Sachsenring MotoGP Round "Safe", But Contract Haggling Continues

The news emerging from MotoGP contract negotiations recently has not been promising. The Brno circuit is asking for money from the national government to help support the Czech Grand Prix, the Jerez circuit saga continues, with debts still unpaid to the contractors Serviobras and FCC who carried out construction work, and the Sachsenring circuit has still not secured an extension of its contract with Dorna to host the German Grand Prix from next year.

But things may not be as bleak as they seem, at least not as far as the Sachsenring circuit is concerned. After reports, relayed here, from the regional arm of the German tabloid Bild that the Sachsenring could lose the German Grand Prix, the German-language motorsports magazine Speedweek did some further digging into the matter. What their investigations turned up was much better news: according to veteran GP reporter Gunther Wiesinger, the chances of the Sachsenring not hosting the German MotoGP round are as good as zero. Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta told Wiesinger that the two parties involved - Dorna and the ADAC, the German equivalent of the Automobile Association that organize the event and own the Sachsenring circuit - were certain to find a solution. "I do not see a problem for the future of the German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring," Ezpeleta told Wiesinger.

The argument comes down to money - naturally - but the main problem is not so much the increased sanctioning fee that Dorna is asking of the Sachsenring - reported to be 4 million Euros - but rather the revenue from advertising hoardings and program sales at the circuit. Right now, according to the Speedweek report, that money goes to Dorna, but the ADAC are trying to persuade Dorna to hand that revenue stream to them. That would allow the circuit to raise sufficient cash to pay the sanctioning fee, but Dorna's concern is that they have sold the advertising space to ENI, the Italian oil company that is also a sponsor in the Moto2 series. An agreement may be possible that would see Dorna hand over the revenues to the ADAC, but with the stipulation that the sponsorship of at least some of that advertising remains unchanged.

The ADAC are determined to retain the event, however. The German MotoGP round brings in some 25 million Euros in revenue to the region, income which the area cannot afford to lose. But the ADAC cannot afford to run the event at a loss, and so some kind of compromise will have to be reached for the contract to be extended. Both parties have an interest in reaching such a compromise, as the German Grand Prix has one of the highest attendance figures of the season, with numbers to match the Spanish rounds at Jerez and Valencia. Moving the round to another circuit is thought to be unlikely, with no other region likely to draw the huge crowds that the Sachsenring does, and dropping the German Grand Prix would detract even further from the international nature of the MotoGP World Championship. The Sachsenring contract looks safe, but it may take some time to thrash out the details.

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