MotoGP has today (Friday) confirmed that India will make its debut on the motorcycling championship’s calendar in 2023, as elite motorsport prepares to return to Buddh International Circuit.
The 2023 Grand Prix of Bharat is expected to be the first under a seven-year race contract. Today’s news comes after MotoGP last week struck a Memorandum of Understanding for a first race in India.
A delegation from MotoGP’s commercial rights-holder, Dorna Sports, travelled to India to sign the MoU for a potential Indian race with promoter Fairstreet Sports. The delegation travelled to Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, the region in which the Buddh circuit is located, to meet with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath and Industrial Development Minister, Nand Gopal.
Having opened in October 2011, Buddh International Circuit staged an annual round of the Formula 1 championship from 2011 to 2013 before the race agreement was cut short due to financial and bureaucratic difficulties. The race deal could have significant commercial benefits for MotoGP, with more than 200 million motorcycles on the roads amongst India’s population of over 1.4 billion people.
Two-wheeled transportation counts for nearly 75% 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 MotoGP paddock. Gopal said today: “This event will provide a major impetus to the economy by generating an influx of foreign investment in the state.”
Dorna CEO, Carmelo Ezpeleta, added: “We have a lot of fans in India and we’re excited to be able to bring the sport to them. 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.”
The GP of Bharat comes with MotoGP having already embedded itself in the Asian market with races currently on the calendar in Qatar, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand and Malaysia. Earlier this month, Dorna Sports signed an MoU with the Saudi Motorsport Company (SMC) with a view to staging an annual grand prix in Saudi Arabia.
Kazakhstan’s new Sokol International Racetrack is also set to join the MotoGP calendar from 2023 after a five-year hosting deal was struck earlier this week.
MotoGP has today also released its provisional calendar for the 2023 season, which is set to be the longest in its history at 21 races. Subject to final contract and circuit homologation, the Kazakhstan GP is set to debut on July 7-9, with the Bharat GP handed dates of September 22-24.
One of the biggest absences from the calendar is the Aragon GP in MotoGP’s heartland of Spain. Motorsport.com notes that the four Spanish races and the Portuguese GP have been signed to contracts which means the five circuits – Aragon, Jerez, Catalunya, Valencia and Portimao – can be rotated.