Dorna and the FIM have released the first draft calendar for the 2021 MotoGP season, which works on the presumption of international travel resuming and includes mostly familiar rounds, but adds three circuits as reserve, should COVID-19 conditions change.
The 2021 provisional calendar actually reads a lot like the 2020 calendar before it was turned upside down by the coronavirus pandemic and re-invented as a Europe-only series.
Australia holds its late-October slot as part of the flyaways for next year’s season, the familiar opener at Qatar and finale at Valencia are retained, but the notable changes are Thailand being moved to later in the year, the removal of a round at Brno and the 2021 season starting almost a full month later than usual.
While 20 rounds have been listed, only 19 circuits have been confirmed so far, with a ‘TBC’ date and circuit between mid-July and mid-August (MotoGP’s traditional mid-Summer break) that will be presumably used to shuffle other rounds as required by COVID-19 conditions.
Dorna have placed a lot of “hopefullys” and “maybes” in the press release for the draft calendar, so
don’t be surprised if that TBC date comes into play, especially given repeated surges of coronavirus cases that may well see another season start within Europe.
The interesting addition is a trio of ‘reserve’ grands prix, which includes Portimao (this year’s final round) and the all-new circuits of Mandalika in Indonesia and Igora Drive in Russia.
Interestingly, Mandalika, on South Lombok Island, is described as a street circuit, which is a first in modern MotoGP history – the championship hasn’t raced at a recognised street circuit since Imatra in Finland and San Carlos in Venezuela in the late 1970s (The Nurburgring Strecke course from the 1990s and Assen are both considered as race circuits, rather than road courses).
Should it go ahead next year, Mandalika will host the first Indonesian Grand Prix since 1997.
Igora Drive is a purpose-built circuit, located near St. Petersburg in northern Russia that’s part of a larger complex that includes oval track, rallycross and even motocross circuits. It was due to host its first four-wheel international events this year before the pandemic forced cancellations.
The KymiRing in Finland remains subject to FIM homologation, but if it gains that and some early rounds are cancelled, Igora Drive could follow the Finnish GP in the vacant TBC slot. Regardless of when it actually hosts a race, Igora Drive will be a first, as there’s never been a Russian MotoGP round.
Igora Drive may be added to the provisional calendar for World Superbikes, as that championship has talked about visiting three “all-new” circuits in 2021.
Whether next year’s rounds will allow fans has yet to be confirmed, nor has the possibility of increased staff and personnel, condensed schedules or changes to race formats.
The provisional 2021 calendar is as follows:
2021 MotoGP calendar (as of 7 November, 2020*)
Round Dates Grand Prix Circuit
Rd01 26-28 Mar Qatar** Losail
Rd02 09-11 Apr Argentina Termas de Rio Hondo
Rd03 16-18 Apr USA CotA
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 TBC TBC TBC
Rd12 13-15 Aug Austria Spielberg
Rd13 27-29 Aug Great Britain Silverstone
Rd14 10-12 Sep Aragón Aragón
Rd15 17-19 Sep San Marino Misano
Rd16 01-03 Oct Japan Motegi
Rd17 08-10 Oct Thailand Buriram
Rd18 22-24 Oct Australia Phillip Island
Rd19 29-31 Oct Malaysia Sepang
Rd20 12-14 Nov Spain Valencia
Reserve Grand Prix venues
TBC TBC Russia Igora Drive
TBC TBC Portugal Portimao
TBC TBC Indonesia** Mandalika
*Provisional, subject to COVID-19 conditions and government directives
**Subject to homologation