Phillip Island MotoGP date won't change

The Australian MotoGP round at Phillip Island has effectively been locked into a late-season date by a recent deal struck with Formula 1.

Phillip Island MotoGP date won't change
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Earlier this year the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, which runs both the Australian F1 and MotoGP events, inked a new deal with F1 that runs until 2035.

As part of the deal the Albert Park race is set to be one of the first three races of the season including a minimum of five season-opener slots.

That basically locks the Australian Grand Prix in to a March/April date for the next 13 years.

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A knock-on effect of the F1 deal is that the Phillip Island MotoGP round is now set to stay at the back end of the year.

The idea of an early season slot for the AGP in the hope of warmer weather has been publicly floated by riders for years.

It came up again this year after the event was affected by poor weather. Heavy rain in the lead-up to the event left the track flooded on the Thursday night before practice, and while the majority of the running was dry across the weekend, ambient temperatures generally hung in the low teens.

The concept of an earlier date was seriously investigated by the AGPC as recently as last year after calls from Dorna back in 2019 to assess the idea, however the race promoter is now committed to a September/October slot for MotoGP.

That's due to a belief from the AGPC that Qatar will return as the MotoGP season opener in 2024 after it was shuffled to the back end of the schedule for 2023 due to upgrades at the Losail International Circuit.

Phillip Island, meanwhile, has been given an October 22 slot on the provisional 2023 schedule, the middle race in a triple header with Indonesia and Thailand and part of a five-race series of flyaways that also includes Japan and Malaysia. 

"MotoGP has Qatar locked in as first race; that precludes January or February," APGC CEO Andrew Westacott told Motorsport.com.

"We have Formula 1 at the start of the year and we need breathing space within our organisation. Plus we have to think about infrastructure and suppliers and so on.

"So the right time for MotoGP is this slot. It's a slot we're very comfortable with and so is Dorna."

The push for a date change has always come during spells of cold, wet weather at Phillip Island, with a collective belief from riders that conditions would be better at the beginning of the calendar.

However Westacott is adamant that, due to Phillip Island's famously fickle climate, the chance of rain in March or April would be no different to September or October.

"If we put it in March or April, the weather in March or April is no different to October," he said.

"Phillip Island changes many times across a week. Okay, you might play the odds and say the last weekend of October will be better than the first weekend of September.

"But I think this slot makes it a traditional finish to the season. You have the flyaways – here, Malaysia and then back to Valencia. It works well."

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