20 November 2011
Macau: a tension in the paddock
Is it the end of the Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix as we know it?
By Barry Russell
The side story to this year's Macau Grand Prix is that, after 34 years, Mike Trimby is stepping down as organiser of the motorcycle race.
While the exact reasons for Trimby's decision are likely to remain behind closed doors, there is no disguising the fact that this is not an amicable split with the Macau Government, which owns and controls the four-day event.
The Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix is a spectacular season closer, coming after the major international and national championships have finished and, despite the distances involved, it has managed to attract most of the biggest names in international road racing from the UK, Europe and USA.
This has been no mean feat and local agencies have been successful in attracting local sponsorship from Macanese businesses like IGT, Road House and Mocha Clubs, which have added unfamiliar, exotic colours and brands to familiar bikes that have spent the season collecting trophies in the Isle of Man, the British Superbike Series and others. And it is not only the bikes: the riders' leathers and helmets sport some of the best and brightest designs seen anywhere in the world of motorcycle racing.
If the event continues and we assume that Trimby's successors have no problem financing the event in the cash-bloated Asian gambling mecca, the difficulty they will encounter will come in attracting the big stars who are regulars here.
Mike Trimby is one of the most senior and respected figures in world motorcycle racing and it is nothing less than his personal leadership that has made the bike race so popular and prestigious, ranking with the NW200 and Ulster GP as one of the world's great street races.
Although he prefers to stay beneath the radar, the sport knows him best as the CEO of the International Road Racing Teams Association (IRTA) which oversees MotoGP.
The Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix is a very much a labour of love for Trimby, who regards it more as an end-of-season celebration than as a commercial enterprise. The spirit of road racing, which is taken as read within the sport, is less widely understood outside and the Macau Grand Prix epitomises it.
The fact that the top riders receive decent, though modest start money and that the prize money would barely pay for a good night out are evidence of the importance Trimby places on putting on a good show without incentivising racers to take unnecessary risks.
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