until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


MotoGP just showed Liberty what it must - and mustn't - change

by Simon Patterson
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Sunday’s Grand Prix of the Americas at Austin was about as good an advertisement for MotoGP as you could ever hope for - with frenetic action, tonnes of passes for the lead, and an exciting host of of storylines playing out between various protagonists at the front.

And, coming only days after the news of the provisional sale of MotoGP owner Dorna to Formula 1 owner Liberty Media, it should act not just as a vindication of the purchase but of an example of everything that MotoGP can be as an asset - both good and bad.

On track, Liberty really couldn’t have hoped for a better weekend to celebrate its tentative new ownership of the series, given the absolutely exceptional show put on by underdog Maverick Vinales, rookie sensation Pedro Acosta, returning 'King of COTA' Marc Marquez and title contenders Jorge Martin, Enea Bastianini and Pecco Bagnaia.

Americas GP, MotoGP

Sunday's grand prix was, to be frank, the sort of race that many thought was absolutely impossible at the Circuit of the Americas, with the flowing esses section comprising Turns 2 through 10 tending to hamper overtaking opportunities and to turn races into processions.

That wasn’t the case last weekend, though, and rather than just getting a good race for the circuit we were at, we instead got to witness one of the best MotoGP battles in years. A reminder of what was relatively commonplace before aerodynamic regulations overtook the quality of the show, it hints that 2024 might be a return to form, something that’s bound to have Liberty salivating.

Still for now very much hands off until EU competition regulators approve the sale (something that’s likely to take until the end of the year at least), there certainly hasn’t been time for any changes to even be considered by the American firm let alone implemented, so none of what we saw can be in any way credited to Liberty. But while Sunday might show that it doesn't need to change anything on track, it also nicely highlighted where it does need to bring some change.

After all, what’s the point in having the best sport in the world when no one even knows that it’s happening? I have some friends in Austin who I visited before the race weekend who are casual but not hardcore sports fans - and didn’t even know that MotoGP was taking place in their home town.

Americas GP, MotoGP

That’s a sentiment that’s been echoed across the broader spectrum as well, with MotoGP’s biggest problem not being the quality of the entertainment product that it delivers but rather the ability to sell that show to fans of other sports - or even to people who aren’t sports fans at all.

Liberty has done a truly exceptional job of that with F1 since its takeover in 2017. Creating hype around the series that’s unheard of by allowing fans unprecedented access to the stories of the grid, not just through the hit Netflix documentary Drive to Survive but with better use of social media and marketing strategies, it's convinced millions to watch a sport currently bereft of much on track action. Imagine what’ll happen once those same fans get a taste of Sunday’s MotoGP race!

Liberty is bound to know that, too. After all, there’s a reason why it's just dropped nearly £4billion buying Dorna: because it knows that if it does a better job of selling what we’ve already got without changing the on-track product (something that seems to be the plan, given that Dorna’s sporting direction will remain in place), then there’s a huge audience out there ready to be converted by races like Sunday’s COTA spectacle.

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