By Barry Russell
With Europe's financial crisis cutting deep into motorcycle racing sponsorship, record numbers from this year's Macau Grand Prix, held on 17-21 November, highlight the growing importance of the sport in Asia both as well as the growing importance of Asia to the sport, as the bulk of the increase came from sponsorship.
The combined numbers for cars and motorcycles showed revenue of US$4.5m, with US$1.25m coming from ticket sales to 65,000 spectators and the rest from sponsorship.
Hotel occupancy during the four-day period reached 92.3 percent, with 453,700 visitors, an increase of 18.9 percent over 2010. Around 1000 media workers representing 243 outlets were present at the grand prix, which was broadcast on 40 television channels and the official website was visited by more than 12 million users.
The statistics seem to reveal a hunger for glamorous motorsport events in the region, regardless of the quality of racing. Once again the motorcycle grand prix provided the best racing spectacle, despite losing one practice and one qualifying session to rain and suffering a reduced race distance when it was re-scheduled from Saturday to Sunday.
Every car session and race was affected by track blocking crashes, causing either the red flag or the safety car to be brought out, with the Blue Riband Formula 3 grand prix actually finishing behind the safety car.
The 59th Macau Grand Prix will take place from 15-18 November 2012.