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.