Editor's View: The Danger Of Expanding The Calendar

It is looking increasingly like the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand will be added to the MotoGP calendar for the 2018 season. (I understand from sources that there was a significant hurdle to be overcome: circuit title sponsor Chang is a major beer brand in Thailand, and a rival to the Official MotoGP Beer Singha, also a major beer brand in Thailand and further abroad. The race can only happen if a compromise has been found to accommodate this conflict.)

This is good news for Thailand, and good news for fans in Asia. The World Superbike round at the circuit is always packed, and MotoGP should be even more popular. It is hard to overstate just how massive MotoGP is in that part of the world. From India, through Southeast Asia, motorcycle racing in general and MotoGP in particular has a huge following. But the only country in the region which has a race is Malaysia, hosting its Grand Prix at Sepang.

So expanding the calendar to include Thailand is a welcome addition for fans in the region. If the financial and logistical problems with organizing a race in Indonesia ever get sorted, then there might even be a third race in the region, at the Palembang circuit in South Sumatra. Given the massive interest in MotoGP from that country, it is a racing certainty that any race there will be a complete sell out.

More is not always better

If Thailand is added to the calendar in 2018, that would bring the number of rounds to 19. While that would be a popular move with the fans, it would not necessarily be a good thing for the riders. And it would be almost impossible to do without making changes to the season opener at Qatar. Adding any further rounds to the calendar would place a huge strain on the riders and teams, and require serious rejigging of the schedule.

Valentino Rossi has long been an opponent of expanding the number of races on the calendar, with good reason. Even with 18 races, there are three pairs of races on back-to-back weekends (Mugello - Barcelona, Assen - Sachsenring, and Brno - Spielberg), and then the three flyaways (Motegi – Phillip Island – Sepang) all on consecutive weekends. That gives riders precious little time to recover from crashes, before having to ride the next weekend.

More injury time, less recovery time

Crashing is part of racing, of course, but it takes its toll on riders. Last year, there were 288 crashes in the MotoGP class all season (not counting testing crashes), an average of 16 per weekend. Admittedly, 2016 was an outlier: the average is usually between 10 and 12 crashes per weekend. Every single rider crashed multiple times last year, with Valentino Rossi crashing the least (4 times), ahead of Maverick Viñales (5 times).

That's not counting the crashes in testing, or training on a motocross or flat track bike, or even on a mountain bike or racing bicycle. Motorcycle racing, and preparing for motorcycle racing, is incredibly physically punishing. Every rider carries their scars with them. By their late twenties, most have some form of arthritis in their joints, especially hands, wrists, and ankles, where repeated falls have damaged the joints. There isn't an ex-racer who can skip through the paddock in their forties the way they did in their twenties. Most limp, or have a rolling gait to spare aching joints. Few like spending much time crouching, despite most still keep themselves in very good physical shape.

Expanding the calendar means putting more stress on the riders, and giving them less time to recover. It means either losing another free weekend somewhere, or shortening the summer break – a very welcome interruption for the riders, giving them a chance to catch their breath and recover from injury. Expanding to 19 races would be just about manageable – especially as an extra race would mean cutting the number of winter tests from three to two – but any expansion beyond that starts to become deeply problematic.

What about the rest of us?

It's not just the riders who suffer. It is also the army of followers who move around with the circus. The team managers, crew chiefs, mechanics, personal assistants, Dorna staff, journalists, photographers, TV crews, technical support staff, IRTA officials, cable pullers, physiotherapists, doctors and others. More races mean more time away from home for them, and that places a strain on home life for many who have already settled down and started families.

Walk through the media center in the evening, and you can hear the quietly whispered conversations of journalists and photographers saying goodnight to husbands, wives, and children. The same conversations go on in the back of race trucks, as mechanics try to maintain some semblance of family life. This can place a horrendous strain on relationships and marriages. Though I have not taken a poll, I get a very strong sense that divorce is much higher among those who work in the paddock than it is among those whose job keeps them closer to home. Unlike riders, who have the financial means to bring their spouses with them, mechanics are not paid enough to afford to fly their partners out to every race.

The strain on such relationships translates to stress and distraction at work. Though every mechanic does their absolute utmost to maintain concentration and ensure that they prepare the bike perfectly for their riders, stress at home (the illness of a child or spouse, marital disputes, money problems) can make life hard. And that can translate into mistakes. And mistakes can mean riders going out with wrong settings, or something working itself loose, and perhaps even crashing.

