Earlier this year the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, which runs both Australian F1 and MotoGP events, signed a new deal with F1 until 2035.
As part of the deal, the Albert Park race is expected to be one of the first three races of the season, comprising a minimum of five season-opening slots.
This essentially locks the Australian Grand Prix to a March/April date for the next 13 years.
A knock-on effect of the F1 deal is that the MotoGP round at Phillip Island is now set to remain at the end of the year.
The idea of an early season slot for the AGP in hopes of warmer weather has been floated publicly by riders for years.
He returned this year after the event was affected by bad weather. Heavy rain ahead of the event left the track flooded on the Thursday evening ahead of practice, and although the majority of the race was dry throughout the weekend, ambient temperatures generally remained in the lower lows.
The concept of an earlier date was seriously considered by the AGPC just last year after calls from Dorna in 2019 to assess the idea, but the race promoter has now committed to booking a slot in September/October for MotoGP.
This is due to AGPC’s belief that Qatar will return as the MotoGP season opener in 2024 after being pushed back to the end of the 2023 calendar due to upgrades at the Losail International Circuit.
Phillip Island, meanwhile, has been given a slot on October 22 on the tentative 2023 calendar, the middle race in a triple-header with Indonesia and Thailand and part of a series of five. races which also includes Japan and Malaysia.
“MotoGP has locked out Qatar as the first race; that rules out January or February,” APGC CEO Andrew Westacott told Motorsport.com.
“We have Formula 1 at the start of the year and we need a break within our organisation. Also, we have to think about infrastructure and suppliers etc.
“So the right time for MotoGP is this niche. It’s a niche that we are very comfortable with, just like Dorna.”
The pressure for a date change has always come during periods of cold and wet weather at Phillip Island, with the riders’ collective belief that conditions would be better at the start of the calendar.
However, Westacott is adamant that due to Phillip Island’s unstable climate, the chance of rain in March or April would be no different than September or October.
“If we put it in March or April, the weather in March or April is no different from October,” he said.
“Phillip Island changes several times in a week. Okay, you could play the odds and say the last weekend in October will be better than the first weekend in September.
“But I think that slot makes it a traditional end to the season. You have the breakouts – here in Malaysia and then back in Valencia. It’s working well.”