Carmelo Ezpeleta Speaks To Reuters: On Races In Brazil And Asia, And On Spanish Riders In MotoGP

That MotoGP is too Iberocentric - too many Spanish races, and too many Spanish riders - is obvious to all who follow the sport, with the possible exception of a blinkered Spanish journalist or two. The series has to change, to move away from having four races a season in Spain, and to explore new markets in South America and Asia.

This is exactly what is to happen, according to an interview Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta gave to the Reuters news agency on Friday. Reuters reporter Alan Baldwin spoke to Ezpeleta at the Barcelona circuit, where the Dorna CEO was attending the Formula 1 race. In the interview, Ezpeleta laid out his intentions to move away from Spain and, to a lesser extent, the US, and towards Asia and South America, with new races to be held in Brazil and Asia, though as he has done before, Ezpeleta would not be drawn on exactly which Asian country.

The race in Brazil is scheduled to take in Brasilia, the capital of the South American country. Whether that is at the Brasilia race track (the Autódromo Internacional Nelson Piquet in Brasilia) is unclear, but Ezpeleta told Reuters that work was currently underway on the circuit, and the hope was it would be finished by the end of the year. That would make scheduling a race for 2014 difficult, but Ezpeleta was confident that there could be a race in Brazil from 2015 onwards. Ezpeleta did not give any details of the race planned for Asia, but Reuters reporter Baldwin suggests that it could take place in Thailand. Previously, Dorna sources have hinted that a race could take place in Indonesia, though currently, neither country has a circuit that would pass an FIM safety inspection. Given the explosion of interest in the sport in the region, however, that could change quickly.

To make room for the two new races - three, including the race at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit in Argentina planned for 2014 - something will have to give on the current schedule. The obvious candidates are in Spain and the US, with Ezpeleta indicating that four races in Spain and three in the US were too many. In Spain, the Valencia circuit looks to be the most likely victim, as the track facing the largest financial problems. Schemes have been sugggested in the past where Valencia and Barcelona could alternate annually, as Formula 1 is expected to do in the future. In the US, the Indianapolis race is most at threat, with Ezpeleta commenting positively on both the Austin and Laguna Seca circuits. Dorna has a five-year contract with the Austin facility, and Ezpeleta describing the Laguna Seca event as 'special'. Given that California is central to the US sport bike market, not having a race in the state is impossible to imagine.

This leaves the Indianapolis Motor Speedway out in the cold. Despite the enormous effort which the facility has put into the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix every year it has been held, MotoGP always looks a little lost. This is in part due to the vastness of the track: at a facility capable of holding some 400,000, even respectable crowds of 80,000 plus - nearly double race day attendance at Misano, for example - look swamped. The layout of the road course is also unloved among the riders, perhaps because it is run in the opposition direction to the way it was originally laid yout, when IMS hosted Formula 1. The combination with the Indy Mile and the excellent atmosphere downtown will probably not be sufficient to save the event, despite the fact that IMS is very keen to continue to organize the event.

Ezpeleta also addressed the issue of the number of Spanish riders in MotoGP. It was not a situation of Dorna's making, Ezpeleta told Reuters: "In the history of Dorna, we never helped any Spanish people to race and we helped a lot of non-Spanish people," he said. He pointed to the support Dorna has given to other nationalities, but emphasized that the real solution must come from elsewhere. The Red Bull Rookies is one example of this: recent graduates of the series include a Belgian, two Germans, a Malaysian and an Australian (of Greek extraction). The current leader of the series is Karel Hanika, a young Czech rider universally tipped as one of the most talented riders to come up through the series in many years.

Back to top


But I will anyway; if he wants to widen the appeal of the sport, why has he torpedoed future viewing in the UK by signing with BT and dumping the BBC and Eurosport?

When tickets sold to the UK round plummet in future years because no-one watches it anymore, will the UK get dumped?

I ask rhetorically of course!

I'm not his biggest fan right now.

Viewership or revenue? They are not exactly the same goal, especialy in the short term. These days I suspect revenue is the first goal so whatever broadcast company puts up the best offer, even if they will service fewer viewers, will get the nod.

As far as the number of Spanish riders goes, so what? As CE says it is largely out of Dorna's hands. We want to have the best of the best out there and currently Spain and Italy put the most effort into training kids from a young age. There's been a lot more non-Spanish riders coming up through the RBRC in the past couple of years but I think that is more due to more riders of other nationalities applying than RBRC turning down Spaniards.


MotoGP really doesn't have a chance under this current leadership. There seems to be a void in the imagination department and their future vision seems to be limited to about 3 feet in front of them.

