World Supercross announces 2023 calendar with strange UK clash

A provisional calendar has been announced for the 2023 FIM World Supercross Championship, with a curious date for the British round.

World Supercross 2022. - World Supercross/Patrick Cartwright

The FIM World Supercross Championship has announced a provisional calendar for the 2023 season, but there is at least one problem. 

2022 saw the first season of the new-form World Supercross with promoters SX Global originally planning for a five-race debut season that was then cut to three and then to two. The final calendar had the ‘pilot season’ racing firstly in Cardiff at the beginning of October and secondly in Melbourne a couple of weeks later. 

For the second season, the calendar is expanded. Six rounds are currently scheduled on the provisional calendar for the 2023 World Championship which is hoped to have more of an established feeling than the 2022 season which was not without faults. 

2023 is currently set to see World Supercross visit North America with a Canadian Grand Prix, with an Asian Grand Prix added, as well as a French round, a German round, and a season finale in Australia. 

So, what is the problem? Well, the dates. 

The British Grand Prix will open the season, just like in 2022, but, unlike in 2022, it will be in July, rather than October. This is agreeable from a climate perspective but disagreeable from another. 

The race is currently scheduled for 1 July 2023, which also happens to be the same weekend as WorldSBK is scheduled to visit Donington. Splitting the niche British motorcycle audience is probably ill-advised. This is especially the case on the side of the fledgling dirt bike racing series that has an unconfirmed rider line-up and is following on from a season which featured something of a ‘mixed bag’ of riders in terms of age, ability, and stature. It is further exaggerated by the comparison that makes with WorldSBK, which has three outstanding riders at the head of a competitive field that produce outstanding racing (almost) every week, and as a result the championship has a title fight that is inherently intriguing even now, more than two months away from the start of the season. Adding further to the exaggeration is that WorldSX will move its British GP from Cardiff to Villa Park in Birmingham for 2023. 

Perhaps the consideration is that the WorldSBK fans will find Donington-to-Birmingham an agreeable journey.

If both WorldSBK and World Supercross keep their dates for their respective visits to Britain, it would be fair to assume that the impact of splitting the aforementioned British motorcycling audience would be felt more by the latter than the former.

Moving on from the British GP, the World Supercross French GP is on the same weekend as the MXGP of Belgium in Lommel, which seems a better bet on the side of SX Global than their apparent British gamble. The MXGP of France will have been a couple of months beforehand, and many French fans would likely take a trip to Lyon-Decines for the French Supercross Grand Prix, foregoing the MXGP of Belgium in favour of waiting for the Motocross of Nations in Ernee at the end of the season. 

There will then be a two-month gap after France. At the end of the break, the series might be expected to go to Germany, but instead it will go to an undefined Asian location instead on 30 September, one week after an Asian double-header in Singapore and Japan, and on the same weekend as MotoGP is in Japan. Although World Supercross has ambitions in Japan, it looks as though this 2023 Asian race will be in South East Asia, most likely Indonesia.

Two weeks after the Asian round WorldSX will head back to Europe on its way to North America. Its European stop is Germany, specifically the Merkur Spiel Arena in Dusseldorf, which it will visit on 14 October. This is the same weekend as the MXGP of Great Britain in Matterley Basin, but more importantly the weekend before the Motocross of Nations in Ernee, France. On the one hand, people could be high on motocross hype just one week out from the MXoN and therefore head to Dusseldorf; on the other hand they could decide they can wait an extra week and head to MXoN instead of the German SX GP. The positive for SX Global is that Germany does not seem likely to be putting together an especially strong (Simon Laengenfelder aside) MXoN team for next year, so the public might decide on the side of the Supercross GP instead. 

Germany sits equidistant between the Asian round and the Canadian Grand Prix on 28 October. BC Place in Vancouver will be the venue, and should receive the undivided attention of the Canadian motorcycle audience. With no US round but plenty of US personnel and riders involved, the Canadian GP could also benefit from fans south of the border for its penultimate round, especially since the newly-formed SuperMotocross World Championship (SMX) will have ended two weeks before.

Finally, the series heads to established territory in Melbourne, Australia, where it will be hoping to decide both the WSX and SX2 titles. 

The provisional WSX calendar clearly has issues, but many of those are to be expected. There are now three or four (depending on how you view the SuperMotocross series and the promoter politics within it) dirt bike racing series' in the world now which are all trying to claim to be ‘the best’. In reality, none of them are ‘the best’. SMX has the best promotion and media, but a terrible name and obvious geographical limitations; MXGP visits numerous countries and continents, but also pays the price for that in terms of entries; and World Supercross has the potential to take the most accessible form of dirt bike racing to more fans than ever before, but it hasn’t worked out how to convince people it will be able to do that yet. 

But, since none of the series' - in particular World Supercross and SMX - will accept that trying to be better than the other one is pointless they are forced to fight with each other and clash. They clash over riders (the Ken Roczen situation has been the obvious example of that) and it is surely not a coincidence that Canada and not the US will be the first North American country to host the series. 

For now it is a shame, and although in the future it might be different WorldSX needs to avoid decisions which make it seem like an expanded Australian championship that doesn’t quite understand the global landscape of motorcycling. The decision to race in Birmingham when another - well-established - World Championship is racing only a few miles away seems like one of those types of decisions.

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