It is an exciting time to be a fan of the FIM Motocross World Championship, as some intriguing changes have been made behind the scenes that'll ensure the series visits some of the most popular circuits in the world. A deal with MX Sports, the group that run the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross series, will work with Youthstream on hosting a USGP each year, which will enable the two worlds to collide. To find out more about the deal, as well as what other changes could be made in the future, we got in touch with Youthstream's David Luongo. David, the son of Giuseppe, is becoming more and more involved with each year that passes.
MX Vice: Obviously the big news recently is the partnership with MX Sports. How did that all come together? Who pushed the idea forward?
David Luongo: Yes, it has been the breaking news of the weekend! We have been working on this deal for some months, in fact. We established the contact with MX Sports after the MXGP in Charlotte and then we exchanged ideas and concepts to arrive to this collaboration to bring back MXGP in USA in the good way. The MXGP championship has developed amazingly over the last five years. It became a global championship with eighteen and more dates per year, touching many continents. This event will bring an international scene to MX Sports and MX Sports is the best partner to succeed in USA. I was supporting this idea very much as, for me, it is very important to have a great USGP, as it would also be important to have a GP in Japan and Australia to complete the circle.
What actually happened to the agreement with Charlotte Motor Speedway? It seemed like the first event was a success last year?
The first event was successful; it was the best crowd since many years in USA for an MXGP event. The facilities were great, but the management of CMS had some changes and the new direction changed their mind about hosting a MXGP event. I would say that Charlotte really showed to the world that we were able to succeed in USA.
Will the USGP look any different, thanks to your work with MX Sports, or will it mostly impact things that go on behind the scenes?
Nobody knows better the American motocross market than MX Sports. They will help us to choose the best location, to collaborate with the local organizer and to promote the USGP during the full year. The USGP has to become a classic through the years to come – a real confrontation between the MXGP riders and the US riders. This is what all the fans are dreaming for and we will work together to offer it to the fans. This event will show what USA can offer the best, with a complete weekend concept, but we will come back soon with more info.
The venues are going to be announced soon, but it seems Gatorback (MXGP) and Red Bud (MXoN) are the favorites. Can you confirm anything?
I cannot confirm it for now, but what I can say is that we will go to some of the best and most historical tracks in USA. Real classical American track!
This must be a big decision for you, because it seems like one that you have really pushed forward and been trusted with. Has that been the case?
I am very proud to have been entrusted with this task and the outcome is great. Motocross is a fantastic sport, but it is still a minor sport. That means that we are losing energy by fighting against each other. MX Sports and Youthstream are undoubtedly the two best motocross promoters in the world, so it is much better to collaborate and defend our sport against football, tennis, basketball etc. They are our main competitors. The young kids have to choose a sport when they grow up, we have to do our best to develop motocross and make those kids dream of becoming a motocross rider. With this target in mind, this was a great decision and this collaboration will help a lot.
Was there a particular idea or factor that was hard for either party to move past? Something that couldn't be changed that almost put this deal in jeopardy?
I have to say that during my stay in USA I spent some days with Davey and Carrie Coombs and they have been fantastic with me. Everything was made in a very positive way – the feeling was great. The times have changed and the past is the past. We have to look to the future and the future is bright.
Going back to the first MXGP round, it sounds like it might have been the last time we visited Qatar. Is that the case? Which nations could potentially fill that gap next year?
The question is still open. We are in negotiation, so nothing new for the moment. What is great is that we have a huge demand of organizing an MXGP event all around the world, which means that our sport is going pretty well and it is dynamic. We will have more information about the 2018 calendar when we will approach September. For sure our will is to have a Grand Prix in the Middle East and to possibly to have more in Asia.
Indonesia is obviously going to be around for a while and, despite the weather, there's no doubt that the first event was a success. How did that all look from Youthstream's perspective?
We really have to separate two aspects. The popular success of the Grand Prix of Indonesia was absolutely great! We had more than 50,000 spectators over the whole weekend, the Minister of Tourism and the Minister of Sport attended the event and we received the full support of the government for the promotion. The Indonesian motorcycle market is one of the biggest of the world with more than six million bikes sold per year. Indonesia deserves to organize a round of the MXGP World Championship.
It was amazing to see how the people are fans of motocross. Everybody was asking for selfies, not only from the riders but also from mechanics and managers! It was really a great atmosphere. To give you another example, the main airline company sold more than 5,000 tickets to reach this place specifically to watch the race.
On another side we really had a terrible weather during the full week – we had extremely powerful rainfall every day. During the weekend, we didn’t have a lot of rain but the ground in some areas was so full of water that it was impossible to dry. We did our best with the organizer and FIM, working day and night to maintain the track in the best possible conditions but, on Sunday afternoon after the second MX2 race, it was not possible to have a proper track. The event management then decided to cancel the second race of the MXGP. We are very proud about the work that was made by the local organizer, FIM and the Youthstream staff.
Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Husqvarna Motorcycles