Ezpeleta expresses frustration over the delay in building Changi Hub
by Ian De Cotta
05:55 AM Feb 12, 2010
LONDON - These days, nothing sets MotoGP boss Carmelo Ezpeleta off more than a question on his plan to hold a round of the premier world championship motorbike battle in Singapore.
At Silverstone on Wednesday, the Spaniard said he was frustrated that, after working on the project for two years trying to make it happen, he still has no clue when, or if, the Changi Motorsports Hub will be completed.
"Please, don't talk anymore about Singapore," he told MediaCorp in an exclusive interview. "For two years, I have been hearing about the Changi permanent track, but till now I don't know who is going to build it or when it will be ready.
"It is not the moment to talk about a race there, at night or not. Singapore is one of the countries we want to have a race, but today it is without a circuit and without a circuit we cannot have one."
The track, situated near Changi Airport, was originally scheduled to be completed by 2011, but the project was delayed as the Singapore Sports Council (SSC) sought to double the original 20-hectare land set aside for it and improve its design specifications.
Last September, Singapore Agro Agricultural revealed they were the consortium who had signed an agreement with Ezpeleta's company, Dorna Sports, to stage a race here. Sports Services Group and SG Changi are two other bidders vying to build and manage the Changi track, and it is believed the SSC will name the winner next month.
Ezpeleta's Dorna Sport, the commercial rights holders of MotoGP, sees the region as crucial to the sport's growth.
But last year, the Shanghai leg on the 18-race calendar was dropped after the race there was poorly promoted in 2008.
Today, only Malaysia and Japan feature as MotoGP venues on the continent.
The sport fell victim to the global financial crisis, with two of its major teams, Kawasaki Racing Team and Grupo Francisco Hernando, pulling out from the championships in 2009.
But with economies picking up, Ezpeleta's company is aiming to increase MotoGP's presence in the region and on Wednesday signed on Tony Fernandes' Air Asia as title sponsors of the British Grand Prix for three seasons.
Describing Asia as an important region for motorbike companies, he is talking to other countries on the continent to stage the world championship.
"Although the venues are fixed for the next two years, there are many possibilities and we are already talking to other countries who want MotoGP," said the 62-year-old.
"In Singapore, we have an agreement to make the race happen, but a big problem we see, really, is the space, which is not so big.
"But SSC think they can make it work for us, so we need to wait for the situation of the tender and then we can really talk about Singapore."
Ezpeleta says Dorna Sport would not rule out tying up with the other competing companies, if the ones they are currently linked with here, Singapore Agro Agricultural, fall short.
"At the moment we have an agreement. If the other parties approach us, we will discuss with them, but we must wait for the result of the tender."