€2.6million: A Moto2 budget…
According to Forward Racing’s Giovanni Cuzari, a top Moto2 team needs to find almost the same amount of budget as a satellite MotoGP team.
Cuzari says he spends around €2.5million a year in Moto2 which, he argues, is also the amount needed by an independent MotoGP team once Dorna’s financial support is subtracted from each.
The Italian says he isn’t criticising the new (2017-2021) deal between MotoGP teams and Dorna – which includes additional funding, guaranteed grid places and a maximum cap on the price of machinery.
On the contrary, he thinks it works so well it should be ‘copied’ (on a smaller scale) for the Moto2 and Moto3 classes.
Cuzari raised the issue during a media dinner at Silverstone, then wrote down a detailed Moto2 budget to explain his comments during an interview with Crash.net. The Moto2 costs (reproduced with permission) were also compared with Cuzari’s own experience of running a MotoGP team.
Are the costs listed representative of most Moto2 teams? It’s hard to say, simply because so few are willing to openly reveal their budgets.
But some of the figures have certainly raised eyebrows within the paddock and, after Cuzari’s budget figures, you can read the response from IRTA president (and Moto2 team owner) Herve Poncharal as well as Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta…
Forward’s Moto2 Budget (main picture)
Rider 1 = €80-100,000
Rider 2 = €20-30,000
“Our philosophy is that we are in Moto2 to try to build champions, not just take riders with money,” Cuzari began. “I’m not here to try to do business because I know very well that racing is not business. My target is to try to not lose money.
“So, if we have one strong rider, let me say around €80-100k. And the second rider, a young rider, can we say needs at least €20-30k just to survive. Plus bonuses, that means around €200,000 for the two riders.”
3-4 Kalex = €400,000
Crash damage = €150,000
“You need 3-4 Kalex, because you have a bike for each rider, one spare, plus parts. This is €400,000. Then crash damage I can tell you, unfortunately, is about €150,000.”
“Now we need crew chiefs, mechanics… We have twelve staff here, plus the office staff.”
“We spend about €35,000 per person. 15 people… let’s call it €500,000.”
Truck (fuel): €60,000
Team H.Q.: €40,000
Total Moto2 costs:
“I tell you when you do all the ‘plus, plus, plus’… you arrive at a total figure of about: €2,600,000.”
Money from Dorna: €150-180,000
“Dorna give us between €150-180k per season.”
What a Moto2 team needs to raise:
“€2,600,000 minus €150,000 from Dorna gives a figure of €2,450,000.
Money from Title Sponsor: €1-1.2 million
“But for the same price you can now be a title sponsor in MotoGP. Let me explain…”
A MotoGP Budget
Total MotoGP costs: €7.5 million
“I know very well because I was in MotoGP [until the end of 2015]. The MotoGP budget is about €7.5 million.”
Money from Dorna: €5 million
“Dorna pay €2.5 million per rider.”
What a MotoGP team needs to raise:
“€7,500,000, minus €5,000,000 from Dorna, gives a magic number of €2,500,000.
“It’s almost the same as a Moto2 team.”
The Pay TV factor
“In Italy we have Sky, which has more-or-less 1 million viewers per race. But with open [free-to-air] TV we had 5 million per race. It’s a big difference for sponsors.
“But I agree with why we chose to go in the direction of Pay TV. They are very professional, what they provide for the viewer is unbelievable and also you increase the income for the championship.”
“The ‘national sport’ for teams here is not to try and find new companies, but to try and take sponsors from other teams! It’s more easy. They think ‘now that company is paying 1.3 million, so if I offer 1 million…’
“I am close to renewing with my sponsors, but for smaller numbers. Not only because of Pay TV, but because now some teams in MotoGP can afford to ask for less money than before.
“If you are a title sponsor with €1 million to spend, what would you chose: MotoGP or Moto2? MotoGP of course.”
“If you think our total Moto2 budget is €2.6 million, my personal point of view is that if the Dorna money could be increased to, let’s say, €500,000 per rider for the serious Moto2 teams there would still be a big difference between MotoGP and Moto2, but you would only have to find €1.6 million for Moto2. There would also be less riders paying for a seat.”
But what is a ‘serious’ team?
Cuzari thinks such extra funding would be based on a combination of factors such as results, history in the sport, choice of rider and the amount of funding already given for participation in other classes.