It's the only GP close to me (still an 18 hour drive). But it would give me more reason to check out Leguna Seca or COTA. They should bring back Shanghai. Not that I like the track that much but if we're talking big Asian markets, well...

"If we have more bikes, there will be more people." True, so why is the grid capped at 24? Not that it's really a problem............ as we all know MotoGP rules can change with the weather :)

Perhaps we could have a race on the Isle of Capri, given that most of Dorna's decisions appear to be capricious........:-)

If we lost Silverstone from the diary. Isn't this the last year of their contract with Dorna? And I know from a former employee of the Silverstone circuit that because of the contract terms from Dorna they lose money each time MotoGP rolls into town.

I can't think of another UK round away from Silverstone until the Circuit of Wales is finished based on infrastructure etc. and without the television audience to entice to the tracks does Dorna really care?

I'd be gutted if that happened and in an ideal world we would add the extra dates to the schedule and have a series of 21 races

Bike racing is extremely physical and riders need time to rest and prepare for their racing and testing duties. With 21 races squeezed in, injuries could have even more lingering effects and take away from the competition. Not to mention it would put the less funded teams under greater financial stress simply to compete all year long.

18 GPs have been fine, IMO. Obviously Dorna has to go where they get money even if it has meant 4 trips to Spain plus another 3 to the US.

In the bigger picture, MotoGP and WSBK calendars should be thought together and support each other. So, Silverstone hasn't generated crowds. Would not having it a big blow for both series and the circuit? Experiment with a double header WSBK/MotoGP weekend. Break the fucking paradigms or something. Dorna, create the 1st British Bike Racing Weekend Festival. 6 races, one weekend! Moto3, WSS and WSBK race 1 on Saturday; Moto2 WSBK race 2 and MotoGP on Sunday.

They do have to pit facilities. It could happen. I simply requires some more open and bold minds to get things done.

If Pol Espargaro gets signed to Yamaha then Spaniards will have also monopolized the only 4 bikes capable of winning races too...

"In the history of Dorna, we never helped any Spanish people to race and we helped a lot of non-Spanish people,"

But the 3 Spanish races & the Portugese one conveniently close and thus the attractiveness to Spanish sponsors had nothing to do with it.

Carmelo is treating the readers of this interview as idiots. He is in the same 'great tradition' as Sepp Blatter, Bernie Ecclestone and Juan-Antonio Samaranch...

This is exactly how conflicts of interest arise, because liess like this are never pointed out as what they are.

"But the 3 Spanish races & the Portugese one conveniently close and thus the attractiveness to Spanish sponsors had nothing to do with it."

Spot on.

Everyone knows it's all about back-handers in Spain..

It's no coincidence that their national series, CEV, is run by Dorna and backed by Repsol.

Riders from that series are fast-tracked into GP.
For many, including Stoner and Bradley Smith, it was their preferred career path because this is common knowledge.

Then Carmelo has got the bare-faced cheek to Brazenly lie about home nation riders never being helped? For Gawds sake..

Off with his bleedin' head.
The FIM need to boot Dorna out and regain control..perhaps put Palmer and MSVR in charge so we can have a few more Brits.


Oh, great idea. Then no one will be paid to ride.

No other nation invests as much in the development of motorcycle road racers for GP racing as Spain does (does any other country run a national Moto2 series?). When they do, they'll start knocking Spanish riders off the podium and out of the factory seats.

Honestly, I'm really rather amazed that anyone gives a damn about where riders were born and where they spend their time away from the racetrack. All I care about is what they do when the lights go out. Couldn't care less if they were Martians as long as they can drag elbow (if Martians have elbows, that is).

And I'm amazed that anyone cares where the races are held. Except for Laguna, they all occur at the same place for me - the computer screen.

Do you really believe that?

So does it matter if a rider is even on the bike? If you don't care who it is then it would suggest you don't care if there even is a rider. Perhaps you should watch another sport like RC racing.

The rider is intrinsic to the sport. The audience being able to connect to the rider is what attaches them to the sport. One reason there is no market in other countries is because the audience can't connect to a field of spanish riders.

Money is not flowing into MotoGP because the sport has been biased for too long towards an Italian and a fleet of Spaniards. A company will not spend big sponsorship if they do not have the opportunity to compete on a level playing field. When rules are not changed to suit just one rider, riders from all around the world are given an equal chance of getting a ride and races are held right across the world then MotoGP will be a wash with money. Until then the money will only flow from the tiny little pond that the smaller than it should be MotoGP fish swims in.

motorcycle enthusiasts don't care that much about nationalities. Yes I will always pull for Nicky Hayden, Ben Spies because I'm an American. But I can firmly say neither of them is my favorite rider in motoGP.

