-invest and the circuit falls into disrepair.

Like we saw recently at Brno, the City of Barcelona has a choice. It can either choose to assist and support the circuit, and continue to reap the long-term financial rewards that it brings in the shape of jobs, tourism and world-wide exposure, or it can choose to do nothing and face the prospect of losing the chance of economic prosperity.

Dear Avalon, when exactly did that refer to American-made motorcycles? Never.

Yes, I'm American. We do not make motorcycles, unfortunately, capable of winning in competition on the fossil-fuel side of road racing. The manufacturers that are, or have been interested in doing this, are simply not funded well enough to do it. However, it seems on the electric side there seems to be some interest. See the Isle of Man TT races and you'll find a successful American outfit.

In America, most of the bike crowd is more concerned with Harley-Davidson like motorcycles. Unfortunate.

As far as the racers go, Ben Spies was a possibility, but he removed himself from racing. We do have a few other guys that are ready to step up to the smaller classes it seems. PJ Jacobsen would be a candidate to go Moto2, eventually, as is Cameron Beaubier, JD Beach, Joe Roberts and maybe even Jake Gagne.

The bad thing is Americans (except for PJJ) were not taken to Europe early enough as some successful non-europeans were in the last decade or so. Combine that with mishandling of our national series and voila.

Step in Wayne Rainey and Moto America. Hopefully he gets that series straight and then we will see a new crop of young Americans going overseas and being successful.

No offence intended and no cheap shot either - just an observation.

I'm getting old but have been lucky enough to to have seen the very best that America (and Canada) has had to offer in the past. A staggering stream of talent that appeared to be never ending at the time.

Guys like Yvon DuHamel and Steve Baker - they were my hero's. Roberts, Lawson, Rainey, Spencer ..... the list of 'greats' went on and on, until it suddenly stopped. It was like a tap being turned-off.

No disrespect to Roberts Jnr, but there were no more heroes anymore. No more brilliant, thrilling, young Americans.

There's been a long drought since the days of Kocinski, and the thirst needs quenching.

Before his shoulder injury forced him into early retirement, Ben Spies showed that the well of talent hadn't completely dried-up and hopefully young PJ will make a big splash in the near future - maybe Herrin will learn to swim back up-stream too?

It's been too long, but the wheel turns around - albeit rather slowly in the case of electric bikes (not really my thing).

I agree Avalon, I'm not into electric bikes either, but the MotoCzyz thing went well. I know at one point they had built a bike they were going to use in MotoGp, but then I think reality hit them. Will never understand electric anything.

Actually, I don't even understand diesels, but Honda seems to have brain-washed everyone else, so no matter.

Herrin won't return to GPs or even have a shot at SS. PJ I could see going to Moto2, but at this point I could never see him in MGP. Hopefully the guys we'll be seeing soon will be the guys coming up thru the KTM 390 cup Rainey is setting up. Even for the lot I mentioned along with PJ, it'll be an uphill battle.

azkiwi, you are right, Harley doesn't race MGP. Why would they?

Taylor Made Racing in California did make a moto2 bike that was kinda revolutionary, it used a carbonfiber monocoque chassis with the radiator located under the seat. Ultimately there were no takers in Moto2 it was just too different and the teams weren't interested in revolution they just wanted to keep doing what they've always did.

..... a Brough Superior to me.

Didn't do well at Silverstone in the capable hands of McWilliams if my memory serves me well.

Actually MotoCzyz got caught out by the MotoGP rules changing to 800cc. Sad set of circumstances; would have loved to seen them compete.

So when is the race in Canada? I didn't see any mention of it. Must be an error.

A MotoGP round in the great white North? I love it! Imagine Lorenzo having to decide which studded Bridgestones to run. Who was the last Canuck to line up on the grid?

Last one was likely Miguel Duhamel back in the 90s before he came back to AMA and went on a tear. I read an interview with him somewhere that he found it the biggest wank fest ever. The technicians wouldn't listen to his requests to change settings, so he was never comfortable on the bike. There was also another Canuck who's name escapes me who raced in the 125 class in the late 90s.

And of course there was Mike (now Michelle Duff) who finished 2nd in the 1965 250 World Championship behind Phil Read.

More recently there was Brent McCormick in Wirld Superbike. He was doing reasonably well until the team ran out of money...

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Actually, the management at Mosport has been approached recently to gauge interest in a possible Canadian round. This was initiated by an ex-racer/business executive that would have been a very capable liaison . Mosport was not interested, and not even interested in what might have been necessary to bring the facility into FIM compliance.

However, there is solid groundwork being laid to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the last World GP event there in August of '17. Several bikes that competed in that event are expected to appear, along with some of the racers that competed.
So far it has the makings of a terrific event.

Eric

its ironic that if there was a Canadian round it would almost certainly be farther away from me in western Canada than Indy is or Laguna seca was.