World Superbike Calendar Facing Shake Up: India To Be Moved To November, Brno Gone Until 2015
The confusion surrounding the Indian round of World Superbikes looks close to being resolved. According to reports on the ever well-informed GPOne.com, the race at the Buddh International Circuit is to be rescheduled from 10th of March to the 17th of November, moving it from being the second race of the season to being the season finale.
The race had been facing a number of problems, including logistical and customs issues, casting doubt over whether the race could go ahead as scheduled in March. The customs issues - both the 15-day inspection period for technical equipment, and the temporary import duty charged - are not so much of a problem, according to GPOne. The real issue, the site reports, is that the race organizers are not yet ready to put on the event. They do not have the organization in place to manage an event of this magnitude, and need a number of months to get everything arranged. The problem lies not with Buddh International Circuit itself, located not far from New Delhi, as the circuit has successfully organized two Formula One races already.
Moving the date from 10th of March to 17th of November does massively increase the cost of the round. Under the initial schedule, the bikes and equipment would have flown from Australia to New Delhi for the Indian round of World Superbikes, and then back to Europe for the continuation of the season from there. The additional cost of the stopover in India was trivial. Now, the equipment will have to be flown from Australia back to Europe in February, and then back out to India in November.
How the rescheduling of the round will affect the attendance remains to be seen. Whether having the race at the end of the year will increase the enthusiasm of the Indian fans, once they've had an entire season to follow the series, or whether the series will suffer as a result of the F1 race, scheduled for October 27th, three weeks before the WSBK round, hoovering up the budget of Indian motorsports fans will only become clear once the event has been held. It does, however, remain vital that World Superbike, and motorcycle racing in general, races in India, as one of the biggest and most promising growth markets for the motorcycle manufacturers.
The Indian round is not the only race facing difficulties. It is now certain that the World Superbike race scheduled for June 23rd will not be held at the Brno circuit in the Czech Republic, though it is unknown where that race will now be held. The Brno circuit - owned by Karel Abraham Sr, father of Karel Abraham, and owner of the Cardion AB MotoGP team - plans to hold a round of a new Central European racing series on that date, according to the German-language website Speedweek. The series, to be called CEMC, or Central Europe Motorcycle Championship, will feature two rounds at the Czech circuit, and hopes to stage other races in Germany, Italy, Hungary and Slovakia. It will feature Moto2, Moto3 and Superbike classes, with Karel Abraham Senior promising World Championship places to the winners of the Moto2 and Moto3 classes.
World Superbikes is unlikely to make a return to Brno until 2015 at the earliest. With the loss of Jakub Smrz, Czech interest in the series has dropped, underlining the importance of local riders and a broad geographical base for both world championship series.
Elsewhere, the Portimao round of World Superbikes is still not certain to go ahead, being marked as subject to contract on the still provisional World Superbike calendar. The Portimao circuit has been on the verge of bankruptcy for some time now, with money from local authorities needed to be able to fund the Portuguese round of WSBK. But with the Portuguese economy still in such dire straits, using public funding to subsidize a relatively minor (by Portuguese standards) sport looks extremely unlikely. Portimao's problems are compounded by its location: where otherwise a World Championship motorcycle racing event could claim to bring more visitors to a location, Portimao lies on Portugal's Algarve coast, already one of the country's most popular tourist destinations.