Phillip Island Secures MotoGP and World Superbikes for Long Term

The long-term future of MotoGP and World Superbikes in Australia has been secured. Earlier this week, Dorna signed an agreement with the Victorian government and the Phillip Island circuit which will see both world championship motorcycle racing series remain at the circuit for the next ten years, until 2027.

The agreement is great news for motorcycle racing fans and riders, as the Phillip Island circuit is almost universally regarded as one of the best two or three circuits in the world. Riders praise its fast, flowing layout - it is the fastest track on the calendar, with an average speed of well over 181 km/h - and its location, perched atop a cliff overlooking the Bass Strait which separates mainland Australia from Tasmania, makes for a spectacular setting and dramatic TV images. The flowing layout always provides fantastic racing, as the 2015 MotoGP race proved.

There have been concerns that the event could be in trouble. Despite its location - or perhaps because of it - attendance at the circuit is poor. Since the retirement of Casey Stoner at the end of 2012, crowds have dropped to around 35,000 on race day, which is the worst of every race except for Qatar. There were fears that the round may not be financially viable, and reports that the race could be switched to another venue.

Although several venues were mentioned, the new motorsports venue being built at Tailem Bend, near Adelaide, 750km north west of Phillip Island, appeared to pose the biggest threat. FIM Safety Officer Franco Uncini went to inspect the construction site earlier this year, and praised the project. But the building of Tailem Bend could mean a second MotoGP race being held in Australia, rather than a switch from Phillip Island.

With both Phillip Island and Assen now secured for the next ten years, some of the key and most iconic circuits on the calendar look set to remain. The MotoGP calendar is due for a shake up, with several new circuits set to be added over the next couple of years. Races will be added in Indonesia, at Sentul, in 2017, with the race moving to a new circuit to be built on South Sumatra from 2018 onwards. The Chang circuit in Thailand could also host a MotoGP round from next year, and talks are currently underway to hold a round of MotoGP in Kazakhstan. Given the dependence of Kazakhstan's economy on oil and mining, and the decline of prices of those commodities over recent years, it is questionable whether such an event is either sustainable or desirable.

Below is the press release announcing the contract extension with Phillip Island:


Dorna Sports ensures racing at Phillip Island for next ten years

The beautiful Phillip Island Circuit will remain on the MotoGP™ World Championship calendar until 2026 and on the FIM Superbike World Championship calendar until 2027. Fans and riders alike rate the circuit as one of their favourites, the incredible sweeping corners made even more majestic by the Bass Strait backdrop.

Dorna, the Phillip Island Circuit and the local Victorian Government all came to the agreement in light of the great historic success of the event. An estimated 85,000 spectators converged on Phillip Island for the 2015 Pramac Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, while more than 42,000 turned out for the 2016 WorldSBK race.

The Minister for Tourism and Major Events, John Eren, has said: “Our motorsports events at Phillip Island are flagship dates on our calendar, and they’re going nowhere. Phillip Island will remain at the centre of world motorsport for many years to come. These events create a unique buzz around Phillip Island, attract visitors to Victoria from all over the globe, and show the world we have the best of everything.”

The Member for Eastern Victoria, Harriet Shing, pointed out: “Thousands of motorsports fans from around the world flock to Phillip Island every year, and for good reason. It’s a great track, and competition is fierce. It’s fantastic that the excitement and adrenalin of these major events will be on show, with Gippsland’s beauty front and centre – inspiring many people to travel here and see the Island for themselves.”

DORNA CEO, Carmelo Ezpeleta, declared: “The Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix and the FIM Superbike World Championship have a strong history at Phillip Island, and have become part of the Island’s fabric. I am delighted the Victorian Government has decided to continue this longstanding, mutually beneficial relationship.”

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Comments

MotoGP at Tailem Bend?  I had to read that twice, and wonder whether in the software update an April Fools article went awol for a couple of weeks...

But it's great news that PI has been confirmed.  I had worried somewhat that the low attendance and iffy weather in combination with new keen countries/tracks with thick chequebooks may put pressure on it staying.  It's great to see Dorna getting behind some of the icon tracks (although Assen is but a shadow of its former self), lets hope for the same with Mugello and - purely from a track perspective, management notwithstanding - Brno as well. 

Total votes: 102

This development, especially in light of the attendance issues which threatened the race (and the timing relative to AI29's major gaff in Argentina, which would not have impressed the Duc Ambassador) seems to indicate that a certain Mr. Stoner is planning to take up his old vocation once again. Casey is coming back to show those guys at Ducati how the bike is meant to be - and can be - ridden. I guarantee it.