“Some private MotoGP teams that are receiving €5 million from Dorna also compete in Moto2 or Moto3, so perhaps they would not need more money. But teams like Pons, Forward, Kiefer, Dynavolt etc are not in MotoGP.
“Sky [VR46] for example also have their own TV station, so they have lots of visibility. Other teams chose to take paying riders… I don’t think it’s too hard to decide [which teams would be eligible]. I spoke with Sito Pons and we have the right way to do a good job.”
Even by applying strict limits, at €1 million per team it would be a huge increase in funding for Dorna to find. It seems especially doubtful given that new teams are queuing up to join Moto2 (see below).
A more feasible solution might be to try and reduce costs.
“Perhaps a limit on the cost of the bike package – like in MotoGP – of €200,000, let’s say, for Moto2. Now with Kalex you can spend more than half a million,” Cuzari said.
Aside from direct costs, Cuzari feels more ‘value’ should be given to having a grid place in Moto2, by adopting the MotoGP system.
“Another value in MotoGP is the future grid place, which is restricted only to the present teams until 2021. In Moto2 at the moment we don’t know if we are included on the list for next year. It is year-by-year. The selection meeting is being held here [Silverstone]. You have to cross your fingers. It depends a lot on the riders you want to sign.
“But if I had a three-year deal with the championship, it means even if you spend €500,000 on a new truck for example, you know you can share that €500,000 over three years.
“The same for employees. At the moment you can only do year-by-year. But if you could give everyone a three-year deal it would mean if you lose the rider you don’t lose the crew chief, for example.
“Moto2 and Moto3 is very, very close. Everything needs to be almost perfect. Small details and human resource is a big difference. If you have good people, you can do a good job. When you lose the rider, the goal is not to lose the staff as well. Then you can rebuild with another rider.”
‘MotoGP now is unbelievable!’
“Let me be very clear, I have a maximum respect for Mr Ezpeleta and Mr Poncharal; they are the experts in this championship. MotoGP now is unbelievable! And also easy for the team owners.
“So what I see is Dorna and IRTA doing a fantastic job with MotoGP. It’s working! We have the proof that everything they did was right. Now, because we know this is the right way, the next step is to copy this system for Moto2 and Moto3, with smaller numbers of course.
“We have to remember that a lot of the MotoGP champions came from Moto3 and then Moto2. So MotoGP needs Moto2. To be precise, MotoGP needs the serious Moto2 teams that are investing in the champions of the future.
“I don’t want to sound polemic. I have been in this paddock since 2009 with my own team and 22 years doing this job. This is my personal point of view, with the [budget] numbers that you can see.”
Poncharal: ‘When you apply, you know the game’
As a Moto2 team owner and constructor, as well as president of teams’ association IRTA, Herve Poncharal understands the business of racing in Moto2 as well as anyone.
Does he recognise the difficulties Cuzari has described?
“I can’t comment on any individual teams, however as IRTA president – as you know I don’t like the word president – we can say I represent the teams. And I believe Mike Trimby [IRTA CEO] and myself both push as much as we can, with our promoter, to make life easier financially for each team. Moto3, Moto2 and MotoGP.
“I also think nobody has a better understanding of our problems than Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta. He has always been more than open to listen and to find solutions.
“But will the promotor be the single biggest sponsor for each Moto2 and Moto3 team? No! The promotor is a company and like any company they need to make some profit. They cannot pay more than they get and I think what they do for us is already exceptional.
“All the Moto2 teams know the income because it’s fixed for five years, from 2017-2021. Dorna is paying more than the previous contract and we – the teams – get more things for free than before.
“I know Moto2 is tough – especially as we have our own bike – but I’m really happy to do it and the decision to enter is the decision of each team owner
“When you apply, you know the game. So before sending my request to the selection committee I know how much it is going to cost me and how much financial support I can get from the championship and sponsors. If I do it, it’s because I can pay my bills.
“For sure there are different levels of teams and different costs. But if you want to apply the presentation of a MotoGP team to a Moto2 team, for example, without the resources, there will eventually be a problem.”
More applications than grid places
“The first selection committee for entry in the 2018 Moto2 World Championship was held on the Saturday at Silverstone,” Poncharal added.
