The long-term future of MotoGP and World Superbike in Australia has been secured. Earlier this week, Dorna signed an agreement with the Victorian government and the Phillip Island circuit that 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.
Photo: © 2016 Tony Goldsmith / www.tonygoldsmith.net – All Rights Reserved
This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.