More races means more time away from home. And more time away from home translates to more strain on relationships. And that is a heavy burden to bear for people who, for the most part, are not particularly well paid.

Education is important, but racing is … not forever

Then there's the Moto3 riders. Most of them enter the series at 16 years of age. Most of them have not finished their schooling (many having abandoned it even earlier). But most of them won't make it as professional motorcycle racers either. They will prove to lack that final ingredient that distinguishes the merely talented from the truly great. Or they will be unlucky/ill-advised in their choice of team. Or they will crash, damage themselves permanently, and never manage to be competitive again. They will end up owing some team or other a lot of money, and have to find another way to make a living.

The education of these young men and women – girls and boys would be more accurate – already suffers in an 18 race schedule. Trying to trace 20 rounds while also completing high school becomes almost impossible. Sure, they can complete their education after they finish racing. But a packed racing calendar leaves them woefully ill-prepared for life outside racing.

So for all these reasons, and many I haven't even addressed, expanding the schedule is not a good idea. Adding one more race, to bring the total to 19, would be manageable if a winter test is dropped. Increasing the calendar to 20 or even 21 races (if Finland and Indonesia join in 2019) would simply be too much. It would place too great a strain on riders, on mechanics, on everyone involved in the sport.

More races = more money

For Dorna, expanding the calendar is very attractive. Especially if a test is dropped in favor of a race. An extra race means extra income from the sanctioning fee (anywhere between €3 and €6 million, depending on the venue), extra income from TV rights (more races means Dorna can charge broadcasters more) and more money from sponsorship. Financially, it is a far more appealing prospect, especially for a company which has been burdened with a lot of debt by its owners Bridgepoint Capital.

The problem is the current schedule cannot stand with extra races. If the season is to start in Qatar with a night race, as the Losail International Circuit wants, and end in Valencia, as Dorna want, then there is just not enough time to fit in all those races. There are 34 weeks between the first race at the end of March and the final race in mid-November, and 18 races to fit in between. That's more than one every two weeks.

Moving the season start earlier is impossible if Qatar is to remain a night race. As the MotoGP season opener showed, February and March is the Qatari spring, the rainy season (or what passes for it in the desert). There is a greater chance of rain, and the cooler temperatures and raised humidity mean that dew forms at night. The earlier in the year the race is held, the earlier the dew starts to form. That was clear at the test, two weeks before the race, when the track became treacherous after 10pm.

Moving the season finale is also impossible. The Valencia weekend is about as late as racing is possible at the circuit. Track temperatures are already low, and grip is sketchy. The sun disappears behind the hills after 6pm, but large parts of the track are already in the shade a long time before then, causing big temperature differences. Again, this is most notable at the test, when the riders are on track for longer. And often suffer the consequences. Private testing at Valencia for Moto2 and Moto3 often sees serious injuries, precisely because the conditions become critical.

Time for radical change

If Dorna want the season to start earlier – and the end of February would be ideal – they will have to drop at least one winter test, and negotiate a solution with Qatar. If the Losail circuit wants to remain the season opener, the best solution would be to have the race during the day. Track and ambient temperatures are pretty normal in February, so it would be like racing at Jerez or Austin.

The question is whether Qatar wants to give up its unique status as a night race, and the spectacle of the floodlights. If they do not, then Dorna have a problem on their hands.

At the other end of the season, a better solution would be to have the last race of the year at Phillip Island, when the weather is at its best and we are much further into the Antipodean summer. But Dorna wants to hold the final round of the season in Europe, for some very good reasons. More media attend the last race in Europe, and organizing the awards ceremony in Valencia is a lot easier than trying to do it in Melbourne, and getting everyone to attend.

There is also an unspoken desire by everyone involved to go home after a very long and arduous season. Having spent nine months looking at the same old faces, people are glad to see the back of each other for a while. The overwhelming sense of fatigue after eighteen races is a lot easier to bear when you have a short trip home to Barcelona or Riccione than it is if you have to go halfway around the world trapped in a tin tube.

Some things really are impossible

So though, as a devotee of the sport, I would love to see MotoGP racing every single weekend, the way that soccer clubs seem to, I do not believe it would be good for the sport. Better to keep the calendar at 18 races, and winnow out the weaker rounds, with fewer fans and less support. It is clear that the future of MotoGP lies in Southeast Asia. That, after all, is where the fanbase is growing fastest, and where rising incomes offer a stable financial future for MotoGP. But the sport has to remain sustainable for the people involved.

