Motegi Unlikely, But Will We Go To Istanbul?

With the situation in the Fukushima nuclear power plant continuing to look grave, and facing the giant task of rebuilding after the devastation caused by the earthquake and ensuing tsunami in Japan, the outlook for the Japanese MotoGP round remains bleak. The race has so far officially been put back from April 24th to October 2nd, Dorna and the rest of the MotoGP paddock wanting to show their support for the country which is so central to the sport of motorcycle racing. But the expanding radiation exclusion zone around  Fukushima (extending to very close to the Motegi circuit), the massive damage done to the region surrounding the track and the perception of inappropriate priorities that rebuilding the circuit while so much more needs to be done would suggest is looking ever more likely to see the Japanese Grand Prix canceled for a year, allowing the country to return to some semblance of normality before concerning itself with something as frivolous as motorcycle racing.

Consequently, attention has turned from Motegi to tracks capable of replacing the Japanese track. The ideal solution would be a return to Suzuka, but the fact that the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix takes place the week afterwards (October 9th) means that neither the track nor Dorna would be interested in running the race there, as the fans would be forced between attending the two events, with MotoGP almost certain to emerge the loser from that contest. (This, incidentally, is the same reason the Australian Grand Prix will not be moving to the spring, because the Phillip Island circuit owners do not want to be competing with the Formula One race at Melbourne).

As we mentioned on Friday last week, paddock rumors have been suggesting that the Istanbul Park circuit could be lined up to replace the Motegi race. The rumors were fueled by reports that key officials from the Turkish motorcycling federation had had meetings with senior Dorna executives at the opening round of MotoGP at Qatar three weeks ago. The Istanbul Park circuit hosted a MotoGP round from 2005 until 2007, and was popular with both the riders and the fans. The track was dropped from the calendar after low attendance and a lack of support from local authorities meant that the circuit was unwilling to pay the required sanctioning fees for the race once ownership of the facility was taken over by Bernie Ecclestone, F1 supremo.

Attempts to confirm the discussions have so far met with failure. One paddock veteran expressed severe doubt that MotoGP would go back to Istanbul, precisely because of the low crowds. Low attendance was not a problem for tracks like Qatar and Abu Dhabi (due to host a race in either 2012 or 2013), as the sanctioning fees they pay finance a substantial part of the costs of MotoGP, but at a cash-strapped track like Istanbul, Dorna would be unlikely to want to return, the insider said. IRTA sources concurred, Herve Poncharal, boss of the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha MotoGP team, saying he had heard absolutely nothing about it.

Though a return to Istanbul would no doubt be welcomed by the fans, the chances of a race actually taking place there appear to be rather slim. With Motegi likely to be canceled, the 2011 MotoGP season will probably be reduced to just 17 races instead of 18.

Back to top


How about holding a race in South America? That would be good for the sport because currently their are no South American races and no South American in MotoGP since Barros left. But God please don't have another race in Spain!!!!

I'm with RDawg, a South American race would be great for the sport as Latin America loves motorcycles and adventuresome Northerners would have a great destination.

China is a great track with one of its highlights being the 2007 race between the red missile with Stoner and VR46. China is a great track and even though it has long straights it still produces close races.

This track is known for its high standards of safety and most riders know this track well.

Go China.

Wait, why did they not hold the chinese round in '09 & on? I thought I read somewhere there was an issue with safety??

They stopped going because it is a terrible track but also because it was poorly attended, the government officials were difficult to deal with and did I mention, it is a terrible track?

Another reason was the custom service in China tends to be extra strict for International events like MotoGP, moving cargo in and out of China for a race was not the best experience for all the MotoGP teams during those years. I would think the country pretty much spoil it for themselves further with special rules one time about not displaying a certain colour during one of those years.

David what do u think of going to China instead of Istanbul to replace Motegi if that race does not happen?

We've got a great track here in South Africa, I'm sure you all remember it from Rossi's Yamaha debut.

