MotoGP boss Carmelo Ezpeleta believes that right now, the championship is at its best and, in all honesty when you look at it, you have to believe him.
The Spaniard, who joined Dorna in 1991 after helping to build the Calafat, Jarama and Barcelona circuits, is in rude health and, even at 70, shows no sign of slowing down personally or in his efforts to ensure MotoGP is at the top of its game.
We sat down with Ezpeleta and asked him some pointed questions about the series’ future:
Tell us about the state of health of the MotoGP championship?
“I’m absolutely convinced that this is the best moment so far in terms of the show on track, media exposure, TV coverage, number of spectators and TV viewers. It’s also the result of the work done together with the FIM (International Motorcycle Federation) and MSMA (the Association of the Manufacturers). In fact all the actions that we have carried out to make the championship more fun, competitive and sustainable have paid off. Next year thanks to the arrival of KTM and the introduction of the new commercial system we will improve even more.”
Can you explain us what will happen from 2017?
“The satellite teams were my concern so I’m happy to announce that we have finally found a formula that guarantees their support. Next year the economic support of the satellite teams will increase of the 100 per cent compared to this year. The grid will be limited to 24 slots and in addition to the Manufacturers, the current 7 private teams that are racing in the premiere class will be the only ones entitled to run a MotoGP team. They will receive a €2– 2.2m bonus to cover the leasing of the bikes that is capped at a maximum of €2.2m.”
In addition, each Manufacturer that makes its bikes available to satellite teams will also receive a bonus. Doing this, we expect more stability, more competitiveness and in the end more show. So it’s not only an economic support but also the five year agreement of exclusivity with the private teams. We have one place available that will be for Lucio Cecchinello if he decides to line up a second rider.”
Looking at the MotoGP calendar, how important is the Asian market?
“It’s very important for us and for the Manufacturers because these are the countries were they sell more bikes. There is a circuit in Thailand where we race with the Superbike world championship and we are working to have a round there of MotoGP. We are also very interested in Indonesia.”
What is the situation with Indonesia?
“We have an agreement with the government, the problem is that at the moment there is no circuit available. We need to find a circuit. Sentul hasn’t sent yet the Master Plan to know if we can do it there or not. Considered the facilities, we think that it’s very difficult to return to Sentul. We are also waiting for another project. It’s clear that the Indonesian Government has the interest to host a round of the MotoGP championship but we need to find a place. We will not do a GP if there are not the safety standards. It has be a place 100 peer cent safe”.
What about the Asian riders? Valentino Rossi was really impressed by the 17 year old Galang Hendra Pratama in the first edition of the Master camp at the Ranch. The Indonesian riders Andi Izdihar and Gerry Salim ar doing well in the Shell Advanced Asia Talent and Izdihar is also racing in Europe with the Asia Talent Team while the Japanese Toba and Sasaki are doing well in the CEV and the Red Bull Rookies Cup.
“Yes, it is a system that is working really well and we are satisfied it has been done a great job with the Shell Advanced Asia Talent Cup, the Asia Talent Team racing in the Spanish Championship CEV with Toba that is doing very well in the Red Bull Rookies Cup, Sasaki is doing well in the Junior Championship. These are two important springboards to make experience and grow. We already looking forward to the next edition. The application for the 2017 Asia Talent Cup have been opened on the 15th of July and will continue till the 21st of August. The selection will take place the 25th and 26th of October at Sepang karting circuit.”
For how long we will see Valentino Rossi in MotoGP?
“He is doing fantastic as a rider, he is always fighting on top. He will stay as long as he enjoys and then I think he will continue in a way or the other to be in MotoGP. He has the SKY VR46 Team in Moto3 and the VR46 Academy. These are also great projects.”