Former 250cc world champion and Honda Team Asia manager Hiroshi Aoyama is now seriously considering starting up a new project: the MotoE World Cup. In contrast to the Moto2 and Moto3 teams he manages that are backed up by Honda, Hiro is trying to form this new project as a completely personal scheme.
“As you have seen, Asian riders recently started coming to Europe and taking part in the world championship races one after another. On the other hand, unfortunately, the number of seats available for them in the world championships is quite limited currently. Therefore, after just a few years’ participation, some riders had to give up fighting in the world championship and go back to their home countries. It always feels like a great pity to me that they had to miss their opportunities and let their experiences go. If there were some more seats available for them in some classes and they were able to remain in the world championships, they can stay in Europe and keep on improving their skills by fighting with top riders. Although MotoE is a World Cup, subsidiary to the world championships in the regulation, it is almost similar to them in effect. That is the reason why I had an idea to organize a brand-new team in MotoE alongside Honda Team Asia.”
However, he had to face a contradiction. As their names show, Hiro Aoyama’s managing Moto2/Moto3 teams are strongly backed up by Honda, while the MotoE World Cup competes under a different manufacturer; until 2022 with Energica, and 2023 onwards with Ducati. Hence, if he wants to organize a new MotoE project, it will not be under the Honda wing.
“But, that doesn’t mean I have to give up this plan. I think we can make it happen if we can finance it. Now I’m looking for sponsors to start up this MotoE team as my personal project, say, something like ‘Aoyama Racing MotoE Team’.”
Looking to 2023
It may be a vague idea at the moment, Hiro said he has already started talking with many people to be in time for the 2023 season.
“Yes, I have started speaking with people concerned here and there, including Carmelo (Ezpeleta). The motorcycle manufacturer changes for the 2023 season, so I think that will be the best timing to launch a new MotoE team. Even if we hurry and get ready for the 2022 season, the motorcycle will be eligible only for one season so that we will have to renew the bike and everything for the following season. And what's more, the slots for the 2022 entrants already seem to be full.
When I conceived this idea, 2022 could have been the target to start. But haste makes waste. Now we have one more year to prepare the things more carefully and deliberately. First of all, what we have to do is securing a solid basis, then we will be able to start and move on.
Anyway, it is not an easy thing to begin something in the world championship stage. I don’t want to make it a ‘make-or-break,’ ‘sink-or-swim’ project. We shouldn’t start it until the time we are ready for it. Although I know the regulation allows us to line up two bikes, it will be very difficult for the personal team, so that I would be very happy if we could start with a one bike team, to be honest.”
Show me the money
No matter how many lofty ambitions and sublime aspirations you have, all you need is money to fulfill it. And it is hefty sum to do it on the world championship stage. You can do nothing with only the money in your pocket.
“If you need 100% for your budget and you have 70% or 80% of it, it would be too uncertain to start the project. But if 90% or 95% of it is sorted, just maybe I can make up the remaining 5% or 10%. Everything depends on it, so I cannot say anything specifically, for now. Only one thing for sure is that I have a will to launch a new MotoE team in the future.
Having said that, it is very tough to negotiate with prospected sponsors and investors just by myself. So, now I’m asking some people working in the agencies if they can promote and gather sponsors. I am quite serious about launching this MotoE team and using my knowledge and experience in order to give more opportunities to Asian riders in Europe. If there is someone who has a vision and is willing to support Asian riders competing on the world stage, I won't hesitate to collaborate and work with them to make it happen.”
Since the pandemic is still covering the whole planet, the economic climate in the world in the short term seems to be uncertain for now. Given the nature of this pandemic and the many agendas we are facing in the twenty-first century, the motorsports community is confronted by some tough challenges.
“Everyone is struggling to come through these tough years, especially in these Covid situations, and we are not the exception, for sure. An eco-friendly championship doesn’t necessarily mean sponsor-friendly for the teams. It is not easy to fund the budget to launch a new team, but you know, they say ‘impossible is nothing.’ And you know me, I am the guy who never gives up easily!
The auto industry and motorcycle industry will be shifting from combustion engines to more carbon-neutral propulsion, and under this mega-trend, I believe that the MotoE World Cup will continue in the future, so I want to organize my own ‘Aoyama Racing Team’ in this championship. And I also think that Asia and Asian riders are crucial for the future of motorcycle sports. So, I’m ready to work hard to make them real.”
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