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Old 09-16-2015, 04:21 AM   #1
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MotoGP: Big changes coming in 2017 calendar

The Kymi Motorsport Park in Finland is currently under construction, and already has FIM Grade A approval for homologation in order to host a MotoGP race.

The FIM has released the calendar for next year which holds no changes from the provisional calendar. As noted by the IMS press release last week, Indianapolis has been dropped and replaced by Austria, which will return to the recently renamed Red Bull Ring (formerly known as the A1 Ring, and the Österreichring previos to that) after the energy drink brand bought the circuit. The championship will start on March 20th in Qatar and on the 6th of November the Valencia GP will close the season, as was announced in the provisional calendar.

The real changes will come in 2017, when the championship will undergo a complete overhaul. The number of Grands Prix held will be between 18 and 20, as a result of the incorporation of a number of countries previously not found in the lineup. Some of them were expected, but others are a surprise…

The Chang International Circuit is already finished, and Dorna held a World Superbike round there this year. There may be a GP there beginning in 2017, as the facilities are first class. They are very interested in MotoGP, as there are a huge number of fans in Thailand, and the two-wheel market is very important for the Japanese factories, which have major production plants there.

Holding a GP in this Asian country is not due to interest from the world’s motorcycle manufacturers but the country's authorities, who want to put Kazakhstan on the map. That is, they want to present the country as a destination, as was done by Qatar, for example. Facilities that house the circuit are already under construction and Dorna has sent Alfonso Tomé, a confidant of Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta, to Kazakhstan to oversee the developments. Tomé was at the head of the Losail and Motorland Aragon development for MotoGP races. How many of you would know where Kazakhstan is on a world map?

This is a race that the factories have been pining for. Indonesia is the world's third-largest motorcycle market behind India and China, and is likely the country with the most enthusiasm for MotoGP that does not have a GP currently held there. Ezpeleta has visited Indonesia several times to see the possibility of its return to the calendar (there were Grand Prix held there in 1996 and 1997). According to Ezpeleta, the authorities have committed to move forward with the GP. The next step is to completely rebuild/remodel the Sentul circuit, which needs a radical reconstruction to return to a state that is fit for a world championship race. Located about two hours from Jakarta, currently much of the circuit has been swallowed up by the surrounding jungle and the circuit surface is in very bad shape. Now we just need to see if revisions can be completed in time for a 2017 or a 2018 race.

The first three future GPs were more or less expected, but the fourth on the list is a surprise: Finland. Sources tell us that the contracts were apparently signed last weekend at Misano. Even more telling is that those sources also say the agreement was signed not by a local promoter, but by the national authorities, so the commitment is serious, strong and has all the guarantees to come to fruition (unlike Brazil, for example). As to where, it’s very likely that the race would be held at the still-under-construction Kymi Ring, about 68 miles northeast of Helsinki, the nation’s capital. The 2.98-mile, 15-turn circuit already has its FIM Grade A license, and circuit officials have stated their intention to host a MotoGP race, so everything is basically in place other than the sanctioning fee and the completion of the circuit. As for the date, I would say it is closer to 2018 than 2017, but it’s looking increasing likely that MotoGP will be going to Finland sooner or later.

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