The Covid-19 pandemic continues to disrupt the MotoGP calendar. The second and third rounds of MotoGP, at Termas de Rio Hondo in Argentina on April 11th and at the Circuit Of The Americas on April 18th have been officially postponed. In their place, Qatar will host back-to-back races at the Losail International Circuit on March 28th and April 4th, and reserve circuit Autódromo do Algarve at Portimao will host a race on April 18th.
Though officially only postoponed, the Argentina and Austin rounds are almost certain to be canceled, a move which had long been expected. The logistical and cost challenges of organizing races in the Americas, added to the spread of Covid-19, especially in the Austin area, were always going to pose problems for the two races, and it had long been rumored they would be replaced.
Replacing the Americas rounds with races in Qatar and Portimao is also a no-brainer. Qatar is rushing ahead with a vaccination program, and has had the virus under control since the first wave of the pandemic ended in August. And Portimao already has experience of organizing a MotoGP round under Covid-19 conditions, having hosted the 2020 season finale in November last year.
So far, only the first three rounds have been affected. After Portimao, the calendar will continue as scheduled at Jerez on May 2nd. Dorna hopes to be able to keep to the European leg of the schedule, though that is still dependent on how the Covid-19 pandemic develops.
There may be racing, but fans are extremely unlikely to be allowed to attend for a while. That may not pose a problem for tracks like Qatar or Jerez, where the event is heavily subsidized by either circuit owners or regional governments. But for tracks later in the season, where promoters hold the financial risk, that may make holding events behind closed doors not economically viable.
One interesting development in the FIM press release issued announcing the revised calendar. In the calendar announced in November 2020, the FIM listed 3 reserve circuits: Portimao, the new Mandalika Resort circuit in Indonesia, and the Igora Drive circuit near Moscow in Russia. The Russian circuit has now been dropped from the list of reserve circuits, leaving only Mandalika. That circuit is expected to be on standby should one of the Pacific flyaways be canceled, with doubts still surrounding Phillip Island in October.
The disappearance of Igora Drive from the list of reserve circuits could also be related to the fate of Brno. The Automotodrom Brno is not currently listed on the provisional calendar, and will only reappear if the circuit is resurfaced, a demand made by the MotoGP riders in the Safety Commission. Brno has not committed to resurfacing, however, and if it does not, then there is a good chance that the Moscow circuit will take the place of Brno on the calendar. The timing is likely to be earlier, however, with logistics making it easier to travel from the Kymiring in Finland to Moscow before the summer break rather than after it.
At the moment, however, the FIM calendar does not have a slot for a Brno/Russia round. There is a note that there will be a maximum of 20 races in 2021. And the current calendar has 19 races scheduled.
The provisional calendar appears below:
|28 March||Qatar*||Losail International Circuit|
|4 April||Qatar*||Losail International Circuit|
|18 April||Portugal||Algarve International Circuit|
|02 May||Spain||Circuito de Jerez – Ángel Nieto|
|16 May||France||Le Mans|
|30 May||Italy||Autodromo del Mugello|
|06 June||Catalunya||Barcelona - Catalunya|
|20 June||Netherlands||TT Circuit Assen|
|15 August||Austria||Red Bull Ring-Spielberg|
|29 August||Great Britain||Silverstone|
|12 September||Aragón||MotorLand Aragón|
|19 September||San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini||Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli|
|03 October||Japan||Twin Ring Motegi|
|10 October||Thailand||Chang International Circuit|
|24 October||Australia||Philip Island|
|31 October||Malaysia||Sepang International Circuit|
|14 November||Comunitat Valenciana||Comunitat Valenciana-Ricardo Tormo|
Postponed Grands Prix to be rescheduled subject to the pandemic:
- República Argentina - Termas de Río Hondo
- Americas - Circuit of the Americas
Reserve Grand Prix Venues:
- Indonesia** - Mandalika International Street Circuit
* Evening Race
** Subject to Homologation
There will be a maximum of 20 events in the 2021 season. All dates, events and the attendance of spectators are subject to the evolution of the pandemic and the approval of the corresponding Governments and authorities.