In the end, MotoGP, like all sporting endeavors, is about people, about human beings. Humans ride the bikes, humans prepare the bikes, humans do all of the bits and pieces which are required to bring the astonishing entertainment which is MotoGP to the fans at home. Humans are, well, only human after all.

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David, at the risk of igniting passionate defenses, what do you see as the two, maybe three weakest events on the calander?

Good question. But people won't like the answers.
1. Austin. Great location, but attendance not good enough to sustain it for a long time. This is true of all US tracks.
2. Phillip Island. Best track on the calendar, but the attendance is dismal.
3. Aragon. My favorite race, because of the location, but attendance is lowest of Spanish circuits.
4. UK. Will the Circuit of Wales be built? Can the CoW afford the sanctioning fee if the pound continues its decline? How will Brexit affect transport, customs, funding for CoW, etc.? Uncertainty biggest problem here.

I found an attendance list from 2016 for all tracks and it's interesting the difference between race day turn outs vs all days turnouts. Qatar is clearly the worst but one Sheik fan is worth about 30,000 average fans, the reality being that it's the collective weight of the fans wallets rather than the actual number of fans that matter.

(Below is a more personal perspective on Phillip Island, with no fear or favour for it's inclusion)

Phillip Island is still second lowest, but not so far behind others when full attendance is included (recognising that attendance for TV screens is pretty important).  I expect this reflects the fact that a lot of people that go come from a fair distance away and make a big (often riding) weekend out of it.  People attending go for not just the racing but the whole motorcycling experience.  (I wonder if this is also what's behind the low disparities between race and practice days at other tracks).  I expect for this reason superbikes isn't so far behind motogp in attendance (still poor by world standards), and also because superbikes allows people to ride into the spectator area of the track and ride from viewing point to viewing point throughout the race, a real big draw card,  with the bonus of catching up with people you know (because you recognise a bike), or just chatting about bikes you see with their owners.  This is not something that's possible with higher attendances.

These days I generally only follow Motogp, since Supers was taken off free to air here (I'll watch for results only) but when it comes to attending, I'll go to the supers for the reason mentioned above.  If I join mates to go on the ride to the motogp again I might attend practice and the expo but will stay at the rental to watch the race on TV, the crowds even at the low attendances being too much (meaning the 50 odd thou the last time I went) with the need to protect your spot and not venture from place to place to experience the whole track a big downside.

Sorry, that got a bit long.

G'day mpt,

I wish you had included the list for us all to see. I have seen mentions about PI MGP numbers falling for a few years now. Understandable with only 2 young Aussies in the series, and no Stoner. I agree about the freedom and access at WSBK rounds. I have experianced both series.

I only voted you a 3, because you got to the Island, and then stay home and watch on TV. Its gotta be watched live mate. Thats what recorders were invented for :)

Having lived in Australia for a while, I'd hate to see PI go but everything about it doesnt work for MotoGP. It's so expensive to attend the race. For a race weekend you're spending north of $2000.00 AUD. The grounds aren't superior or anything to write home about and the weather is so iffy. Freezing at one point then hot the next.

While the circuit is fantastic, with weather and prices being what they are, it's becoming harder and harder to attend for fans outside of Melbourne.

Austin, while I love the track and it just gets better and better, would love to see the race back at either Laguna or Indy. Austin, is just too far from everywhere else in the country and timing as well doesnt make it conducive to fans traveling from other parts of the country. Warm in the West, cold in the Midwest and wet/cold in the East.

Impossible to make everyone happy.

Laguna is no longer a viable option as the bikes have simply gotten too fast to be raced there safely. It's a shame…it was the first GP I attended in '06 and went back every year after that. I make the 6 hour drive up from Los Angeles, watch the race and drive right back down. Good times!

Speaking of low attendance... What about that pet project out in the middle of a desert?

I'm thrilled Thailand is up... What a great addition. Indonesia next... Bring it. I love the change in atmosphere in what is, at least officially, an international series.

What about Argentina? The track is remote in every sense, the surface is dusty because of lack of events all year round. I'm not sure about attendance figures and general interest in motorcycle racing in that part of the world though.

I doubt we'd have the data to clarify the theory.  But considering the racing PI serves us year on year is exceptional, would the television ratings be higher than one of the more 'boring' rounds to watch?

