MotoGP organisers Dorna Sports have announced the series has signed a letter of intent to bring two-wheeled premier class racing to Saudi Arabia following the construction of a new track.
The Spanish organisation unveiled plans to take MotoGP to Saudi Arabia in conjunction with the Saudi Motorsport Company, an outlet that has so far seen success in bringing world-renowned series such as Formula 1, Formula E as well as the gruelling Dakar Rally to the country in recent years.
While no timeline was given in terms of when the first Saudi Arabian MotoGP event would be held – or the construction time or details of the planned motorcycle venue that will be homologated to both FIA and FIM regulations – the joint statement between Dorna and the SMC did reveal that a new talent development programme for Saudi riders would be established.
The new initiative – dubbed the Road to MotoGP programme – will be designed to help nurture talented young Saudi riders all the way through the grand prix racing ladder, with the ultimate goal of eventually developing a Saudi MotoGP world champion.
HRH Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al Abdullah Al-Faisal – Chairman of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation and the Saudi Motorsport Company – insisted that it “makes perfect sense” to add MotoGP to its roster of top-flight motorsport series that visit the nation.
“We are excited to confirm the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with DORNA today which clearly outlines our shared goal of bringing MotoGP™ to Saudi Arabia,” said Al-Faisal.
“It makes perfect sense to add the world’s greatest motorcycle racing series to our growing list of world-class racing events.
“We look forward to working with DORNA to deliver on our shared commitment to bring the pinnacle of two-wheeled racing to Saudi Arabia and to continue to provide more opportunities and initiatives to enrich the lives of all our residents.”
Dorna Sports CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta added that the Saudi region is a “key market for motorsport” that MotoGP was keen to conquer, and that he is “confident” of finding “an exciting and welcoming new home in the Kingdom.”
“As the leading global championship for two-wheel circuit racing, we are thrilled at this opportunity for MotoGP™ to expand its reach within the Middle East by adding an annual Grand Prix in Saudi Arabia,” said Ezpeleta.
“The region is a key market for motorsport and the demand in the Kingdom for events of this kind is growing with research showing that 80% of Saudi fans wanting to see more in their country.
“We are confident that we will find an exciting and welcoming new home in the Kingdom and we look forward to further collaboration with the Saudi Motorsport Company to deliver on this joint ambition together.”
Saudi Arabia’s current premier racing facility is the Jeddah Corniche street circuit that takes place in the port city of Jeddah on the west coast of the country, which hosts the Formula 1 event as well as the recently-announced World Touring Car Cup event later this year.
Formula E meanwhile uses a non-permanent street circuit in the city of Diriyah in the east of Saudi Arabia, though with the series’ speeds increasing ever further for its upcoming Gen 3 era the planned new circuit could prove handy in order to sustain the all-electric racing championship’s continued presence in the country.