Features 12 Oct 2012

Industry Insight: Dorna's Carmelo Ezpeleta

The most powerful man in world racing speaks out about Dorna's WorldSBK takeover.

Preceding the riders’ press conference on Thursday at the Twin Ring Motegi, Dorna Sports CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta also held a conference to explain the recent announcement of the World Superbike Championship coming under the Dorna umbrella.

Dorna Sports CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta is now in control of MotoGP and WorldSBK. Image: MotoGP.com.

Press conference introduction…

The reason for this press conference is, as all of you know, that last week it was announced by Bridgepoint, who is the mother company of Infront Sports and Media and Dorna, the decisions about Dorna and Infront Motorsports, who is the company that runs the World Superbike Championship

One year ago, a little bit more than one year ago, Bridgepoint, who is the biggest shareholder of Dorna Sports, acquired Infront Sports and Media – the owners of Infront Motorsport, which is the company that runs World Superbike.

Since Bridgepoint’s acquisition of Infront Sports and Media, we have been having several meetings with Infront Motorsports to try to adapt the technical rules of both championships.

This was the main aim of Bridgepoint, trying to think of the two championships together, which can have a lot of benefits, and also many synergies.

We had several meetings during last year, first in Madrid, then in Rome, then in Paris and finally in Donington, trying to accommodate the rules first of all.

And this was impossible. So finally the decision of Bridgepoint was to maintain two championships, two separate championships as two separate companies, but both under the umbrella of Dorna Sports.

Of course for next year things will continue as they are, and both MotoGP and WSBK will continue the same way, with exactly the same system of organisation and with the same technical rules.

And from now, together with the FIM, the manufacturers, the circuits and with the teams, we will try to accommodate these difficult economic times to set up two championships that are able to continue and to grow together. There will also be a collaboration with Infront Sports and Media regarding other aspects of the two championships.

Is it true that the ownership of the Superbike championship has been put directly under Dorna?

Yes, that is correct.

Why until now we haven’t had the new regulation for Superbike that Mr. Flammini announced on Sunday? Is there some change coming or is it just a matter of time?

For 2013 the regulations will be the ones that have been approved between the FIM and Infront Motorsports. For 2014, we will obviously work together with the manufacturers and the different bodies involved to change the regulations.

We think that a championship derived from production bikes that is using 39 engines during one season, and in MotoGP you are using six – to be honest it’s not very correct, and we need to set up both championships with their own spirit.

One is from bikes based on production motorcycles, and another is for prototypes. This is something we will do with the FIM first, and then with the manufacturers who are involved in both championships.

Do you expect to convince BMW, Kawasaki, Aprilia and Suzuki to be in MotoGP in 2014?

No, I am not trying to convince anybody. The obligation of the organiser of the championship, together with the FIM is to set up technical rules to make the championship. But it’s obvious that the regulations, in my opinion, in both championships are so expensive, that we need to set that up.

We have been working for a long time with the MSMA here in the MotoGP championship, but this is a little bit contradictory if we are trying to reduce the cost and reduce the performance and using six engines, and the MSMA are even proposing five for next year, and then Superbike, which is theoretically for production-based bikes are using 39.

Who is going to run the World Superbike Championship?

In principal we are still talking with the people to know exactly who will run it, but it will run under the umbrella of Dorna. At the top of both championships there will be Dorna.

In terms of electronics, we know what you are looking at in MotoGP, but what’s the future of electronics in WSBK?

It’s too early to talk about electronics or whatever. In 2013 it will be exactly as proposed by the different parties involved, there will not be any changes for 2013.

Do you think now it is easier for Dorna to find an agreement with the factories for the rules in the future?

Not necessarily. All the decisions have been made in MotoGP with all the parties involved, and we will continue like that. It is important to set up something that is reasonable and possible from an economical point of view. The economical situation is difficult and we don’t know how long this will be. I’m convinced that everybody will understand that.

Does this mean you will do two different meetings with the factories for the two championships?

The technical discussions will be separate, because the manufacturers are not the same in both championships.

As regards the calendar there are four or five dates that are the same for MotoGP™ and Superbike, are you going to make some changes for 2013?

For 2013 the calendars will be as presented. Both are provisional, so things could change, but for sure it’s easy to have some conflicts.

For 2014 your idea is to introduce the standard ECU for everybody, will it continue the same or will you accept some other ideas from the manufacturers during next year?

We always accept ideas from anybody. We are not ‘in favour’ of ECUs or limit of revs or whatever, we are in favour of reducing the costs and increasing the show. This is the main aim of both championships – reducing costs and increasing the show.

Have you had any meetings with any MSMA members after the announcement?

Between the announcement and today, no. We were travelling. We will talk with everybody and we talk at every single Grand Prix with all the parties involved. We will talk separately with them and together if they want. The grands prix are normally a place for meetings about everything, there is no special meeting arranged, but of course we will talk to everybody about it.

Is it now easier to talk to Honda from this position?

With Honda it is always easy to talk. We have no problem to talk with Honda, Yamaha and Ducati who are the three manufacturers involved in the MotoGP World Championship and we will continue to talk to them. We are happy to have the possibility to talk with the manufacturers about the ways to run the championship.