The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Montmelo is to host a round of the World Superbike championship in 2020. The event is to be held from 18-20th September 2020, between the Portimao and Magny-Cours rounds of the series.
The addition of Barcelona presages a few of the changes coming in both the WorldSBK and MotoGP calendars in future years. Next year, WorldSBK loses Buriram in Thailand to MotoGP, and also looks set to lose the race at Laguna Seca in the USA. Instead, WorldSBK will head to Barcelona in September, and the German circuit of Oschersleben in August.
The loss of both Thailand and the US means a stark reduction in the number of rounds outside Europe.
The WorldSBK championship now only visits Phillip Island at the start of the season, and Argentina and Qatar at the end, meaning that ten of the thirteen WorldSBK rounds will be held in Europe, with three rounds on the Iberian peninsula (Jerez, Portimao, and Barcelona) and two in Italy (Imola and Misano).
Adding more overseas rounds could prove problematic, from a cost point of view. In the past, Dorna has used WorldSBK as a test case, sending them to new tracks to try out the logistics and costs of getting bikes and riders in and out of countries and venues on time.
That may happen again in the future: rumors persist that WorldSBK will be sent to Indonesia or Vietnam before MotoGP going there, to test the viability of the venue.
The addition of Barcelona to the WorldSBK calendar could also be a prelude to the Spanish track’s removal from the MotoGP calendar, or at least to it rotating with other Spanish tracks when the MotoGP calendar expands. A story in the Catalan press suggests that Barcelona will lose its MotoGP round in 2021.
That would make sense if Indonesia is to join the MotoGP calendar for 2021. The current contract with MotoGP teams stipulates a maximum of 20 races a season. That contract expires at the end of 2021, at which point Dorna intends to expand the calendar to 22 races.
Dropping Barcelona for 2021 would be one way of fitting Indonesia onto the calendar. It could also serve as a backup if the Indonesian track at Mandalika on Lombok isn’t ready in time to host a race.
But it may also be a chance to start rotating MotoGP and WorldSBK at Spanish circuits, as a way of reducing the number of rounds held in Spain.