Grand Prix racing is to return to Finland, after an absence of 38 years. Today, Dorna announced that they have confirmed the five-year agreement signed with the KymiRing circuit. The Finnish circuit is to host a round of MotoGP from the 2019 season onwards.
A deal had been signed between Dorna and the KymiRing in 2016, which gave the circuit a five-year contract to host MotoGP. The original plan had been for the circuit to be completed in time to host a race in 2018, but time constraints have pushed that back a year.
While progress is being made on the circuit, there is still much work to be done. Finnish Twitter user Jyrki Hämäläinen posted a picture of the work being carried out at the circuit taken on the last Sunday of July:
Went to see the track last sunday. pic.twitter.com/GHQJWqQBfa
— Jyrki Hämäläinen (@Jyrki83) August 2, 2017
The track will be a stark contrast to the previous circuits which hosted a Finnish Grand Prix. After two years at Tampere, the Grand Prix circus visited the Imatra street circuit between 1964 and 1981.
That circuit was most famous for the spectacular leap riders had to make crossing the railway line which transected the street course. In contrast, the KymiRing will be a purpose-built circuit 110km north of Helsinki.
The track will be 2.8 miles long, and feature a total of 18 corners, 9 left-handers and 9 right-handers, all with varying speed and radius.
The addition of the Finnish round of MotoGP will bring the 2019 schedule up to a total of at least 20 rounds. The Chang International circuit in Buriram, Thailand is scheduled to join the MotoGP calendar in 2018, though there are still loose ends to be tied up before that is confirmed.
The addition of Finland would make 20 rounds in 2019, with the possibility of the calendar expanding to 21 races if a suitable track in Indonesia is completed, and that track can reach agreement with the Indonesian government to allow it to proceed.
It had looked like one, or maybe even two Spanish rounds could drop off the calendar. But with Jerez having already been resurfaced, living up to a requirement from Dorna, and Barcelona having committed to resurfacing, those two tracks look set to continue on the calendar for the foreseeable future.
The regional government in Aragon is keen for the Motorland Aragon circuit to continue hosting a race, and the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia also wants to continue to host MotoGP. So it looks more like the calendar will be expanded, rather than races removed.
To compensate for this expansion, preseason testing will be dropped. For 2018, the Phillip Island test will be replaced with a test at Buriram, to allow the teams – and more importantly, Michelin – to gather data at the circuit.
But for 2019, testing will be reduced to two preseason tests, at Sepang and Qatar. There is pressure to cut down preseason testing to just the single test at Sepang, following the Valencia test at the end of the season, but the manufacturers are resistant to that idea.
The calendar expansion is also unpopular with the riders and the teams. The vast majority of the riders have previously expressed a reluctance to see the calendar expanded beyond 18 rounds, and team staff – many of who are married and have children – are even more opposed.
The reduction in testing is one way for Dorna and IRTA to meet the concerns of the teams.
Replacing testing with more races would also be more financially favorable for the teams. The teams receive a subsidy from Dorna for races, but not for testing. That may prove to be the argument which helps persuade the team owners and managers, if not the team staff.
This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.