Is the Indian MotoGP round doomed before it has even begun?

Visa chaos, track modifications, and tax issues are all marring the first-ever MotoGP visit to the Indian nation.

Marc Marquez joy as he is cleared to ride sepang motogp test

While the Indian round of the MotoGP championship is still very much up in the air, racers are, errr, racing to get there in time for the first practice session on Friday morning. 

To try and quell some of the furore, the Buddh International Circuit has released a statement, thanking the Indian government for its support in helping with the situation. It's a situation that is by no means over, and at the time of writing a certain Mr Marc Marquez has just boarded a plane to fly to the event. Given that the journey can take 24 hours, and on occasion longer, MM93 is going to have a tough job getting there and getting settled before the FP1 session in around 48 hours time.

The statement from the circuit reads:

"We have been updated about the current issue of delays in the visa issuance process,” the statement read.

"We would like to share that we have been working relentlessly to resolve the same in the best possible manner.

"Close to 500 visas have been cleared and a large number will be done shortly. The dedicated teams are doing everything possible to ensure every rider, team, technical officials visa are issued at the earliest. This incident was unexpected and we are doing whatever is required to address the same immediately.

"We understand the importance of a seamless experience for all participants and attendees and encourage everyone to be patient and cooperate with us and the teams."

"We are immensely grateful to the Indian Government, MEA [Ministry of External Affairs], MHA [Ministry of Home Affairs] and the UP Government for their continued support and coordination.

"We are confident that all pending visas will be processed and all race personnel required for the race will reach India timely and safely."

This is an updated page originally published 20th September 2023, the original article continues below.

The first Indian MotoGP race is due to take place this weekend at the Buddh International Circuit outside of New Delhi. And if the name of the venue sounds familiar, that's probably down to the F1 circus formerly racing at the venue in 2013. Since then top-level international racing has not travelled to the venue, and the issues we are seeing in the build-up to the first MotoGP might point to why.

Teams are reported to be unable to leave for the venue due to the lengthy visa process to enter India taking too long to complete. This is despite Dorna working with the Indian authorities to streamline and simplify the process to ensure the riders and teams can enter.

We are also reading reports of taxation issues for riders trying to enter the country, with GPOne reporting that some riders have to pay their own tax from their wages prior to being granted entry into the country

Topping the list of reasons that the racing might not take place is the track, and its four-wheeled biased layout reportedly is still not appropriate or safe for use as a MotoGP venue. When the round was announced there was clearly a lot of work to be done to make the venue safe for top-level motorcycle racing. The work centred around changing the venue from a four-wheeled circuit, to a two-wheeled one, by moving walls and moving the track away from Tarmac run-offs to gravel. Tarmac is favoured in the four-wheeled world as it allows racing to continue should a car leave the track. Gravel though improves safety for the bikes, as it slows them more and potentially prevents them from ending up in the wall.

We’ll be following the progress of the Indian round closely and will update this page as more information comes in.