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GP Week : Issue 170
DORNA COUP ROCKS RACING Ezpeleta takes control of World Superbikes In an announcement that shook MotoGP and Superbike, with the potential to change the face of both World Championships, investment firm Bridgepoint has stepped in to put both series “under one umbrella”. The umbrella belongs to Dorna and will be wielded by CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta. The Spanish race boss is currently at loggerheads with the factories, especially Honda, who have threatened to quit MotoGP for World Superbikes over Dorna’s plans to introduce a control ECU and a rev limiter in 2014. His new position, in control of both series, spikes Honda’s guns. He is now in a position to manipulate technical rules, and downgrade Superbike to become more of a production series. There is even the fear, reported in Italy, that he will merge both championships into one, dispensing with the need for factory support as his back-up plan of an all-CRT championship takes their place. This would give rise to a new era of racing, with independent chassis constructors using proprietary street- based engines. The announcement, two days after last weekend’s Aragon GP, took everybody by surprise, even though it had been on the cards ever since Bridgepoint – holder via Dorna of MotoGP rights since 2006 – acquired the World Superbike series as well in September 2011. This was with the purchase of InFront Sports & Media, as a stocking-filler along with the main prize of extensive world football rights. Italian web-site GPOne reported “a climate of confusion” in the World Superbike paddock at Magny Cours this weekend, but it is clear that the Flammini dynasty’s long-term management of the series, currently by younger brother Paolo Flammini, is in serious jeopardy. The subsidiary company headed by Flammini, InFront Motorsports, was mentioned only in passing in the release. The statement read: “Bridgepoint has announced that Dorna Sports and InFront Sports & Media have reached agreement to bring both their motorcycle racing interests under a single umbrella organisation. “As a consequence, MotoGP and World SBK, will be integrated within the Dorna Sports group but managed as separate events with a view to enhancing the two distinct championships. “The objective is to allow both series to develop and enhance their championship personalities, retaining their leadership positions in the arena of world motorcycle road racing – World SBK, with its focus on production-based racing, and MotoGP with its focus on prototype racing. At the same time, both championships will benefit from joint marketing and commercial strategies.” The statement adds that InFront’s role will be as “marketing partner and global advisor to both championships” . Footnote: Paolo Flammini broke his silence on Sunday morning at the French Superbike race, but revealed little except that he was to meet Ezpeleta at Motegi later this week. “We will discuss my position in the coming weeks,” he said. MOTOGP >>> NEWS Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta 12 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: