News 11 May 2017

Australian round of MXGP still under consideration

World championship to be capped at 20 rounds in total.

Words: Adam Wheeler

Source: Supplied.

The MXGP World Championship is unlikely to grow past a schedule of 20 rounds and could already count on a visit to Malaysia for the 2018 season, with Australia also remaining a possibility in the future.

The world championship was already set for expansion and to hit a new record length this year, but the San Mario Grand Prix was temporarily postponed and the 2017 calendar rested with 19 events and the Motocross of Nations.

“We cannot go [to] more and we don’t want to,” commented vice president and head of operations David Luongo. “That’s the limit of this championship,”

Youthstream have taken MXGP to Qatar, Indonesia and Thailand in the last five years, but could soon add Malaysia to the list as they explore sites and partners to increase the series’ presence in Asia and where the sport has a big following through social media channels.

Markets such as the aforementioned countries are also some of the biggest for motorcycle manufacturers. MXGP was the first of the FIM world championship disciplines to compete in Thailand with the 2013 edition in Si Racha, close to the resort of Pattaya.

Luongo also mentioned further intentions for other countries in the east: “We still want Japan, Australia and Malaysia and we are in negotiation with those countries. It is a long negotiation, but we are in contact.”

MXGP visited Japan and the highly-rated if remote circuit of Sugo from 2005-2007, however it is now 10 years since its last GP. Broadford, near Melbourne, last hosted an Australian round back in 2001: “Japan is very important because it is home to more than half the manufacturers and Australia is a fantastic market.”

It seems that Malaysia is the best bet to emerge on the grand prix calendar in the near future and not at the expected location of the Sepang circuit, where Youthstream had previously conducted site inspections.

“It is the closest of the three,” Luongo added. “In Indonesia this year we met the people from Malaysia and for a venue in the south, close to Singapore, a good site around this region. We are still in discussion, [but] if these GPs can come inside then we will make the balance to have a great championship between Europe and overseas.”