Giuseppe Luongo talks with us prior to the start of the 2018 MXGP season that will get underway in Argentina this weekend.
The head of Youthstream spoke about the series deserving 20 rounds, the likelihood of another US GP, the first round switching to Argentina, rumours regarding the Swiss GP and much more.
Gatedrop: We are inching closer to the 2018 season, are you ready for yet another season?!
Giuseppe Luongo: Yes, at the end of the Championship we are always happy to have some rest and to be able to enjoy home and the family, but then the winter break always starts to feel long as we begin missing the racing and the paddock atmosphere. So yes, I am very ready for the MXGP season to kick-off.
Gatedrop: This year the first round is in Argentina as oppose to Qatar, what was the main reason for that and for Qatar to be off the calendar?
Giuseppe Luongo: The contract with Qatar had come to an end, and the President of Federation, Minister of Sports, and other important political people had changed and the new people have a different policy concerning Motocross. After knowing Qatar would not be on the MXGP calendar, the best way to start the Championship was in Argentina because they are a great organizer, it’s in the Southern Hemisphere so the weather conditions are normally very good and for these reasons we believe it’s the best place to start the Championship.
Gatedrop: It’s shaping up to be a great season with Jeffrey Herlings coming into round one fully fit and Antonio Cairoli looking great too! I’m sure you’re hoping for plenty of exciting battles?
Giuseppe Luongo: Yes, they are two really great champions with different styles and different ways to approach the race, but both very talented and performant. For sure the next 2 or 3 years will be very interesting because Cairoli is aiming for his 10th title (and maybe more) and Herlings is pushing for his first MXGP title. And at the same time we don’t have to forget Gajser, Febvre, Paulin, Anstie, Van Horebeek, Desalle…… I believe the Championship will be played a lot on the DNFs; the winner will be the rider who is able to finish every moto.
Gatedrop: In the MX2 class, there’s a lot of new blood in the class I would say. Since Herlings has moved up to MXGP, the class has been more exciting! Who do you see as being the front runners in 2018?
Giuseppe Luongo: I believe the MX2 title will be played between Jonass, Covington, Olsen and Lawrence, and also there some youth coming up for the European Championship may add some spice.
Gatedrop: There’s been talk about the Swiss GP being called off, how likely is that to happen and if it does do you plan on replacing the GP somewhere else?
Giuseppe Luongo: The Swiss MXGP is on the calendar, and the organizer, Federation and all of us are working hard to make it go ahead, some environmentalists are making a lot of noise, we believe without any fundamental foundation and we feel positive that the event will go on. At the moment, we are clearly not thinking about any cancellation or substitution.
Gatedrop: Some people feel the calendar is too long at 19 or 20 rounds what are your thoughts on that?
Giuseppe Luongo: Our position is very clear: A great World Championship as the MXGP deserves to have 20 rounds and in order to cover the entire world it’s important to have 20 rounds.
We think there are too many races before the MXGP season starts with lower level of track preparation, security, etc, and where (like every year) there are many injuries, and some top riders are excluded from MXGP due to these injuries. It’s probably time where professional riders and teams act like other major sports (F1, MotoGP, SBK, SX) and make their pre-season preparation and their first race is made at the first MXGP event.
Clearly this is important for the professional riders, it’s understandable for the semi-pro or
amateur riders to make more races.
Gatedrop: There are more and more American and Australian riders coming into the world championship via EMX250 and MX2, is that global participation in the youth categories something that pleases you?
Giuseppe Luongo: Yes, this is part of our project and is how we see the pyramid which was started with the European Championship many years ago. To make youth racing stronger means to make MXGP and MX2 stronger, and this automatically attracts youth from all over the world. The recipe is easy, youth from 13 years old race on the same very technical and difficult race tracks and conditions as MXGP in front of more than 20,000 spectators and live of TV, then every weekend they race on very different types of race tracks and very different weather conditions – making it a great university for them.
Gatedrop: How likely is a USGP returning to the calendar for 2019?
Giuseppe Luongo: We would love to have MXGP in the future in USA, and this depends on many factors – first of all is the will of the American fans to have this event in USA and then for sure the support from the American industry. Together with Davey we would love to have that and we are working towards future MXGP events in USA.
Gatedrop: Some people want a one day GP format, or a single race format for TV, although many remain happy with the current schedule for the GP classes, are there any changes to the schedule or format of the weekend you are considering in the coming seasons and is it hard to keep everyone happy?
Giuseppe Luongo: Everyone has the right to think and say what they like, but the people who have the responsibility have to take the decisions, and our sport is working very well; it’s very successful, there are a lot of youth coming up from minor Championships into MXGP, the racing has never been better. With MXGP’s current format we are showing that the level of riders is increasing every year, so it would be crazy to change something that is working so well.
Gatedrop: The world championship seems to finally be globally recognised as the premier championship for outdoor motocross now by the majority of people, how satisfying is that after all the work your team have put in and the criticism in some quarters Youthstream have taken?
Giuseppe Luongo: Youthstream does all its best to develop Motocross and to make it the most appealing possible to the fans, media and to the industry. Sometimes it’s very hard because when you make something new not everyone can understand or agree in the beginning, but as I often say, ‘time is a gentleman’ and now since a few years we see our policy was the right one and sure we will continue in this way.
Gatedrop: Prediction time – who is your money on for the MXGP and the MX2 World Championships?
Giuseppe Luongo: With my role I cannot bet on anyone, but I do see a very competitive MXGP and MX2 season, and again, the title will be played by the rider(s) who have the least DNFs.