The Grand Prix paddock will be alive at the historic circuit of Valkenswaard this weekend, thanks to what transpired at the opening round in Argentina a little over a week ago. The picturesque circuit of Neuquen, a popular addition to the schedule, acted as the stage for some incredible racing that left tongues wagging.
A flyaway event is typically controversial, as a certain aspect of the event ends up not being up to par or leaving a little to be desired. The weather in Indonesia, which really is something that Youthstream cannot control, left most spewing on social media twelve months ago. The Grand Prix of Patagonia-Argentina is different though. There will never be any complaining about the race, as it ticks so many boxes and hits heights that even the oldest European events struggle to match. A base has been found that most riders and fans hope to visit for many years to come.
All good things must come to an end though and it now seems that may be near. Rumours circulated in the days prior to the first round that there was a chance Neuquen would not return and the promoter could not deny those during the press conference. "By this time last year everyone was saying the same thing and asking whether the event would be here this year, but here we are," the organiser stated whilst sat alongside Jeffrey Herlings. "When the event finishes we will have a meeting with the authorities and analysis everything to see the possibilities for next year.
"However, as I said before, the numbers that we saw earlier [regarding the growth of MXGP] help. They help authorities, not only at a local level but at a provincial and national level, to judge this event and make good decisions regarding it continuing here," he continued. David Luongo, a vice president at Youthstream, echoed those thoughts. "This is a great place with a lot of spectators. For sure, Argentina will continue to be a target and place for us. I think it is too early to say anything. We will say in some months but, for us, we are happy here," Luongo stated in the same press conference.
There is a chance that those contesting the FIM Motocross World Championship will just continue to head to the black soil of Neuquen, but something must have caused those rumours to emerge. There is obviously smoke there. To add more fuel to this, there are reports that suggest another circuit that is much closer to Buenos Aires is waiting in the wings and ready to fill a void. It would be a great shame to leave Neuquen behind, obviously, but moving closer to Buenos Aires would help alleviate some of the costs and make it more accessible for those in Europe.
It is rather important that Argentina occupies a slot on the calendar, as it will be difficult to find another flyaway venue that is suitable for the first round. Starting the season outside of Europe works, most would agree, but what would happen if South America disappears from the schedule? Indonesia is not suitable for round one, especially considering it is monsoon season at this point in the year, and Qatar is no longer an option. Would the series begin in Europe for the first time in more than five years? Perhaps, but the date would need to be pushed back somewhat and that would make it harder for Youthstream to cram twenty rounds in.
There are many factors at play here, but when will answers begin to emerge? A provisional calendar is typically released in July, so the picture will get a little clearer then, but it is already known that China will host a round. It may seem far away, but a lot of agreements and plans have already been put in place behind the scenes.
Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: KTM Images/Ray Archer