Japan struggling in MotoGP, it's time for China

One of Ducati's main sponsors is Lenovo, who apparently appear to be satisfied with the exposure next to our national pride. The other big sponsors are either absent or moving away: MotoGP is not F1 but is of interest to China, which could with its industry take the place of Japan

: Japan struggling in MotoGP, it's time for China

One Grand Prix gets cancelled, and then another, and MotoGP doesn't make a big deal out of it. After all, a bit we are used to this state of affairs because the world of two wheels seems not to be a priority for the same main actors and sponsors involved.

And for confirmation of this, all you need to do is take a look at the fairings of the top teams: today energy drinks rule the day with Red Bull and Monster on KTM and Yamaha respectively, Monster marginally also on Ducati which is backed by the Chinese company Lenovo.

Then there is Pramac Ducati with Prima, a rampant insurance company founded in 2014 that currently has 3 million customers but just 800 employees. Not exactly a behemoth.

Team VR46, demonstrating the attraction of Valentino Rossi's name, has secured Pertamina, which is the second largest crude oil company in Indonesia after Chevron and has more than 13,500 employees, as its main sponsor.

Who else do we have? Currently, the third team in the championship, Gresini, shows up as Gresini Racing despite the arrival of Marc Marquez. There was no 'vacuum cleaner' effect because, wisely, the Imola-based team with Marc on a one-year contract did not want/can't revolutionize its backers who have helped it so far.

Then there is the LCR team that has a big name, Castrol, with the most beautiful livery in the championship, but sponsors only one bike, Johann Zarco's, the second one, Nakagami's has Idemitsu, Japanese oil company, the second largest oil refiner after Nippon Oil but the fact that they are divided into two even visually separate teams makes it clear that the investment is not massive.

Next we have Aprilia, which is without a main sponsor, its satellite team, Trackhouse, ditto, the Tech 3 team which wears the GASGAS colors, from the KTM group and which marginally is Red Bull too and finally Honda, which is Repsol Honda.

Too bad that the Spanish oil company, which has been alongside the Japanese giant since 2005, is pulling out and it has actually gone from historically occupying the entire HRC livery, to this year dropping down to the bottom of the fairing. It's a prelude, probably, to an exit from the scene, although certainly with the introduction of non-fossil fuels, today at 40% and 100% in 2027, it will remain in the business.

In short, the investments in motorcycle racing are what they are, and unfortunately the motorcycle manufacturers are not comparable in economic potential with the automobile manufacturers that support F1.

A look HERE shows us the difference in economic commitment.

But let's not worry: Honda in 1994 with Doohan winning raced without sponsors...only at that time the sales figures were better than today, especially in the sports bike sector.

Today the whole industry is hoping that the arrival of Liberty Media, which recently bought MotoGP, will bring fresh money into our sport. However, we would not like to see a repeat of what happened with the entry of Bernie Ecclestone, who in 1991 had motorcycle racing in his hands with Two Wheel Promotions and who realized that two-wheel racing was not as profitable as Formula 1, so he sold TWP to Dorna for 52 million U.S. dollars; he had founded it with an investment of 25,000 pounds.

The problem today is that motorcycle racing at a world level is only MotoGP, because Moto3 and Moto2 have disappeared from the radar. They survive on subsidies from Dorna (which pays far greater sums for MotoGP) and small sponsors...but on the horizon are Chinese investors such as QJ Motor, which finances the Gresini team in Moto2. An acronym behind which is the Qianjiang Group, a company which might be small by Chinese standards but which actually employs 14,000 people, producing 1,200,000 two-wheelers and more than 2 million engines each year.

It's a bit of a shame that MotoGP only raced in China from 2005 to 2008, in Shanghai, and not with great success. But perhaps the times have changed.


Translated by Julian Thomas

Related articles