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MotoGP: Liberty breaking F1 in America "more the exception than the rule"

Dorna sporting director Carlos Ezpeleta says Liberty Media breaking Formula 1 in America is “more the exception than the rule” as MotoGP looks to do the same thing.

Race start

Earlier this week, Liberty announced that it had acquired 86% ownership of Dorna Sports and the MotoGP World Championship in a deal worth €4.2 billion.

Under Liberty’s ownership, MotoGP hopes to replicate the success F1 has had in breaking through to a wider audience since the American media giant took it under its wing in 2016.

The US is a key market for MotoGP, which will visit the Circuit of the Americas in Texas for its next round on 14 April, and Trackhouse Racing's takeover of the former RNF Aprilia squad means it now has a team baring the Stars and Stripes.

Ezpeleta convinced that MotoGP can become “a reference” in the US with Liberty’s guidance.

OPINION: Why MotoGP fans must be patient and accept some pain with Liberty’s takeover

“The first thing is that the interest in the United States is common to everyone, to all sports, no matter where their investors are from, and it is something that all sports want to do, to grow in the United States,” Ezpeleta told Por Orejas, Autosport’s Spanish language MotoGP podcast.

“It is clear that having Liberty as a partner will surely facilitate this growth. We come from an important past in the United States.

“It surprises many people, even those of us who are in the world championship, that the United States has had more champions in the premier class than Spain, for example.

“Almost twice as many, in fact. So, there is an important past linked to that market that is clearly interesting because it is a world leader culturally, socially, economically and also because of its economic impact on the business.

Miguel Oliveira, Trackhouse Racing Team

Miguel Oliveira, Trackhouse Racing Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

“So, what is of interest? Yes, it is also a market that a large part of it is located in a time zone that is positive for Europe, it is very good for Europe, so it is our market, it is still our main market.

“That's very attractive also for the United States to be able to have races that in Europe are in the afternoon, you know? That's an interesting part as well.

“And then all the corporations that have been seen have come in to invest in the sport [F1] and in the teams and in the drivers and so on. It is very interesting, it is clear that Liberty can help us more than other people.”

F1 has also expanded its US presence to three events - Austin, Miami and Las Vegas - plus it has races in Mexico and Canada, while MotoGP has slimmed down to just its Austin race across the whole of North and South America since the Argentina GP was cancelled earlier this year.

He added: “We have had this fixation for some time. It is a very complicated market for all sports.

“What Formula 1 has done is more the exception than the rule.

“There have been many sports that have tried to grow in the United States and it is really complicated.

“Also taking into account that we, of the 21 races we hold this year, 20 are in a very complicated schedule for them.

Alex Rins, Team LCR Honda

Alex Rins, Team LCR Honda

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

“So, it is difficult to seed there. And then they see it as a completely different sport than what they are [used to].

“That said, I think we have super important and super positive qualities for the United States.

“One, that there is no comparison, let's say, of strong championships to fight for nationally, like Formula 1 might have had with NASCAR or IndyCar, we don't have that, do we?

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“It is clearly the world reference of two wheels. We only lack visibility in the United States.

“Then we have a product that is very easy to understand, very simple, we have a product of 22 minutes or 25 minutes on Saturdays, 45 minutes on Sundays, which is very positive for young audiences and even more so for American audiences.

“Therefore, we believe that all this together with the values of sports can make us a reference in that market.”

Additional reporting by Oriol Puigdemont and German Garcia Casanova

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