Ezplezeta could not do anything to prevent a Stoner from coming up through the class into MotoGP and into a 2-time world champion. Nor is it his fault that Marc Marquez is Spanish and has had a long standing backing by Repsol.

If the arguments are to place additional controls on where money is spent, then I'm sorry, but I have to side with the natural progression of the occurrence of phenomenal talent.

Let's not forget how successful 2 Italians have been in motoGP.

You can't just force the next Casey Stoner to come from Alaska.

Your point is totally rational when considering existing 'motorcylce enthusiasts'. Lorenzo and Marquez are the two biggest talents in the race at the moment, they would be where they are regardless of nationallity and rightly so.

However, the focus here is progression towards getting non-motorcycle enthuisiasts involved in watching and supporting MotoGP. The public do care about where their sports stars come from and how they come across in the media - its how they conect with them and become 'fans'. MotoGP could and should have a massive fan base around the world. For the sport to grow its got to be more international in outlook and personality. Even F1 does this a lot better than MotoGP (which is scary).

"Do you really believe that? So does it matter if a rider is even on the bike? If you don't care who it is then it would suggest you don't care if there even is a rider. Perhaps you should watch another sport like RC racing."

Reductio ad absurdum; this is as dumb as suggesting that you should never get a haircut, because once the barber starts, he'll just keep cutting until you have no limbs.

I respect and admire every man, woman and child who puts on leathers, a back protector and a helmet, snaps the faceshield down and takes to the grid. And I couldn't care less what flag is painted on the side of their helmet.

Thanks to this new interwebs thing, I have had the privilege of watching pro National-level motorcycle road racing featuring local riders from Ireland to Qatar to Japan to Korea to Australia to Canada, from Germany, Italy, England, Malaysia. I've interviewed racers who've raced in Colombia and Peru.

And every one of them, at their core, is a racer, chasing that checkered flag as hard as they can.

That's all they need to do to connect with me.

..As are most here. As Anteater says, the focus must be on broadening the base.

How does Dorna engage nations he's hoping to expand into? Will just bringing the show to town have the desired effect of stimulating countries to the extent they will invest in grass roots racing, thereby providing a truly international flavour at world championship level?

Look at the great sporting events..The Olympics, The World Cup, The Ryder Cup..all based around waving a flag for the most part. The lift London 2012 gave us here in the UK was unbelievable, nearly everyone walking around with a big grin on their faces.

Why can't we do something similar in road racing? There used to be the Transatlantic races. Circuits were packed.
Dirt bikes have the motocross des nations.

Get Honda to build a lorry load of the new spring valve RC213V engines and Marelli to supply basic 10 sensor electronic packages.
Give them to individual national governing bodies to put into frames made at home. Lottery and Government money alongside private sponsorship should help pay.
Close season, say once every two years..the top 3/4 riders from each country ride home-built machines with the same power in a World Cup for bikes against other countries.
Roll it out in emerging markets who are looking to get involved first.
Help them get established.
Get some big name title sponsors on board.

This could be a way of truly engaging nations who aren't on the scale right now, thereby providing long term stability for the sport we love.

"The rider is intrinsic to the sport. The audience being able to connect to the rider is what attaches them to the sport."

I watch because i love motorcycles. I found motogp through that love; first found AMA, superbikes then this wonderful world of GP (I love them all). the love for motorbikes going fast is what connects me. personalities are great and "add" to the show. but be it VR, MM or SIC only adds flavor to my favorite sport.

A bit of a stretch to suggest that we should be fans of riderless bikes because we care about on track action more than we do about any given pilot.

And people haven't connected with the recent crop of Championship winning and leading Spanish riders because they either come across as robots or Scientologists. I think part of the reason MM93 Fever has been unleashed is because here sits a crazy-fast young man with a great smile in awe of and humbled by his surroundings and who connects fans, writers, etc. He, like VR46, will transcend his nationality and the sport.