Total votes: 106

Tailem Bend is home to the old Mitsubishi Australia test facility. It has been upgraded and will become a motor sports Park. It has recently passed a MotoGP safety check. That doesn't guarantee a race there though. Very handy to Adelaide so I'm excited by the prospect but realistic in that anything like this will take a few years to get up and running.

Total votes: 85

Scrub, saltbush, flies.  Yes Tailem Bend will bring all of the much sought-after Motorsport experiences.

A proud South Australian, but anyone who thinks that Australia can support 2 GPs is kidding themselves.  And could Tailem Bend compete for icon-status like PI?  Not a snowball's chance in hell.  And there's not a piece of attractive scenery to be found unless you drive down to the river.  The circuit may be shaping up nicely, but Adelaide is 100kms or so away, and the nearest rural city is Murray bridge with 17,000 citizens, and very limited accommodation.

Odds of Tailem Bend securing a MotoGP race would be about the same as Melbourne winning the AFL Premiership.

 

Total votes: 88

Now they've got it set, the PI organisers need to get the facilities up to scratch and tell VicPol to shove off and leave the all riders heading there alone. I know so many people who don't go anymore purely due to being hassled by the Highway Patrol.

Total votes: 105

that may be a solution. Turning left at Cann River on the way home in 2014 i saw them, yep officers in Gillie suits, no shit.

We left Eden on the Wednesday morning for what is possibly one of the greatest fast runs in Australia- Eden to Lakes Entrance.

Thanks Vicpol you really made the journey um, interesting.

The only people using these roads at this time of year are the loggers, people going to PI for the GP & the occassional caravan/camper.

Trackside camping/fun in mid October seems to be a problem for some?? We spend a crap load of dollars, most make an effort to respect the island & surrounds.

If PI fell off the circuit i'd be blaming whomever is ordering the police to "harass" motorcycle riders regardless of reason, oh and lets not forget the entrapment. Officers in camo radioing ahead, got 6 2 wheelers heading your way- all doing 15plus over the speed limit.

 

 

Sorry for the rant but ive become a bit stale.

 

 

 

Total votes: 90

P.I. is everything to watch, that I found lacking in COTA. Somehow, COTA is remarkably sterile to simply watch a motorcycle circulating, whereas P.I. keep me fascinated.  I think it was in 2012, after Dani Pedrose went down, that Nick Harris ( yes, yes, I know...)  said: 'let's settle back and watch the Casey Stoner Show' - and it was, riveting viewing, even when there were few other if any bikes even in frame.

And it's not just Stoner, of course - Rossi in 2003, lacerating the circuit to make up for his 10-second penalty, was another, but just about every rider seems to bring out the frisson and the beauty of riding a racing bike on the limit, anywhere on the circuit.

Total votes: 92

Glad you bought that one up Oscar. Might be one of the best for me he rode the wheels off that v5 beast & from memory after the  penalty for overtaking on yellow flag i think he actually won the race by 5 seconds????,  picking a fav PI race is pretty damn hard, i will  throw 2015 in now as well.

2012, Stoner with his still busted ankle and turning the Island into his own play park. Stoner in 2009 on the white Duc white leathers, i remember this livery very well. We were in The Lukey Heights stand for 09 and when i saw Stoner come out the pits on the big screen in all white i thought whoa that's different.

So many memories and loads more to come, touch wood.

The Melandri win of 2006, sliding out of 12 for the win. McCoy smoking up the rear, Hayden & of course Stoner defying physics somehow around the entire track and Capirex was pretty handy at the island as well. Many many racers have excelled at PI.

I attended the inaugural at PI, 1988 i think. Gardner won or coud of been 89???. This may be my favourite not because of the racing but for the memories of that massive crowd and the atmosphere. Oh, and Cowes on the Saturday night.

Then of course we  went to Eastern Creek now known as Sydney Motorsports Park. Some great racing in those 5-6yrs at the creek and i was fortunate to attend them all.

However, the Creek just does not do/ and or have the appeal of PI. I like EC & spend a little time cruising around the track, but it does not compare to PI. Actually i will make an admission, PI has given me more than a few "holy shit" moments. After you start to link the turns you dont realise how fast you are going "all the time" also not a whole lot of braking. That has been my experience.

 

At GP level the average speed around the island is around 170-180kmh, im guessing but think that is close. I cannot even imagine what that would be like, it does remind me of how fortunate i have been to follow this sport for as long as i have.

 

 

 

Total votes: 89