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Common Tread

The U.S. MotoGP round is not dead yet, but probably endangered

Jun 11, 2020

Will there be a U.S. round of the MotoGP world championship this year? Officially, we'll have a decision by the end of July. If I were placing a bet, I'd put my money on "no."

MotoGP issued a revised schedule for the series today. There are 13 races scheduled in Europe, with no fans and limited team personnel allowed, followed by four overseas races that are tentative at this point: the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, plus the rounds in Argentina, Thailand and Malaysia. It seems a certainty that all four of those races will not happen, since MotoGP said to expect a maximum of 17 races. And it's possible none of the four races outside Europe will take place.

MotoGP with no fans
Unless circumstances change, MotoGP races this year will take place in front of empty grandstands. Ducati photo.

Of course even the European rounds on the revised schedule could still be derailed by a resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic and travel restrictions, but by keeping the season mostly (or perhaps entirely) in Europe, MotoGP has tried to improve the odds it will put in something resembling a full season. Logistics have also been simplified by holding many of the races on back-to-back weekends at the same track, similar to the way the Monster Energy Supercross series is finishing off its interrupted series with seven straight races in the same stadium in Utah.

What are the odds of a U.S. race happening?

While an official decision will be announced by July 31, there are a lot of obstacles to running the four races outside Europe, including the one in the United States. The cost of flying teams and equipment halfway around the world to Malaysia or Argentina is considerable. Nobody can accurately predict what the pandemic will look like in November or what the local restrictions will be on large gatherings. Running the races without fans takes away a significant source of revenue.

If everything aligns perfectly, we could still have MotoGP bikes racing on U.S. soil this year, but it feels like the odds are long against it. That's just speculation on my part, but I will note that we were among the first to raise the possibility of the virus causing the MotoGP round to be canceled, back on February 19 when there were 15 identified cases in the United States.

If the MotoGP round is canceled, that will also affect the MotoAmerica HONOS Superbike series. The Superbike class — but not the other MotoAmerica classes — races in conjunction with MotoGP at COTA. MotoAmerica Communications Manager Paul Carruthers said it's still uncertain whether MotoAmerica would be able to add another round to replace the COTA event if MotoGP is canceled, but if a replacement round is added, it would not be at COTA.

Here is the MotoGP schedule as currently planned. In some cases where races take place at the same track on consecutive weekends, one of the rounds is named for a local region, instead of the country, so that's why you see Grand Prix names in the table below that you've never seen before.

Provisional 2020 MotoGP schedule
Date Grand Prix Track
July 19 GP of Spain Circuito de Jerez Ángel Nieto
July 26 GP of Andalucia Circuito de Jerez Ángel Nieto
August 9 GP of the Czech Republic Automotodrom Brno
August 16 GP of Austria Red Bull Ring
August 23 GP of Styria Red Bull Ring
September 13 GP of San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli
September 20 GP of Emilia Romagna e della Riviera di Rimini Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli
September 27 GP of Catalunya Barcelona
October 11 GP of France Le Mans
October 18 GP of Aragón MotorLand Aragón
October 25 GP of Teruel MotorLand Aragón
November 8 GP of Europe Comunitat Valenciana-Ricardo Tormo
November 15 GP of Comunitat Valenciana Comunitat Valenciana-Ricardo Tormo