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HomeMotorcycle RacingFormula 1 owner bets $4 billion on motorcycle racing in the U.S.

Formula 1 owner bets $4 billion on motorcycle racing in the U.S.

Liberty Media hopes it can hit the jackpot twice in the United States, this time with motorcycle racing. Formula 1’s commercial rights holder announced Monday that it will acquire MotoGP for $4.53 billion. While the deal won’t be completed until the end of the year, expansion is already in everyone’s minds. The seismic transaction will also have to be cleared by anti-trust regulators with precedent not on Liberty’s side.
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CVC Capital Partners bought F1’s commercial rights in 2006 while controlling MotoGP. The European Commission cleared the transaction on the condition that CVC sell MotoGP. CVC eventually sold F1 to Liberty in 2017. A few factors have changed over the past 18 years: The United Kingdom, where F1 is based, is no longer a member of the European Union, for instance. The shifted membership could sway how EU regulators view this new deal.
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If the deal clears all the regulatory hurdles, Dorna will continue to manage MotoGP independently. Formula 1’s commercial rights holder is buying 86 percent of Dorna, the two-wheeled world championship’s rights holder. Dorna will retain the remaining 14 percent stake. Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta said in a statement:
“This is the perfect next step in the evolution of MotoGP, and we are excited for what this milestone brings to Dorna, the MotoGP paddock and racing fans. We are proud of the global sport we’ve grown, and this transaction is a testament to the value of the sport today and its growth potential. Liberty Media has an incredible track record in developing sports assets and we could not wish for a better partner to expand MotoGP’s fanbase around the world.”
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Ezpeleta hopes this acquisition will bolster MotoGP’s flailing presence in the United States. MotoGP once had everything F1 aimed for. From Kenny Roberts to Nicky Hayden, Americans competed in international motorcycle racing for 40 years and won 15 world championships. In 2013, three races were held in the U.S. at Laguna Seca, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the Circuit of the Americas. American enthusiasm quickly faded once local talent was no longer racking up wins or even present on the grid.
Dorna is aiming for the return of multiple American races and a more lucrative television contract. Warner Bros. Discovery signed a multi-year deal to broadcast MotoGP this season, taking the reins from NBC after four years. Currently, the only way to watch every session live is through Max’s premium B/R Sports subscription tier or MotoGP’s own in-house streaming service. On television, it’s only the race and it’s only on TruTV.
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MotoGP could matter again to Americans if it’s easily available to watch. The racing product itself is more entertaining than Formula One. NASCAR team Trackhouse Racing started its own Ducati satellite team in the championship. However, Liberty Media won’t be able to copy and paste the same recipe it used for F1.
A version of this article originally appeared on Jalopnik.

web-interns@dakdan.com

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