MotoGP promoter Dorna has made yet another pledge to return the championship to Hungary in the near future.
A collaboration with the Hungarian Mobility Development Agency was announced on Monday that in will in theory add the new Balaton Park circuit to the 2024 World Superbike calendar and make it a reserve track for MotoGP next year before Hungary’s Formula 1 venue the Hungaroring hosts a MotoGP race in 2025.
MotoGP last raced in Hungary just over 30 years ago, holding just two races at the Hungaroring.
The inaugural event in 1990 almost didn’t go ahead thanks to riders’ complaints about the safety and condition of the track.
It eventually did and resulted in the first grand prix victory for future world champion Mick Doohan.
The race then disappeared for 1991 before returning a final time the year after, with Eddie Lawson taking Cagiva’s first victory.
Since then, there have been multiple failed attempts to bring MotoGP back to the central European country, with Dorna signing repeated deals with venues that failed to ever reach completion.
The first of these came in 2009, when it proposed racing at the Balatonring, a purpose-built new venue that never made it any further than the initial stages of the track being laid out.
The inaugural race, intended to take place in 2009, was first delayed a year then replaced by the then-new Motorland Aragon track in Spain.
Construction on the project ground to a halt after anti-corruption organisations raised concerns about a lack of oversight of public money allocated to the track. That led to a new feasibility study that contradicted the initial report. The track has remained derelict since then.
Next, a proposal was made to build another new venue outside Hungary’s second-largest city Debrecen. It was signed in early 2021 with Victor Orban’s government backing the project, and the new race was first supposed to happen this season. But it’s quietly disappeared without further mention in the intervening years.
The new deal announced this week will supposedly result in the newly-built Balaton Park track (located on the opposite end of Lake Balaton from the Balatonring) hosting WSBK and acting as MotoGP reserve circuit for next season.
Unlike the others, Balaton Park is an already-completed venue that was opened earlier this year, and should be able to host a race should it be needed as a stand-in – something that’s worth MotoGP having to hand given the recent failures to deliver races at planned tracks including Kazakhstan’s Sokol circuit and the Kymiring in Finland.
However, it’s the proposal to move MotoGP to Hungary’s F1 venue on the outskirts of Budapest that should raise more significant questions.
The Hungaroring is very much built for car racing and wholly unsuitable for motorcycles in its current guise. MotoGP’s announcement did not include any information about or timescale for the extensive track modifications that would be needed to get the circuit homologated for MotoGP.
The news is sure to raise the hopes of fans in the region, who have lacked their own race since the wildly popular Brno circuit in the Czech Republic was allowed to fall off the MotoGP calendar in 2021 over a row about who would fund necessary resurfacing work.
There has been fresh hopes lately, though, that a new buyer for the track previously owned by Karel Abraham (father of the former Czech MotoGP racer of the same name) might potentially result in the required investment made to return Brno to the MotoGP calendar in the near future.