It would fit in nicely on the way back from Phillip Island.

... but why did Welkom originally get dropped from the championship calendar?

And what about the Indian and Malaysian projects, or are they not yet advanced enough?

I think it was a combination of apathy from local authourities/government and awkward location. The track seemed to be popular with the riders though.

Now that Dietrich Mateschitz has bought the old A1 Ring, it's claimed he's restored it to it's original length with the old high speed corner configurations as the " Red Bull Ring ". The DTM is scheduled to race there June 2011. If all the run-off areas are bike friendly, also a good option.

Although, it's hard to argue against Monza ........or Imola.........

looks like than the gentlemens of dorna have their choice in front of their noses and still dont look at it, take a Look on Portimao circuit for god's sake, Awesome Circuit.

¡¡I'll want MotoGP in Portimao!!

but the major issue is that it would mean 6 GP (a third of the season!) in the Iberian peninsula.

Kyalami or Phakisa would be jam packed.Weather will be great for an afternoon race anywhere between now and November. Time zone is equally great for the TV interests.Infrastructure and everything else is in place.Sure, Brazil would be great aswell.
Problem is,the focus is biased in favour of Soccer,Rugby and Cricket in this country.Hell,we singleton bikers even have to pay the same toll road fees as an SUV towing a camping caravan and a trailer.
South Africa would probably be a great venue in the North of the country this time of year as a Motegi replacement option.
I can't see it happening here nor in South America. No political will.
Both countries are wholy focused on chasing balls around as a premier sport.
Who knows how this will pan out ?
I'm not holding my breath,but surely,should Portimao step up as the repacement, I would welcome it.

It got dumped after only a 1 year come-back on WSBK calendar because it was unsafe and local politics had no will to support nor invest in the event.

Any of the tracks mooted for the future ready or nearing, as it would be a good opportunity to prove their mettle?

Failing that..Donington Park!

Why not race at Miller Motorsports Park? Or how about a return to Donington Park.

Miller would be great in October but Bridgestone would have to develop snow tires for the bikes.

Or they could use sheet metal screws like we do on the ice. It would be great for us spectators though.

Why do we limit MotoGP to just one round in the UK. Donnington seems to be up and running again.

There are two rounds in the US but I get the sense that the sport is not as well accepted/popular in the states as in the UK.

Donnington has so much history with MotoGP so it already has the 'nostalgia' value going for it. IMHO

and let's make it so each team has it's own corner marshalls..but make 'em wear colour-matched floppy hats and oversize boots like "It's a knockout"..Stewart Hall could commentate?

What a predicament!

The October race calendar is definitely set for the fly-aways (Australia, Malaysia, Japan...). but how many circuits in that area could scramble to print and sell tickets on such short notice. Not to mention the logistics of getting MotoGP there. Im no expert, but how much is not enough time?

It feels strange that Instanbul would crop up as a rumor, since it does not fit well into the area they are racing in. China seems like the most logical choice -- why did MotoGP stop going there again?

Dorna might not have much of a choice. If the TV companies bought 18 rounds of MotoGP, they are going to expect 18 rounds. I'm sure the TV and sponsor contracts have provisions for cancellation, but they are probably worse than running a GP at a small loss.

Dorna don't have a lot of options. It's either Istanbul, Donnington, or visit one of the currently scheduled tracks for a second time. A double dip at Jerez would be nice.

OK if you want a second U.K. round then there can only be one track for them to run on........Cadwell Park!!

MotoGP bikes heading over "The Mountain"!!!!! :D

now that would be fun..especially the desmosedici with it's winglets?

Fack! the locals would be getting their shotguns out..PULL!

