MotoGP has updated its provisional 2021 calendar is response to the coronavirus pandemic. Two rounds from the provisional calendar released in November have been postponed, with one of the reserve grands prix activated and another deleted.
Announced on 22 January, the new calendar sees both the Argentine GP at Termas de Rio Hondo and the American GP at Circuit of the Americas postponed as a reaction to ongoing pandemic outbreaks and travel restrictions. No new date has been set for either round, with the FIM, IRTA and Dorna Sports merely stating they will be rescheduled to sometime in Q4, 2021.
In place of the Argentine GP, a second round will be held at Losail in Qatar on 4 April, a week after the season opener (and a week ahead of when the Argentine round would have been held), making for a similar double-header format to what was employed at several European circuits last year. Both Losail GPs will be night races.
The GP of the Americas has been replaced by a round in Portugal, activating the Portimao venue that hosted MotoGP’s 2020 season finale and was one of the “reserve” grand prix venues for this season. This round will be held on the same 18 April date at the new venue.
Another change is the removal of a ‘TBD’ round between the Finnish GP on 11 July and the Austrian GP on 15 August. This was expected to be held at Brno, subject to a full resurfacing of the Czech circuit. Removing this round points to the resurfacing not taking place in 2021 and leaves a gap that could be plugged with another round (or rounds) as the 2021 calendar is sure to be adjusted on the fly.
For now, all other rounds from the first provisional calendar remain in place, including the Australian GP, which is scheduled for 22-24 October as the third of four flyaway rounds near the tail end of the 19-round season.
The final calendar change is the removal of the Igora Drive Circuit in Russia from the reserve venue list, leaving Mandalika in Indonesia as the only reserve venue yet to be activated. However, Mandalika is still under construction and, being overseas, is unlikely to be utilized in the current environment.
Depending on how the pandemic develops and vaccine rollouts are implemented, the ‘Europe-only’ schedule from 2020 may be employed again this year.
Following Malaysia’s declaration of a State of Emergency on 12 January due to soaring COVID-19 infections, the Official Sepang Test and Shakedown Test scheduled for the Malaysian circuit in February have both been moved to Losail, meaning the Qatari venue will now host all five days of official MotoGP testing. The Shakedown test will take place on 5 March, with the new Official Test on 6-7 March, preceding the existing Losail test scheduled for 10-12 March.
The FIM, IRTA and Dorna Sports say this latest calendar remains subject to the evolution of the pandemic and that they will provide further updates as soon as possible.
The updated provisional 2021 calendar is as follows:
2021 MotoGP calendar (as of 22 January, 2021*)
Round Dates Grand Prix Circuit
Rd01 26-28 Mar Qatar** Losail
Rd02 02-04 Apr Doha** Losail
Rd03 16-18 Apr Portugal Portimao
Rd04 30 Apr-02 May Spain Jerez
Rd05 14-16 May France Le Mans
Rd06 28-30 May Italy Mugello
Rd07 04-06 Jun Catalunya Catalunya
Rd08 18-20 Jun Sachsenring Germany
Rd09 25-27 Jun Netherlands Assen
Rd10 09-11 Jul Finland† KymiRing
Rd11 13-15 Aug Austria Spielberg
Rd12 27-29 Aug Great Britain Silverstone
Rd13 10-12 Sep Aragón Aragón
Rd14 17-19 Sep San Marino Misano
Rd15 01-03 Oct Japan Motegi
Rd16 08-10 Oct Thailand Buriram
Rd17 22-24 Oct Australia Phillip Island
Rd18 29-31 Oct Malaysia Sepang
Rd19 12-14 Nov Spain Valencia
Postponed Grand Prix, to be rescheduled
TBC TBC Argentina Termas de Rio Hondo
TBC TBC USA CotA
Reserve Grand Prix venues
TBC TBC Indonesia† Mandalika
*Provisional, subject to COVID-19 conditions and government directives
†Subject to homologation
Photos: Michelin and MotoGP