MotoGP race at IMS could be the last

Just like F1, With no Americans in MotoGP contending for race wins, low turnouts in the USA result.

Earlier this week, Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course received the highest rating possible from international motorcycle racing’s sanctioning body, and last year’s Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix was named the best event of the MotoGP season.

So why, with a contract through 2017, is the event being held this weekend at IMS at a crossroads? Because the sport is at a crossroads in the U.S.

Aside from a respectable television following on Fox, MotoGP lacks traction in this country. If 50,000 people attend Sunday’s event, the crowd will be comparable to the April 12 race at Circuit of the Americas, a natural terrain road course outside Austin, Texas.

MotoGP is owned by Dorna, and that group has done its part in delivering scintillating racing and a fair number of stars. Valentino Rossi, the series points leader and seven-time MotoGP champion, is the Michael Schumacher of two wheels. Double champion Marc Marquez is a young Jeff Gordon. Nicky Hayden and Jorge Lorenzo are past champions with large fan bases.

MotoGP also has extraordinary manufacturer support, with Honda, Ducati, Yamaha and now Suzuki using the platform to sell bikes and apparel.
Make no mistake about what this event means to Indianapolis: Downtown will overflow this weekend with motorcycle enthusiasts and overseas expense accounts. The city and the speedway will be shown to all parts of Europe, Asia and Australia. Even U.S.-based MotoAmerica is benefiting with three classes racing here this weekend.

So what’s the problem here? See if this sounds like what’s happened to Formula One, which left IMS after 2007.

After having 13 champions in 16 years from 1978-93, the U.S. has had only two champions in the past 21 years (Kenny Roberts Jr. in 2000 and Hayden in 2006). There have been 158 races since Hayden last won a race, and only one American in that span — Ben Spies in 2011 — has been to victory lane.

Spies retired after his painful IMS crash in 2013, leaving only Hayden to carry the U.S. flag. But Hayden is on the way out, too, both literally and figuratively. Stuck deep in the standings — he’s 21st of 25 point-scoring riders — the Kentucky Kid saw his non-factory Aspar team lose its sponsor before the season began, and he doesn’t have an offer for 2016.

Which means, MotoGP might ride into Texas next spring without any of this country’s cowboys, something that hasn’t happened since Kenny Roberts burst on the scene in the mid-1970s.

IMS and Dorna announced a multiyear extension during last year’s event, but that was more of agreement, track president Doug Boles said Friday. If the event didn’t work for either party, Boles said, they would mutually agree to go their separate ways. Boles and his boss, Mark Miles, are expected to meet with Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta on Saturday morning to assess the future.

Ezpeleta wasn’t available for comment Friday, but it stands to reason if he can’t sell MotoGP enough here to justify a spot in an 18-race schedule, he can sell it somewhere else. Indy Star

Social Media Auto Publish Powered By :