The future of the Brno round of MotoGP has been secured for the foreseeable future. On Monday, Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta signed a contract with the "Spolek pro GP ČR v Brno", an association set up to promote the Czech Grand Prix, to host the race at the Masarykring in Brno from 2016 until 2020.
MotoGP at Brno has been shrouded in doubt for the past few years. An ongoing dispute between the Masarykring circuit, or Automotodrom Brno, and regional authorities left the circuit in debt to Dorna after failing to pay the sanctioning fee demanded. The circuit owner Karel Abraham Sr. and Ivana Ulmanova, the circuit manager, were caught in a power struggle with the city council of Brno and Michal Hašek, the president of the South Moravia region. Dorna had threatened to take the race off the calendar unless all of the monies owed to the circuit were paid, and a long-term solution was found to prevent further problems.
A compromise has now been found to settle the dispute. The promotion of the event has been put in the hands of a special association, the "Spolek pro GP ČR v Brno", or Czech Grand Prix Association, which will organize the race and run it at the Brno circuit. Funding for the race will come from the South Moravia region (CZK 20 million, or about €740,000) and the Brno city council (CZK 10 million, or about €370,000), while the rest of the sanctioning fee (around €2.5 million in the first year) is to be raised from ticket sales. The Czech Grand Prix Association will pay the circuit CZK 28 million, or just over €1 million, for the use of the circuit.
That deal, and the paying off of all previous debts to Dorna, convinced the Spanish firm organizing MotoGP to extend the contract for the immensely popular race. Brno is usually the MotoGP race with the biggest crowds, with fans coming from all over Europe to attend the race. It is also an extremely affordable race to attend for most fans, with food, beer and accommodation reasonably priced, for the most part. It is also a race with a very long history, the first Grand Prix being hosted on public roads which surround the circuit from 1965 onwards. Racing at the venue stopped in 1982, resuming again once the new, purpose-built Masarykring circuit was completed in 1987. Since then, it has been a staple on both the Grand Prix and World Superbike calendars.
With the deal completed, there is also hope that World Superbikes could make a return to the circuit. According to German-language website Speedweek, the circuit owners are interested in hosting an event again, especially given the fact that Karel Abraham Jr, son of circuit owner Karel Sr., will be racing in World Superbikes in 2016 for the Milwaukee BMW team. However, that event would also need to be financially viable, as there is also a sanctioning fee to pay to Dorna. That fee is much lower for WSBK though - around €200,000, rather than €4.1 million.
The announcement of the deal, and especially the stories on the Speedweek website and the Czech website Silničnímotorky.cz, also provide a fascinating insight into the cost of hosting a MotoGP round. Normally, the sanctioning fee charged by Dorna is confidential information, as part of a commercial agreement. However, because there is so much public money involved, the information has been provided in full. A rising scale of fees has been agreed, with the Czech GP Association paying €3.65 million in 2016, increasing to €4.6 million in 2020. This is broadly in line with what other European tracks are reported to pay, with most of them on deals worth between €4 million and €5 million a year. That seems like a lot compared to the €200,000 charged for World Superbikes, but is about a fifth of what Bernie Ecclestone charges for an F1 race, said to be around €25 million per race.
Below is a table showing the amount to be paid to Dorna for each year. The average, over a five year period, is €4.1 million.