Update: Qatar officially confirmed as MotoGP's only pre-season testing venue, but all riders given access to last two days of Shakedown.

MotoGP riders are set to have just one Official test venue before the start of the 2021 world championship, following the cancellation of the Sepang outings.

The new year traditionally begins with a Shakedown in Malaysia, featuring test riders, rookies and Concessions teams, followed swiftly by an Official Test (for all riders) at the same track.

However, Malaysia recently declared a state of emergency and both Sepang events have been cancelled due to the 'ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdowns'.

IRTA CEO Mike Trimby told Crash.net that, while the Official Sepang test will not be replaced (there had been speculation that a European venue might step-in), the Shakedown will now be moved to Qatar on March 5-6-7.

Losail is then due to hold the lone remaining Official MotoGP test on March 10-11-12, followed by the season-opener night race scheduled on March 26-27-28.

To avoid any risk of last year's Qatar problems, where only the Moto2 and Moto3 events were held after a sudden change in Covid restrictions meant Italians couldn't enter the country, MotoGP teams and riders are set to remain in Qatar from the test until the race.

The reduction in pre-season testing means the class rookies - Enea Bastianini, Luca Marini and Jorge Martin - will now start the season with only six days of MotoGP track time, instead of nine.

And while all teams will now need to make technical decisions based on data gathered at just one track (with the unique desert and night race conditions), KTM is arguably the manufacturer to lose the most from the reduction in testing. 

Having started last season with technical Concessions - then lost them due to a stunning three wins and eight podiums - KTM is allowed to join Aprilia in updating its engine design for 2021.

However, unlike Aprilia, KTM's engine design will be fixed once racing begins, meaning any major issues with the new RC16 engine need to identified and solved during pre-season testing.

The special Covid technical freeze states that the other manufacturers - Suzuki, Ducati, Yamaha and Honda - must continue to use their 2020 engine designs until the end of 2021.

Unlike in 2020, all manufacturers are allowed to update their aerodynamic package this season.

The cancellation of the Sepang test also scuppers the planned team launch by the local Petronas Yamaha squad, which was due to present its new line-up of Valentino Rossi and reigning title runner-up Franco Morbidelli at the circuit on the eve of the event.

The team told Crash.net that they are still in discussions about a revised team launch.

Provisional 2021 MotoGP Calendar

Round

Date

Race

Circuit

1

28 March

Qatar

Losail

2

11 April

Argentina

Termas de Rio Hondo

3

18 April

Americas

COTA

4

2 May

Spain

Jerez

5

16 May

France

Le Mans

6

30 May

Italy

Mugello

7

6 June

Catalunya

Barcelona

8

20 June

Netherlands

Assen

9

27 June

Germany

Sachsenring

10

11 July

Finland*

KymiRing

11

 

To Be Decided

 

12

15 August

Austria

Red Bull Ring

13

29 August

Great Britain

Silverstone

14

12 September

Aragon

Aragon

15

19 September

San Marino e Della Riviera di Rimini

Misano

16

3 October

Japan

Motegi

17

10 October

Thailand

Buriram

18

24 October

Australia

Phillip Island

19

31 October

Malaysia

Sepang

20

14 November

Comunitat Valenciana

Ricardo Tormo

 

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