2020 MotoGP Calendar Updated Again - Austin Postponed To November, Valencia Moved A Week

The ongoing outbreak of novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, has forced yet another change to the MotoGP calendar for 2020. Due to the restrictions on movement imposed in Italy, in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus, the US round of MotoGP at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, has been postponed until November.

The MotoGP paddock will gather in Austin on November 15th, instead of April 5th. November 15th was originally the date planned for the final round of MotoGP in Valencia, but to make way for Austin, Valencia has been pushed back a week, and will now be held on the weekend of November 22nd.

That means that as of today, March 10th, the MotoGP class will kick off their season at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit in Argentina on April 19th, with the paddock returning to Europe two weeks later for Jerez.

However, even that is far from certain. Argentina has had its first cases of novel coronavirus, and based on experiences in every other country with the virus, those numbers will quickly grow. The restrictions in Italy are due to remain in place until April 3rd, but there is no guarantee that they will be lifted after that period.

Furthermore, restrictions are being put in place on events in Spain, with all soccer matches to be played behind closed doors for the time being, and no certainty that the authorities will not place further bans on travel. The Jerez round of WorldSBK, due to take place on the weekend of March 29th, also looks all but certain to be canceled.

The new calendar makes for packed end of season. Of the eleven rounds to be held after the summer break, only two - Silverstone and Misano - are standalone events, with a free weekend either side. The Brno round is followed by Austria, then Aragon and Thailand back to back (a major logistical challenge in itself), then the traditional triple header of Motegi, Phillip Island, and Sepang, and finally Austin and Valencia. And to cap it all off, a test in Jerez three days after the final round in Valencia.

That is a punishing schedule by any stretch of the imagination. There is no more room to fit extra events in, without resorting to radical measures, such as 'racing on Christmas Day', as Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta put it in the press conference in Qatar. He was not entirely serious, but it is looking less and less of a joke.

The updated calendar issued by Dorna is the second change in six days. The speed of those changes reflects the speed at which the situation is developing. On Saturday, sources told me that they expected to make a decision on Austin by the end of the week. By Sunday, before the season opener in Qatar, with Moto2 and Moto3 in the starring roles, that had changed to today, Tuesday 10th March.

The likelihood that this is the last change to the calendar is slim. As Ezpeleta made clear at Qatar, they are determined to put on as many races as possible this year. Radical solutions could be on the table, such as racing into December, and shifting early races which they have to postpone to the end of the year. The outbreak of the virus is still in its early stages, but in six months time, the situation should at least be more predictable, and perhaps more manageable. More changes are likely.

The press release and updated calendar appear below:


FIM Grand Prix World Championship
2020 Calendar, 10 March

Due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, the Americas GP has been postponed

The FIM, IRTA and Dorna Sports regret to announce the postponement of the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, which was set to take place from the 3rd to the 5th of April 2020. Due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, the event has been rescheduled for later in the season and will now take place from the 13th to the 15th of November.

The Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana will therefore be held from the 20th to 22nd of November 2020.

 

Date Grand prix Circuit
08 March Qatar* Losail International Circuit
19 April Republica Argentina Termas de Rio Hondo
03 May Spain Circuito de Jerez – Ángel Nieto
17 May France Le Mans
31 May Italy Autodromo del Mugello
07 June Catalunya Barcelona - Catalunya
21 June Germany Sachsenring
28 June Netherlands TT Circuit Assen
12 July Finland** KymiRing
09 August Czech Republic Automotodrom Brno
16 August Austria Red Bull Ring-Spielberg
30 August Great Britain Silverstone
13 September San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli
27 September Aragón MotorLand Aragón
04 October Thailand Chang International Circuit
18 October Japan Twin Ring Motegi
25 October Australia Philip Island
01 November Malaysia Sepang International Circuit
15 November Americas Circuit of the Americas
22 November Comunitat Valenciana Comunitat Valenciana-Ricardo Tormo

* Evening - Moto2 and Moto3 only
** Subject to FIM Homologation

Source: 

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Comments

There's no denying that the situation around the World right now is very much unprecedented and very bizzare, in modern times, to have so many sporting events either cancelled or postponed. But, when you hear about MotoGP wanting to expand their calendar to 22 races and F1 to possibly go up as much as 25 in the future, this shows one of the potential problems at trying to accommodate more, with less space for manoeuver. When there are less races, you have more space, more freedom to move things, more recovery time if something goes wrong. When you hear talk that the season may have to extend over towards Christmas, and deal with 7 races in 9 weeks, that's going to put a tremendous amount of pressure on teams and riders.

Less is more, that's for sure.

For sure this must impact on the riders but what about the crews? I wonder what kind of contracts they're on? I'd have thought they only get paid when working and many get stood down over the non-racing part of the year.

Valencia in late November? Must be starting to get chilly by then.

Postponements, cancellations. I am disappointed. Damn novel virus covid 19.

Doesn't look like we will see twenty full rounds of Grand Prix motorcycle racing in 2020.

The circuit at Finland still not homologated yet?

I'll be at my home round even with the changes.  Most important thing is to go, support the series, even with all the changes.  Best of luck to everyone.  

It's absolutely right to worry about the riders, crews, reporters and photographers and the impact this has upon the gig workers around motogp. It serves though as an example of what is happening across the entire economy for those people for whom some sort of reasonable permanency or tenure, or even risk managed/insured services, has not been part of their employment. It might be worth us all imagining what we want for our family and friends. While we can all understand the efficiency and flexibility that gig employment gives workers and business, the idea that the gig employees work with no protection when a black swan, (or a gray rhino as has been argued elsewhere...) comes along, is appalling and is only going to result in a further degradation of workers' rights, and ultimately, economic stability. 

To summarise my point of view, I think it would be cool if the leading riders earned maybe a couple or one million euro less and the more iterant members of the community got some sort of sort of reasonable conditions and insurance. Cause the people who take the photos and write the stories are what really make motogp accessible to me.

Imagine if the MotoGP riders got together and pledged to donate 20% of their salaries to a hardship fund to help support all the vunerable workers within the paddock (seems fair as they'll most likely have to do at least 20% less riding this year!). Fag packet maths says that'd be at least £4-5m. I guess the admin needed to dish the money out fairly would be a nightmare tho. Still, nice thought!

Given the revised schedule and the combination of a condensed travel schedule with significant time zone change, I'm concerned for the safety of riders and crew.  Pilot fatigue in aviation has caused many serious accidents. In this case, both the pilots (riders) and mechanics (crew) are going through conditions that would cause most people to turn into zombies.  Interested to hear what the more knowledgeable members of the panel think.  Thank you! 

Yeah, I'm thinking along those same lines. It's all well and good moving these races around and saying to everyone "don't worry, we'll get all the races in for the season", but that is making for an absolute intensly packed season when it actually starts. I would be expecting the riders to pipe up at some point in terms of the safety comission. If they already find it pretty full on with testing and all the races they nomally have, I don't see how they can run as the calender is looking now. The idea of running 2 races on the one weekend too...that's a lot of work to be pushing through