until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

MotoGP

MotoGP missed an open goal at Goodwood

by Simon Patterson
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Despite the best intentions of the British weather, the 2023 Goodwood Festival of Speed was everything that makes Goodwood special: a sprawling, vast festival of all things sleek, engine-powered and fast.

And yet, while there should have been a place front and centre for two-wheeled action among all that, it very much feels like MotoGP missed a trick this weekend.

Ultimately MotoGP’s appearance there felt somewhat like a subdued and half-hearted effort at wooing the fans at the one of the world’s best celebrations of racing.

It’s not an event that the two-wheeled championship has ever really taken on in force before, something that 2023 promised to change with an impressive line-up of stars headed by none other than reigning MotoGP world champion Pecco Bagnaia.

But while there might have been potential in seeing a star roster attend the event (especially coming as it does only weeks before the British Grand Prix at Silverstone), the reality was something of a damp squib instead, meaning few fans were likely to have been convinced to buy tickets by what MotoGP delivered.

Of course that was admittedly half-hampered by Saturday’s weather, which cancelled that day’s action, meaning that time to see the series’ stars was limited.

The biggest names, like reigning Bagnaia were only in attendance for the weekend itself, and with no Saturday activity, he only managed a single trip up the hill on his title-winning Ducati – and, with an early flight home on Sunday, didn’t even make the championship’s headline moment on the Goodwood House balcony.

However at least Bagnaia and his Italian factory were present for the event in some way, with the most notable absence very obviously being that of MotoGP’s Japanese factories. Honda sent a single representative, LCR Honda team coordinator Dakota Mamola, to ride a production RC213V-S, while Alex Rins’ actual MotoGP bike sat parked up all weekend.

It was even worse for Yamaha, with zero presence whatsoever, after initial plans for both Franco Morbidelli and 2021 world champion Fabio Quartararo to attend fell through.

And in that lies the reason it seems MotoGP didn’t extract the full potential from the Festival of Speed: a failure to recognise beforehand the importance and significance of what has become a huge spectator event in recent years.

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Not only does it draw in numbers well in excess of most MotoGP races, but it has also become possibly the single most important non-racing event on the motorsports calendar – something evidenced by the likes of Lamborghini choosing to use it to debut the LMDh car it will for its new Le Mans 24 Hours project next year.

And, speaking to some of the current MotoGP racers in attendance, it’s fair to say that they too underestimated the scale of the event, with more than one telling me over the weekend that it far, far exceeded any possible expectations they had for it.

Now, having seen the scale of what Goodwood has to offer, MotoGP has to commit in better numbers in the future should the offer be extended again.

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