Termas De Rio Hondo Circuit Signs Three-Year Deal To Host Argentinian MotoGP Round

Motorcycle racing is spreading its wings. After the World Superbike series announced its first incursion into Russia for 2012, MotoGP's return to South America was cemented today, with the contract signed between Dorna and the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit in Argentina. The Argentinian circuit has signed up to host a MotoGP race for three years starting in 2013, the series returning to the continent of South America after an absence of 8 years. The last time MotoGP raced on the continent was in 2004, when Makoto Tamada won the Brazilian GP at the Nelson Piquet circuit near Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

With both Austin and Argentina being added to the calendar in 2013, at least one of the existing MotoGP rounds faces being dropped. With four rounds in Spain and one in Portugal, one of the races on the Iberian peninsula is the most likely candidate. With the Aragon, Valencia and Barcelona circuits all having long-term contracts to host the series, that leaves either Jerez or the Portuguese round at Estoril. The Jerez circuit is beset by financial chaos, and although the 2012 round is assured, any races beyond that are up in the air. The Portuguese round at Estoril has always suffered from moderate attendance at best, and with the Portuguese economy in even worse shape than Spain's, it is questionable whether Estoril can afford to continue staging a MotoGP round. 

When decisions have to be made, however, it is likely that it will be Jerez that loses its place on the calendar. The Portuguese GP could move to the new facility at Portimao, the track which has hosted a round of the World Superbike series for the past four years, and the circuit's relative proximity to Jerez could see it usurping the Spanish track. If Jerez is axed, it would bring to an end a long era of visits to the Andalucian circuit. The Spanish Grand Prix was first held there in 1987, and after a hiatus of a single year in 1988, Jerez has hosted a MotoGP round every year since.

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With over 100,000 fans attending Sunday's race every year, one would think it unthinkable to take Jerez off the calender. But then, what do I know?