Surprisingly, MotoGP's popularity does not seem to extend right around the globe, with promoters of the Chinese Grand Prix admitting to querying the financial viability of staging the event in future.

Able to directly compare the event, which ran last weekend, with the Formula One grand prix that it also promotes, Yu Zhifei admitted that four wheels win hands down at present, with the cost of staging the motorcycle package currently leaving his company facing a 'huge deficit', despite China being the world's biggest motorcycle producer and consumer.

Speaking to Chinese newspaper Shanghai Daily, the general manager of Shanghai International Circuit Management and Development pointed at apathy towards the sport from the Chinese business sector, most notably the country's motorcycle manufacturers.

"We have so many home-grown motorcycle brands, but it seems that most of them don't want to be involved in the MotoGP at all," Yu said, explaining that only two of the 100-strong national motorcycle brands had taken up the opportunity to promote themselves at the MotoGP weekend. Although they fielded one-off wildcard entries in the 250cc and 125cc races, the China Zongshen Team and QJ team, which is backed by the Qian Jiang brand, ran their riders on Italian machinery.

On top of that, Yu admitted that he was more concerned by the lack of uptake on sponsorship opportunities, leaving the event to be helped by the international promoter.

"We didn't manage to bring even a single major sponsor onboard by ourselves," he confessed, "All the names that appeared on the trackside are global partners of Dorna Sports. I can't speak of numbers, but we are not even near breaking even on this event. Without sponsorship, we rely heavily on gate receipts, which also give us no reason to be optimistic."

Despite the pessimism over the number of spectators attending the event, official figures showed that attendance was up on the inaugural event, with 32,402 fans turning out for sunday's racing, albeit still some way from filling the 150,000-capacity circuit.

The Chinese Grand Prix is scheduled to feature on the MotoGP calendar until 2011.


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