Interview : Giuseppe Luongo
While the Supermoto just started a couple of weeks ago, the Motocross World Championship is well advanced with five more GP’s to go including the Swedish round this weekend. Most of the Motocross teams, riders and fans are already thinking to 2005, as the provisional calendars and selected teams for next season were published last week. Here is an interview with Giuseppe Luongo, the Youthstream president.
Giuseppe, following the publication of the selected teams for next year there were some discussions in the paddock. What can you tell us about the situation?
Everything depends of what point of view you see the problem. We made a list now because it’s necessary for the teams, as they need to be sure to be part of the World Championship next year. It will give them a label, a credibility and a value in their discussions with sponsors, riders or factories; in the pass we saw too many teams who were just able to do three of four races and then disappeared. We want to have strong teams, not only the factory ones but also many private teams and for this we must be really clear with everybody. Yesterday two team managers came and asked me a letter confirming the fact that they will be in the championship next year, as one sponsor was ready to give them more support if he had a proof of this. For sure everyone is not happy with this, and there were some noise just to create misunderstanding and political problems. It’s clear that our decision gives more power to private teams, and this is may be a problem for some teams who tried to manage the market and sell kits, suspensions or spare parts to these small teams. This small business will have an end with the new rules, and I would like the people to judge us for what we have done and not for what some people say. The teams will have more value and more power tomorrow, and we want t give them the necessary support; for example we work in collaboration with the South African federation, the manufactures and the promoter in order to supply them bikes for the final round, so they will not have to pay freight. I think that now most of the teams understand our decisions and the necessity to take these decisions. For them the most important goal is to have the guarantee that their riders will race the GP’s; when a top rider as Cairoli, Chiodi or Bartolini missed a qualification how can the team explain this to his sponsors? We also need to give more television to the teams, and that’s why we’ll give them more coverage in our programs; from the last privateer team to the main factory team, everyone will have the same exposure in our program with a special attention to the young riders. For sure when the race is there we’ll show the best riders, that’s normal. For us it’s really important to support the private teams, as people who leave with passion manage these teams. We don’t care to touch bigger teams who do their business on these teams, our business is the success of the motocross. I understand that people don’t agree with our work, I would like them to judge us mainly on our results. The season started only fourth months ago and the facts are there: we increase the TV broadcast, the racing is much more exciting, the tracks have better preparation, the number of spectators is also increasing, there’s more journalists coming to the races and I think that we have one of the best season since ten years. People must judge us on facts, I understand that some people don’t like Giuseppe Luongo, the most important is that my wife and my friends like me! I believe that we, teams, FIM and Youthstream are here for a long time, and we must take the best decisions for our sport even if these decision are sometimes un-popular.
Now MSMA who represent the manufacturers is involved in the decisions, as they are member of the Motocross commission. How is the situation with the team’s association?
I think that a team association is really good when the aim of this association is to bring something more to the teams. If it’s just there to take some power, to take our job or the job of the FIM then it’s not good. FIM and us make the rules, according to the contract signed, and there’s a Motocross commission to discuss about the evolution of our sport. This is our work, not the work of any other association; they have to work about security, the paddock, to talk with us about the overseas events, all subjects for the overall interest of the teams. On the moment it’s just a question of power on the hands of somebody else that tries to substitute to the FIM and Youthstream and for sure I’m not interested in that.
You published last week the 2005 calendar, and we’ll go to Japan but not to China. We’ll go later in this country?
The final goal is to go to China, and you know that a Chinese delegation came to Italy. They want a GP, but they will not be ready in 2005. So we took the decision to wait 2006, and I think that for the teams it’s also a good decision, as we’ll have only two overseas next year. It would have been a big step for them to go from one to three overseas. Japan was our first choice as most of the manufacturers are there, I believe it’s really good for everybody. We also took the decision, in accordance with MSMA, to run GP’s only in countries where there is a motorcycle business. Believe me, it was really easy for us to go in Russia and take good money, but this would have been really bad for our world.
We’ll go only three times in the Benelux next season?
That’s true. Our plan for this year was to have sixteen races, and we built a stable calendar. The Benelux is a little bit the center of the world in our sport, but I agree that five races were too much. We’ll go three times in 2005, and may be twice in 2006. We add a second GP in England, it’s may be the country where we have the most fans in Europe. Donington has a deal with us as they want to become one of the main places for motorsport, and they also plan to have a Supermoto event in the future. It’s a big project, and we’re happy to be part of it. All the other locations are usual, it proves that the promoters hare happy to work with us.
The 2005 European and MX3 calendar is better with more races than this season. Is it a safe one?
We had too many races cancelled this season, and I can tell you the reason. We started really late to work on this project, as we got the rights only on 1st of January. The other problem is that many organizers lost money, and that’s the reason why the UEM just decided to stop the prize money and travel indemnities next year. If we want to have many races we must have promoters, and the problem is that they must find the right balance for their event; you can see on the calendar that there is nice tracks, home of GP’s in the past and this is good for the sport as the young riders will be able to compete on nice tracks.
The next event promoted by Youthstream this season will be the second round of Supermoto in Romania. Were you satisfied with the opening round in Spa?
We are. You know that the Supermoto is a young sport, and we don’t have a culture of organizers and fans. Motocross exist since a long time and you can find twenty promoters if you need them. When you have a bad day, you met 10000 spectators on a MX Grand Prix. In Supermoto that’s not the case, as this sport exist at the highest level since only two years; we make a lot of work and the market is good for the manufacturers, but we don’t reach yet our goals concerning the public and organisers. We have problems to find organisers, and in Spa we got a good success with a lot of public, new manufacturers, live coverage for the races (the same as motocross) and I believe within two or three years we can stabilize the calendar with fourteen races. I’m optimistic because the sport is really good, we just need more time to show this sport to the people and bring them to the tracks.
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