Among the surprises on the initial draft of the 2021 MotoGP calendar released last November was the inclusion of Russia's Igora Drive circuit on the official reserve list.

The relatively unknown Hermann Tilke-designed track is located 50 kilometres from the port city of St. Petersburg and was completed in 2019. The track is 4.086km in length with 16 corners.

A round of the 2020 German DTM touring car series was due to be the first international event held at the circuit, in late May, but was cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

"I heard about this track because in the Safety Commission every time one country is trying to make a track, Uncini [Safety Officer] used to travel there or get info on it and then show us the project before we go," Pol Espargaro said after the draft calendar was published.

"Then we try to give advance [warning] on any problems like the run-off areas and try to improve the track. I know we talked about [Russia], but actually it was a long time ago and I don't remember the track [layout]."

The November calendar contained no 'subject to homologation' caveat for Igora Drive (as remains the case for Mandalika and KymiRing) suggesting it was ready to go. Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta listed the Russian track as second in the queue of MotoGP's three official reserve venues, after Portugal and ahead of Indonesia.

"[FIM Safety Officer] Franco Uncini went to Igora Drive to look at it, it’s a really fantastic venue," Ezpeleta said in November. "We are looking at the possibility for it to be on the calendar.

"In case any of [the provisional calendar] are not possible, we will try to allocate Igora Drive as second reserve after Portimão."

The Igora Drive Circuit  (pic: dtm.drive.igora.ru)

However, all mention of Igora Drive was gone from Friday's 2021 calendar update, which saw Portimao promoted from the reserve list to become round three of the season, after a new double-header in Qatar.

Argentina and Austin have been postponed, and the date reserved for Brno removed, while Mandalika is now the only venue still listed as a reserve circuit.

Espargaro had sympathy for those trying to plan a world championship calendar amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"How the pandemic is going to go, in all the countries we want to travel to is very difficult to predict," he said. "I think Dorna is making a huge effort to bring this show around the globe, but in the end it's not in Dorna's hands that we can go to all these places and on the date planned.

"Hopefully, the pandemic will go down and we can travel to places like America and Argentina again, where the tracks are really nice and we have a lot of fans. We're all looking forward to travelling around the world again, to bring the show to them."

 

Provisional 2021 MotoGP Calendar – January Update

Round

Date

Race

Circuit

1

28 March

Qatar (Evening race)

Losail

2

4 April

Doha (Evening race)

Losail

3

18 April

Portugal

Portimao

4

2 May

Spain

Jerez

5

16 May

France

Le Mans

6

30 May

Italy

Mugello

7

6 June

Catalunya

Barcelona

8

20 June

Germany

Sachsenring

9

27 June

Netherlands

Assen

10

11 July

Finland (Subject to homologation)

KymiRing

11

15 August

Austria

Red Bull Ring

12

29 August

Great Britain

Silverstone

13

12 September

Aragon

Aragon

14

19 September

San Marino e Della Riviera di Rimini

Misano

15

3 October

Japan

Motegi

16

10 October

Thailand

Buriram

17

24 October

Australia

Phillip Island

18

31 October

Malaysia

Sepang

19

14 November

Comunitat Valenciana

Ricardo Tormo

Postponed Grands Prix:
 11 AprilArgentinaTermas
 18 AprilAmericasCOTA
Reserve Grand Prix Venues:
  Indonesia (Subject to homologation)Mandalika
  RussiaIgora Drive
2021 Pre-season Testing:
 5 MarchQatar Shakedown TestLosail
 6-7 MarchQatar Official TestLosail
 10-12 MarchQatar Official TestLosail
 

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