Sachsenring Off 2012 MotoGP Calendar, To Be Replaced By Lausitzring Or Nurburgring
In something of a surprise move, the German Automobile Club ADAC have announced that the German round of MotoGP will not be held at the Sachsenring in 2012, the German regional paper Freie Presse are reporting. At a press conference held at the East German circuit, which is owned by the ADAC, the organization told the media that the losses suffered by the Sachsenring were just too great to allow them to sustain the event. The event lost 600,000 euros in 2010, and despite cost-cutting to the tune of some 1.25 million euros and raising ticket prices by 10% this year, the ADAC was projecting a deficit of some 850,000 for 2012. The raising of the sanctioning fee demanded by Dorna from 2 million to nearly 4 million euros for 2012 meant that the ADAC no longer viewed the race as a viable prospect.
Although rumors that the German circuit could lose MotoGP had been circulating since April, there had been hope that an accommodation could be found. Back in April, Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta told German-language weekly Speedweek that he expected to find a solution to the situation with the ADAC, in order to keep the race at the track. However, it does not appear that that has been possible, and as things stand at the moment, the German MotoGP round will be moved elsewhere.
The two prime candidates to replace the Sachsenring on the 2012 calendar - due to be published this week, although the date will be marked provisionally as "to be announced" - are the Lausitzring in Brandenburg, some 60 km northeast of the Sachsenring, or the Nurburgring, in the Eifel close to Germany's western border with Belgium. Both circuits have been used by the World Superbike series, though both also have their problems. The Lausitzring has had serious problems with water drainage, having been built on the top of an abandoned open-pit coal mine. There are also question marks over whether the Lausitzring would receive the necessary FIM safety approval, with a couple of places on the track posing potential hazards. The main objection to the Nurburgring is the lack of spectators which might be expected, the track losing out to the Sachsenring in 1998 because of poor attendance figures at the West German track. The fact that the Nurburgring is also situated in the heart of the Eifel, a place which is notorious for rain, will also militate against it.
Of the pair, the Lausitzring is more likely to get the nod, as the track is close to the heart of German motorcycle racing in Saxony, in the east of Germany. Interest in motorcycle racing in Germany's industrial heartland along the Rhine is limited when compared to the east, and the low cost of both food and accommodation makes eastern Germany an attractive destination as part of a longer vacation trip. Some 130,000 fans squeezed into the Sachsenring this year, the German MotoGP round attracting a total of 220,000 visitors over the three-day period. Attendance at the Lausitzring may not equal those numbers - the Eurospeedway Lausitz is something of a desolate place, built inside a tri-oval which forms part of a much larger comples - but they would almost certainly be higher than at the Nurburgring.
All is not quite yet lost for the Sachsenring, though. There is still some hope that the regional government of Saxony, the Freistaat Sachsen, may step in to help cover the budget shortfall. Reports (such as those in Speedweek) suggest that the event is worth some 25 million euros to local businesses, and that the additional tax revenue that this provides could be an incentive for the regional government to subsidize the event. It is also possible that Dorna may agree either to reduce its sanctioning fee or offer the revenue from the track billboards or program sales to help keep the race at the Sachsenring. With German rider Stefan Bradl leading the Moto2 championship, and likely to move up to MotoGP next season, there is a very strong incentive for Dorna to stage a round of MotoGP in Germany. A German rider in MotoGP and a German event will also help boost income from the company's lucrative TV deals, which make up the bulk of its revenue. The date of the German MotoGP round has already been set, according to Speedweek - it will take place on July 8th, eight days after the Dutch TT at Assen - but it could be a while before the venue is settled.