The level of interest can only really be measured through the TV figures and crowd attendance. The sport is currently only broadcast on Speed TV, which means it is being broadcast via cable only to those that are already fans.
It is crying out for a mainstream network to pick it up and educate the potential audience about the riders, the bikes and the sport in general. With three races there is a golden opportunity but Americans are very patriotic and without US riders at the front end, the audience will dwindle.
More worrying is the total lack of Americans coming through the classes for the future. As for attendance, there were in excess of 60,000 people at COTA, which is a good start but something that will need to grow for the future.
Should there be less races in Europe?
This is a bit of a catch 22. With so many Spaniards involved in all classes, it is understandable to have four races there. Ideally, we should take a step back in order to go two forward and introduce new countries to the calendar. I know that Dorna are looking at new venues and I believe that the schedule will broaden over the next two years.
Where do you think most future MotoGP sponsorship come from?
As the sport broadens its schedule, the chance of attracting sponsors from those new countries will naturally increase. In addition, there are companies looking to advertise in such countries and this will give the sport the opportunity to create partnerships, which might not have made sense otherwise. Look at F1 with Force India and Marussia to name two. The same should apply to MotoGP as it develops in other such countries.
The new qualifying format seems to have worked well in terms of 'the show'. Are there any other changes you would like MotoGP to make?
Like all things new, it takes time to adapt, but the new qualifying appears to have been well received and shows that the FIM, Dorna and IRTA are continually striving to improve the overall package, which I think they have done and are doing admirably.
How big a boost is it for MotoGP to have Rossi back in contention? What will MotoGP do when he retires?
It is fantastic to see Vale back at the front and fighting for podiums. He has not lost the touch and the fans still turn out in their droves to support him. It was amazing to see that in the paddock in Texas, the largest number of fans by far were hanging outside his pit waiting for him to appear. He is truly the global star, even when not winning.
That said, I still believe that the sport is much bigger than any one individual and feel certain that when he decides to hang up his helmet, the championship will continue to grow and will keep its appeal and fan base.
Honda and Yamaha will now be supplying customer machinery from next season, how significant is that? Does it prove that the CRT concept has served its purpose?