It was a relatively-quiet day, but then Youthstream released the provisional calendar for the 2019 FIM Motocross World Championship and keyboards were set alight. Although there are only a few new events, like Shanghai and Hong Kong, some dates have been shuffled around and sparked a lot of debate in the community.
The greatest question mark is that the opening round, which is simply a venue that is yet to be announced, is completely blank. What will that end up being? Giuseppe Luongo has already stated that it will probably be an event that is run in the Middle East in February. It is hardly surprising that everyone immediately pointed fingers to Dubai, once that insight emerged, but there are also rumours of Kuwait floating around as well. Those have actually hovered around the paddock for quite some time though. It remains to be seen when that will be announced, but it is interesting that a country has not been specified either.
There is no way to know currently, of course, but it certainly sounds like the first round will be spectacular. If the options in the Middle East end up being dead ends, then where would the first round be run? It would not be a surprise to see everything shunted forward and the Grand Prix contingent head to Argentina for the first stop. There could be changes in that nation as well though. There were rumours that Youthstream would not return to Neuquen, for reasons out of their control, but there has been no confirmation there either.
It is worth noting that the race is simply listed as the Grand Prix of Argentina currently. Why is that relevant? Whenever an event has been held at the spectacular circuit of Neuquen, it has been called the Grand Prix of Patagonia-Argentina. This could mean nothing, admittedly, but there were those rumours that hinted there was another facility in the running that is much closer to Buenos Aires. Moving closer to the capital could alleviate some pressure on teams and budgets as well, which most would be thankful for with the additional overseas events. Before teams tackle those new races in China, however, they must return to Europe and head straight to Matterley Basin in Great Britain for the third round of the FIM Motocross World Championship.
It is quite surprising that this move has prompted so much discussion, but some are unsurprisingly weary of the weather at that point in the season. Is that not something that will be encountered in any country though? The problems may be magnified in Great Britain, of course, but Steve Dixon believes that his team are prepared to tackle any issues. There are positives and negatives, but the fact that British fans get to witness the first European Grand Prix of the season outweighs all of those. Dixon put it best when he simply said that good weather is not guaranteed at any point. It cannot be colder than what Valkenswaard was earlier this year anyway!
Following three events on established European circuits, the teams will chuck their equipment in crates again and venture off to China for the first time. There is not much that can be said about that currently, seeing as absolutely nothing is known about the venue, but there is one point that is worth considering. Most immediately presume that a new overseas event will be a bust on a man-made track with a very low number of fans. Those comments were made before the FIM Motocross World Championship travelled to Argentina for the first time and look at how that gamble paid off. An event like the Grand Prix of China must be given a chance.
It is interesting that there is a longer gap between the events in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Shanghai will be run on a Wednesday, ten days after Hong Kong, but a reason for that has not been provided yet. It will be interesting to see how the teams tackle that break though. There would be time to return to Europe and get some testing in, but then that would be hectic. It is going to be a very busy period for the Grand Prix contingent anyway, as the Russian fixture is the following event and another race that is effectively treated like a flyaway. The rest of the season is then fairly traditional, with a set of Indonesian events mixed in.
How about those events that are not a calendar? It seems that the Grand Prix of La Comunitat Valenciana, RedSand, is going to be one and done. The Spanish Grand Prix has not had any stability since the days of Bellpuig. Sevlievo, Bulgaria, was also a firm fixture at that time and it seems as though that event will not return, despite the fact that it is set to return to the FIM Motocross World Championship in August. There are always some changes to the provisional calendar, however, so it would not be a surprise to see venues like those sneak onto the calendar one way or another.
Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Honda Racing Corporation