First MotoGP race in India next year

India will stage a MotoGP race for the first time next year as the sport's organisers bid to expand the races outside their traditional heartlands.

The inaugural event is scheduled to take place at the Buddh International Circuit in Uttar Pradesh, near New Delhi, from Sept 22 to 24 next year.

The 5.125km track has already played host to Formula One, staging three F1 grand prix races between 2011 and 2013, before it was dropped from the schedule for financial, bureaucratic and taxation reasons.

"We have a lot of fans in India and we're excited to be able to bring the sport to them," said Mr Carmelo Ezpeleta, chief executive of MotoGP organiser and promoter Dorna.

"India is also a key market for the motorcycle industry and therefore, by extension, for MotoGP as the pinnacle of the two-wheeled world."

With its 1.4 billion population and more than 200 million motorcycles, the Indian authorities hope the event can bring a foreign investment boom.

Sports Minister Anurag Thakur hailed the announcement as a historic day for the country's sporting sector.

This came in the wake of Dorna's announcement that Kazakhstan would host MotoGP from July 7 to 9.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said: "It's a matter of great pride for Uttar Pradesh to host such a global event."

India's inclusion got the nod from top riders.

Reigning MotoGP world champion Fabio Quartararo of France said: "I think the circuit is quite beautiful and fast. It can be a good circuit for us. I like the layout."

Next year's MotoGP will feature two races - a sprint on Saturday and the grand prix on Sunday.

Faced with a dip in attendance at certain European grand prix races, MotoGP is looking to bounce back by expanding its global audience.

MotoGP already has races in Asia in Indonesia, Japan, Thailand and Malaysia.

Earlier this month, Dorna signed a memorandum of understanding with Saudi Arabia to soon host one of the rounds of the world championship. No specific date or circuit was given.

The provisional 21-race calendar for 2023 was released last Friday with the action scheduled to kick off with the Portuguese GP on March 24 to 26 and the season-ending race in Valencia on Nov 24 to 26.

MotoGP will become the first major bike racing series to be held in India since the Asia Road Racing Championship between 2016 and 2018.

It also means two world championships will be held in India next year, following the confirmation that Hyderabad will host the third round of the 2022-23 Formula E season in February.

AFP

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