To help justify the poor local crowd, you have to consider the sparceness of our fine land.  Compared to Europe where a lot of places are within driving distance, for me personally at the far end of the scale, to get to PI would be 3500km (3.5 day) drive, or a 9 hour flight (both ways combined) plus accomodation costs.  It's a $1500-$2000AUD (~$1100-$1400EURO) weekend, minimum.

If you're not a local, or a mad motorcycling fan, it's a bit out of reach.  For me Sepang is a far cheaper event to attend.

I'm not convinced that the weakest events are the ones with the lowest attendance at the track. Surely that audience is dwarfed by the TV viewers? Better to drop the generic F1 circuits from the calendar.

That's a good point, but the TV audiences are lowest for the Asian and Australian races, because of the time difference in Europe. And Europe is still where the majority of the TV audience is.

However, you are right that it's hard to quantify what a weak event is. Phillip Island has the second lowest attendance, but it is hugely popular in the paddock, and Dorna believe it is strategically important to keep a race in the Southern Hemisphere. Argentina is remote, but they pay up with no questions asked. Motegi is also relatively poorly attended, but there has to be a Japanese round. Dorna would like to get rid of at least one MotoGP race in Spain, but the tracks find the money to pay the sanctioning fee.

The biggest question mark at the moment is Austin. COTA struggles to find the money to pay the sanctioning fee, and the attendance is not spectacular. But Dorna believe the US market is important, and would love to crack it. So they keep a race there.

In the end, which race gets dropped will come down to money, and who will not be able to pay the sanctioning fee.

Its sad but true that the sport is now privately owned (by a massive investment company) and is being run as a business for profit. I love where MGP is now in the social culture, with the exposure it gets. A long way from the old days as a minority sport for petrol heads.

It seems to me that Dorna and its masters are quite willing to sell their souls (ie., Qatar) for profit at the expense of the sport. Thats business decisions, not growing the sport where the future lies.

Can you explain to us all David, how the sanction fees for an event work? Exorbitant $$$. And where does this money go? Or should I not ask because I already know? Shareholders need their returns after all :(

This will be my first year driving to Austin for the MotoGP race (it's a 2000km trek from Canada for us) so I admittedly have a personal interest in seeing a race continue somewhere in North America, but am I naive in thinking there may be more reasons than just money, or more accurately the money that Dorna receives directly, to decide where a race should be hosted?

For example, surly the manufacturers would like a MotoGP presence in North America, and surly they could exert some influence over where Dorna goes.  Maybe I'm the exception but I'm driving with my wife for over 20 hours to be able to ride our Ducati's onto the track and hang out in Ducati Island over race weekend.  I like many bikes from many manufacturers but consciously or not if I can take part in an event like COTA's MotoGP with my own bike I'm probably influenced to keep buying that brand, and my enthusiasm likely rubs off on others locally, even though I'm two long days away from the North American race venue.

There are of course also the more attractive North American broadcast times for a race held here, and just the general sense that MotoGP, and therefore the manufacturers it features, are relevant in this part of the world when we see the bikes on 'our' soil.

Maybe COTA isn't the right place, but wouldn't Dorna want a race to continue somewhere in North America?  My understanding is that Indianapolis was canned mainly (entirely?) because of timing logistics (and related fly away costs).  If the calendar is completely revamped maybe it could be back on the list.  Dorna and the Indianapolis Speedway both seemed to have only positive things to say about each other, and their words seemed to be more than just PR-speak.

Regardless of the specific venue I am way off base here, or does Dorna have other considerations to remain in the North American market?

Australia is a very big bike market, per capita - especially when it comes to dirtbikes and Harleys. Even though the turnout at PI is a bit ordinary - I've only been there twice in my 30 years as an adult (2200km away though!) - it's certainly not indicative of Australia's passion for motorcycles, and I'd hope that the MSMA are fully up to speed on that when they are discussing this stuff with Dorna.

Every rider I know will not miss either the SBK or MotoGP rounds at PI on the telly, or in person. It's part of our religion. At one point some years ago Australia was Ducati's biggest market outside of Italy... I remember when the 916 came out and was twice the price of the fastest Japanese kit, I'd pull up at a bike stop and there would be two or three of them there... out of eight or ten bikes. I was working in a pub in Picton (George IV Inn for anyone who knows it) when one of the six MV Agusta F4 Serie Oro's that came to Australia pulled in - owner had uncrated it himself that morning and slapped some 100mph tape on the tank so he could ride it to the George for lunch with his mates. Yep, we're queer for anything fast ;)

What kills PI for many riders (other than the sheer distance) is the cost of attending. Australia is ridiculously expensive for anything, and it's getting worse all the time.

