Thailand and Chile to host WSB in 2015, MotoGP in ’16?

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Thailand and Chile could be surprise additions to the 2015 World Superbike calendar ahead of a possible inclusion on the MotoGP schedule the following season, MCN has learned.

Javier Alonso, Dorna’s Managing Director of Events, is at the Buriram International circuit around 250 miles north of Bangkok this week for a special visit ahead of this weekend’s Sepang clash in Malaysia.

Dorna is desperate to cash in on the booming popularity of MotoGP in South East Asia and there had been talk of Thailand joining the premier class schedule in 2015.

Interest in MotoGP in the region is at its peak in Indonesia, but with no circuit built to host a race, rights owners Dorna are keen to expand outside of Malaysia as soon as possible.

Alonso told MCN: “The Thailand circuit is ready but we need to see if the track is ready for us. We’ve discussed with them about MotoGP or World Superbike and they are probably right that the market is not mature right now, so they need to build up to motorcycle racing and it is easier for them to do with it World Superbikes rather than MotoGP.

"If everything goes well the idea will be to do World Superbikes in 2015 and the ideal scenario would be for MotoGP in 2016. We have to show them how important motorcycle racing can be for them and if we show it to them the ideal scenario with Thailand would be to come on the MotoGP calendar in 2016.”

But Alonso said the key country for MotoGP to be racing in is Indonesia and he said talks were going on constantly about a race there, with the Sentul circuit needing a complete revamp to meet world championship standards.

Alonso added: “We would like to have a project in Indonesia and we are discussing about several different projects. Indonesia is a huge market and that is a place we need to be.

"Yamaha, Honda and Suzuki is pushing us to have a race there, so it is a mature fruit that one day soon will come down from the tree. But it takes time. The only circuit they have is Sentul and that is not a suitable venue.”

Dorna is also looking to increase its presence in the huge South American market, with a new circuit in Chile expressing major interest in MotoGP.

Alonso visited the venue, which is within an hour by road of Santiago, last month and he said Chile could join Argentina on the schedule in 2016.

But a visit from World Superbikes next year is close to being agreed and Alonso said: “The track is half built right now. We have worked with them for the last five months informing them of some improvements that we wanted. Some walls need moving back and we’ve told them how to implement the service roads. But the layout is nice.

"They wanted to be on the calendar in 2015 but it was too late for MotoGP to be included. We told them we may start with them in World Superbikes next year and we are exchanging contracts right now.”

Alonso said Dorna hopes to release a provisional WSB calendar during or immediately after next month’s final round in Qatar.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt