Political Wrangling Puts 2015 Brno MotoGP Round Under Threat

The 2015 MotoGP round at Brno is still not certain to go ahead as a result of a battle for control of the race. According to German-language website Speedweek, circuit owner Karel Abraham Sr. and South Moravian governor Michal Hasek have been arguing since August last year over who will organize the Czech round of MotoGP at the Masaryk circuit in Brno. Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta has given them an ultimatum, saying that if the situation is not resolved by the first week of June, the 2015 Brno MotoGP round will be canceled.

The dispute at the heart of the problem is about control, and about money. Circuit owner Abraham Sr claims he cannot afford the €2.73 million sanctioning fee demanded by Dorna to host the race, and was therefore subsidized by the city council of Brno and the regional government of South Moravia. Abraham Sr told Speedweek that over €1 million of the amount promised for the 2014 race has yet to be paid. Governor Hasek, meanwhile, has been trying to persuade Dorna to award the contract to the South Moravian government, and allow them to organize the race, according to Speedweek. Ezpeleta is reported to be wary of any such deal, as the government has no control over the race track. Organizing the practical side of the race becomes much more difficult if the track is owned by Abraham Sr, but run by the South Moravian government. Negotiations over the numbers of marshals, medical marshals, etc, become very complex when it is not clear where the responsibility lies.

What is not clear is why Abraham Sr claims that he does not have the funds to organize the Czech round of MotoGP. Last year, there were 138,000 spectators on Sunday, and over 240,000 over three days. The cheapest tickets on sale for this year's event retail at 68 euros. If everyone who attended only bought GA tickets, that would generate nearly €9.4 million in turnover. According to Speedweek, the race is profitable if they get over 170,000 visitors over the three days of the event. The Brno race is the most popular on the calendar, and exceeds that number by 40% or more every year.

Ezpeleta has now issued an ultimatum to both Abraham Sr. and Hasek. If the two cannot reach agreement on the situation and in the week following Mugello, then the 2015 Brno round will be canceled with immediate effect, and there will be a three week break between Indianapolis on 9th August and Silverstone on 30th August. Ezpeleta hopes to force the two parties, who have refused to speak to one another for several months now, into action. Both parties want the race to go ahead: the event is profitable for the circuit, and it brings a large amount of money into the South Moravia region, generating employment and tax revenue. The problem is that neither party appears willing to concede.

This is not a new problem. The race has been shrouded in uncertainty for several years now, with arguments over money, and who should fund the race, at the heart of the issue. With MotoGP due to return to the Red Bull Ring at Spielberg in Austria in 2016, that would provide a race in the same region, and offering an alternative to the Czech race.

The loss of Brno would be a tragedy, though. The circuit is one of the few which allow the MotoGP bikes to truly stretch their legs, and the challenging layout has often provided memorable races. The race is extremely popular with fans - in part due to the generally low prices for accommodation, and especially food and beer - and the setting is stunning, the Masarykring track snaking up and down steep wooded hills. We can only hope that common sense prevails in the near future.

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Comments

I hope it stays on the calendar, it's certainly one of my favourite tracks. As you say, it lets a MotoGP bike get exploited and used towards its full potential. On paper, it looks like a terrible track with lots of what seem to be right angle corners, but as the track is so wide, and the corners are actually relatively long, there are lots of ways through the track.

I hope it stays, though I've obviously never ridden there, it's one of my favourite circuits to ride on the games, and typically, they're great races to watch.

Total votes: 45

As I live in Brno I am well aware of what is going on.

But there are facts which must be clarified:
1. The number of visitors: the real number of SOLD tickets are about 40-50k.
Last year there were about 85k unique visitors. The reason for it is that every MotoGP team gets about 800-1000 free tickets, every Moto2 and Moto3 about 400-500. There are many VIP tickets... Just count them ...

2. Money form local government: Yes, there is about 1.2mil EUR waiting but they cannot be used for supporting private business what Czech MotoGP Grand Prix actually is - in hands of Abraham Sr. So the money cannot be transferred. That is the reason why local government is trying to organize it.

3. Ownership of circuit: The circuit belongs to one of Abraham´s companies and is leased to another company of him. There is a lot of Abraham´s companies included in Grand Prix, one is paying to second, second to third, third to first ... etc.
The reason of it is that Abraham Sr. is trying to get full control of circuit, soil under the circuit and more. He has a major share in Brno Circuit, the others are Czech motorcycle association and some others. He is asking Brno Circuit company for more than 1 mil EUR for advertising it on Abraham Jr. bike. So with this claim he wants to raise company assets = to raise his share (said in simple way).

So it is very complicated and everybody is trying (with organizing the Grand Prix) to get plus points - local government to please people for next elections, others to please their bank accounts ...

Total votes: 68

For me its around 100 km to Brno circuit and all Czech MotoGP fans arguing for years over if those numbers and complaining from Abramam Sr about lack of money could be truth, but I tell you, we are mostly fed up by all of that.

Couple interesting thing - Abraham owns 74% of Automotodrom Brno, actually by his company Rafas holding. His another company AB Cardion run that MotoGP team (plus huge business with medical technology etc) Now, he put Brno Circuit emblem on Honda of his soon Karel and after season he create invoice for 1 mil Eur for that "advertisment" and send it to from his Rafas company to Automotodrom Brno company. For them (him acctually..!?) is that amount of money "not affordable", so he call for comapny general meeting, where he force other shareholders (like Czech Automotoclub etc.) to pay that money by rise his Rafas company share in Automotodrom Brno company. You see...? So this is how he made his majority in company....
Then, he owns majority of grounds under whole circuit....

And mr. Hasek.... Funny person. Moravia goverment recieved 1,2 mil Eur from central goverment few months ago, but he decided to keep them until Brno will sign agreement with Dorna. Meanwhile they arguing about this in city council...

So, in my opinion those people are far from agreement and Brno will loose MotoGP race and it will move to Austria.
What a shame for Czech Republic, what a shame for such kind of great circuit, what a shame for all those fans and riders, who love this MotoGP wenuee.
FFS!

Total votes: 66

Thanks for the updates. Good to get news from locals. Very enlightening. And much appreciated.

Total votes: 53

"Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me."

... F. Scott Fitzgerald

Total votes: 47

And let us hear also about countries with political systems rife with graft and instability. Good lord, the India shipping entry fees short term money grab keeping a whole show from benefitting a region and future is...shite.

It happens even at COTA though ("I know, let's make a re-do on what we are supposed to pay Schwantz, the lawyer route is cheaper)." Good luck in Russia too!

Sheesh.

Total votes: 34

It has all gone quiet on the circuit of Wales/ Donnington/ Silverstone shenanigans as well.
While the readers of this site just want to watch thirty lunatics wring the neck of out of thirty overly powerfully bikes, some people are angling to make a personnel fortune out of it.

Total votes: 45