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Japanese MotoGP round cancelled, COTA to replace it

MotoGP’s 2021 Japanese Grand Prix in October has been cancelled but will be replaced on the same date by the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas.

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Photo by: Bob Meyer

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

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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 October 15-17, 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.

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 brought the 2020 season to a close.

Revised calendar

2021 MotoGP calendar:

Date  Venue
28 March Qatar Losail
4 April Qatar Losail
18 April Portugal Algarve
2 May Spain Jerez
16 May France Le Mans
30 May Italy Mugello
6 June Spain Barcelona
20 June Germany Sachsenring
27 June Netherlands Assen
8 August Austria Red Bull Ring
15 August Austria Red Bull Ring
29 August United Kingdom Silverstone
12 September Spain Aragon
19 September San Marino Misano
3 October United States Circuit of the Americas
17 October Thailand Buriram
24 October Australia Phillip Island
31 October Malaysia Sepang
14 November Spain Valencia

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