MotoGP Calendar Inflation Continues: Kazakhstan To Join Provisional Calendar In 2023, India To Hold Race In Near Future

The MotoGP calendar continues to expand. Today, Dorna announced in an unusually brief press release that the Sokol International Racetrack, 50 kilometers north  east of Almaty in Kazakhstan, is to be added to the MotoGP calendar for 2023 for a five-year period. The Kazakh track is still in the process of being built, and so will face homologation and safety checks before the race will be confirmed as happening in 2023.

The race in Kazakhstan will take the slot vacated by the now defunct Kymiring in Finland, which failed due to its business case collapsing when Russia invaded Ukraine. That means it will be held in July, two weeks after the Dutch TT in Assen, and three weeks before the series resumes at Silverstone. Its inclusion will bring the calendar up to 21 races. The calendar is set to be published at the end of this week.

The reason for going to Kazakhstan is simple: it opens up a new market for MotoGP in Central Asia, and the fact that the country is an autocracy based on oil wealth means that unlike, say, Finland, the money to complete a circuit and pay the fee demanded by Dorna is not an issue.

Last week, Dorna also announced that work was underway to bring a race to India. Although Indian sources reported that a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed with the promoter, Fairstreet Sports, the Dorna press release is careful not to make any mention of agreements or contracts signed. Dorna has also previously signed Memoranda of Understanding with circuits in Hungary, Saudi Arabia, and the Circuit of Wales.

India is a territory Dorna is very keen to conquer, however. A massive market, both in terms of viewership and motorcycle sales, having a race in the country would be a huge boost for the series. The race is currently scheduled to be held at the Buddh International Circuit, not far from New Delhi, if it happens.

Previously, problems with customs and local taxation have made it difficult to organize a race in India. When F1 raced in India, local authorities classified the event as entertainment rather than sport, incurring huge import tax liabilities. That also caused the cancellation of WorldSBK's proposed round there. MotoGP will only be able to race in India if those issues have been resolved. Paddock sources indicated to me that there were a lot of other issues to overcome as well.

Although Indian media suggested that a race could be held as early as 2023, that will not happen. The earliest India could join MotoGP would be 2024, when a major shakeup of the calendar is expected, including a cut to the number of races held on the Iberian peninsula. Italy could also lose a race, if attendance figures continue to be as dramatic in 2023 as they were in 2022. Saudi Arabia is currently set to join the calendar from 2024 as well, with other countries also interested in hosting races. On the face of it, MotoGP is set to make a shift eastwards, out of Europe and into the Middle East and Asia.

The press releases from Dorna appear below:


MotoGP™ lands in Kazakhstan in 2023

Tuesday, 27 September 2022

The FIM MotoGP™ World Championship is coming to Kazakhstan! 2023 marks the start of a new five-year deal that sees MotoGP™ touch down in a new region of the world as the stunning Sokol International Racetrack joins the calendar.

Located just outside Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty, Sokol is a brand-new motorsport complex constructed in the heart of Central Asia. The region will be a new pitstop for MotoGP™ as the sport continues to expand around the world, engaging with new markets and fanbases.

Kazakhstan will also become the 30th country to host a motorcycle Grand Prix since 1949, a perfect landmark number to celebrate the ever-expanding history of the world’s first motorsport World Championship, and Sokol International Racetrack will be the 74th venue to host a premier class Grand Prix.


Dorna begins work towards future MotoGP™ Grand Prix in India

Wednesday, 21 September 2022

Dorna Sports is delighted to announce that work has begun on a possible future Indian Grand Prix, with the target of bringing the FIM MotoGP™ World Championship to the Indian subcontinent in the near future.

Dorna Sports CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta has recently visited India to meet with authorities and potential event promoter Fairstreet Sports. The visit began at the spectacular Buddh International Circuit, right outside New Delhi, which would be the target venue to host the possible MotoGP™ event.

Thereafter, the delegation also travelled to Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, the region in which the circuit is located, to meet with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Mr Yogi Adityanath and Industrial Development Minister Mr Nand Gopal “Nandi”.

Finally the visit ended with a presentation in New Delhi to local media and representatives of the motorcycling industry, which showcased the great expectation the country has for MotoGP™.

Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta: "India is a huge country and market, and an especially important one for the two-wheeled industry and MotoGP as a sport. The Championship has a huge fan base there and being able to hold a MotoGP event in India would be both an incredible spectacle for our fans at the same time as allowing us to continue to grow the sport in the region, which is hugely important for our all our partners and the manufacturers in particular given the hundreds of millions of two-wheeled vehicles on its roads. We would love to be able to see this project through and bring these incredible MotoGP bikes to race in front of the Indian fans.

