They may be gone from the annual MotoGP racing calendar, yet there are certain tracks that continue to live strong in the memory of adoring fans.
We all have our favourite MotoGP venues, whether they are tracks we’ve had the good fortune to visit, or because they brought us some of the most memorable races we’ve experienced over the years. However, these are two that often stand out amongst the most popular former venues, when fans are asked to recollect their memories of great Grand Prix races.
Younger fans might not remember the Salzburgring, which first opened in 1969 and is situated within an idyllic Alpine valley. The long and narrow track design garnered this venue a fearsome reputation as one of the fastest circuits around, particularly on account of the heart-stopping high-speed run between sections 7 and 10.
Roaring through those sections was like “threading a motorcycle through the eye of a needle at 180mph,” according to former Grand Prix World Champion, Michael Doohan. The Australian won the last 500cc Championship race held at Salzburgring in 1994. The Austrian Grand Prix has since been hosted at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg.
Changing venues is not uncommon for the FIM, whose motorcycle speedway events have also seen classic tracks disappear or be replaced entirely. Speedway betting remains one of the most popular sports betting categories at Space Casino, although sadly, Austria hasn’t hosted a Speedway GP since 1995. Fortunately, while Salzburgring still exists, it is no longer used by any FIM-administered events like MotoGP.
These days, the track only tends to host motorsports on four wheels – it was the top speeds combined with an increasing risk to riders that led to officials eventually deciding that the Salzburgring was just too dangerous for MotoGP. Nevertheless, it was the thrilling nature of how races unfolded on two wheels, along with the danger and risks, which made the circuit popular.
Currently listed by the FIA and FIM as a Grade Two circuit, Laguna Seca remains one of the most iconic motorsports venues in the world. The last time any MotoGP event was held at Laguna Seca was the United States motorcycle Grand Prix in July 2013, when Marc Márquez was the star of the show.
Along with winning a race which remains one of the most memorable in MotoGP history, Márquez also treated fans to a spectacular overtaking manoeuvre at the famous corkscrew turn on lap four, getting the better of Valentino Rossi. This was almost identical to the move which Rossi himself had made at the same turn in 2008, running wide of Casey Stoner.
Having regularly hosted key races in the MotoGP calendar between 1988 and 2013, it could be some time before the premier series returns to this remarkable American venue. Late in December 2019, worrying reports emerged about mismanagement of the circuit, which included legal complaints being filed.
This has thrown a considerable shadow over the long-term viability of Laguna Seca, which is unlikely to regain its Grade One rating with the FIA. Considering the spectacular MotoGP races held there between 2008 and 2013, along with countless amazing moments that are still talked about today, this most cherished of tracks is sorely missed.
While there are many tracks which have been lost to time and the changing requirements of MotoGP, over the years, few venues have brought quite so much excitement as these two iconic venues.