A lot has been made previously days of this 12 months’s poor attendance at Silverstone for the MotoGP British Grand Prix, with solely 40,000 individuals coming alongside for Sunday’s predominant occasion – the smallest crowd on the race because it moved from Donington Park for the 2010 occasion.
However whereas the primary port of name in addressing these figures could be to take a look at different races on the MotoGP calendar, there could be solutions nearer to dwelling within the home British Superbike championship.
There are many elements in explaining what went so mistaken at Silverstone this 12 months, with a few of the most often-cited causes from individuals who didn’t hassle making the journey being the fee, the circuit, and the dearth of a headliner identify due to the retirement of Valentino Rossi and the absence of Marc Marquez on account of ongoing harm woes.
It’s no secret that the UK (together with the remainder of Europe) is on the verge of coming into a value of residing disaster as the worth of vitality continues to spiral, and whereas not everybody may but be feeling the pinch from it, even the media hype surrounding it’s positively going to make individuals really feel much less ready to fork out for tickets – and there’s no doubting that Silverstone’s costs are increased than comparable tracks in Europe.
That’s not essentially its personal fault, as a result of the scenario is completely different at Silverstone than at many different circuits the place the internet hosting charge to sequence promoter Dorna (believed to be across the €4million mark) is paid for the circuit by native or nationwide authorities, that means that there’s much less of an impetus to become profitable off ticket gross sales.
That’s an apart to these hoping to attend in fact, although, as a result of the underside line doesn’t change: it’s not an affordable circuit to spend a weekend at.
However whereas cash is an element, it’s not the prime issue. How can I say that conclusively? Properly, it’s simple – British followers are ready to fork out for F1 tickets on the similar observe, and to pay for the privilege, too. The most affordable common weekend ticket for the four-wheeled sequence is £279, greater than 3 times that of MotoGP, whereas even the Silverstone Traditional occasion, being held on the final weekend of August, begins at £145, significantly increased than final weekend’s most cost-effective £90 entry.
So if it’s not the fee, then what’s it? Properly, that’s the place a weekend at a British Superbike spherical opens your eyes to what has, in lots of regards, change into the norm on the home championship, as a result of not solely has it change into a sequence that’s loads cheaper to attend, it has additionally factored worth for cash into it.
ICYMI: Essentially the most unimaginable final lap right here at @thruxtonracing
That is @bennetts_bike BSB ❤️@ohalloran22 @tarranmac95 @BradRayRacing #ThruxtonBSB pic.twitter.com/0qcZqMQWYX
— Bennetts British Superbike Championship (@OfficialBSB) August 14, 2022
At Thruxton, for instance, your £45 weekend-long ticket doesn’t simply allow you to into the paddock to rise up shut and private with the groups, it additionally offers you 14 races throughout two days. For comparability, on the British Grand Prix this 12 months, there have been 5: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3 and two rounds of the British Expertise Cup.
Primarily based on the completely big numbers who come alongside each weekend to BSB (the following spherical at Cadwell Park is anticipated to promote out its 45,000 tickets) – the overwhelming majority of the 40,000 British followers who went to Silverstone are nicely used to it too.
It’s one thing that MotoGP promoter Dorna needs to be nicely conscious of, too. It’s additionally the promoter of World Superbikes and noticed an enormous crowd at Donington Park earlier in July, the place the fan expertise is loads nearer to that of BSB than it’s in MotoGP. The rostrum is in the course of the paddock, followers are in a position to mingle with riders, and it’s arduous to argue that, even at MotoGP costs, you’re not getting worth on your cash.
Maybe it’s not the identical exterior the UK, however on this market bike racing has historically all the time been a working-class affair, a good distance away from the higher class world of four-wheeled racing; when the primary ever race circuit was constructed at Brooklands, automobile racers ate within the restaurant, bikers within the cafe!
Whereas instances have clearly modified, a few of that legacy nonetheless stays and, in consequence, the Dorna shift in direction of a stratified world of VIP and unique entry (maybe greatest exemplified by its post-COVID restriction on the variety of paddock passes issued each weekend to group company) merely doesn’t match nicely with British race followers – particularly when BSB nails it so nicely.
There are different issues that BSB does proper as nicely, in fact, from free parking (a weekend at Silverstone was £50) and glorious advertising and marketing, with native ITV and BBC media in attendance within the build-up to most rounds to make it possible for everybody within the area is nicely conscious that the race is going on.
The racing in BSB is nice, in fact, however then a lot of the racing in MotoGP is as nicely, even when 2022 has had one thing of a blip on that entrance.
However one sequence appears to be doing a greater job of partaking with followers, engaging them again weekend after weekend, and promoting a convincing narrative that sucks individuals in. There’s no disgrace in MotoGP (premier class or not) making an attempt to determine why that’s the case, earlier than the variety of individuals watching falls any decrease.