MotoGP signs agreement to race in India for seven years
The announcement was made by Dorna chief Carmelo Ezpeleta and sporting director Carlos Ezpeleta at a press conference in Delhi on Wednesday, along with key members of race promoter FairStreet Sports.
The planned races will take place at the Buddh International Circuit on the outskirts of the capital, the same 5.125km circuit that previously hosted three Formula 1 events between 2011-13 before it was dropped from the schedule for financial, bureaucratic and taxation reasons.
Talks are in advanced stages with the state government of Uttar Pradesh as well as India’s sports ministry to finalise the deal, with a confirmation expected to follow shortly.
The aim is to hold the first edition of Grand Prix of Bharat – as the race will be called – next year, although 2024 is seen by some as the more realistic option. No provisional date has been fixed yet by Dorna.
Carlos Ezpeleta said it was a “no brainer” for MotoGP to expand its reach to India, the world’s biggest market for two-wheelers and an important country for all five MotoGP manufacturers.
MotoGP has been spreading its wings in Asia for some time, with new races in Thailand and Indonesia proving to be a huge hit with the locals, and India is seen as the next stage of the series’ expansion in this region.
Should the deal go ahead, MotoGP will become the first major bike racing series to visit India since the Asia Road Racing Championship between 2016-18. The first event was held at the Buddh International Circuit, before the series moved to the Madras Motor Race Track in Chennai for the following two seasons.
It also means there could be two world championship events in India in coming years, following the confirmation that Hyderabad will host the third round of the 2022/23 Formula E season in February.
Photo by: ARRC
Carlos Ezpeleta, Managing Director, Dorna Sports, said: “MotoGP continues to earn new audiences and fans worldwide. This makes it imperative for us to expand its presence to new destinations where fans and riders are growing every year.
“India is key to our scheme of taking MotoGP sport to new frontiers. Over the past decade, the MotoGP World Championship has gone from strength to strength, thanks to a competitive grid and a well-crafted set of rules. We look forward to gaining a wider fan base in India with the Grand Prix of Bharat.”
Pushkar Nath, COO, Fairstreet Sports, added: “Motorcycling as a sport is greatly admired in India. By bringing the world’s most prestigious motorcycle racing event here, we hope to boost its fan base further and encourage more young bikers to take up the sport.
“As the world collectively rebounds from the coronavirus pandemic, the sporting event is also expected to re-energize India’s sports tourism.”
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