The long-running saga of the Finnish GP at the Kymiring is to have another chapter added to it. Today, the FIM announced that the Grand Prix of Finland, due to be held on July 8th, has been canceled. In a press release, the FIM gave the reason for the cancellation as "homologation works" and the "ongoing political situation in the region".
There have long been doubts that the circuit would host a MotoGP race this year. Reports from sources in Finland paint a picture of a circuit which still needs a lot of work doing to it. Though the surface is finished, the rest of the facilities are still not up to the standard necessary to host a MotoGP round.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine was probably the straw that broke the camel's back for the Finnish GP. The Kymiring, in the south east of Finland, was less than four hours away from St. Petersburg in Russia, and the organizers had hoped to attract a lot of Russian fans to the race. The very large numbers of Russian fans who turned up to the homologation test at the track in 2019, which saw test riders try out the surface to gather data for Michelin, proved to the organizers this was a viable business proposition.
For Dorna, this was a way of reaching Russian motorsports fans without the political complications of organizing races inside of Russia, where any race would be at the mercy of rampant corruption and the whimsy of politicians.
Vladimir Putin's decision to invade Ukraine triggered a wave of sanctions, in Europe and the west. Borders between Finland and Russia were closed, with Finland's decision to join NATO raising tensions and shutting off any chance of travel between Russia and Finland. That scuppered a large part of the financial basis for the Finnish GP.
For now, the race has been canceled, and postponed until 2023. The hope is that by then, work at the Kymiring will have been completed, and the circuit will be ready to host a grand prix. The organizers will also be hoping that the war in Ukraine will be over by then, and that Russian fans will be able to travel to Finland, and have the spare cash to be able to spend on going.
It is likely that Dorna's experience of racing at Mandalika in Indonesia earlier this year may also have played a role. MotoGP was lucky to escape a complete debacle, with the rain slowing down the race sufficiently to prevent the bikes from tearing up the track. Dorna may have felt that having one race at a barely completed track was more than enough for one year.
The cancellation will also be welcomed by the teams. Many – especially the Moto2 and Moto3 teams – were concerned by the expense of the race. Travel to the south of Finland was incredibly expensive, requiring trucks to take expensive ferries across the Baltic. Speaking to those involved in the logistics side of MotoGP, they expressed concerns that the costs for the teams were the same as for the flyaway races. Unlike the flyaways, however, the teams would not receive any financial support or freight allowance. The teams would have to cover all costs themselves.
The cancellation of Finland opens up a five-week gap during the summer. With 20 races still left on the calendar, that will be a welcome break.
The press release appears below:
MOTOGP CALENDAR UPDATE: FINLAND POSTPONED TO 2023
The FIM, IRTA and Dorna Sports are obliged to announce changes to the 2022 FIM MotoGP™ World Championship calendar.
Homologation works at the KymiRing, together with the risks caused by the ongoing geopolitical situation in the region, have sadly obliged the cancellation of the Finnish Grand Prix in 2022. The current circumstances have created delays and put the ongoing work at the new circuit at risk. All parties have therefore agreed that the track’s debut must be postponed to 2023, when MotoGP™ looks forward to returning to Finland for the first time in four decades.
The final 2022 FIM MotoGP™ World Championship calendar is therefore expected to comprise 20 rounds.