... the question is when. 2013 for sure, 2012 depending on the time of year and how finished the track is. Only question is the climate. Austin in summer is probably too hot.

has it that Austin would replace Indianapolis from 2012 (or 2013?).
Personally I don't see the US hosting 3 MotoGP rounds.
It is something that can be done in Spain (or Italy for WSBK) because the sport (an therefore attendance, national TV rights and ratings) is huge in those countries. MotoGP has never been very popular in the US.
Plus new countries are bound to enter MotoGP (United Arab Emirates, India, Malaysia?) very soon.
Finally Indianapolis was only renewed 1 year for 2011 and most MotoGP riders complain about the grip because of the 3 (?) different surfaces along the track.

Barber Motorsports Park ? Superb track, superb museum and the climate in October should be fine.

Also Barber would be an excellent replacement for Indy anytime.

Where did you hear that Austin was going to replace Indy?

Also, I haven't read anything about riders complaining about the surface since the first race at Indy. It is a fantastic facility and they have had decent fan turnout (I don't know the official figures but there seems to be a lot of people there). The stands can hold 250,000 people so it probably looks sparse on TV.

Finally, Barber is a beautiful little track but I'm not sure they could handle the crowds, and also, a MotoGP bike would never get out of third gear there.

Just to have an idea, attendance on race day in 2010 on the 13 first rounds:

1 Qatar 7,302
2 Jerez 122,048
3 Le Mans 82,270
4 Mugello 80,000
5 Silverstone 70,123
6 Assen 97,146
7 Catalunya 81,426
8 Sachsenring 98,477
9 Laguna Seca 51,436 (116,488 total for the weekend)
10 Brno 148,120
11 Indianapolis 62,794 (136,184 total for the weekend)
13 Motorland Aragon 70,124


Attendance at Laguna Seca and Indianapolis are the lowest of the year (except Qatar obviously). Aragon, which was an unfinished track without decent lodging, scheduled late as a replacement and 3rd of 4 GP in Spain had higher attendance. Or there were more people at Jerez (or Brno) on race day that at Laguna Seca for the entire weekend, you get the picture ;-)
Plus TV figures in the US should not be really high (and since I have had the experience of watching SpeedTV coverage I share your pain).

It is nothing against the US really, I think this is about business, hosting a GP is not cheap (the tracks have to pay Dorna 6-8 million euros every year, so they'd better generate money out of it!) and I guess it just does not make sense for Dorna to run a 3rd round in a country where MotoGP is not very popular while they could reach new countries (therefore new markets) in UAE, India, Indonesia and so on.

So my guess is that whenever Austin is in, Indianapolis is out.

About riders complaining about Indianapolis:

Stoner: "It just seems that it’s not a world class circuit. Maybe the shape of it and everything can be, but the surface definitely isn’t. If you go for a walk to the top of that last corner, it looks like we’re going through someone’s garage. There’s concrete there, it’s not tarmac. Then all of a sudden there’s tarmac and there’s a big seam there. It doesn’t feel like it’s a grand prix circuit at all."

Spies: "There’s a lot of bumps here. The one bump that has definitely caught a few people out, caught me out even though I knew it was there…It’s a tricky track."

About Austin possibly replacing Indianapolis:

In the article you mentioned...

...Defending his local track, Nicky Hayden offers some balance to the argument made by his teammate. “Is that why he (Stoner) was going so slow today?” quipped Hayden. “I mean 70% of our tracks…we could re-surface them all. If they want to re-surface it great, but I didn’t think it was that bad.” Hayden concedes that perhaps his flat-tracking background makes the rough and tumble circuit more suitable to his riding style. ...

I have actually ridden Indy. Of course not at MotoGP speeds. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I agree with Nicky.

So far I have read about at least two different tracks being built in Texas to Motogp standards. I do not have a link. But it would be great to have a race out there. Does anyone have a link directly to the track itself?

I can’t believe that nobody has suggested the world’s greatest motorcycling venue!!!

Can't we have two races at Phillip Island two weekends in a row?
I know I'd be a happy camper.

Canada? Mexico? Argentina/Brazil? Austria/Poland/Greece/Russia...I don't know, I guess something new would be nice. How many FIM rated tracks with proper length, safety, and facilities exist? Probably not too many more than are already on the schedule.