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It seemed as though this moment would never come, but the Grand Prix season will resume at long last in just under three weeks. The Grand Prix of Latvia – the first of three stops next to the Baltic Sea – will act as the location for arguably the most highly anticipated race of the 2020 FIM Motocross World Championship. A new calendar poses many intriguing talking points, as well as some radical changes, all of which are down below.
Grand Prix of Latvia (3-5)
The Grand Prix of Latvia is a proven event that no one can call into question. The track has natural elements, prompts exciting racing and is sat in a beautiful location. There is simply nothing wrong with it. It comes as no surprise that so many were eager to restart the season in the quaint area of Kegums – it is considerably more relaxed than racing in Belgium or Great Britain would be. The real pull here is that the track crew are not going to be too restricted when it comes to making changes between the events. Yes, plural. The Grand Prix of Latvia will be accompanied by the Grand Prix of Riga (the track is just 40 minutes from the centre of the capital) and finally the Grand Prix of Kegums. All three will take place at the same track in a seven-day span.
Following a schedule similar to that of Monster Energy Supercross, the break between the first two events (Latvia and Riga) will be the shortest and that means changes will be minimalistic. The break is shorter than it even seems, as the EMX250 and EMX Open riders will hit the track on Tuesday. That means that there is just a single day to make changes and flatten the track completely, so that it is picture perfect for the fourth round of the current term. Do not expect to see anything too radical at the Grand Prix of Riga, bearing that in mind, but the extra day before the Grand Prix of Kegums should put the track crew in a position to make bigger changes. Kegums was run in the other direction in its first five years of existence, and there were no major structural changes after that. Reversing it again would be a possibility and make for quite a spectacle.
Perhaps the biggest undertaking that would come with reversing the track would be pulling the advertising structures down and then resurrecting them all again, as well as reshaping those tabletops that are littered across the circuit. It would be a tall order in two days and could cause some problems, as there would not be a chance to test the track (as would be the norm when making such significant alterations). The feedback from the EMX riders on the Saturday could prove to be useful though, as fixes could be implemented before the main show on Sunday. It is unlikely that a track map will be released before each round – that has never been the norm in Grands Prix – so there is really no telling what the track crew have planned. Changes have been promised though, so there will be something to keep minds ticking.
Grand Prix of Turkey (6)
Events have been forced to their knees across the world, yet the Grand Prix of Turkey is the one that is still standing in its original date. Even this appears to be under threat now though, as the Afyonkarahisar region is reportedly facing strict measures at the moment. This is the one event on the calendar that could change, but what would fill that slot? Enter Arnhem. The rumours about Arnhem, a practice track near Amsterdam, hosting a round of the world series as early as this year just will not go away. It even sounds as though the Infront Moto Racing track crew have been on location measuring the start straight, to ensure that it hits all of the different regulations. Will it happen? It still seems a little far-fetched, despite the endless stream of rumours that are flying in.
There is no doubt that a spot in The Netherlands would be a good addition to the schedule, especially as it would enable the promoters to throw another double (or even triple) header in. Is it practical though? Time will tell. If Turkey was a full-proof plan, which sadly does not appear to be the case, that could have actually been a great place to run multiple events. The local authorities are big supporters of the race and the man-made layout would make it easy to reroute certain sections, one would think at least. That would make the appeal of travelling to Turkey much greater for those smaller teams (EMX125 and WMX riders are down to make the trip east) as well. This could be a moot point – Turkey does not appear to be locked in at all. Watch this space.
MXGP of Italy (7-8)
The return of Faenza has really come out of left field, as the historic circuit has not popped up on the Grand Prix calendar since 2012. There has not been a single rumour about that venue making a return since then, and yet here it is! This should appease a lot of the old-school fans who are desperate for tracks like this to fill the schedule. It is replacing Imola effectively too, as the two venues are separated by 20 minutes at the most, which is even better. The one comment that keeps popping up from the teams and riders (or at least those who were around eight years ago) is that the track entrance will be the only problem with reinstating this layout. It was tricky for trucks to navigate back then, by all accounts. It sounds trivial, sure, but it is the one point that is raised consistently.
Considering the fact that there is just a day between the two rounds, and that Faenza is a hard-pack circuit that has not been changed significantly in years, it is safe to assume that there will be no alterations between the events. Perhaps a couple of singles will be added on the inside of turns, to force riders to move over to the outside and switch lines, but it is hard to envision much else changing. That is fine though! Faenza has not been around in years, and less than half of the current crop have actually raced there before. There is nothing to squabble about with the return of an iconic track – the only downside is that fans may not be in attendance. The initial Faenza rumours hinted that no fans would be at either race, although it seems as though Infront are hoping that the restrictions would have eased by the mid-September date.
Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Bavo Swijgers