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World Motocross – Changes, Growth, Opportunity – The Future is Now

Whether you are a fan of Tony Cairoli or Ryan Villopoto …. of Kenny Roczen or Roger De Coster … of supercross or motocross … our love affair of the sport and the superstars we know of today all started with the World Motocross Championships.

Kenny Roczen – 2011 FIM World MX2 Champion

The FIM established Motocross as a true “World Championship” in 1957. If you know the sport, you know the “names” that came from the Motocross World Championships. And if you don’t know the history of the sport, these are some of those names – Hallman, Robert, De Coster, Mikkola, Everts (both father Harry, and son Stefan!), Lackey, LaPorte, Malherbe, Cairoli, Roczen, Rattray, Malherbe, Jobe, Geboers, Kinigadner, Bayle, Albertyn, Tortelli, Smets, Pichon, Langston, Townley, Pourcel, Musquin, and more.

Stefan Everts – 10 time World Motocross Champion

As with almost anything – relationships, business, sports and more – there must be growth and change – or there is a chance they will become stagnant and wither.

The Motocross World Championships are looking towards the future, with growth & change that will clearly provide benefits & opportunities for all involved.

There recently was a meeting regarding this growth & change for the future of the Motocross World Championships. It involved the FIM (Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme – the governing body of motorcycling worldwide), Youthstream (promoter of the Motocross World Championships races), the Manufacturers, and the Teams. They addressed many issues, all in a positive way, to both grow the sport, enhance it for all involved, and improve areas that needed improvement.

Mr. Giuseppe Luongo, President of Youthstream Group, shared this with us regarding this recent meeting, and, the need for growth and change in the future:

Obviously, we are all aware of the changes in the global economy, and motorcycling markets. And, even people and society have changed as well. Any product needs to be adapted to cope with these developments, or they will not prosper. There is a famous novel, in Italian it is called “Il Gattopardo” (in English “The Leopard”) written by the Italian author Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa. He states “If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.”

Motocross is a great sport. We must always try to be a great caretaker of this. If we want it to stay on top, we have to be ready for changes. We must welcome these changes, … and not be afraid of something new.

Below are part of the changes envisioned and projected for the future of World Motocross:

MX1 / MX2

The current economies of the USA and Europe have caused much change in the world over the last four years, and it will continue to change in the coming years. World markets are in a dynamic evolution. There is tremendous growth in many areas, while Europe and the USA are having challenges. This affects both sport, and specifically motocross, dramatically. Motocross on all levels worldwide lives and develops thanks to “markets” (motorcycle markets, sponsor markets, media markets, etc.)

Latin America, the Middle East, Russia and Asian economies & motorcycle markets are growing exponentially. The number of fans are growing dramatically. Their TV coverage is growing. The number of motorcycles and related products is growing. For the FIM Motocross World Championship to grow, adapt and prosper – it must be smart enough to follow these trends.

The FIM World Championship used to concentrate with the majority of events in Europe, with an occasional race in another continent. But now we have already begun to see some of the changes, as events are expanding into Latin America, Russia, and in 2013 – Asia and the Middle East. Not only are these changes intelligent – they are needed, and will truly make the FIM series a “global” championship.

Problems, such as economic situations in Europe and America, can be taken as opportunities. Opportunities for all. Opportunities for growth. Opportunities to make intelligent decisions. It is a great opportunity for all of us to make the right changes to develop both the sporting side, and business side.

Some people might see this as a ‘revolution’, but in fact it is the right evolution to bring the FIM Motocross World Championship to be a ‘true’ World Championship – multi-cultural and multi-racial, covering the entire world with it’s events.

We see this moment as the exact time to make fundamental changes to Motocross in this new era. We welcome these challenges. It is imperative that Motocross becomes more attractive, more entertaining, more ‘sexy’, that will generate increased enthusiasm, and ultimately be a tremendous show for the fans. This will provide the proverbial “Win-win-win” for everyone involved.

The series, the races, the athletes, the television – all need to be understandable for the international viewers, and easy to follow.

This is why we propose some necessary and radical changes to the Motocross Grand Prix format. This has been unanimously agreed by all manufacturers, factory teams, FIM and Youthstream.

Overseas (outside of Europe) Grand Prix Events starting in 2013: (2013 schedule is here.)