Anecdote - I was there to marshall for a trackday a few years ago and we went around the track in a minibus to get dropped off (I did Siberia in the morning and Turn 12 in the afternoon). As the bus went around the track I was marvelling at how tight the track actually is - if PI is regarded as a fast and flowing track then the others must be like kart tracks.

It's odd the different perspectives we have.  The distance from Sydney is actually more of an attraction for me as the ride down is glorious with so many different options for different twisty, often empty, roads to get there and back.  And innumerable dirt roads if you want to get further off the beaten track (some of the best bitumen often has dirt sections).  If you're willing to put in some big days you can get there and back including two days at the track by taking off 2 days before and after.  This even with the superbikes and doing a half day of the Afterburners track day on the Monday morning.  And on that, although I haven't riden that many tracks, Phillip island is definately the fastest and most open.  Certainly after doing 1000+kms of twisties it takes a little while to get your head back up to speed.

If I lived in melbourne I'd be less inclined to go... unless as I've said in a post earlier, it was superbikes instead we were talking about.

Instead of expanding the calendar, why don’t they drop a race in countries where they already hold more than two?  

That way they can add in the extra Asian/Indian rounds without burdening the teams.

I agree with MPT on this, also Canadian-speed (see below). Not only do you get vast crowds at all the races in Spain, you have a fanbase that is similarly dedicated to bike racing. 

Having very regular contact with the Spanish population, I can confirm that they are easily the most ardent fans in Europe. It is simply impossible to avoid the subject on a Monday morning. However, it is not, by any means, a wholly male fanbase either. A very large number of women and girls are just as dedicated and knowledgeable as their male counterparts, often more so. These sorts of attitudes are only to be encouraged.

After so many years of not-very-impressive attendances, I must say that it is great to see that attendances seem to be climbing. I think that that alone should be enough to persuade all involved that the new regulations have been a clear success.

Excellent article David, I'm really glad someone's finally making a point on this. I'm of the opinion that the number of races should be quality, not quanity. Ideal number of races I think is anything from 16-19. No more, no less than that.

Interestingly in F1, the new owners, Liberty Media have stated in the future, they'd like to see as many as 25 races, which is far too much. Even now at 20/21 races it's a little too much imo. Several drivers were asked last week if they'd like to see it increase to that much. Several agreed, but Sebastian Vettel was very much against the idea and feels it should be 16/17 races.

Already having so many races just ends up diluting the quality and importances of each race, some seem to by pass this. By the end of the season you'd end up forgetting so much of what's happened with a large schedule like that. If the title is done early and the racing isn't entertaining, a longer season tends to drag badly. Keep things shorter and sweet. Then you're left wanting more and wanting the following season to arrive faster!

So yes, for MotoGP, one extra race is probably the absolute max they could add in. After that I think they'd have to bite the bullet and force some out. I know the Spanish races generate a lot of money, which is why we still have four, but really no country should host more than two rounds a season. Keep Jerez and Catalunya. Aragon, is a nice circuit but it was only ever meant to be a replacement round for the Baltonring, which of course never got built. And yet 7 years later it's ended up a permanent fixture some how. Valencia is a great fan track, but really not made for these bikes.

If Dorna is serious about growing the popularity of the sport, especially outside of Europe, they're going to have to make tough decisions and let go of some of these tracks. They can't keep relying so much on one country fitting the bill forever.

I love my racing, but sometimes everyone needs a break to be able to do other things in life and bigger schedules is making it tougher. Can't imagine how hard it must be those working in the sport with such time constants.

You should bring this matter up some time David, if you come across Carmelo at some point.

can you please expound upon "has been burdened with a lot of debt by its owners Bridgepoint Capital".


More about being saddled with debt by bridgepoint, please.

If we're talking about dropping races, then rather than attendance, we should look at the entertainment value. Which race tracks never seem to produce good racing?

I'd happily take slightly fewer MotoGP events and slightly more WSB.

Not sure what the perfect number of races is, but am glad to see Thailand added and I really hope to see Indonesia added as well.

I lived and worked in Indonesia for a few years and it was amazing to see the support for the sport. Even while living on the island of Borneo, our driver would be talking motoGP results first thing Monday mornings.
Even in broken english, he would be able to talk about Rossi and his passes, versus what Marquez did etc.....
At the offfice it was more of the same.  From the guy cleaning the floor to our Indonesian boss, everyone would talk MotoGP at Monday morning coffee.  It was truely impressive.