"At MotoGP we are committed to our fans and aim to make the sport accessible to all, regardless of where they are, who they are or their economic status. Motorcycles are an incredible tool for transportation and in many areas of the world they drive society, providing economic mobility and powering families around the world. Racing in India would be a reflection of our commitment to open the doors to the sport as widely as we can, and would be and an important achievement for the Championship."

Union Sports Minister Shri Anurag Thakur, during the meeting with Fairstreet Sports team, added: “It’s a historical day for the sporting and automobile industry and a befitting tribute to the Azadai Ka Amrit Maha Utsav celebrations, marking India’s befitting arrival in the global platform of motorsport. India could potentially be one of MotoGP’s biggest markets in terms of viewership as well as revenue.

"MotoGP is a critical asset thanks to the viewer loyalty that the sport enjoys and the competitive nature it embodies, already reaching nearly half a billion homes around the world. Dorna Sports, the sole commercial and television rights holder, produces the world feed television coverage of each Grand Prix throughout the season, from acquisition to distribution, as part of a 360 degree event management philosophy."

Mr Yogi Adityanath, Chief Minister, Uttar Pradesh: "It is a matter of great pride for Uttar Pradesh to host such a globally prestigious mega sports event. Not only will the event boost the hospitality and tourism sectors, but it will also put UP on the global platform. Our government will provide all the necessary support to make this event a huge success."

Shri Nand Gopal “Nandi”, Cabinet Minister, Government of Uttar Pradesh for Industrial Development, Export Promotion, NRI, Investment Promotion, said, "The event will not only be a boon to motorcycle racing fans but also provide a major impetus to the economy by generating an influx of foreign investments and ushering in advancement in the personal transportation industry which would transcend into global investments and a preferred destination for OEM’s in the state of Uttar Pradesh."

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Comments

Overall, this is not going to do Dorna or MotoGP any good. I'm all for pragmatic management but sometimes it's best to turn down the money in favour of moral reputation. 

Tilke, and... ah yes, Tilke. More unnatural shapes and awkward/clinical/technical demands from the riders. Hopefully these tracks bring more to the action than safety concerns and processional racing.

I understand Dorna wanting to look into new markets and countries but slowly letting go of European tracks one by one doesn't seem like a real good decision. There are a lot of race fans in Europe and for riders (and mechanics etc etc) it must be nice to be somewhat close to home sometimes. Not to mention all the jet lags that'll plague the riders & crew and timezones that they have to fly through going from one Asian country to another. That must be exhausting with the increase of non-European countries. At least in Europe is there's a maximum difference of +/- 1 hour. I wonder if MotoGP will lose EU viewers when they put their sights on Asia and the Middle East (read: oil).

How many experienced marshals are there in Kazakhstan, a country that currently doesn’t have a single race track in it? Will Dorna be flying in marshals?

How is the healthcare system in Kazakhstan? What happens if a rider needs emergency surgery?

Borat make movie film for good of sexy Kazakhstan motor racing? Not niiice! 

This one is an odd stretch. May be hoping it stalls out. Many other places and even beloved existing tracks are better candidates. Dorna is chasing a money source in uncertain times. Thankful it isn't Saudi or Russia, but...Kazakhstan?!

:/

Fast T1...T5, 6, 7 and 8 look good, if it's clockwise. Three good straights, 1km start finish straight and two others of 600m. I wouldn't knock it too hard until the bikes are around it and even then I'd wait to see what races it makes. Spielberg is the worst track in history maybe but in recent years it's produced cracking races.

With the current fans not showing up it's no wonder they're chasing bigger markets. Paying only 50 ringgit for good seats at Sepang and watching them go batshit insane over a wildcard running half a lap behind the pack is infectious. When Syahrin led for half the race in '12 the place was as good an atmosphere as you'll get. The drive out is even more "fun". Much better to watch it from the chopper on the way back to the Meridian if you've got the coin.

As for the politics, you can punch holes in many countries policies and "take a stand". Yes there is a line that they'll need to tip toe around but at the end of the day they either expand into new markets and grow the sport or you're back to the CRT days at best or packing up and going home at worst. If it means that much to you then I respect your decision to turn it off and never watch the GP again to signal your virtue.

You were at Sepang in 2012 Damo?! Niiice!

Friendly disagree on what you argue and how you argue equivalency, that is a well worn fallacy justifying arse ethics.

Malaysia has oil, but also a mildly austere government relative to SE Asian standards. 