15 riders from each class (MX1 and MX2) will be entered and supported for the overseas events. For the first overseas events of the season (Qatar and Thailand), the selection will be based on the factory team’s presence, over the last 3 years’ results of the OATs, and their 2013 participation in the FIM Motocross World Championship. This is because if we take only the previous year’s results, some riders may have changed teams and some top riders can be affected because of previous injury. By considering the above points we can respect the teams’ investments better.

One of the major costs in participating in overseas events is the freight and shipment of equipment, machinery, and riders. Youthstream’s support in this regard is:

MX1

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing – 2 riders – total 600 kilograms in weight
Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MX1 – 2 riders – total 600 kg
Monster Energy Yamaha – 2 riders – total 600 kg
Kawasaki Racing Team – riders – total 600 kg
Honda World Motocross Team – 2 riders – total 600 kg
LS Honda Racing – 2 riders – total 400 kg
Ricci TM Factory Team – 1 rider – total 200 kg
CLS MX1 Monster Energy Pro-Circuit – 1 rider – total 200 kg
Honda Gariboldi – 1 rider – total 200 kg

MX2

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing – 2 riders – total 400 kilograms in weight
CLS MX1 Monster Energy Pro-Circuit – 2 riders – total 400 kg
Monster Energy Yamaha Dixon – 2 riders – total 400 kg
Rockstar Energy Suzuki Europe – 2 riders – total 400 kg
Nestan JM Racing KTM – 2 riders – total 400 kg
Rockstar Bud Racing Kawasaki – 2 riders – total 200 kg
Ricci TM Factory Team – 1 rider – total 100 kg
Honda Gariboldi – 1 rider – total 100 kg
HM Plant KTM UK – 1 rider – total 100 kg

In addition, the 2012 European 250 Champion will receive 200 kg, and 2nd & 3rd in the 2012 European 250 Championship will receive 100 kg. The 2012 European 125 Champion will receive 100 kg.

Other World Championship riders who are not in the top 15 and who have their own budget to travel will be entered, and together with the local riders the races will have a maximum of 40 riders.

Here is a major, and exciting point: Both MX1 and MX2 classes will compete together in the same race (like the FIM Motocross of Nations) and everyone will score points for their own class. There will be 2 heats per overseas Grand Prix event. (Point scoring example – if the first rider of the race is an MX1 rider, he will score 25 points in the MX1 class. If the second rider of the race is an MX2 rider, he will score 25 points in the MX2 class, and so on.)

The new race format would be 2 races of 35 minutes plus 2 laps, with both MX1 / MX2 classed racing together, but maintaining the classification separate for the respective championships. There will be a maximum of 40 riders per race.

Here is the timetable for those races:

Saturday

1. First free practice
2. Second free practice
3. Pre-qualifying practice
4. Qualifying race

Sunday

1. Warm-up
2. Race 1 – 13h00 (1pm)
3. Race 2 – 16h00 (4pm)
4. Podium – 16h50 (4:50pm)

This system will allow Youthstream to bring the elite riders to events all over the world, and it will reduce the teams’ costs. With the top riders in both classes competing in the same races, this will bring the level of competition, and the ‘show’ very high (similar to the Motocross of Nations). This will create outstanding, high-quality racing for the fans on site and offer a more TV-friendly program.

In consideration for the Grand Prix events in Europe starting in 2014:

We believe the 2013 overseas Grand Prix events, with the new system as outlined above, will be very successful. If we see that having the 2 classes together works well and we reach our goals in terms of show, costs, safety and TV coverage – we plan to implement a similar format for the European Grand Prix events starting in 2014.

However, due to the high number of participants in the European Grand Prix events and to give the middle and support teams the possibility to take part in the World Championships, to show their riders and sponsors properly, we need to slightly modify the format:

Saturday

1. First free practice MX2
2. First free practice MX1
3. Second free practice MX2
4. Second free practice MX1
5. Qualifying race MX2
6. Qualifying race MX1

Sunday

1. Warm-up MX2
2. Warm-up MX1
3. Race 1 MX2 – 12h00 (12)
4. Race 1 MX1 – 13h00 (1pm)
5. Super-final MX1 / MX2 – 16h00 (4pm)
6. Podium – 16h50 (4:50pm)

One MX1 race with a maximum of 40 riders and one MX2 race with a maximum of 40 riders on Sunday. Points will be distributed as per normal.