“I don’t participate in the selection process – because as a team owner I want to draw a clear line – but I know it’s a big headache because you have so many more applications than we are allowed to have on the grid.
“Teams that are not selected are begging to enter. So clearly the Moto2 and Moto3 classes still attract a lot of potential teams that would like to join.”
‘The idea is not to create inflation’
“As an entrepreneur – which is what you are, as an independent team owner – you need to adjust your costs to your revenue. You can always say ‘we would work better or look better with more money, therefore we don’t have enough’. But the idea is not to create inflation.
“We are trying to keep the costs down, by providing many things free of charge for these classes and reducing other costs. We have also been working on a few things for the new Triumph project  to keep the costs where they are, with no inflation, and maybe even make it a bit cheaper.
“Sometimes the teams that complain the most are pushing to spend the most! We tried to reduce testing and some teams were pushing like crazy to have unlimited testing. We’ve tried to reduce a lot of things technically, but they said ‘it’s not correct, it’s a world championship and we need more development’.
“In the end, I respect everybody’s opinion and all I can say is that when you are an entrepreneur, you have to calculate the income and the cost to see if you can do it or not.”
Guaranteed grid places?
“It’s not that easy, because how do you establish who has priority? On championship ranking? Some teams fight for victory one season and are nowhere the next. Is it because the team is not as good? No. The crew is usually the same and the bikes are the same, but the riders have changed and the rider is so important in Moto2.”
Ezpeleta: ‘There’s a crowd waiting for their place’
Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta, who has already heard Cuzari’s calls for selected Moto2 teams to receive extra support, strongly rejects such a proposal.
“Clearly, if [a Moto2 team is] not happy, they can leave because there’s a crowd of people waiting for their place,” Ezpeleta said. “I will not accept, Cuzari or anybody, claiming this and that, saying ‘I’m not happy’. It’s very easy. Leave. The door is open.”
Ezpeleta added: “We are thinking to have better benefits for everybody.
“One of the things that Cuzari is asking is to be something special in Moto2. Honestly, I don’t know why he needs to be special… it’s not results or anything like that to make him special.
“Then he’s claiming that with the help we give to the MotoGP teams it’s difficult for them [Moto2] to achieve sponsors in the level they need to do… MotoGP has Valentino. He’s an asset for all the championships.”
Ezpeleta also highlighted that Moto2 and Moto3 teams receive far better treatment than their four-wheel counterparts, under Formula 1.
“If you compare this with cars, you can imagine the situation with Formula 1 in comparison to the other car categories: They are not in that paddock. They have no television, paid or not paid. They have no financial help. We have these things.”
‘We are thinking of a teams’ title’
One change that is being considered to help successful Moto2 and Moto3 teams is the creation of a teams’ title, as already exists in MotoGP.
“We are thinking in the future to create a team championship in Moto2 and in Moto3, helping them to say, ‘I’m the world champion’ and maybe this is easier to obtain sponsors or whatever.”
But Ezpeleta’s overall feeling is that the support classes ‘are working quite well’, with Moto2 in particular facing a promising future with the arrival of Triumph as engine supplier in 2019.
“Moto2 and Moto3 are working very well. We think the arrival of Triumph in 2019 will be very good for Moto2. In fact, the situation is we are saying ‘no’ to many requests to be part of Moto3 and Moto2.”
The Spaniard also emphasised that everything depends on a strong MotoGP class.
“The situation is that we made a very big effort to consolidate the MotoGP category, because without the MotoGP category consolidated, we would not have the success we have right now.”
‘We offer what we can offer’
Turning to the issue of Pay TV reducing audience size and therefore sponsorship opportunities in Moto2, Ezpeleta stated:
“The reason why we increased the payments to the Independent teams in MotoGP is because we obtained this [extra] money from pay TV. Moto2 and Moto3, when they were on open [free-to-air] TV, they had no more sponsors [than they do now].
“The bad thing for everybody is I have a very good memory! Maybe in some time I will start to lose more memory, but until today, because it was five years ago, I remember how the situation was.
“For me, it’s very clear. They claim some ridiculous things. They say, ‘Kalex is very expensive’. Then don’t use Kalex! Use Tech 3. Which is not far away and making top tens.”
Ezpeleta concluded: “We are very open. We offer what we can offer. That’s all. If they’re happy, they’re happy. If not, we have people waiting…”