After last week’s announcements that the Silverstone and Phillip Island MotoGP rounds were canceled, today, the Japanese round of MotoGP joined the list of cancellations.
The race at Motegi has been called off, and will not take place this year, despite the importance of the race to the Japanese manufacturers.
Today’s announcement was the last step in a general clearing out of the schedule to allow for a calendar of races that could feasibly be held for 2020.
The plan, as Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta pointed out in the press release, is to do as many races in Europe as possible, and only heading overseas after that, if international travel is still possible.
“For this reason, the FIM and Dorna, in consultation with IRTA and MSMA, have decided that, until mid-November, MotoGP will remain in Europe to do as many European MotoGP events as we are able to.”
“Therefore, overseas events, if at all possible, should be scheduled after mid-November – which would be too late in the year for the Motul Grand Prix of Japan to be held,” Ezpeleta is quoted as saying.
As I explained on Friday, the plan is to run calendar as pairs of races on back-to-back weekends at the same circuits. The series is due to kick off at Jerez, on July 19th, with another race at the Spanish circuit the following weekend, July 26th. One race will be named the Spanish Grand Prix, the next the Grand Prix of Andalusia.
Then one race at Brno, two races in Austria, and races in Barcelona, Misano, Aragon, and Valencia. There is a chance that Le Mans could feature on the calendar, with French Grand Prix promoter Claude Michy working towards a race in the first half of October.
By September/October, it should be clear whether it will be possible to travel overseas for races in late November/early December. The date limits the options to the tropics or the southern hemisphere. Although the race in Austin has still not officially been canceled, it seems unlikely the race can be held in 2020.
That would leave Buriram, Sepang, and Argentina, though Carmelo Ezpeleta has already made it clear that these races will only go ahead if fans can attend. A decision on that is still some way off.
There are still obstacles in the way of any calendar. The latest issue is that the Spanish Minister of Industry, Trade, and Tourism has said that visitors from the UK will not be excluded from quarantine rules on tourists which Spain is due to lift on July 1st, unless the UK improves its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A sizable number of paddock staff, including mechanics, engineers, and riders, are resident in Britain and could be forced to leave early, and self-isolate for 14 days ahead of the races in Spain. Other countries may also suffer a similar fate.
We will have more clarity on a potential calender later in the week, when an initial calendar is due to be released. That calendar, like most things at the moment, will be provisional until the last race has finished.
Source: MotoGP; Photo: © 2016 Scott Jones / Photo.GP – All Rights Reserved