MotoGP sets up deal to race in Saudi Arabia at all-new facility

MotoGP moves closer to securing a second race in the Middle East as Dorna sign a Memorandum of Understanding to add a Saudi Arabia MotoGP race to schedule 

Jeddah Corniche Circuit

MotoGP looks set to be visiting Saudi Arabia in the near future after a Memorandum of Understanding was penned between commercial rights holders Dorna Sports and the Saudi Motorsports Company.

As it stands, MotoGP only features a single round in the Middle East, though that event - in Qatar - has become a mainstay of the schedule since 2004.

However, the premier motorcycle racing class is now primed to include an all-new event in Saudi Arabia for the first time around a brand-new to-be-built facility that will be homologated to FIM and FIA standards for international two and four-wheel competition.

Saudi Arabia has emerged as a prominent nation in the world of motorsport in recent years with the Kingdom hosting its first international event with Formula E in 2018, before going on to land the rights to host the Dakar Rally from 2020.

The Kingdom also held its inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix F1 race in 2021 around the Jeddah Corniche Circuit and Saudi oil giants Aramco are a major sponsor of both the series and the Aston Martin F1 team. 

However, though it is a permanent facility, because the design imitates a walled street circuit, it is unfeasible for motorcycles to race there.

"As the leading global championship for two-wheel circuit racing, we are thrilled at this opportunity for MotoGP™ to expand its reach within the Middle East by adding an annual Grand Prix in Saudi Arabia.  

“The region is a key market for motorsport and the demand in the Kingdom for events of this kind is growing with research showing that 80% of Saudi fans wanting to see more in their country. In the past few years, Saudi Arabia has shown its ability to stage major global motorsports events to the highest standards.

“The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding codifies our shared intention to explore this opportunity further. We are confident that we will find an exciting and welcoming new home in the Kingdom and we look forward to further collaboration with the Saudi Motorsport Company to deliver on this joint ambition together."

A Memorandum of Understanding doesn’t necessarily guarantee a race will be held in Saudi Arabia but instead announces intentions to do so.

Similar agreements have been made in recent years for races, such as in Brazil in Rio de Janeiro at the yet-to-be-constructed Rio Motopark, but no ground was broken before the deal fell through.

Plans were also announced to compete in Hungary at another stillborn circuit project in Balaton, while Igora Drive in Russia was on standby as a substitute venue for a couple of years before dropping off during COVID-19.