MotoGP on Friday confirmed that it will race in India from 2023 with provisional dates set at September 22-24, marking the return of a big ticket motorsport event in the country after Formula 1's departure nine years ago.
The world's premier two-wheel racing championship will be held at the Buddh International Circuit, which staged Formula 1 from 2011 to 2013.
After MotoGP announced that India will become the 31st country to host a motorcycle Grand Prix next year, a provisional calendar was released. India has been listed as the 14th round, to be held in September, in a 21-race calendar.
Top officials from MotoGP's commercial rights holder Dorna had visited India earlier this month to sign a seven-year MoU with Indian race promoters Fairstreet Sports (FSS).
They had also held meetings with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur.
The FSS had announced that a MotoGP round will be held next year but Dorna MD Carlos Ezpeleta did not commit to a time frame considering the complexities surrounding a season's calendar. Friday's announcement from MotoGP makes the picture much clearer.
“We're very proud to announce that Buddh International Circuit will be on the 2023 calendar. We have a lot of fans in India and we're excited to be able to bring the sport to them," Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta said in a statement.
"India is also a key market for the motorcycle industry and therefore, by extension, for MotoGP as the pinnacle of the two-wheeled world. We very much look forward to racing at Buddh International Circuit and can't wait to welcome the fans through the gates to see this incredible sport in person.
UP CM Adityanath added: “It's a matter of great pride for Uttar Pradesh to host such a global event. Our government will provide full support to MotoGP Bharat.”
Homologation process begins
The track will need to be homologated by governing body FIM before the mega event which is expected to be a formality considering it has already hosted Formula 1.
FSS COO Pushkar Nath told PTI that homologation process has already begun with FIM officials inspecting the BIC track.
"The homologation process has begun, the officials are already here," said Nath.
"It is (race coming to India) a landmark moment for the country and we are happy to have played a role in that."
Government support is a must to pull off an event of this scale and the race seems to have the blessings of both the state and the Union government.
Formula 1 had left India due to financial health of the race promoters, taxation and customs issues. FSS, which will be shelling out millions of dollas to host the race every year, is confident of overcoming the logistical and tax hurdles.
Around 5,000 people, including riders and staff, work during a MotoGP. On his visit earlier this month, Dorna MD Carlos Ezpeleta said MotoGP weekend generates economic activity of 100 million euros.
This event will provide a major impetus to the economy by generating an influx of foreign investment in the state, said Nand Gopal 'Nandi', a cabinet Minister in UP government.
With the country being the world's largest two-wheeler market, Carlos had said that "MotoGP and India were meant for each other".
"Buddh International Circuit's debut will make it the 75th venue at which the premier class have raced, and India becomes the 31st country to host a motorcycle Grand Prix," said MotoGP in a statement.
"As MotoGP continues to push to reduce its carbon footprint, India and Motegi mark the start of a longer stint in Asia significantly reducing the paddock's potential mileage.
"India is a true economic and cultural powerhouse, with a population of over 1.4 billion people and more than 200 million motorcycles on its roads. Two-wheeled transportation counts for nearly 75 per cent of the total number of vehicles used daily, making India one of the biggest motorcycle markets in the world and a key focus for the manufacturers in the paddock," it added.