Glad to see Asia get more races.

Eurocentricity bias. David, your article reeks of it. It's not unreasonable to point out that the "world" champoionship as currently run is really quite euro-centric. That does not mean it has to remain that way forever. Like the whites in America or the Jews in Israel, organizations (or nations) have to learn to transition to shifting demographics. The Continentals like to be able to get home between European rounds? Well that wont be an issue when half the paddock is Asian, or I should say a new issue arises. You make it sound like the current folks who make their living off of MotoGP have a right to keep it euro-centric. 16 year olds an issue? Fine, ban them from MotoGP, let them run a Euro only series and make it to school Monday morning. You list a bunch of reasons why a longer more geographically series is a bad idea, but most if not all the reasons I read here are "problems of convienence". It is a priveledge to work in the MotoGP paddock, and I'm sure there are plenty of folks that would be willing to do the longer more diverse schedule.

You make a very good point. But I think you are being short-sighted.

The reason MotoGP is Eurocentric is because the vast majority of the series revenue comes from Europe. At a guess, the TV revenue from the deals with Spain, Italy, and the UK probably amount to 20% of the total income for the sport, and 60% of the TV revenue. European sponsors are in a similar position. Repsol, Movistar, TIM, etc.

The vast majority of the teams and staff are European. Sure, Asians could do their jobs, but try finding 500 experienced GP mechanics. As the sport grows in Asia, mechanics will come into the paddock just as riders are. But this is a process of decades, not the next 2 or 3 years.

And even if there was a transition from Europe to Asia, the problem would remain (in fact, it would probably be worse, given distances involved). 21 races, with 14 of those in Asia, would be just as strenuous and demanding on Asian staff as 14 races in Europe in 21 race schedule on European staff.

So yes, you're right, the future of the sport is in Asia. But wherever the sport is, the fundamental problem remains the same. 20 races are too many.

Gosh dang it David, sometimes I hate it when you're right.  But when you're right, you're right....I want more racing - I hate the long winters - but I have to agree it would be destructive to have 20 or 21 races.  I want more racing in the US, but I have to agree it's not popular enough here regardless of how much I want it to be.  I wish Dorna had a stronger strategy to try and bring up the popularity in countries where the sport isn't as popular.  Most people I talk to, even riders, have no idea what MotoGP is.  When I tell people that I race motorcycles, a lot assume immediately that I'm talking about drag racing....it's a sad state of affairs.

Just as a reference, the AMA Supercross championship runs EVERY SINGLE WEEKEND (except Easter) between January 7th and May 6th. 

Those guys seem to do fine. Sure, it's a slog but that's how it goes. They also have the understanding that if they get injured, their season is pretty much over. 

Sure they're not traveling around the world, but they do cover a good bit of distance between several of the rounds. 

AMA supercross also runs an East/West series for half the season each for the development class.  Possibly this model could be adopted for the Moto3 riders if a full season became too much.

Drop wintertesting and instead make more testingtime available in the first gp of the season. Eventually the weekend before so everyone can stay in the same place

Does it hurt teams and riders? Yes, but everyone is in the same boat!

It is a good sign to the sport that there is a lot of interest to host an event

But in my opinion 20 races is too many for several reasons:

the more race the less special and meaningful one race will be. Crashed out? The season is long and there are a lot of chanches to compensate later. 

Missing a race as a spectator? Don't worry they alsmost on demand. In this world there is football and music everywhere and anywhere....there is a point where too much events will detoriate interest

I think if there is a bigger market in Indonesia, Turkey, India, or Thailand then in Spain....everyone will pay for the costs and inconvenience and go there!


if they drop winter testing how do the manufacturers determine whether their newest baby actually works or not before the engines are sealed by Dorna?

I think they deserve some winter of testing and mileage before riding rockets in anger against each other. Plus the technical implications with homologation and etc.

I'm against a calendar expansion which simply means more GPs. MotoGP must understand that its own value and that of each GP is intrisically attatched to its rarity and ability to sell itself as something unique and spectacular.

If the season drags itself on for months and nearly two dozens GPs, the incentive people have to follow all of it is considerably diminished. Look at F1, in 2016 Hamilton won 10 GPs and scored 17 podiums, yet he still missed the title. What does that mean? It means that a tremendous effort with near a dozen victories was wasted and futile. Is that what MotoGP wants, meaningless races which serve no purpose than beef up record books and official statistics?

So what should MotoGp do?

