Japanese MotoGP round cancelled, COTA race comes in as replacement

by Jun 23, 20210 comments

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MotoGP’s 2020 visit to Motegi had to be scrapped due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with all of its Pacific flyaways and races in the Americas also cancelled because of the virus situation.

The 2021 calendar initially postponed the US and Argentine races to the final part of the year on unspecified dates, while it was hoped MotoGP would be able to have its usual Pacific trek through Japan, Thailand, Australia and Malaysia.

However, due to ongoing travel restrictions MotoGP has taken the decision to cancel the Japanese GP for a second year in a row.

Originally scheduled for the weekend of 3 October, it will now be replaced by the returning US GP at Texas’ Circuit of the Americas.

Dorna Sports’ original idea was to stage back-to-back races at COTA, as was done in Qatar at the start of the year and will happen in Austria in August.

But Formula 1’s plans to host a double-header at COTA later in October has scuppered these plans.

Austin’s inclusion has provisionally moved the Thailand GP back a week to 15-17 October, forming a triple-header with Australia and Malaysia.

Further calendar revisions are expected in the coming weeks though, with a double-header with Thailand and Malaysia more likely than a triple-header with Australia.

Race winner Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team, second place Fabio Quartararo, Petronas Yamaha SRT

Race winner Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team, second place Fabio Quartararo, Petronas Yamaha SRT

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Due to strict border control in Australia, the Phillip Island race will not likely take place this year, while Argentina is also in doubt – both as a result of COVID-19 and the fire which devastated Termas de Rio Hondo’s pit complex earlier this year.

Should Thailand be unable to host a grand prix, a double-header at Sepang is a real possibility in October.

To hit its 19-race schedule for 2021, it’s now likely MotoGP will return to a venue it will have already raced at this season ahead of its planned Valencia finale in mid-November.

The likely candidate is Portimao, which hosted the Portuguese Grand Prix in April – brought in to replace the postponed Austin/Argentine races – and which hosted the 2020 season finale.

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