Friday Sep 30, 2022
India will stage a MotoGP race for the first time from 2023, organisers said on Friday, in a bid to expand the sport outside its traditional heartlands.
The inaugural event is scheduled to take place at Buddh International Circuit in Uttar Pradesh, to the south of New Delhi, on September 22-24 next year.
The track has already played host to Formula One, staging three F1 grands prix between 2011 and 2013.
"We have a lot of fans in India and we're excited to be able to bring the sport to them," Carmelo Ezpeleta, chief executive of MotoGP organiser and promoter Dorna, said in a statement.
"India is also a key market for the motorcycle industry and therefore, by extension, for MotoGP as the pinnacle of the two-wheeled world."
With its 1.4 billion population and more than 200 million motorcycles, Indian authorities hope the event can bring a foreign investment boom.
Sports minister Anurag Thakur hailed the announcement as a historic day for his country's sporting sector.
Yogi Adityanath, Uttar Pradesh chief minister, added: "It's a matter of great pride for Uttar Pradesh to host such a global event."
India's inclusion got the nod from top riders.
"I think the circuit is quite beautiful and fast," reigning MotoGP world champion Fabio Quartararo of France told reporters after practice sessions at Buriram, Thailand.
"It can be a good circuit for us. I like the layout."
It comes days after Dorna announced that Kazakhstan will also feature on the MotoGP calendar, on July 7-9, 2023.
Next year MotoGP will feature two races, a sprint on Saturday and the grand prix on Sunday.
Faced with a dip in attendance at certain European grands prix, MotoGP is looking to bounce back by expanding its global audience.
MotoGP already has races in Asia in Indonesia, Japan, Thailand and Malaysia.
Earlier this month, Dorna signed a memorandum of understanding with Saudi Arabia to soon host one of the rounds of the world championship, without specifying a date or circuit.
The provisional 21-race calendar for 2023 was released on Friday with the action scheduled to kick off with the Portuguese GP on March 24-26 and the season-ending race in Valencia on November 24-26.
France's Johann Zarco was meanwhile quickest in unexpectedly dry conditions for the opening practice sessions at the Thai MotoGP, pipping world championship title contender Francesco Bagnaia.
Quartararo leads the championship standings on 219 points with Italy's Bagnaia trailing by 18 points.