Motorcycle Racing

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

Liberty bosses Chase Carey (right), Greg Maffei (centre) and John Malone (left) have overseen an explosion of F1 interest since taking control

It is a blockbuster deal that will get the financial markets hot and bothered. Liberty Media’s acquisition of Dorna Sports from Bridgepoint Capital has come in a deal worth €4.2 billion. That’s not bad for a company that was worth around €500 million in 2006, when Bridgepoint bought Dorna from CVC in 2006 after the latter was forced to get rid of it by the European Commission at a time when it also owned F1.

In the ensuing years, Dorna enjoyed a boom period as the rivalries between the likes of Valentino Rossi, Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo kept fans enthralled. It navigated the series through the financial crash of 2008, bringing in a radical set of rules from 2012 to boost grid numbers. This led to manufacturers returning for 2016’s switch to same spec-electronics, which also levelled the playing field and brought some of the most exciting racing the championship had seen.

Dorna’s financial measures during the COVID-19 pandemic ensured its paddock survived the toughest test MotoGP had ever faced and it has continued to expand its footprint, even if interest has fallen away somewhat in recent years.

Bridgepoint issued a statement of intent last year when former NBA chief Dan Rossomondo was appointed as CCO at Dorna. Come the end of the year, an American team in Trackhouse Racing announced it would be joining the championship, while a new US TV deal was announced on the eve of the 2024 season.

It’s clear where MotoGP’s next growth target is. And as such, the first rumblings of Liberty Media’s interest in the series were hardly surprising. Gathering momentum in recent weeks, the deal was finally announced on Monday 1 April.

The only April Fool here, though, is the one who doesn’t believe this won’t be a good thing for MotoGP.

One only has to look at what has gone on with Formula 1 since 2016. The Bernie Ecclestone-helmed CVC had taken the series as far as it could by that point and its unwillingness to cater to a new, younger audience coincided with the racing being arguably at its dullest over the last 20 years.

Liberty bosses Chase Carey (right), Greg Maffei (centre) and John Malone (left) have overseen an explosion of F1 interest since taking control

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

“I’m not interested in tweeting, Facebook and whatever this nonsense is,” said Ecclestone in 2014. Under Liberty, between 2016 and 2022, F1’s social media engagement grew by a massive…

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