Simple, expand the calendar by including venues in different countries and thus eliminating the weakest rounds. Sure, some of the weakest rounds might be the dearest to some or many of the fans, but racing must necessarily renew itself before its too late.

So, where to start? Well, Spain has 4 Gps, Italy has 2...

I would have thought it is a simple business decision to make. Last I heard Brno were in (significant) arrears with their sanctioning fees. Sure, it is one of the highest attended races but entry fees go to the circuit/organisers & if they are not passing the appropriate $$ on to Dorna - it's goodbye Jack.

Hi David, 

I know you will again disagree but there is too much concentration for the European rounds period. Of course the revenue is there in Europe, it began there and has had a long time to grow and mature. The same can happen in Asia once established long enough. It is much easier to travel around in Europe since it isn't that large to begin with easier access by plane, or train, or car or especially motorcycles. I was astonished watching all of the motorcycles arriving at Donington Park in 2004! Now regarding Austin, the track is fantastic and I agree the attendance is low but still higher than Qatar. The only reason is Shiek money as you pointed out in another article that pays for the travel for the whole year! That is straight out whoring for money! I seem to remember a few of the riders enjoyed Laguna Seca as it was a great mini vacation since it was the last race before the Summer break? MotoGP doesn't get wide attention here in the United States because there is no long term support or better effort from Doorknob (Dorna) for advertising (that close minded Euro centric way of thinking again) or real effort in promoting it the same as Supercross obtains here which draws tens of thousands of fans every weekend. It is promoted much better and allows the fans to ACCESS THE RIDERS also the ability to look at the bikes! That alone helps bring in new YOUNG fans into the sport. We know that the majority of Europeans don't care for Americans especially right now but we all aren't that bad. With MotoGP if you don't know the right people you can't obtain a weekend paddock pass. (Thank you Colin Edwards and Mary Spies for doing that for me!) Only the small circle of friends get access to the riders. Winter testing one test and done. Isn't that what test riders are used for at private tracks? If the team has a MAJOR problem with the new bike, then allow extra sessions on race weekend to sort it out since you now have saved money from not having to fly across the world hoping for no rain to test. Either that or share the technology with the Satellite teams and ask them to help?

I'm glad to see Thailiand added to the world championship mix, but I watched the WSBK race at Chang International Circuit last week and was not impressed. Seems like a dull track…

I think Rea's dominance does take away some of the excitement. MotoGP doesn't have that problem, the field is extremely close and there are legitimate contenders on different bikes. SO even if the circuit isn't fantastic, it is still possible to hold terrific racing. Even Misano and Le Mans do, and both of them are ridiculously tight.

And now a word from Canada....where it's near impossible to watch a race.  Every other major sport spreads events around to keep gate money evened out and be sure struggling franchises survive (at least for awhile).   But their revenue is TV based....that's where the money is.    Ads ads ads.  And a huge fan base from watching on TV...eventually starts going to races.   Yeah, we outgrew Laguna (and WSBK will too as soon as somone slides out of #1 at 275mkh) and Indy was never much good....but maybe, just maybe, no one in the US attends the races BECAUSE IT'S NEVER SEEN ON TV!   One French channel and BeIn sports for all of North America....just try to find a cable or satellite company that offers BeIn.   So 580 million people in North America and you can't get a race!   Compound this with the fact that vast vast areas of North America still have internet that won't come remotely close to supporting a live stream.  A sad reality I'm unfortunately too familiar with.

So on race weekends, I end up turning on every spoiler alert possible and avoiding the internet until Monday afternoon when a site in the internet's dark underbelly, gets the race uploaded in HD.  Monday night I run home from work with 3-4 gigs of bootleg to catch up on all 3 classes.   Sadly, this is the only way I can watch the races.

MotoGP and Dorna need to get this sport back on TV.   Remember when the Americans ruled the 500cc 80's?   Races and replays on TV all the time.   Then the US lost interest and Dorna has done nothing to try and get it back.   And soon there won't be a race left in North America.

It'd be criminal to lose Phillip Island or Aragon and have Chang (which looks like a race held in a parking lot) take it's place.

Just a thought eh!

