News 3 Jan 2011

Australian MotoGP round under threat for 2012 season

Could Phillip Island lose its round of MotoGP next season?

The Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Phillip Island is under threat for 2012.

The Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Phillip Island is under threat for 2012.

The Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix will have to be moved forward from October to March for the 2012 season or Phillip Island will risk losing a round of the MotoGP World Championship.

Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta has threatened to axe the event unless the Australian Grand Prix Corporation moves the event to the beginning of the season.

Ezpeleta and top riders including Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi have requested the date change amid fears that the temperature and frequent rain in October during recent seasons have made the event unsafe at times.

Ezpeleta is calling for the race to be moved to the opening round in March rather than the traditional October date, a move that could have happened this year except for a late request from Dorna.

“It was clear that to move for [2011] was very complicated,” Ezpeleta told British Motorcycle News. “We have spoken to them and for [this] year the calendar will be as the provisional one already printed.

“We understand because of the short notice but for 2012 it will be at the beginning of the season. It must be at the beginning of the year because I think it is too risky later in the season.

“For 2012 it will be compulsory and the FIM will not homologate the circuit unless the race is at the beginning of the year. There can be no excuses in 2012.”

However the AGPC also organises the Formula One GP in Melbourne at the end of March, while World Superbikes are also traditionally held at the Island in February/March.

AGPC chief executive Andrew Westacott recently commented in the Australian Associated Press that there are no plans to change the date of the event despite Ezpeleta’s claims in the European press.

“There’s a contract that Dorna have got that exists with us that says the race will be in September-October until 2016,” Westacott said.

“Carmelo has been suggesting this for a while on and off but we’ve never had a delayed race, never had a cancelled race.

“The vagaries of the weather exist all around the place at various times of the year. It’s not as easy as saying we’ll just slot it in in March.

“Marshalls and emergency services would also be doing potentially World Superbikes, MotoGP testing at Phillip Island and the Formula One event.”