Manel Arroyo, director of the global commercial and media area of Dorna, the organizing company of the MotoGP World Championship, considers that the withdrawal of Valentino Rossi does not have to diminish interest in the championship as long as other drivers, such as Fabio Quartararo, Francesco Bagnaia and Marc Márquez, keep offering great sports battles.
Stream explain what at the moment the pandemic will not affect the 2022 MotoGP calendar, which will be the longest in history with 22 different circuits after two years in which the number had to be reduced and even repeated Grand Prix in some venues.
Are you optimistic about being able to celebrate the 22 Grands Prix?
The important thing is not that we are optimistic or not because it is not in our hands. What we have to do from Dorna is to analyze each case with the local authorities as the date of the Grand Prix approaches and be very clear about the operating rules in the ‘paddock’.
Will there still be PCR tests to be able to enter the 1,500-person MotoGP bubble?
A: We have to ensure that our bubble does not have health problems in the territories where we go and vice versa, that the health situation of the place does not affect our bubble. So maybe we’ll continue with PCR testing, or at least antigen testing, to get into the paddock.
Is the whole bubble vaccinated?
We are fortunate that practically everyone in our bubble is vaccinated, but what is certain is that whoever has decided not to do so will need a negative PCR test to enter.
The first stop will be in Sepang (Malaysia) on February 5 and 6 for pre-season testing. Will they be held normally?
In January we will begin to assess each case, but right now the forecast is that the tests will be held without problems. This year we returned to Asia after two seasons without being able to go due to the pandemic.
In fact, one of the circuits that make their debut on the calendar is Mandalika (Indonesia). How attractive is the region to Dorna?
In Indonesia we are the second most followed sport by far. There the World Cup is broadcast openly on television and all the operators were interested in buying the rights. In addition, it is an area that the government wants to develop from a tourist point of view. The first thing that has been built has been the urban circuit, but he also wants to build a golf course there, among other constructions.
The second circuit to be released is the KymiRing, in Finland.
It goes without saying the enormous relationship this country has with the motor world, a lot of great drivers have come from there. In addition, it has the added point that it is two hours by train from St. Petersburg and this can attract the Russian public.
They have renewed with the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya until 2026, but they only ensure three Grand Prix in this period. What will it depend on?
We are committed to the teams and manufacturers that the calendar will have a maximum of 23 Grands Prix. In this sense, the Iberian Peninsula currently has five circuits and, if the calendar reaches 23, those in this region would have to be rotating.
Were the negotiations with the Catalan government easy?
There was a predisposition on both sides. As Carmelo Ezpeleta (Dorna CEO) has always explained, we have great appreciation for the Circuit. In fact, he was its CEO in the early days of the campus and other Dorna leaders like myself have also worked there in the past.
It will be the first year without Valentino Rossi. Do you fear that there will be a decrease in interest in the Moto GP World Championship?
That the same interest continues will depend on Quartararo, Bagnaia, Márquez and company. When I entered Dorna in the early 90’s there was a dominance of the North American pilots and I put my hands on my head imagining what might happen when they retired. And then Doohan, Crivillé, Rossi, Stoner, Lorenzo, Márquez appeared …
So they don’t care?
Rossi will be missed in the first Grands Prix in Italy, but there are many Italian drivers with possibilities and a future and people will cheer on them. Dorna has been in charge of the World Cup for three decades and the championship started 73 years ago. If it has not stopped growing, it has been thanks to the attractiveness of the spectacle in the races, of the sports battles.
Indeed, one of those who gives more spectacle is Marc Márquez and in recent times it has not been possible to enjoy him due to his injury.
It is obvious that it affects. With Marc Márquez on the track there is an extra interest that goes beyond the Spanish borders because of the spectacle he brings. But it must be said that audiences in Spain have continued at the same levels.
Have there been problems renewing television rights because of the pandemic?
We were in contact with all the rights owners to be coordinated and there were price reductions, it was common sense because of the reduction of the calendar. But during this time we have renewed contracts and, many of them, upwards.
So, the championship continues to grow?
Yes. For example, the continuous growth it has in social networks, in which we have 37 million followers, is indicative of this. Nowadays we have to go to the spectators to find where they are. The objective is that our sport is on all possible devices and television on demand has many consumers. More than 200 countries receive our signal, which offered 32,864 hours of content in 2021.