The Hungarian round of MotoGP has been troubled from the start, and doubts have hung over it ever since the end of 2008, when it became clear that the Spanish/Hungarian construction conglomerate building the circuit was having trouble completing the track. The 2009 Hungarian round was first pushed back from the spring to September, before being canceled altogether, and the debut planned for September 2010.
Even that has proved too much, though. Rumors that the round would be canceled altogether emerged earlier this week, after the Hungarian Development Bank MFB refused to underwrite a loan over doubts over the financial viability of the project and allegations of corruption. Without that bank guarantee, the project was effectively dead in the water, and cancellation of the Hungarian round of MotoGP was just a matter of time.
An announcement had originally been planned for next Tuesday, but a flood of news stories on the internet, especially those emanating from Spain, has forced the FIM and Dorna to make an early annoucement, and today they issued a press release that the Hungarian round would be canceled, to be replaced by the official reserve circuit Motorland Aragon, near Alcañiz in Spain, to be run on the same date (September 19th) that the Hungarian race was scheduled for.
The switch was made possible by the foresight of the FIM and Dorna. Having been caught out by the Balatonring's cancellation last year, MotoGP's organizers took the wise step of naming a reserve circuit, in case of another cancellation. That decision has paid off today, with the announcement that MotoGP will have to make use of their reserve circuit, and the release of an updated 2010 MotoGP Calendar
No doubt there will be a chorus of complaint that Spain will now play host to a total of four out of the eighteen MotoGP rounds. But as many insiders have pointed out, a race in Spain virtually guarantees full attendance, with the Jerez, Barcelona and Valencia rounds all seeing gates of well over 100,000 spectators. The Aragon race is placed relatively equally between the Barcelona and Valencia rounds, ensuring that the Aragon round should not encroach too much on either the Valencia or Barcelona spectator numbers, as those two tracks are within a couple of hundred kilometers of Alcañiz.
The cancellation of the Balatonring does call a painful halt to MotoGP's eastward expansion. MotoGP has grown vastly in popularity in Hungary, especially since Gabor Talmacsi won his 125cc championship back in 2007. A race in Hungary would have allowed more local fans to get a taste of MotoGP without being forced large amounts of money travelling to a track further west. With the new Crimea circuit sponsoring the Gresini Moto2 team and Russian rider Vladimir Ivanov, the hope is that a replacement could come sooner rather than later.