“Destination of Speed” stands at the entrance to the Chang International Circuit in Buriram / Thailand – the surprising leader in visitor numbers for the 2019 MotoGP season. The last normal season before the Covid-19 pandemic, which changed all.

MotoGP spectator development from 2018 to 2019 “the last normal years”

One surprise for many of the fans was, that the Spielberg GP in Austria was not among the front runners in terms of visitor numbers in 2019, but was among the losers compared to the previous year. No wonder at a race in which Coca-Cola is not even available as a non-alcoholic drink, but only the sinfully expensive Red Bull. Therefore, this is hardly surprising in view of the extremely sparse overnight stays in the region. While the Red Bull Ring had to say goodbye to the exclusive “200 Thousand Club” in 2019, other circuits grew strongly compared to the previous year, including the GP Argentina. Under the new organizer ADAC Sachsen, the Sachsenring barely cracked the magic mark again this year, while Jerez, Valencia and the Circuito de Catalunya near Barcelona also made significant gains.

One of the losers was Spielberg with the Austrian GP in terms of the numbers from the previous year to 2019.

Record holder in 2019 – BuriRam
The front runner in 2019 was rather surprisingly BuriRam in Thailand with a total of 226,655 viewers on all 3 days. With only sparse overnight accommodations in the vicinity, the Chang Circuit is by no means one of the most attractive racetracks for fans. The subtropical temperatures and the high humidity are not only a problem for the drivers, but also for the spectators. Anyone who succeeded in securing a hotel room in an even halfway reasonable inn for next season in BuriRam on the MotoGP weekend can feel like the king of the lottery.

Our panoramic shot of buriram at the worldsbk event of 2019. It was the last edition of the near-series World Championship, because MotoGP cannibalized the number of visitors more and more in this poor country.

A logical development in view of the low average income
The Asians apparently don’t mind this and so they travel in droves every year. Due to the similarly poor location and accessibility as BuriRam, the decline in visitors in Aragon should come as little surprise. After all, there are 3 alternatives in Spain to the route near the small town of Alcaniz in Aragon. And all of them look much better in terms of accommodation and accessibility, as they are located near much larger cities. The following shows the development of the number of visitors compared to the previous year.

View of the main grandstand of the “Circuito de Catalunya” race track near Barcelona – for the spectators next to Jerez the track with the best oversight in Spain and therefore very popular with visitors for years.

Number of MotoGP spectators from 2010 to 2019

In bold the respective record numbers of the individual racetracks, which for example at the Sachsenring GP are already 8 years ago. This is marked with a “-” on tracks on which no MotoGP races took place in previous years. Another venue will be added in the 2020 season with the KymiRing in Finland. The traditional Le Mans circuit is currently one of the most successful venues with consistently high numbers over the past 5 years, while the Masaryk Ring in Brno has to fear for the future. Due to the very high ticket prices in relation to the other routes, one can look forward to developments in Mugello and Misano after Valentino Rossi announced his retirement from MotoGP.

Visitor records of the current MotoGP tracks

According to the official announcement, Jerez had the highest number of visitors over the entire weekend with 263,648 spectators in 2009, followed by Brno (2015), Valencia (2007) and the Sachsenring in 2011. The Red Bull Ring in Spielberg recorded the highest numbers right at the premiere in 2016. Qatar is far behind at the lower end of the scale, unsurprisingly, while the modest numbers in Japan for the home race of the leading manufacturers in recent years with Honda and Yamaha are much more difficult to explain.

And what will become of 2021?

It is doubtful that visitors to the racetracks can be expected before midsummer this year. This will also affect the FIM and Dorna provisional calendar. Overseas races will probably remain a pipe dream until then. Therefore, the outcome will indeed be similar to 2020 and double events can be expected again. As in 2020, there will probably also be events that cannot be held without spectators. The following provisional plan, dated at the beginning of November of the previous year, was therefore probably too optimistic. We had already communicated this on November 5, 2020, after its publication.