I usually stay away from news stories. It’s perhaps, because I have done too much of it in the past. It’s also because I love writing narrative pieces. But I digress. This is a news story, for it’s sheer astonishment-value.
What else can you say when you find out that two motorsport events – MotoGP and WorldSBK – will now be a part of one “umbrella organization”. Bridgepoint, a private equity firm and principal shareholder in Dorna Sports, which promotes and manages MotoGP, made the announcement. The company acquired Infront Sports & Media AG (which manages FIM Superbike World Championship) in 2011.
The release stated: “The objective is to allow both series to develop and enhance their championship personalities, retaining their leadership positions in the arena of world motorcycle road racing – WorldSBK, with its focus on production-based racing, and MotoGP with its focus on prototype racing. At the same time, both championships will benefit from joint marketing and commercial strategies.” Infront has been appointed marketing partner and global advisor to both championships.
FIM, Infront Sports and Dorna Sports have welcomed the move. Philippe Blatter, President and CEO of Infront Sports & Media stated, “Under the new structure, the two leading motorcycle road racing events are now set for sustainable further growth and development.” Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna Sports said, “We’re very excited to have the two top motorcycle road racing series under one roof. We fully expect to develop and strengthen the distinct nature of both MotoGP and WorldSBK as separate properties and remain committed to working with teams and manufacturers, circuit owners, sponsors and broadcasters to give fans the best experience yet.”
On paper this sounds logical, a typical corporate move, which will pose a win-win for both championships. But this news is also indicative of a major power shift; the implications of which, will not be felt just as yet.
In a perfect world, the two championships would work towards enhancing each other, a support system that empowers both. However, the very real fear is that WSBK could be come the stepsister – toeing the MotoGP line. There have been assurances that the two championships will retain their individuality. But, MotoGP has already blurred the line that exists between the two, with the introduction of the CRT bikes this year.
Changes are expected in the technical rules that are bound to impact the motorcycles racing in MotoGP and WorldSBK. Things will become far clearer closer to 2013. But till then, it is a hope that the two championships retain their unique characteristics. For, if MotoGP is about prototypes, WSBK keeps it real.
How do you think this move will affect the two championships?