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Debrecen set to host MotoGP at new circuit

Debrecen will be the site of a new motorsport circuit which will host a MotoGP race from 2023, with the motorcycling championship hoping the project will give it a foothold in the Central Europe market.

Dorna Sports, promoter and commercial rights-holder of MotoGP, yesterday (Thursday) signed an agreement in Budapest with the Hungarian government and the Kelet-Magyarország Versenypálya Kft entity.

Construction of the new circuit in Hungary’s second largest city is expected to begin in the second quarter of this year. It aims to create a motorsport hub for the Hajdúság region, with MotoGP having long pursued a race in Hungary.

In November 2019, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Hungarian government and Dorna Sports, that intended to see MotoGP race at a new circuit in the country from 2022 to 2026.

Located outside Budapest, the Hungaroring, current host of Hungary’s annual Formula 1 grand prix, has staged MotoGP’s two previous races in the country, in 1990 and 1992. MotoGP had planned to return to Hungary in 2010, but was forced to abandon this effort when the development of the proposed new Balatonring circuit in Savoly was affected by the global financial crisis in 2008.

The new project has been backed by Hungarian motorcycling legend Gábor Talmácsi, who won MotoGP’s 125cc championship in 2007. Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna Sports, said: “Finally this is coming true, we’re very happy because in Hungary there is a lot of passion for the sport

“Gabor was world champion and with this project many more Hungarian people will start coming into our talent Cups and in our paddock, our wish is to bring the best for the circuit – spectators, economic impact, give coverage of this region around the world on TV – but also to have the possibility of more Hungarian riders in future through the Road to MotoGP.

“From the beginning we’ve been in contact with the people creating the project, and I was in the region two years ago. What is happening there is very special. The FIM (International Motorcycling Federation) is following the works for homologation, and I think the circuit will be one of the best in the world.”

László Palkovics, Hungary’s Minister of National Innovation and Technology, added: “We are very grateful that Dorna decided to take our offer, and we are going to build a brand new track and in that sense, a brand new style of MotoGP track. The investment is quite a significant investment but when we made our business models, it’s worth it. It is a good economic investment.”

In other motorsport news, Formula 1 has today announced that Portimão in Portugal will take up the final slot on its 2021 calendar. The Portuguese Grand Prix will return this season from April 30 to May 2, as part of a record 23-race world championship.

Last October, Portimão joined the F1 calendar for the first time when the championship returned to Portugal after 25 years. It was one of the few races on the 2020 calendar to welcome fans during COVID-19, with some 27,000 spectators attending over the weekend.

Portimão was initially linked with a return in January, as F1 revised its calendar plan for the new season. This has now been confirmed, with F1 stating it has been working closely with the promoter and the Portuguese Government regarding fan attendance this season. A decision is expected in the coming weeks.

Stefano Domenicali, president and CEO of Formula 1, said: “We are thrilled to announce that Formula 1 will be racing again in Portimão after the huge success of the race last year. We want to thank the promoter and the Portuguese Government for their hard work and dedication in getting us to this point.

“We are confident and excited about our 2021 season, having shown last year that we could deliver 17 races safely and bring our millions of fans thrilling racing at a difficult time. We hope to welcome fans to Portimão again this season in a safe way and are working with the promoter on the details of that plan.”

Rita Marques, Portugal’s Secretary of State of Tourism, added: “Holding major events in our country is very important for the image and international promotion of Portugal as a tourist destination, and so it is with great interest that we see the return of Formula 1 to the Algarve in 2021.”