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Dorna Sports CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta has announced plans for the 2017 MotoGP™ season, which include much more support for satellite teams.
We understand there is a significant new 2017 agreement reached between Dorna and the MotoGP manufacturers, can you explain exactly what the situation is?
Well, an agreement no, it’s a proposal and they need to study it and I hope they will agree. In principle it is something to set up all the commercial arrangements between the championship and the manufacturers & private teams from 2017 until 2021. We have an existing agreement with the manufacturers and teams until 2016, but what we propose is that from 2017 to 2021 all the technical aspects will be fixed and there will be no changes unless everyone agrees. This is the most important thing. Second thing is that we proposed to the 6 manufacturers who have already committed to participate - Honda, Yamaha, Ducati, Aprilia, Suzuki and KTM - that they have the right to participate with 2 bikes and then we pay them x amount of money for these 2 bikes… but they also have the obligation to lease and supply 2 bikes to a satellite team for a maximum agreed price. We will pay the satellite teams practically all the cost of this leasing. That way the teams will save economically and the competitiveness of the championship will be ensured, with the same ECUs for everybody.
Can you outline what the extra support will be for manufacturers in the new 5-year agreement?
The manufacturers will have the right to participate with 2 bikes and the obligation to put in the market for the existing teams 2 more bikes, up to a maximum of 6 per manufacturer. This means that if any existing teams don’t want to take the offer of a particular manufacturer, any other manufacturer can supply bikes, up to their 6 bike maximum.
What about support for satellite teams, how are you going to increase your support for non-factory teams?
A lot, a lot - the cost we agreed that the manufacturers will charge to lease them bikes, including everything except crashes, will be practically covered by the money we pay to them.
So that's quite a significant increase on the support that the teams have now….
Exactly, especially for the private teams. The total amount of money we will put in the grid is much much more - almost 30% more than it is today. This is to ensure 2 things: firstly that the satellite/non-factory teams will be the same as they are today, we will not accept any other entry from new private teams unless we are less than 22 and the maximum allocation is 24 riders, secondly that the private teams have the right to lease bikes put in the market by manufacturers.
We see tremendous growth in the world championship now, with 6 manufacturers coming in 2017 - what about the future of the world championship in terms of number of races, do you expect an expansion on the current format of 18 races?
We agreed with the manufacturers that the maximum number of races from 2017 until 2021 will be no more than 20 per season.
Do you think it will increase to 20 and do you have any idea where those races could take place?
Well we have many proposals… the existing agreements last until 2016, after that it’s for sure that next year Austria will enter in the championship taking the total to 19 if nothing else changes. After 2017 there is the possibility to change 1 or more Grands Prix and add new ones for the many people asking to be part of the championship.
We know growth in MotoGP in Southeast Asia is huge, would you like to see more races in that part of the world?
Well we were with WorldSBK in Thailand recently and the race was very successful, the circuit is valid, and there are proposals in this part of the world to have MotoGP.
We’ve seen how popular this event is here in Argentina this week, would you like to see the championship expanded in South America?
Yes but at the moment we don’t have any other circuits in South America - it’s difficult, the Brazil deal was very difficult to achieve, then finally we have no proposal and for 2016 it will be almost impossible to have something in Brazil. In the future we will see, we are open, but the first condition is to have a safe circuit.
Just finally, the 24 bikes that we hope to see on the track in 2017, with new rules, you obviously hope it will be very close racing between the 6 manufacturers?
Yes, we think with the electronics the same for everybody the championship will be more close. We hope everybody will have the possibility to win races and to be in the front.
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