For years, British racing fans have had a bee in their bonnet about MotoGP favoring Spanish and Italians riders, taking to their pens and keyboards and meting out Facebook badassery that their favourite from Huddersfield or Amersham or wherever isn’t in the top class as he has the wrong passport.
Unfortunately, it’s not true. From the 22 riders currently in MotoGP, only seven are not from Spain or Italy. This is not a co-incidence. Both countries have a production line for young talent, their domestic series are based solely around breeding new riders for grand prix racing. Superbikes aren’t even on the radar.
Imagine just how good you must be to come from one of those countries to actually make it into MotoGP. There are literally thousands of kids every year all clamouring to be the next Rossi or Dovizioso or Marquez or Vinales.
The level of competition is mind-blowing. And at the pinnacle of all this sits Carmelo Ezpeleta - a Spaniard who doesn’t need any more Spanish or Italians in his championship, because the place is littered with them.
Motorcycle sales soaring in places like Indonesia and Malyasia, and Ezpeleta needs talent from those countries. And to meet the demands of a growing TV audience, he needs Australians, Americans, Britons, French, Germans… Not more Spanish and Italians.
There has, historically, been a fund for British riders in the GP paddock because Britain remains an important and historic race for Dorna. If it wasn’t, Silverstone would have been flicked on the Monday after last year’s catastrophe.
Simply, the systems in Spain and Italy dictate that MotoGP has more of their riders than anywhere else.
Britain is football obsessed, and some say we try and be brilliant at every single sport and end up being average or worse at all of them with occasional flourishes. Motorcycle racing isn’t in the top half of sports people would pick for their kids to be good at.
America is only interested in its own sports that no-one else plays and six-ton cars that only turn left. There aren’t enough people in Australia as they have only bothered with the outside edges of their island, the middle is still undeveloped. But have managed to produce two relatively recent world champions…
Racing in Spain and Italy is part of the culture, they are countries full of kids on scooters causing havoc from the age of 12. These are the reasons.
It has nothing to do with passports, it has everything to do with whether your country likes motorbike racing or not.