FLYING FLASHBACK: Honda’s Marc Marquez and Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi racing in the Valencia MotoGP in Spain. Image: AFP
MUMBAI, India - MotoGP is ready for a foray into India, convinced it has a better future than Formula 1 in the world's second-largest motorcycle market, the sport's commercial chief Carmelo Ezpeleta said on Monday (Feb 2 2015).
India first hosted F1 in 2011 to positive reviews from the global community but was dropped from the calendar after the third race in 2013.
Problems over taxation, with F1 classified as entertainment rather than a sport in India, as well as the considerable bureaucracy in bringing equipment into the country have been seen as obstacles to the race returning.
Calling India a "very, very important market" for MotoGP, Ezpeleta, the chief executive of Dorna Sports, which holds the TV and commercial rights to the sport, hoped it had the right mix to be successful in India, the world's second largest motorcycle market after China.
"It's different, F1 is another aspirational level. Motorbikes are something very popular in India and are much closer to normal people," he added. "We need to focus on different things here - we have no (local) promoter - but the cost of organising a MotoGP race is less than F1 and we have a manufacturer (Mahindra) are participating in the Moto3 championship.
"I think we are putting all our first steps right to be successful in India but nothing is easy from the beginning."
Mahindra, India's leading utility vehicle manufacturer, will enter the 2015 Moto3 championship as a constructor and will supply motorcycles to four teams, one of them former MotoGP rider now team owner Jorge Martinez's Aspar.
"We need three things to be successful in a country such as India: a manufacturer being part of the deal - in this case we have Mahindra," Ezpeleta said. "We need to have Indian riders but unfortunately we have none at present and for that we have the Asian Talent Cup. We need to have a GP."
Weekend MotoGP races feature regularly on TV in India, crucial for the promotion and popularity of the sport in the country.
Although satisfied with MotoGP's growth in recent years, Ezpeleta believes Asia has a lot more potential. "We have a lot of demand for grands prix all around the world, especially from Asia, and we are talking to different countries here."
The 2015 MotoGP season will have 18 races and the target for the promoters is to increase that to 20 by 2017.