Two important pieces of information were released over the weekend concerning two-wheeled racing. First, World Superbike (SBK) is moving to Laguna Seca in 2013, and second, MotoGP's 2013 calendar was released with two unconfirmed races in April, sans Austin.
Since visiting Miller Motorsports Park in May of this year, the idea of SBK coming to Circuit of The Americas has been in the back of my mind. Speaking with several SBK officials that weekend, the option to move to Austin was well received but no one would confirm whether talks were underway. SBK seemed happy with their stint at Miller but it was clear the new facility couldn't overcome the lackluster crowds and minimal exposure associated with the event.
In line with the overall sentiment from these discussions, this past Friday a new three year contract to host the United States round of the eni FIM Superbike World Championship at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was announced. Laguna Seca has replaced Miller Motorsports Park starting next year, opting to return to the Californian track where MotoGP also runs.
Since MotoGP was put in limbo earlier this year, a serious void was created by the lack of a two-wheeled series at COTA. Frustrating many season ticket holders who expected MotoGP to be a foundation of the facility's program, the issues between Tavo Hellmund and Circuit of The Americas bled over to the MotoGP side of things, surprising many who hoped the series would be free of the F1 drama.
Waiting patiently for things to be resolved, complications were revealed when former MotoGP Champion Kevin Schwantz announced a lawsuit against COTA, claiming they went around him to secure an alternate deal with MotoGP owner Dorna and push him out. While this issue remains to be resolved, motorcycle governing body FIM (Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme) released a provisional calendar with two races in April yet to be confirmed.
Two weeks following the season opener in Qatar, back-to-back races on the 14th and 21st of April are unconfirmed and the season expands from 18 races in 2012 to 19 races for 2013. The fourth event on the calendar is Spain, and with only Portugal, Spain's close neighbor, missing from the 2012 calendar, it's very possible what has yet to be confirmed is how the logistics between Austin and Portugal will take place in just one week between the two events.
Given the emergence of Schwantz's case against COTA, one could argue that there's little reason to pursue legal action unless a deal between Dorna and COTA is underway. The silver-lining is that we may soon have the top two-wheeled series here in Austin, but we'll continue to wait until official word is out later this year.