World Supercross Abu Dhabi GP scheduled for October

Yas Island's Etihad Arena will host the 2023 World Supercross Abu Dhabi GP, which will be the penultimate round of the upcoming WSX season.

Cardiff - Patrick Cartwright

The World Supercross Championship has announced that Yas Island in Abu Dhabi will host the penultimate round of the 2023 season.

Yas Island will host the fifth and penultimate round of the 2023 FIM World Supercross Championship, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, on 4-5 November, one week after the Canadian Grand Prix on 28 October.

The Abu Dhabi GP will be the first of two, two-day rounds of the series, before the final round in Australia on 24-25 November.

Yas Island has become an established home for popular sports events such as the UFC and NBA, and has hosted the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix since 2009 at the Yas Marina Circuit.

As for World Supercross, it will host its maiden Middle Eastern race at the Etihad Arena (Etihad being the airline formerly owned by Mubadala, which is a major source of funding for World Supercross).

SX Global (World Supercross promoter) CEO, Adam Bailey, said: “We’re extremely proud to announce the WSX Abu Dhabi GP. Yas Island is known for its standard of excellence in hosting some of the biggest events in the region including other major events like Formula 1, UFC and NBA. 

“This event will mark the first-ever supercross event held in the region and is a significant milestone for both WSX and the sport of supercross. The fact that Abu Dhabi is the home of our strategic investment partner in Mubadala Capital, makes it even more special.”

The event is being put together by SX Global with the assistance of Ethara and Miral

Ethara is an events company that formed earlier this year when Abu Dhabi Motorsports Management (ADMM) merged with Flash Entertainment. Together, ADMM and Flash Entertainment helped to organise the aforementioned F1 race in Abu Dhabi, and will continue to do so now under its new ‘Ethara’ name. 

Saif Rashid Al Noaimi, CEO of Ethara, said: “FIM World Supercross is a fantastic new event for Yas Island, and it underpins our pioneering approach in the major event industry. 

“This exciting announcement is testament to our commitment to delivering unique experiences, further building our reputation for best-in-class sport and entertainment events. We are looking forward to welcoming WSX fans to the Etihad Arena in November and delivering unforgettable moments.”

Miral is an Abu Dhabi-based holding company that specialises in events through its Miral Experiences subsidiary. On its website, Miral says: “We conceive, create, develop, operate and manage immersive destinations and experiences that attract visitors from across the world to create unforgettable memories.”

On the announcement of the WSX Abu Dhabi GP, Mohamed Al Zaabi, Group CEO at Miral, said: “We are proud to see WSX Abu Dhabi GP come to Abu Dhabi and specifically to Yas Island as it continues to grow as a leading global events hub.  

“This is yet another great addition to the island’s event calendar and a testament to its position as a top global destination for entertainment and leisure. We aim to create unforgettable memories for all visitors to Yas Island, who will be able to attend this first event of its type in the region while enjoying unique and immersive world-class experiences and attractions.”

WSX and F1

When World Supercross was reformed in 2022 after the split between Feld Entertainment, the promoter of the AMA Supercross series, and the FIM, its new promoter, SX Global, immediately tried to position the series as, in essence, the ‘F1 of dirt bike racing’. 

It did this by requiring riders to be assigned to teams that were franchised into the championship, removing the ‘privateer’ element from World Supercross which is so prevalent in almost every other form of dirt bike racing.

The idea behind this move was that the riders taking part in the World Supercross Championship should be ‘the best of the best’ and that they should not be disturbed by an ordinary competitor who just happened to turn up with their Kawasaki KX450 (or such) for the weekend.

It’s a platform on which the series has been built and is itself now backed up by two of the locations that are being visited this year by World Supercross. 

Along with Abu Dhabi, the home of the final round of the Formula One World Championship every year since 2009 (with the exception of 2012 when Brazil hosted the finale), WSX is also heading to Singapore in September, which hosted F1’s first ever night race in 2008 and became, in the 2010s, the usual first non-European race, which signalled the beginning of the final part of the F1 season.

However, with the exception of Ken Roczen, it’s arguable that World Supercross still does not have the rider talent to justify its platform. In fact, of all 22 WSX-class riders, only Roczen, Cole Seely, Josh Hill and Justin Brayton have won AMA 450SX-class Main Events, and, of those, only Roczen has won this decade.

French GP

The downside to the Abu Dhabi GP news is that the French GP, scheduled for two weeks after the upcoming season-opener in Birmingham on 1 July, has either been postponed or cancelled. 

The cancellation of the French GP was rumoured by US media after the fourth round of the AMA Pro Motocross series in High Point just over one week ago on 17 June, and, following the announcement of the Abu Dhabi GP, the ‘calendar’ page of the World Supercross website was updated.

The page now shows the French GP below all of the other rounds, with the ticket link removed. However, if you click on the French GP’s event page, it now says the race at Groupama Stadium in Lyon is scheduled for 1 August.

There has been no official confirmation of either cancellation or postponement of the 2023 WSX French Grand Prix by the series itself, but, whatever the case, it does not seem to be going ahead as planned on the original date of 15 June.

The 2023 World Supercross Championship will begin this weekend on 1 July with the British Grand Prix at Villa Park in Birmingham. Tickets can still be purchased on the World Supercross website. Tickets for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix are expected to go on sale in July.

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