Russia was just considered for addition to "terrorist nations" but it is logistically pointless given the high level of sanctions already. The Saudi Regime is on a sport washing push, see the USA golf tour with neo fascist oligarchs and MONEY. 

Finland is one of a few countries threatened by Putin, engaged in joining NATO. China and N Korea are amongst just a small handful of countries agreeing w your argument. And for lousy reasons of self interest in the changing geo political alliance landscape. 

We can like each other and disagree! Australian news has lots of neo fascist propaganda. I treat patients with cult recovery techniques, have one now. See Italy too! Fear/anger fostered as contagious --- Russia is sending Europe into polarization, Nationalist reaction, race/ethnic vitriole, etc. There is a playbook,  it has happened before, and we had a World War about it. 

My Scottish family is in British Columbia, Canada secondary to the last big go around in Europe. 

“Australian news has lots of neo fascist propaganda.“

Where the hell has that come from, and what is it based on? Sources please.

I’m not even Aussie (Kiwi, long term Oz resident) and that is such BS it’s not funny.

The only neo-fascist media we have with a toe hold in the media market is your beloved Murdoch media (UK origins but US power base), Fox/Sky. Yet over your way they have much greater market share, vs being a fringe dweller down here. It’s not like we have Trump and de Santis types being feted for high office by the media either.

Sure, we have Rupert’s favourite finger puppets but nothing like your Tucker Carlson types. I mean, how do you spell “Roe v Wade”? And you think we have issues? The mind truly boggles.

Sorry, not sorry, I let a lot of shit slide but that is just bollocks.

When you use the term respect and then follow it up with "signal your virtue", shows you don't respect. Virtue signaling is only one part of noble actions, and if not signaled it isn't even a part.

I look forward to seeing how many put their money where their mouth is. We'll see. Dorna have certainly laid their cards on the table.

Most unexpected.

Apparently they have been building this facility for ten years already.

"Construction began in 2012 and the drag strip and karting circuits the first to be completed. The outline of the main circuit soon began to be carved out in the earth and the pit building complex, which also incorporates a 44-room hotel, was also completed relatively early in the project. Then, for reasons that aren't immediately apparent, work slowed to a crawl and by 2019, the circuit was still not complete. However, it appears that new impetus is bringing the project to a conclusion, although the coronavirus pandemic hasn't helped and the anticipated 2020 completion date came and went." from Racingcircuits.info

https://www.racingcircuits.info/asia/kazakhstan/sokol.html

Looks like the Kazaks have an influx of fit young Russian men who have recently arrived to help with the project.

Another Tilke cookie cutter track, like Bahrain, similar to many other tracks. Location looks as flat as a board.

Jackie Stewart said tilkedromes "are largely carbon copies of each other".

Another Circuit of Wales, KymiRing, Balatonring type of circuit. Well it may be completed.

We will see.

Western Sydney Motorsports park isn't that great either. Good in parts as the curate said.

Australia crikey! Australia is the world's largest exporter of coal and one of the largest exporters of gas. And bloody uranium.

Australia also has a deplorable record when it comes to extinctions of native animals.

Oz has a history of human rights abuses, institutionalised racism, sexism, ageism etc.

We have a problem with corruption. We sell hundreds of millions of dollars worth of weapons and military hardware. some of which goes to rather shonky regimes. Like the UK, Libya, Mali, Somalia, the DRC, South Sudan etc.

So Eastern Creek Gp circuit wouldn't be morally or ethically suitable or politically correct. But if the projected crowd numbers look good maybe.

edit Faint praise for SMSP "Eastern creek aka (western) Sydney motorsports park. I went back and did a track day at SMSP recently. It was better than I remembered.
After racing there in the past for a season & a half or so I had found the layout not all that interesting. Always loved turn 1 because it's fast!
On a different bike, with 6 gears rather than 5, SMSP was entertaining and challenging. Took a while to get into a rhythm again. rode the original circuit without the extra bit after the lake & before the hairpin under the powerlines. Did about fifty laps and had lots of fun.

Yes I like SMSP, but I don't think it is worthy of a place in the pantheon. What do you think? " That's my comment from two years ago in the forum. haven't been back to SMSP since.

https://motomatters.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=3992&start=175  page 8 near the bottom

None of these issues are problematic for Philip Island because it is a great racetrack!

Mate that's a great rundown. The youngens got me a track day for Fathers Day so I'll be booking in shortly. It won't be on the Desert X though!

Phillip Island is all we have and need really. You aren't going to do any better than that, as much as I would like something closer. I'm going to start marshalling a bit next year and SMSP will be where I cut my teeth.

