First Glimpses of 2009 Calendar: China Out, Hungary In?

The 2008 season has barely just begun, but already (and as usual) rumors and speculation has begun about what the 2009 calendar will look like. That we will be coming back to Losail in Qatar was already settled, with Dorna and the QMMF cementing a deal to run the Qatari MotoGP round until at least 2016. And as we suggested here yesterday, the Qatar round will be pushed back to the end of March at the earliest, to allow warmer temperatures, and so that the Jerez round can reclaim its place as the season opener.

But the Italian site has more interesting speculation on the calendar. Sepang is also seriously considering switching to become a night race, for both MotoGP and Formula 1, something we also predicted. The track in Malaysia is expected to make an announcement about this at the Formula 1 Grand Prix, scheduled to run on March 23rd. The fact that an announcement is due to be made on the same weekend that Formula 1 is due to visit gives the strong suspicion that Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is behind this move, as he has pressured other venues into running night races to allow the races to hit key TV schedule targets in Europe.

Perhaps the best news, though, is that La Gazzetta dello Sport is saying that China could well be dropped from the MotoGP calendar in 2009. This will delight motorcycle racing fans, as the Shanghai circuit, despite its fantastic facilities, is completely unsuited to motorcycle racing, designed as it was for Formula 1. In its place, a race could be held in Hungary, at a new track to be build beside Lake Balaton. Alternatively, the race could also be held at the Pannonia Ring, a fantastic circuit built specifically for motorcycle racing near Sarvar in Hungary. The only problem with the Pannonia Ring are the facilities, which are not up to Grand Prix specification, something which could be rectified without too much investment.

For the moment, this is just speculation, and the situation will become clearer once there are some actual facts to discuss.

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