until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


MotoGP 2021 calendar – What’s on, what’s off, what’s in doubt?

by Simon Patterson
5 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

The 2021 MotoGP calendar is still far from set in stone only one month ahead of the start of pre-season testing, as new international restrictions and confusing communications spread continued doubt about how close to ‘normal’ the year might be.

The primary concern right now among teams is around the planned opening trip to Qatar, which is set to host two MotoGP tests, a Moto2 and Moto3 test and the first two races of the season, with running kicking off at the Losail International Circuit on March 6 and the opening round scheduled for the end of the month.


Series promoter Dorna is believed to have implemented a detailed plan in conjunction with local authorities under which team personnel will be tested both before and after arriving in Qatar, with a mandatory quarantine period between being tested on arrival and having results returned.

Teams are also expecting to be isolated to just the circuit and their hotels for the entire month-long trip, with almost the entire paddock also believed to be planning to stay in the Gulf state rather than returning to Europe after testing and before the race.

Feb 02 : How good will Marquez be when he returns to MotoGP?

However, those plans could still be thrown into jeopardy as the COVID situation in Qatar worsens.

The government announced a raft of new restrictions yesterday that come into play today as it prepares for a second wave of the virus.

Most crucially, those restrictions include a ban on non-residents entering the country – something that could have a severe impact on MotoGP.

Jack Miller Pramac Ducati Qatar MotoGP testing 2020

Qatar is currently hosting the delayed 2020 FIFA Club World Cup, but with only six teams participating it involves significantly fewer people than the 1500 required to run MotoGP.

When asked to comment by The Race, a Dorna representative pointed out the statement released earlier this week, confirming that Moto2 and Moto3 testing would be moved from Spain to Qatar – a decision made before the Qatar travel rules changed.

“The change of venue for Moto2 and Moto3 has been agreed in order to create the safest and most efficient pre-season testing programme possible for the FIM MotoGP World Championship,” said the statement, “minimising the travel necessary for each class and ensuring the first two grands prix of the season are able to take place safely and securely.”

Can Dorna secure a dispensation – similar to the arrangement by which Formula E’s Saudi Arabia opener is still taking place later this month despite the border restrictions that have just been announced there – so that the MotoGP fraternity can still enter the country? Teams are currently awaiting news, and our sources among them are not optimistic.

Should Qatar prove to be untenable, it seems like there is a back-up plan in place in which the championship remains in Europe for its opening leg and starts later.

Pol Espargaro KTM Jerez MotoGP 2020

Testing would be not at Losail but at Jerez, before MotoGP travels only three hours down the road to Portugal’s Portimao circuit for the first scheduled European race of the year on April 18.

Thankfully, it’s likely that once the season does get underway in Europe, it’ll be possible to see out a largely successful year, after MotoGP showed in 2020 that it’s possible to run races safely (albeit in very unusual circumstances).

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There is more good news, too, as it seems that reports of the demise of the 2021 Thai Grand Prix were caused by bad communication rather than a government decision to postpone the race.

When announcing that the ‘2021 race’ would be delayed until 2022 earlier this week, what they failed to clarify was that the 2020 race would now be held in 2021…

That semantic oddity is a consequence of the Buriram event being directly promoted by the Thai government. A new five-year contract was due to start with the 2021 race, but that’s been moved forward to 2022-26. The 2020 race that never happened last year due to the pandemic remains in existence from the previous contract, so it’s now slated for October 2021.

“There was a misunderstanding,” a representative of the circuit confirmed to The Race. “Actually, the government was announcing the postponement of 2020’s race and to host it in 2021 instead.

“We still carry on and look forward to hosting the Thai GP at our circuit this coming October.”

That’s promising news for both the series and for non-European fans, and comes amid an increasingly likely possibility that the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island will also be able to run in October.

Phillip Island MotoGP 2019

The State of Victoria, home to Phillip Island, this week hosts the Australian Open tennis tournament, with 30,000 Australian fans in attendance as restrictions there are gradually eased.

Should MotoGP organisers be able to negotiate with local government to find a way to reduce the amount of mandatory quarantine required for international travellers (something set to be aided significantly by vaccination programmes), then it seems that MotoGP racing will be able to return to one of the calendar’s most iconic tracks.

Motegi MotoGP 2019

While it’s believed that the fourth of MotoGP’s four overseas races in Malaysia is for now safe, it remains to be seen what will happen with the Japanese Grand Prix.

With the Japanese sporting authorities having a much bigger problem to worry about in the shape of the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics, it’s likely to be much later in the year before any decision is made about MotoGP at Motegi.


28 March Qatar – Losail
4 April Qatar – Losail
18 April Portugal – Portimao
2 May Spain – Jerez
16 May France – Le Mans
30 May Italy – Mugello
6 June Catalunya – Barcelona
20 June Germany – Sachsenring
27 June Netherlands – Assen
11 July Finland – KymiRing
15 August Austria – Red Bull Ring
29 August Great Britain – Silverstone
12 September Aragon
19 September San Marino – Misano
3 October Japan – Motegi
10 October Thailand – Buriram
24 October Australia – Phillip Island
31 October Malaysia – Sepang
14 November Valencia

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