The outlines of the future MotoGP calendar are becoming clear, as deals are being signed throughout the year. One key question left open was the future of the French MotoGP round, with the contract between Dorna and the event organizers coming to an end after this year's MotoGP round. There was never any question that France would be left without a Grand Prix, the only question was whether the race would continue to be held at Le Mans.
And after a press release issued by Dorna, that question is still uncertain. For Dorna has renewed their deal with Claude Michy and his organization, PHA, to organize the French MotoGP round for the next 5 years, through 2016. However, as the deal is with the promoter, where the French GP is to be held is not specified.
Any hope (and it is a hope that we share, as we wrote previously) that the French MotoGP round would move to another track is at best premature, however. Though France has a number of racetracks, there are only a few that would be suitable for homologation for MotoGP. The two obvious candidates would be Magny-Cours (which currently hosts World Superbikes) and Paul Ricard, which hosted the 500cc series through the 1970s, '80s and '90s. Though the layouts of both tracks are much more interesting than Le Mans, both share a common disadvantage: they are both a long way from large population centers, and finding accommodation for the crowds of fans - not to mention the riders and teams - would be very difficult. Paul Ricard faces a further difficulty, in that it is owned by Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone, and Ecclestone runs a very tight ship financially, and would charge the race organizers full price for the use of the circuit for the event. With limited spectator facilities, the question remains whether Claude Michy would be able to earn back both the sanctioning fee from Dorna and the circuit costs from the event.
So for the moment, it looks likely that the French GP will remain at Le Mans. For how long still remains open to question.
Below is the official press release issued by Dorna:
Dorna Sports and Claude Michy agree on French Gran Prix extension until 2016
Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of MotoGP rights holder Dorna Sports SL, signed a new contract today with the promoter of the French Grand Prix, Claude Michy, for the next five years.
While this year see`s the circuit of Le Mans hosting a MotoGP round for the tenth successive year since the introduction of the four-stroke formula in 2002, Carmelo Ezpeleta met with Claude and Philibert Michy to agree on a contract extension until 2016.
"We have a great relationship with Claude Michy and PHA and the French Grand Prix has been steadily building on its success," said Dorna Sports CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta. "We are pleased to continue to work with Claude until 2016", he added.
Claude and Philibert Michy stated: "The French Grand Prix is a key international event on the French sporting calendar and our close collaboration with Dorna Sports is instrumental in making it a success, so we're very happy to ensure the future of the French round."