Solving MotoGP’s problem with Spanish dominance

The news that the Moto3 Junior World Championship (formerly CEV Moto3) will be renamed again for the 2022 season and will now become the JuniorGP series marks the final step to solving the eternal problem of MotoGP and breaking its Spanish dominance.

But if history and experience have shown us anything, it’s that it will take more than a name change in what is still essentially Spain’s national Moto3 to fundamentally alter the national balance of motorcycle racing. of Grand Prix and its scale.

It’s hard to argue that Spain not only dominates MotoGP (where more than a third of the 2022 grid hails from the country), but controls the series that feed it even more.

2021 was actually something of an aberration for the premier class, with only three (Maverick Vinales, Jorge Martin and Marc Marquez) of the eight winners coming from Spain, and France (Fabio Quartararo), Australia (Jack Miller) , Portugal (Miguel Oliveira), South Africa (Brad Binder) and Italy (Pecco Bagnaia) also represented.

However, in Moto2, eight of the 18 races have been won by Spaniards (or rather, a Spaniard in Raul Fernandez), in Moto3 they have won 12 out of 18, and in the Junior Moto3 series, the Red Bull Rookies Cup and the European Talent Cup they have won seven, 10 and 11 victories respectively over the 12 seasons.

It’s not just the riders but also the management, with the majority of the teams on the grid (in all classes) and the Dorna series promoter all Spanish – or, more specifically in Dorna’s case, Catalan.

It’s also something Dorna is regularly abused for by fans of other nationalities – which is particularly unfair, given that it’s actually the organization that works the hardest to change a situation that isn’t. not of her doing, but she’s smart enough to know. ‘t sustainable for the long-term future and development of the sport outside the Iberian Peninsula.

Dorna has been instrumental in setting up various national and regional nurturing programs around the world to help attract talent from non-traditional markets, with the Asia Talent Cup perhaps the most successful to date. , producing a number of Japanese, Indonesian and Thai racers. who would probably have had no luck otherwise.

It has also successfully extended this model outside of Asia, first with the British Talent Cup, then across Germany and Scandinavia with the Northern Talent Cup.

This year brings the arrival of a much-needed American series, with Dorna teaming up with Aprilia to host a championship alongside the national American series MotoAmerica.

And locally, the standardized format of the MiniGP pocket bike championship is in turn producing riders ready to audition for these feeder series, with a first-ever global final set to take place at MotoGP’s final round in Valencia this year. last.

Rumor has it, in fact, that Dorna’s upper management was exceptionally unhappy with the outcome of this event, with the Spanish kids blocking the podium…

Still, while this piece certainly isn’t attacking Dorna for the hard work she’s put in to secure the sport’s long-term future, you have to wonder if a name change to the former CEV Moto3 championship really going to be the game required. -changer.

The series is still a Spanish championship, whatever you call it. Seven of 2022’s eight rounds will be on the Iberian Peninsula, giving Spanish drivers a huge advantage on the grid – not just in terms of track familiarity, but even basics like language barriers and travel costs.

It’s no one’s fault that Spain dominates MotoGP. It has a place in the sports market there that other countries can only dream of, and as a result, the kids want to race motorcycles and the sponsors want to help them do it.

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The end result is that more Spanish talent is available at a young age, familiar with Spanish teams and Spanish tracks. It is natural that the end result is what we see at the highest level.

But while Dorna has done a great job of securing the pinnacle of the sport, with the most competitive grid ever, and the path to it – the Road to MotoGP program – paying off for a host of nationalities, there is still a glaring problem. to settle: it’s really not possible to reach the top without spending at least some time running in Spain.

By Dorna’s own admission in the press release confirming the name change, 80% of the MotoGP grid and 90% of the Moto3 lineup have gone through what remains, despite multiple name changes, the Spanish national Moto3 series. .

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It seems obvious that there must be a real change in the composition of the sport’s intermediate leagues, a change that does not involve uprooting not only children but entire families and parachuting them into a culture exceptionally different from the one at which they are used to. : Imagine the shock that comes from moving from rural Indonesia or the American Midwest to Barcelona!

You have to accept that there are other ways of entering the Moto3 world championship than just the Spanish paddock. That’s easier said than done, but given its successes elsewhere, this really needs to be the next step in Dorna’s master plan if we’re going to see a slightly more geographically diverse grid.

About Todd Wurtsbach

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