Solving MotoGP’s problem with Spanish dominance

The news that the Moto3 Junior World Championship (formerly CEV Moto3) will be renamed again until the 2022 season and now become the JuniorGP series marks the final step in solving MotoGP’s perennial problem and breaking Spanish dominance .

But if history and experience have shown us anything, it’s that it takes more than a name change to what is still essentially Spanish domestic Moto3 to fundamentally change the national balance of Grand Prix motorcycle racing and its ladder.

It’s hard to argue that Spain not only dominates MotoGP (where more than a third of the 2022 grid comes from the country), but has even more control over the series that go into it.

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) were also represented.

But in Moto2, eight of the 18 races were won by Spaniards (or rather, a Spaniard in Raul Fernandez), in Moto3 they took 12 out of 18, and in the Junior Moto3 series, the Red Bull Rookies Cup and the European Talent Cup they took seven, 10 and 11 wins respectively from the 12-round seasons.

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

It’s something Dorna is also regularly taunted for by fans of other nationalities – which is particularly unfair, considering it’s in fact the organization that works the hardest to change a situation that doesn’t belong to her, but is smart enough to do. is to know not sustainable for the future and development of the sport outside the Iberian Peninsula in the long term.

Dorna has been instrumental in establishing various national and regional level feeder programs around the world to draw talent from non-traditional markets, with the Asia Talent Cup arguably the most successful to date, featuring a number of Japanese, Indonesian and Thai riders. who otherwise probably wouldn’t have had a chance.

It has also successfully expanded that model beyond Asia, first with the British Talent Cup and then in Germany and Scandinavia with the Northern Talent Cup.

This year brings the arrival of a much-needed US series, with Dorna teaming up with Aprilia to run a championship alongside the US domestic series MotoAmerica.

And at the grassroots level, the standardized format of the MiniGP pocket bike championship in turn leaves riders ready to audition for those feeder series, with a first-ever world final taking place last year at the final round of MotoGP in Valencia.

In fact, it’s rumored that Dorna’s senior management was extremely unhappy with the outcome of that event, which saw Spanish children take the stage…

But while this stretch certainly doesn’t attack Dorna for the hard work it’s done to secure the sport’s long-term future, one has to wonder if a name change for the former CEV Moto3 Championship will really be the required game exchanger.

The series is still a Spanish championship, whatever it is called. Seven of the eight rounds in 2022 will take place in Iberia, giving a huge advantage to the Spanish drivers on the grid – not just in terms of track familiarity, but even basics such as language barriers and travel costs.

It is 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, kids want to race motorcycles and sponsors want to help them do that.

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

But while Dorna has done a great job capturing the pinnacle of the sport, with the most competitive grid ever, and the road towards it – the Road to MotoGP program – has paid off for a wide range of nationalities, there is still a glaring problem: it really isn’t possible to get to the top without racing at least some time in Spain.

By Dorna’s own admission in the press release confirming the name change, 80% of the MotoGP lineup and 90% of the Moto3 lineup have survived the remaining Spanish Moto3 series, regardless of multiple name changes.

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It seems clear that there needs to be a real change in the composition of the sport’s middle classes, one that involves uprooting not just children but entire families and introducing them into an exceptionally different culture than they are used to : imagine the shock that arises when you move from rural Indonesia or the American Midwest to Barcelona!

It must be accepted that there are other ways to reach the Moto3 World Championship than just from the Spanish paddock. That’s easier said than done, but given the successes elsewhere, it really should be the next step in Dorna’s master plan if we want to see a grid that’s a little more geographically diverse.

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