MotoGP 2023 calendar
Portuguese GP - Portimao
Argentina GP - Termas de Rio Hondo
March 31-April 2
Americas GP - Circuit of the Americas
Spanish GP - Jerez
French GP - Le Mans
Italian GP - Mugello
German GP - Sachsenring
Dutch GP - Assen
British GP - Silverstone
Austrian GP - Red Bull Ring
Catalan GP - Barcelona
San Marino GP - Misano
Indian GP - Buddh
Japanese GP - Motegi
September 29-October 1
Indonesian GP - Mandalika
Australian GP - Phillip Island
Thai GP - Chang
Malaysian GP - Sepang
Qatar GP - Lusail
Valencia GP - Ricardo Tormo
MotoGP was set for an all-time high 21 rounds, and 42 races, and hoped to visit 18 different countries this year, including two new countries. But the Kazakhstan MotoGP on July 7-9 - a brand new location - has been cancelled due to homologation works.
India is the sole the new addition, while Aragon steps down to reduce the Spanish-based events to three (Italy is the other repeat visit). Finland remains absent.
That notably means ‘flyaway’ events, held outside Europe, will now comprise almost half (nine) of the 20-round calendar: Argentina, America, India, Japan, Indonesia, Australia, Thailand, Malaysia and Qatar.
Once MotoGP leaves Misano on September 10, there won’t be another competitive lap in Europe until Friday practice for the Valencia finale on November 24.
Notably, every round in 2023 will feature a Sprint race on the Saturday.
Covid aside, MotoGP - like F1- has been gradually ‘rebalancing’ its calendars with most new events located outside Europe (KymiRing was to be the exception). Saudi Arabia is among the planned future destinations.
Such worldwide expansion offers the chance to present MotoGP in front of a new audience but also requires additional travel and logistical costs.
“Well, my wife will change the locks with this calendar," joked Alex Rins.
“But no, apart from the joke, it's nice to discover new places, new tracks. For sure if it will be harder because we will be away from home more, but it looks good.”
Jack Miller: ‘I like the look of it’
As one of the non-European riders, Jack Miller had to move halfway across the world to pursue his MotoGP dream.
“We've got a big calendar on, but I like the look of it,” said Miller, who will switch from Ducati to KTM next season.
“I like the idea of that, spreading it out. I like taking MotoGP all around the world. I think that's the goal and that's how it should be.
“The [schedule] itself looks good. The last race is at the end of November so we're stopping a little bit later, but it kicks off a little bit later [Portimao, March 24-26]. There are also two decent breaks in the middle, after Le Mans and before Silverstone. So the boys should be able to catch up at home.”Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales also understood the need to take MotoGP into new countries.
“I think it’s very important to go to new countries and improve the community of MotoGP. We must improve and grow. We must become the most important sport in the world.
“For me it’s great [because] of course I love racing. India is important for us, because I can see many fans for us in India, like Indonesia. It will improve MotoGP a lot. It’s good news for me.”
Miguel Oliveira said: “Very exciting to go to new places and it’s a step forward. We are getting more time out of Europe, especially at the end of the year, which will be a challenge.”
‘Tough and demanding’
Vinales’ team-mate and current title contender Aleix Espargaro, who at 33 will become the oldest full-time rider on the grid next season, labelled the future calendar as ‘tough and ‘demanding’.
The Spaniard highlighted that the last eight rounds will be take place in just ten weekends.
India-Japan will be back-to-back, followed by a weekend off. Then there will be an Indonesia-Australia-Thailand triple header followed by a weekend off, then another triple header of Malaysia-Qatar-Valencia.
“Very tough. It will be very demanding physically and mentally, with the sprint races and the new tracks,” Espargaro said. Especially in the last part of the year, it will be tough to do three consecutive races, twice, so far from home.
“I will try to organise as much as possible with my team and my family, maybe I will travel more with my kids. Let’s see how I will organise. I have the feeling that the last part will be very demanding for the riders and everybody in the paddock.”
From 20 to 40 MotoGP races ‘a big marathon’
The creation of the new Saturday afternoon Sprint means the number of MotoGP races next season will instantly double, from 20 to 40.
The Sprints will not technically be called grands prix and only half points will be awarded for the half-distance races.
But a MotoGP race is a MotoGP race in terms of physical and mental commitment. Not to mention risk, which some paddock members believe will be higher for the Sprints, due to the importance of being near the front on the opening lap.
“The new format gives us a little bit more stress and it will be funny to have many back-to-back races and the chance to score points twice in a weekend will affect everyone,” said Oliveira, who is switching from KTM to RNF Aprilia next season.
“The riders will need to look it as a big, big marathon and not stress too much [at each race]. It will take some time to adapt to it.”
“For me, 20 [rounds] is on the limit,” Rins said. When it was pointed out that it will also be 40 individual races, he added: “For sure it’s the limit, no more!”
Remy Gardner, leaving MotoGP at the end of his rookie season and joining WorldSBK next year, said: “I wish you guys the best of luck!”
Ara-gone: ‘Fabio will be happy!’
While the new event in India made headlines, it has come at the expense of Aragon, which has been part of the MotoGP calendar every year since 2010.
Aragon, like Barcelona and Valencia, had already agreed to alternate its MotoGP event (rather than continue hosting every year) with other Spanish rounds due to the impending calendar expansion.
That means Aragon could well be back for the 2024 season, having agreed to host ‘at least three races between 2022-2026’ including this September’s event.
Nonetheless, some riders will miss the annual Aragon race, with reigning champion Fabio Quartararo perhaps the notable exception.
“I hope we never go back again!” joked Quartararo, referring to his poor record and bad luck at the Aragon circuit, including this year’s opening-lap collision with Marc Marquez. “Now we will have a little bit more engine [for 2023] we will not go back!”
“It's a shame [to lose Aragon]… For sure Fabio will be happy!” smiled Rins. “But for us, it's a good place to ride. It's more of a home GP than Montmelo for example. But it is what it is, we will have to go there with the stock [road] bike to train!”
Ducati's title contender Francesco Bagnaia also has fond memories of Aragon, including his debut 2021 MotoGP victory over Marc Marquez and runner-up finish to Enea Bastianini this season.
“We won't go to Aragon, for me that's not so good,” Bagnaia said. “But in any case, we were already doing four races in Spain, so it's correct to leave space to another country.
“I'm quite looking forward to ride in India because it's a new track, I always like when we go to new tracks. For sure we will be away from home for a long-time next year.”