Multiple sources in the MotoGP paddock have confirmed to The Race that stories placing this year’s Argentine Grand Prix at risk are more than just rumours, with sweeping spending cuts introduced by newly-elected president Javier Milei set to see the scheduled third round of the 2024 championship on the chopping block only weeks before the start of the season.
Milei, an economist and former TV pundit, supports laissez-faire economics - a policy that has seen him introducing sweeping public sector cuts since his election in November, opening with the slashing of government ministries in half only days after taking power.
And, with the Termas de Rio Hondo race relying heavily on government subsidies to pay series bosses Dorna’s hosting fee of approximately €4 million, it seems that cuts to public spending have left this year’s race on the brink of official cancellation, with the championship issuing warnings to teams this week to prepare for the race not going ahead.
It’s believed that it isn’t just the lack of government funding that’s likely to jeopardise the race, though.
Milei’s harsh economic reforms have been met with widespread strikes and public disruption, and with the race coming only one week before the US round of the series in Dorna’s crucial American market, the possibility for freight disruption is also playing a role.
In part exacerbated by the rural location of the Argentine race, located one thousand kilometres from the capital city of Buenos Aires (and the country’s only substantial international airport), it means that further strike action could well leave the championship stranded, something that has in the past threatened to derail Termas’ place on the calendar.
Travel delays caused by weather in 2016 saw many of the paddock face substantial delays in getting to the back to back round in Austin, while in 2022 the series was forced to scrap Friday’s practice sessions after freight flight delays meant that many of the series’ bikes and equipment didn’t arrive until two days later than scheduled.
The track also faced a devastating fire in 2021 while the COVID pandemic had temporarily suspended it from the calendar, with the entire pits complex burning to the ground and necessitating a rebuild ahead of a return the following season.
In theory, MotoGP has a reserve circuit for 2024 in the form of the new Hungarian circuit Balaton Park - but according to The Race’s sources, it’s not yet certain that the new track will even take its place on this year’s World Superbike calendar let alone be ready to host a race in only a few weeks and as the cold Hungarian winter comes to an end.
However, The Race’s local sources in Kazakhstan have also hinted that there’s perhaps an increased likelihood of this year’s scheduled event at the Sokol circuit going ahead, thanks to the settling of issues related to the death of circuit investor and billionaire oligarch Alijan Ibragimov in 2021.
The paddock won’t cry for Argentina
Should MotoGP’s longest-ever calendar of 22 races be shortened by one event, it’s unlikely that the paddock will feel much loss thanks to the difficulties and cost involved with travelling to Termas.
Located some 15-hour flight time away from Europe, it means that both the cost and time needed are heavy - especially when that’s only to get you to Buenos Aires and before you have to travel onwards to Termas on a domestic flight.
The town hasn’t exactly been kind to MotoGP in the past, either, with hotels that normally go for £20 a night increasing to £140 a night for the race weekend and with hire cars regularly costing over £1000 for the weekend, factors that contribute to making the race probably the single most expensive of the calendar for the paddock.