No, start at the top. My start was at MotoGP at PI in 2017. In many ways it's easier than your local club meeting because you have direct supervision to do your job properly, while at the local club meeting (due to shortage of people) you can be left to yourself to try and do several things at once. Eg looking in one direction to see if you need to wave a yellow, while at the same time looking in the other to see if you need to wave a blue! At MotoGP there are two on every flag point.

... but my prime concern (as a long-time racing official) is what serc duc mentioned, the marshalling. It's not like you can just stick people into an orange jumpsuit and stick them on a corner, you know.

There have been many examples in the past where UK or Dutch marshals have been deployed to other countries to
a. Man the marshal post along with local marshals
b. Train local marshals
With the objective to enable the locals to handle races themselves in the future

It’s a topic that’s not been taken lightly at all.

And justifiably so, to my mind. Everyone feeling that way should get onto the Moto GP site and complain to them about the Kazahkstan thing. I just did. Not that anybody cares about one whiny e-mail from Canada, but if lots and lots of people from around the world do, it might get a little attention from somebody. Who knows? You can only try.

And why?

There's an IRTA, an MSMA and somewhat of a rider's association in the safety meetings! Don't you think Dorna and these associations would have done the due diligence about this? If they aren't apparently worried about their events and technicians, then why are you? Some mutterer from Canada is asking us to mobilise and spam motogp website with emails? Why? What exactly is the problem here?

How do you guys go about and assume shit about Kazakhstan? Bad healthcare? Low marshelling skills? Where is all this doubt coming from? Subtle (unintentional) racism much? White man's burden? 

I know zilch about Kazakhstan, but I’d be more interested in going there and making a holiday of it than taking out a second mortgage to make the pilgrimage to Mugello. That aside, this would be high profile for the country with national pride at stake, I bet they’d do a pretty good job of it. Things don’t always go so smoothly here in the ‘traditional’ countries, didn’t Petrucci have a few issues this year in a country that should be the best of the best?

The tail end w racism et al?

*

Nor classist. Nor regionalist. Nor culturalist. Nor poorly considered. Nor reactive muckraking. If you nixed that last bit, better received point. 

This is racing. I'm down for racing wherever whenever. You don't fix the planet racing anything. You don't fix world politics to fit your veiwpoint by not racing here but racing there.  "Autocratic" regimes, "democratic" regimes, quality of life. Its all a continum and always changing. MotoGP is a racing series of "the West". With the world quickly moving to a multipolar world it would be nice to have 1. racing live on 2. racing be as apolitical as possible. Activities that unite and offer freindly competition are healthy. Larger audiences mean more $$, more fans, more staying power for the series.

Its interesting to consider "The West" collectively moving in the "green" direction may see motorsports whether electric or ICE powered to be unacceptably dirty. From an energy use and particulate emmissions standpoint it seems quite hard to justify. Those nations outside or on the periphery of the Western sphere may be where motrosports end up in the next 20 years. If that happens I wonder if a chunk of this audience, indeed this site, finds itself without a sport, or at least without one they can stomach.

Ok, next up for Dorna... last minute addition to the 22 calendar - new N. Korean circuit with special envoy Dennis Rodman and wildcard Suzuki rider Kim Jong-un. From what I hear Ducati ran the numbers and with FQ on the worst bike, and FB's current DNF rate, they calulated 1 more race was needed for Bagnaia to win the title. Carmelo figured with all of the $$ they have poured into the series and thier massive support for moto-e it was the least they could do.

Companies have cultures and values. On a daily basis they choose to work or not work with certain individuals, companies or nations. One...not all but one...motivation for making these choices is profit. If people care about an issue they may, can and do take their money to companies which take a stand on particular issues. One stand on its own may not change the world but it does apply some pressure and many such stands can equal a lot of pressure and do change the world. It's reminds me of voting, one vote wont make a difference but that does not mean voting is pointless. Besides simple profit, would we really want a race at a track built using forced labour ? Slaves ? Gulags ? No, I don't. That's just an extreme example, nothing to do with Kazakhstan. Of course it would help if there was anywhere else to take our money.

I don't know enough about Kazakhstan to make a judgment. I've never been there. I'm sure describing it as a s*** hole asian bum pot or whatever the descriptions used above are is just small minded. The +/-'s used to make a decision on whether it is overall a 'good' country or a 'bad' country may be valid but it is interesting how the good or bad is expressed. I've seen a lot of it and I don't like it.

I have been to Kazakhstan and most of the neighboring countries and if I never see Kazakhstan again, I definitely will not shed a tear. 

Thanks very much Dieterly for your input based on actual experience. Ground truth.

…but I have still been there as opposed to people who have never been there, and who are having favorable opinions about the place.