Another exciting and major point: After the first races of the Grand Prix, the top 10 riders per class of the World Championship MX1 and MX2 classifications go directly to the “Super-Final“. In addition to these riders, the 10 best results from MX1 Race 1 and the 10 best results from MX2 Race 1 (after taking away the top 10 in the World Championship classifications) will also take part in the “Super-Final” (making a total of 40 riders). In the Super-Final riders will score points relative to their championship. Example:

1st position of the Super-Final is an MX1 rider = 25 points for MX1 Championship
2nd position of the Super-Final is an MX1 rider = 22 points for MX1 Championship
3rd position of the Super-Final is an MX2 rider = 25 points for MX2 Championship
… etc.

There will be a podium with the top 3 riders of the Super-Final. In addition, an MX2 podium will be held after the overall podium to promote these younger riders.

The most important advantage for the public and for TV viewers: the new format is easily understandable for everybody, especially for the young and new fans, and big TV broadcasters who are not particularly specialized in Motocross. There will be a live TV program of one hour with racing on the highest level ever seen in the history of Motocross.

Youthstream will continue to produce the European Championships, MX1 race 1 and MX2 race 1 live for strong Motocross orientated TV broadcasters and MX-LIFE.TV to support the hard-core fans and the professionals working inside Motocross. A live program of 1 hour with a overview of the MX1 race 1 and MX2 race 1, the starting grid and the entire Super-Final and podium will be produced creating an interesting product for prime TV broadcasters like AlJazera, Sport 1, CBS, Rai, FOX, etc. In this way we will reach the largest number of people worldwide, and new viewers will find the program much more attractive and easier to understand. And this programme of 1 hour will also be also broadcast on MX-LIFE.TV and the usual TV broadcasters.

This new program offers more support and visibility for the teams and riders who enter the entire FIM Motocross World Championship. It will also provide benefit for teams with a reduced budget – they are relieved of the pressure to take part in the overseas Grand Prix events and can concentrate on the European Grand Prix events and European Championships.

We believe with these changes, including new racing formats, help with freight, shipping and overseas costs, and other changes planned, it will give a tremendous boost to the sport. It will permit the World Championships to have an easier format to follow for both fans on site, and those watching on TV. It creates more interest, and helps sponsors and manufacturers to promote their products in markets around the entire world.

How did the ideas for these changes come about? They came from listening to teams, manufacturers, television and sponsors. We then studied and re-evaluated how our entire system and program was operated.

I aim to use this opportunity to re-launch our sport, because in terms of race format it’s very old and has not followed the evolution of the market, media and public. Their message is very clear – it must be easier to understand, more fun, ‘extreme and cool’, with a spectacular show. This is why the X-games, freestyle, and the Monster Cup in Las Vegas are very successful.

With this new format, we will enter a new era for Motocross. It will be a challenge, but also very, very exciting. At the same time, we wish to respect the roots of our sport, and fans who love the ‘old school’ 70′s and 80′s style of motocross. Riders will continue to compete in 2 races for the same length of time – the second race with both premiere classes combined will have a much higher level of racing and show.

Roger De Coster

These decisions were not made lightly. They were made due to the world’s significant changes over the last few years. We need to make intelligent decisions and changes. Motocross needs to be present in every continent where the economy is growing to continue our sport’s development. We need to support the teams and riders. We need to have a more modern show, and attract the proper TV networks and sponsors.

These changes are not caused due to the lack of teams and riders (as some have publicly said). The number of riders and teams in each class has grown over the last few years, and currently the permanent entries for the 2013 MX1 and MX2 Motocross World Championships are full. With this new format, the number of riders will actually increase.

There is more to this than simply the MX1 and MX2 classes. We have been working on a pyramid project for the sport, with the base of this pyramid the 65cc, 85cc, and European Championships.The next step of the pyramid has the 125cc, 150cc and 250cc European Championships, and the MX3 World Championship. The next step on this pyramid shows the FIM MX2 World Championship, and then the top point of the pyramid shows the MX1 class.

Tony Cairoli, multi time World MX1 Motocross Champion, at the Czech Grand Prix 2011

We believe strongly, along with all the others involved, that the future is bright. It will require hard work to achieve our goals and objectives. And with those changes, we believe you will see something very special. You will be proud to say that motocross is ‘your’ sport. We know you all have the same passion as we do for motocross.

The Motocross World Championships are looking towards the future, with growth & change that will clearly provide benefits & opportunities for all involved.

Our objective is clear: to develop together with all the stakeholders – a new, modern and global sport of Motocross. We want the spirit of our sport to remain unchanged – the greatest and most exciting off-road sport in the world!

The Youthstream “Team”, 2012

 

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