Spain Keeps Four Races - Dorna And Barcelona Track Extend Contract Through 2016

Spain is to continue to form the backbone of the MotoGP championship. After earlier announcements that the Valencia, Jerez and Motorland Aragon circuits would be organizing MotoGP rounds through 2016, today, Dorna announced that it had agreed to extend its contract with the Circuit de Catalunya (which hosts the Barcelona round of MotoGP) for the next five years. The agreement means that there will be four rounds of MotoGP in Spain through 2016, three of which are dotted in Spain's northeastern corner.

The news that the Catalunya circuit is to remain on the calendar will be welcomed by both fans and riders alike, all of whom love the circuit. The track's proximity to Barcelona - one of the most beautiful cities in the world - also adds to the attraction of the event. The fact that Dorna also has its main base in the city is another reason the circuit is favored by the series organizer.

However, there will doubtless also be criticism of the news that four of the eighteen MotoGP rounds are to be held in Spain for the foreseeable future. With four races in Spain, three races likely to be held in the US, and another two in Italy, half of the races are to be held in just three countries. There have been calls for MotoGP to diversify the geographic distribution of its races for it to be a truly global championship. The continents of South America and Africa do not have a single race, while the vast expanse of Asia (which houses millions of MotoGP fans in Indonesia, Malaysia and India) has just two races.

The problem is, Spain has a large number of tracks designed and built to Grand Prix standards, with large amounts of run off and very high levels of safety. The tracks are willing to pay the required sanctioning fees, attendances are among the highest in the world - even Motorland Aragon, which has very limited accommodation in the area, had some 75,000 fans turn up for the race - and the authorities are both sympathetic and cooperative to the needs of the organizers, as well as equipped to handle the large crowds the events attract. While staging a race in other parts of the world may be good for the image of the series, the practical problems the series faces to do so make it much more difficult.

Below is the official press release from Dorna:

Agreement signed to extend the Gran Premi de Catalunya

Circuit de Catalunya renews its contract to hold the Gran Premi de Catalunya of MotoGP for five more years

Dorna Sports and the Circuit de Catalunya have agreed a contract renewal which will guarantee the presence of the Gran Premi de Catalunya on the MotoGP World Championship calendar for a further period of five years (2012-2016).

Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna Sports, and Salvador Servià, General Director of the Circuit de Catalunya have signed a contract confirming that the Circuit de Catalunya will continue to host the Gran Premi de Catalunya for the next five seasons.

Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna Sports, stated: "I am pleased that the Circuit de Catalunya remains part of the history and the future of MotoGP, providing a modern facility that has for 20 years had a presence in the highest discipline of motorcycle racing. This circuit has hosted a non-stop schedule of racing since Dorna has been organising the World Championship, providing a very professional team that has won several awards for its work. The entire Dorna family is proud to continue working with the Circuit de Catalunya, from both a business and personal standpoint."

Salvador Servià, General Director of the Circuit de Catalunya, commented: "It is a pleasure to approve an agreement that allows an annual race that generates an economic impact of 30,000,000 Euros for the entire area surrounding the Circuit. Now it's time to work to publicise this agreement within the business and economic environment of the country in order to maximise its benefits, and share this opportunity on a worldwide scale through its promotion."

This year, the MotoGP Gran Premi de Catalunya event brought 81,838 spectators to the Circuit on Sunday, with a total of 146,718 spectators attending over all three days of the Grand Prix. The Circuit de Catalunya has hosted a MotoGP race since 1992, first as the European Grand Prix and later (1994) as the Gran Premi de Catalunya.

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they could get rid of Misano too... all one has to do is look at Tony Elias to understand that Dorna is extremely biased toward spain (the other track should have still have GP's great tracks).

Can't blame them for the financial reasoning behind this however the question has to be asked (and especially as Dorna is a Spanish company) is "Are Dorna trying hard enough to sell the sport into other markets and cater for the fan base in regions that do not have a GP?"

Are they talking to countires like (for example) India, South Africa, Taiwan, Indonesia, Venzuela, Brazil, Poland, Russia or Sweden about getting a race on their soil or lobbying for new tracks to be built or existing ones improved for homologation?

Dorna have a great product in their hands but the reason the grids are shrinking is because of a lack of return for sponsors - very poor exposure beyond Spain, which is a very troubled economy. Why are we no longer going to Turkey? It has an F1 race and a homologated track. Turkey is a strongly growing economy and huge population with many western influences. If they can't sell the sport there they might as well go home (unintended pun).

As far as their prowess at the selling of the series goes, I think "Sir Alan" would have a very short phrase ready for them.

I don't understand why it's good for MotoGP to host races with a couple of hundred fans in the bleachers (looking at you, Qatar...). Wasn't China sparsely attended as well? Even if television audiences remain large for those races, is it good for the show to be seen as such a poor draw?

I'm all for MotoGP racing all over the world. I agree that there needs to be a South American race again as well as another Asian round. But I want to see them go to places where the races will be appreciated and well attended. In other words, stop putting on a private show for rich oil billionaires and start bringing the circus to the fans that want to see it.

I may be biased being in the U.S. and all, but I see no problem with three rounds here considering the large geographical area. I also don't mind seeing a preponderance of races in Spain and Italy considering how stoked the fans there are to watch--these are the countries where the fans are most dedicated, so I don't see a problem with rewarding that.

It would have been a shame to see Catalunya disappear from the calendar. I love that track, it's been host to some of the best racing I've ever seen, it almost always has fantastic weather, and MotoGP-crazed fans pour into the place in droves.

I agree that if any Spanish round were to get the axe, I wouldn't mind it being Valencia. Not a very exciting track.

Lastly, I'm frustrated by the preponderance of rain over the last couple of seasons. Seems like there is a pile of dark clouds that just follows the MotoGP caravan around the world. I know Dorna doesn't have a crystal ball and can't predict the weather, but how much effort is being put into scheduling races at a date where there is the best chance of good weather in that region? Is weather a high priority when it comes to scheduling? Take the British GP, for instance. Isn't it rained out EVERY year? So why not move it to smack in the middle of summer? Ditto LeMans.

"Is weather a high priority when it comes to scheduling? Take the British GP, for instance. Isn't it rained out EVERY year? So why not move it to smack in the middle of summer? Ditto LeMans."

The middle of "summer" in the UK is probably the best chance of rain! Even late August early September cannot be guaranteed, but I would say they are a safer bet than June however its still a lottery.

Having driven from Florida to Texas I can appreciate the geographical size of the US neccesitating more than one round of MotoGP - I think they could even use four (Daytona) but four in a country not much bigger than some american counties, despite the huge attendences needs addressing for a World Championship series.

I don't want to see races held at circuits where the trackside and grandstands are virtually empty either, this is exactly my point about Dorna doing precious little to sell the series and taking the easy option of banking the bucks from Spain. That source is now drying up and the years of poor promotion and lack of selling means no new markets have been nurtured by Dorna. So the grids are shrinking and the answer has been to reduce entrance costs in a lame attempt to shore up the low grid numbers with (all due respect to Suter et al) uncompetitive proddie based bikes.

Dorna and IRTA have just renewed their contract - I just hope the series survives five more years of lacluster promotion and inept management or SBK will be all we have left.

I've just read the Japan GP is back on "in principle". Right next door to a Nulcear disaster zone. Further proof, if any was needed, of Dornas narrow minded, blinkered view of the world, and lack of respect for the riders and teams who make the series what it is.