MotoGP's Biggest Fan Base - Not Where You Think It Is

Here's an interesting question: If you had to guess which country had the most MotoGP fans, which one would you choose? The first countries that spring to mind in association with motorcycle racing are always Spain and Italy, and as Italy is the bigger country, and what's more, MotoGP is more popular than even soccer, a sport which drives the Italians into a frenzy, then the answer must be Italy, right?

Wrong. Though the Italians and Spanish are clearly MotoGP-mad, they're not the biggest fans. According to Google Trends, which maps searches and news items from Google searches from around the world, the country with the most MotoGP maniacs is Indonesia.

In its advantage, the population of the Southeast Asian republic is around 240 million, as opposed to 40 million in Spain and 60 million in Italy, but as these statistics are based on searches on Google, what is important is not population, but internet penetration. According to the Internet World Stats website, Indonesia has 25 million internet users, the same number as Spain, while Italy has some 33 million internet users. And according to the Google Trends statistics, Indonesians search for "motogp" approximately 3 times as often as Italians, and search for "moto gp" some 40% more often than Italians.

Italy finished second in the MotoGP search stakes, ahead of their eternal rivals Spain, while Hungary was the country with the fourth largest number of MotoGP-related searches - possibly a reflection of the growing popularity of the sport there and the success of former 125 champion Gabor Talmasci.

Australians were the biggest English-speaking MotoGP fans, coming in seventh ahead of the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The United States doesn't appear in the top 10, despite having a staggering 220 million internet users, so clearly, there's a lot of work to do for Dorna to popularize the sport.

MotoGP's huge popularity in Indonesia may help explain why Dorna is so keen to keep staging rounds in Asia, which would seem to suggest that the Sepang round is safe for the time being. But a return to Sentul, the track some 20 miles south of the Indonesian capital Jakarta which hosted races in 1996 and 1997 may yet be a profitable option.

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Is it possible that more people in Spain and Italy know that the website is and are not searching Google for it? What would be more valuable would be to see the proxy logs from the MotoGP website and to determine from there how many unique users visited the site and from which country.

This of course would not provide a total picture, but I think it would give you better information than just those people searching. I mean, who is more of a fan? The person that has to search for news about MotoGP, or the person that knows where to find it?

All those Indonesians are not necessarily searching for the website, they are just searching for the keywords "motogp" or "moto gp". If I understand it correctly, that includes all combinations of words which include the word "motogp".

Interestingly, if you look at the Google Trends for combined terms such as "motogp rossi" or "motogp stoner" or "motogp stoner", Indonesia is still the top country for searches. So these are all MotoGP-related searches going on, not just searches for the website.

It seems like there could be a gap in the market for a major Indonesian motorcycle racing website. It's a shame my Indonesian is a little rusty ...

It came as no surprise to me as an Indonesian. So big is the motogp fan base that anything happening in Motogp will be reflected directly into motorcycle sales. I still remember when Kenny Robert win the championship back in 1998??, Suzuki market share is growing significantly. Before Rossi switch to Yamaha, Yamaha market share in Indonesia were less than 25% compare to Honda dominating by more than 50% share. After Rossi switch to Yamaha, Rossi is doing some sales campaign for Yamaha. The result is staggering, Yamaha is now 40% and almost in par with Honda in 2008. That is huge growth for a country with 6.4 million units motorcycle sales per year.

In December '08, Yamaha even outsale Honda already. In one of recent automotive exhibition where Lorenzo and Rossi bike replica is on display. Fans is queeing for hours just to see the bike up close.

As Krop pointed out, we don't have (to my knowledge) decent motogp or motorsport related website. So Krop can consider doing an Indonesia version. Cheers to you Krop. Always love your website.

italian and spanish press covers motogp in every newspaper, magazine, tv news hour, etc.

there's no need to search for information. i would argue that the places where the searches are most common are ones where information about the sport is sparse. like the united states, for example :D

not to mention that relative to the asian countries, europe is not nearly as dependent on the internet or so closely tied to it.

that being said, everyone is bike crazy in asia.

For what it's worth, I can nearly corroborate David's assertion. Our site, Fans.Moto.GP, is english-language, so most visitors come from the US. Spain is second (we're in Spain) and Indonesia is third. Not exactly the same order as indicated above, but it does add one more data point to support the idea that Indonesia has a lot of people interested in motorcycles and motorcycle racing.

Yes, I am Indonesian. We are fans of MotoGP, Rossi, Stoner etc. I heard we also highest rating for live MotoGP on television than other country

Thanks for that, very interesting information indeed! Do you have an explanation why Indonesians should be so crazy about MotoGP? 


I am not some statistic guru, but what I feel is that basically in South East Asia, traffic conditions and price of cars (mostly the taxes involved to own one), made the first form of transport seems practical that it should be a motorcycle of any form, be it a 125 2-stroker TZR, 135 RXZ, Honda Cub or any scooter.

It is also known that Indonesia has the largest pool of fast Underbone racers in South East Asia and it's a local's event. Many are kids that started riding like 6 or 7 yrs old. Thailand and Malaysia are the next 2 countries in line.

Naturally, South East Asia countries with many local motorcycle racings of any form, tends to be aware of the big games like MotoGP or WSS. Having a local Indonesian in 125cc and then 250cc helps the awareness, just like what Wilarot is doing for Thailand.

My 2 cents.

Motorcyle (moped, scooter) for Indonesia is like bicycle for Netherlands. Indonesia's market absorb about 6 million units of small cc bike annually and growing. Yamaha sells about 2 million, Honda 2 million and the rest is by Suzuki, Kawasaki and other.

It simply an ubiquitous mode of transportation for basically majority of Indonesian from school kids to farmers. There are so many bike, a so called bike traffic jam is common in the big city like Jakarta.

With that popularity of course motorcycle racing is very-very popular. Moped or scooter race in Indonesia is so competitive that many of its best rider is reluctant to move to less popular racing bike like 125cc, GP Mono or even SuperSport class. In Indonesia volumes rules, with almost weekly small cc bike race (or so called underbone) many can get relatively rich and successful doing it, while the 125cc or SuperSport motorcycle race is sadly abandon by the local talents.

Further more, local facility like proper circuit for motorcycle racing is very very limited. With only 1 (yes.. one) international road race circuit for SuperSport class and above there are no way for the local talent to improve their skills. Small cc bike race is easy, just close a parking lot and we have national championship track already.

So yes, motorcycle racing is very-very popular, and off course MotoGP being the pinnacle of moto racing is extremely popular. Where else you can see Jorge with full FIAT YAMAHA racing suite riding a Yamaha moped, or Rossi saying something only locals can understand..? Here in Indonesia.

And you know where Rossi and Lorenzo go after this bike unveiling and testing in Sepang? Yup to several cities in Indonesia promoting Yamaha's newest scooter..

Just sharing my thought.. :)

Cheers from Indonesia..

Thanks for a fantastic update! That's really interesting, and the kind of information we just don't get in Europe and the US. Thanks again!