PI might go because of horrible time ones for Europe, what C**p, a sunday afternoon race here in Aus is early morning in UK I think we are +9 hrs for most of the year - so you have all of Sunday to catch up on extra sleep - what about us Aus fans  for all the Euro rounds we have to wait late on Sunday evening 10 p.m. (22.00) with the Motogp race not ending till nearly 11 (23.00) especially if you wait for the podium, makes it hard if you need to be up at 6a.m (06.00)monday morning. We have to forget the first three rounds because Qatar at night is about a 1 am (01.00)start here for Moto3, COTA and Argentina are even worse its nearly Tuesday before they come through. The riders don't like the Japan Malaysia and Australia rounds on consequtive weekends it would be even worse if there was a break between them, plus it makes interesting riding with resilience and fatique factor coming into consideration.     I know you can't please all the people (fans) all the time but to base any of this sort of decision on attendence figures is even more ludicous, considering the difference of population here in Aus to say America 22 mill to 260 mill for two countries similar in size.

Had my rant now, I would delete the Argentina or American rounds because their time zones are horrible even for Japan and SE asia, the beauty of MotoGP is its diversity of times and tracks, lets keep it that way.


Agreed with many of the points raised in the article and the comments above.

I think we're about maxed out already, realistically. This is an oversimplification, but most of the races are in the Northern hemisphere and you need to hold them when the weather has a decent chance of being good so they need to be between mid-March and early/mid November, which is the current length of the calendar. Dorna have both MotoGP and WSB to promote and they don't want them to clash (there's only one weekend this year where they're both on, Philip Island and Jerez in different time zones so not really a clash). Other than the summer break and two weekends off before the three consecutive races in October, MotoGP is every other week and a few back-to-backs in there. It is full. WSB has a longer season with less races, so a couple of extra rounds could maybe be squeezed in there, but I think working on increasing the popularity of the ones they do have (bringing the marketing push and TV deals to a similar standard as MotoGP) should be the priority for WSB.

It's interesting to note how different the TV packages are in different countries and how some major countries struggle for coverage - in Britain we have it as good as anyone, in fact with a lot of WSB/WSS/WSS300 qualifying now shown as well as the races and a very full national BSB coverage watching the races is a massive time commitment. In fact on weekends like the one just gone the broadcaster has to make a choice of which races to show - the WSS300 race was reduced to tiny highlights later in the day and the European Superstock 1000 race (which is always excellent when we get to see it, better action than main WSB) didn't get a look in and a couple of the BSB support races also missing out. It's hard to invest emotionally in the story of the riders, bikes and teams (which is ultimately what keeps up coming back) when you're not even seeing them. It's a different equation to football or tennis or whatever because with those sports you have no hope of watching all the matches, but will watch the ones where your team or your favourite player is involved. With racing everyone is in all the races so you want your fans watching them all, you don't want to force fans to have to choose not to watch things for time reasons. No easy answer to this.

MotoGP is in a good place at the minute so it goes without saying that you should only make small changes to a successful thing. Personally, I'd ditch Austin for a nicer track in America (what about Virginia or Barber Park or Road America?), replace Le Mans with something else (Asian round?), do whatever needs to be done to Suzuka to make it MotoGP safe again (it can't be far off if the 8 Hours is OK there) and get rid of awful Motegi, and for what it's worth I don't like Misano but too many riders are from round there to drop it. And whilst it's a lovely setting, Austria is only on the calendar because of Red Bull money...but the money has to come from somewhere I guess. I'd try and minimise the circuits at which both MotoGP and WSB race - PI and Assen and no others, dunno why WSB is at Jerez or Aragon really when there's little Spanish interest in Superbikes. And get rid of Laguna Seca, too dangerous for my tastes.

I'm in the US in New England.  In my teens my family went to Daytona for bike week.  We raced off road in the varios events. I saw (and raced with!) lots of others from New England.  *Every* national series had an event in Fla. that week, except motocross as it was Supercross season.

An Aunt w/ connections got us pit passes for the '82 Daytona 200.  I was standing on the pit wall for the start!  We went to the shorttrack race.  We watched the Supercross from the stands.  When we went to dinner nearby, we got kicked out when we finished because Team Honda (who won the supercross) had it reserved.

Truely, it was the Mecca of American motorcycle racing.  The world champions came.  Special bikes were built for the race.

Sadly, Daytona lost AMA sanction and isn't even on TV.  The week became all about the harleys on main st and not about the racing years before.  In fact, I think the racing is now an after thought.  I live near Louden, NH which also had a major race on the week.  I don't remember the week every being about anything but main street :-)

It sounds like PI has *some* of the atmosphere of seeing mates at the event.  If Dorna or a circit could build up something like Daytona had in the 70s & 80s it could justify the economics.  The state of Fla made lots of $$ back then.