Interview: David Luongo discusses the French MXGP, prize money, entry fees and more

We caught up with David Luongo, CEO of InFront Moto Racing, the promoter’s of MXGP, to get his take on the French GP Saturday qualifying controversy in the MXGP class as well as a range of other topics.

This is what he had to say about running the premier motocross series in the world in today’s global climate.

GateDrop: The French MXGP was excellent with amazing fans but even in the press conference the riders were still annoyed about Saturday and vocal about not being listened to, do you feel anything could have been done differently and what is your take on the whole situation?

Luongo: Yes, the MXGP of France was a great success. I think the riders were annoyed at the press conference because they didn’t succeed in stopping the qualifying race on Saturday and keeping the results for the morning’s time practice. And then, seeing the public opinion going against their acts they tried to find justifications. Anyway it’s not such a big issue, and we will all learn from it and work together to avoid it happening again.

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GateDrop: Is there a rider representative who can raise issues and is that something you would welcome? Maybe a guy like Cairoli in the future?

Luongo: Concerning the safety on the track and how to improve the tracks, we are very open to talk with riders, either directly with them or via a representative.

GateDrop: You used to play pro football so does that give you more empathy for a rider in these situations?

Luongo: Yes, it helped me understand better what their goal really was, but don’t forget in our company we have a lot of people who were riders and have empathy and understand them too. But when I say that I understand, it doesn’t mean that I agree.

GateDrop: The qualifying races are controversial to the riders but on our side we love them and the fans generally as well. What is the future of the qualifying race?

Luongo: The qualifying races are extremely important for fans and local organizers, and they will stay.

GateDrop: You can’t please everyone, obviously, so how difficult is it to run a world championship and where do you want to improve going forward?

Luongo: The biggest problem we have now is: 2 years of COVID, now the war in Ukraine and the increase in inflation and huge augmentation in prices on everything (goods and services), so our concerns and our work for the future is to find the way to continue to improve the Championship because the risk is very high for everyone, for the teams, for the local organizers and for the promoters.

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GateDrop: Austria made cuts last year and look to be making cuts for 2023 as well. JM Honda are rumoured to be leaving the paddock – does this worry you for the future?

Luongo: Yes, we are very worried, because as I said above the worldwide situation is very difficult in this moment and extremely uncertain, and maybe we risk to lose some teams and/or local organizers, and that’s why we have to stay together and find solutions, and as we have done in the past difficult moments we will overcome this time too.

GateDrop: When it comes to the racing you guys run a fantastic show but when it comes to privateer efforts and even some factories now, I think they need more support financially. Will you guys think about offering prize money like in the past? That could help privateer riders and have you a planned to supply the teams addition funds?

Luongo: Our work is to supply the stage, and I think we do it very well, where the teams and riders can show themselves. Teams and riders are employed by manufacturers/sponsors and they have to pay for the salary of their riders, our job is to concentrate all our investments to make a credible and valuable Championship, and the last 2 years with the COVID crisis and also the years between 2009 to 2013 with the financial crisis we have put in a fortune to save the championships and permit the teams and riders to race and receive their salaries. These are the things that we have to care for.

GateDrop: The way the new supercross world series is being run with a lot of prize money from sponsors – is that a model that could be replicated in MXGP?

Luongo: Ask me this question in 2 or 3 years.

GateDrop: After the implications of Covid and the price of living increasing, it costs teams so much money to go to Indonesia and Oman. Going forward I feel if these teams are to work they need more financial support to help get them there. Will this be looked into?

Luongo: It’s not only the teams’ costs that have gone up, the costs of everyone has gone up, and after the huge investments, we need the Championship to return to the normal running as soon as possible, because to recover this investment it will need years and years. But sure we are working on how we can reduce the costs as much as possible for the overseas events.

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GateDrop: EMX races are 300 euros to enter but MX2/MXGP is 1000 euros. Could you lower the entry fee for the World Championships in a way to help the teams? Perhaps 500 euros would be more fair and help push more teams/riders in the World Championship classes…

Luongo: As I told you before, it’s difficult for everyone, and the costs of everything has gone up so for sure we will try everything to not to increase the price, but we are not able to reduce.

GateDrop: Oman as the final round…what’s the reason for that one? MX2 could go right down to the wire, surely Europe makes more sense? Also there will probably only be about 10 good riders in each class for the final round…

Luongo: The World Championship is called ‘World Championship’ because it’s run all over the world, also our agreement with FIM is very clear about that. We have a very good European Championship, so for teams and riders who are not able to take part in the World Championship they are able to take part in the European Championship, but for those who want to use the label ‘World Championship’ they have to go to races out of Europe. Oman will be a fantastic final event, the local organizers are working hard to make it special for everyone, it will be a night race.

GateDrop: At the moment I believe there’s a rule teams can only run 3 GP riders across MX2/MXGP… This was okay when teams solely focused on one class but lately teams are mixed – Diga and De Carli for example now run classes in both riders. Could you change the rule so a team can run 2 in MX2 and 2 in MXGP?

Luongo: No, this is not correct, there is no rule for this, teams can enter as many riders as they want in any class they want.

GateDrop: The EMX series into MX2 is very good and yet some people, even in the media, want the EMX250 abolished which surprises me, but will the age rule ever change to be different to MX2?

Luongo: The European Championships EMX125, EMX250 and now the EMXOpen are fantastic, they are really the base of the pyramid to reach MX2 and MXGP, they work extremely well and we are very proud of that, we do not intend on changing anything because every year we show how many good and talented riders come from this series. This is the reservoir of MX2 and MXGP.

GateDrop: Finally, with Dylan Ferrandis and Jett Lawrence winning in the US last year and Herlings and Renaux winning in the world championship and the success of Renaux this year in MXGP, is there pride that the classes and structure you created is proving successful not only in the world championship but riders moving to America too and it underlines the all round ability you need to have and learn doing GPs and EMX through the classes? The structure works!

Luongo: Yes, we are very proud of this, and we will continue investing in those Championships.

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Image: InFront Moto Racing