I too would be seriously disappointed if MGP collapsed/disappeared. Same with F1.
Do I think that things could be done in a better way? Do I think that running a series like this is 'complicated'? Yes to both.
When CE talks about 'helping', he means money, and he may well be right that Dorna have not actually handed money to any Spanish riders/teams. He doesn't have to - the Spanish have created a self-sustaining process because they have monopolised the local market and created a global brand/series. Good on them.
It's not unusual for nations to monopolise sport - think of one and a nation has done that and it's usually because of their enthusiasm and the consequent money they have invested. It may not be your favourite sport , but....
F1's current tyre dilemma shows how much of a balancing act it is, with all the vested interests vying for their own preferred solution/status quo.
One thing Dorna is doing is moving on - they are trying to change things for the better (only the most committed conspiracy theorist would think he/they are trying to destroy their own business).
Is the MSMA a pain in the proverbial - of course. But at least he seems to be trying to democratise that - and it's not a task I envy him.
By all means criticise Dorna or any of its senior people, but let's try and give him some helpful comments, not just unhelpful jibes/jingoisms/other 'isms that any smart-arse could come with.
For UK followers the BT deal is a convenience - the BBC have done well in some areas and not in others. BT want a slice of the action and, personally, if I can dump the Sky monopoly (I'll be long dead before old-style cable comes up my street) and pay less than half (I suspect it will not be free for long) for the same off of BT I will take it with a smile. (The Eurosport question is still an issue there as I watch it for other bike racing too). We don't know the what's and why's of this deal, but if Dorna are just taking the money without considering the fans and short/long term consequences, then it will not be long before there is someone else trying to pick up the pieces and create a new paradigm.
It's evolution. The monopoly is dead; long live the monopoly and all that.
Change is good. Mistakes will be made. We are only human, after all. At least he's trying, and a number of his changes to MGP/WSB appear to be taking the right path for a global series.

Bunch of Carmelo/Dorna bashing as usual on here, big surprise. Many of your complaints should be directed at the MSMA because Dorna is at their mercy.

As far as British TV is concerned....apparently, like the USA, it's not as popular as you want it to be or Eurosport or the BBC could afford a better offer. This is a business and whomever offers the most attractive package is going to get the rights. Listening to Brits whine about this you'll never get any sympathy for those of us in the states. You've been spoiled with coverage for many, many years.

Hey everything is Dorna's fault right? They are only running and have been running a pricy racing series in a worldwide recession, which has been going on for years, while at the mercy of the MSMA, and all the while footing the bill to ship the circus worldwide, investing millions in camera equipment and technology (as documented by David) to boot.

Right or wrong they've managed to keep the series afloat (while mfr's have reneged and split) during all this financial craziness. You should be glad the series is still here and prospering. A lesser company might have fumbled the sport into eradication altogether.

Spain is bike crazy and has development (and $$$$$$) for young riders, other countries do not. Not a big surprise to see so many Spaniards getting the seats. Not likely to change soon either.

Indy needs to go and so does a Spanish round.

Why did they pull out of Shanghai in the first place? (Presumably the circuit didn't fancy the sanctioning fee, but I don't know). Was the loss of South Africa for the same reason? As F1 is now going to India and Korea, two huge emerging markets, MotoGP really needs to as well.

Alternatively, MotoGP perhaps needs to think outside the box. F1's two more recent circuits have been modern street tracks in Valencia and Singapore. Could the latter provide an environment where a race could be held without it being too dangerous? I'd love to see a MotoGP at Monaco but that would never happen. Apparently it's only 300km from Sepang which would make life a bit easier too.

With these potential rounds (India, Korea, Singapore, South Africa) and the Argentina round next year, both Indy and a Spanish track would have to go (preferably Valencia), and possibly Portugal too. Or are they just going to have to run more rounds?

1/ if Spa is not allowed for safety reasons, how a street track can be ?

2/ Valencia and Singapore are just awful to watch ... at least, in Monaco, you can feel history ... and watch actreeses ;)

I agree that watching Marquez brake on Lorenzo in Sainte Devote would be great but ...

Whether you agree with it or not, national pride is something that drives many people to be biased towards a particular rider. That driver can generate new viewers, new fans, or rekindle a dormant love for motorcycle racing in an old-timer. New viewers = more revenue = more investment = more action in some form or another.

I agree with Michael (morbidelli).....any man/woman/child who throws their leg over a motorcycle and anxiously awaits the drop of the flag....I connect with them.

“I could never understand ethnic or national pride. Because to me, pride should be reserved for something you achieve or attain on your own, not something that happens by accident of birth. Being Irish isn’t a skill, it’s a fucking genetic accident. You wouldn’t say “I’m proud to be 5’11”. I’m proud to have a predisposition for colon cancer.” So why the fuck would you be proud to be Irish, or proud to be Italian, or American or anything?”

— George Carlin

And on a side note...looking forward to the race next year in Argentina and checking out the "unofficial" test at the same track this July.