Giuseppe Luongo interview - 2021
Posted on January 10, 2021
While we can happily look back on the fact we actually saw an MXGP and MX2 champion crowned in 2020, with the season hiatus and then the return with triple headers and the season ending in November, it was anything but normal.
Infront Moto Racing President Giuseppe Luongo has worked hard to make Grand Prix motocross the pinnacle of the sport, and as we have seen from the last decade, he has truly done that. Bigger salaries for the riders and more exposure for the sport itself, not to mention with a lot of help from the teams and riders, the fastest motocross riders in the World now race in Europe and not in America.
While the 2020 season is behind us, the COVID-19 19 virus is not. With vaccines being delivered as we speak, the European winter is really making life tough and an end to this horrible pandemic doesn't look like ending any time soon.
Come early April Luongo wants to see the championship begin but isn’t scared to start later and see a GP season run with spectators, if that is needed.
We caught up with the Italian promotional legend and asked him a few quick questions about what he expects for the coming months.
MXlarge: So, we finally got 2020 out of the way, a year we will never forget. I know there was a lot of misery, but it also seems like we all learnt something. Was there anything you learnt from the whole COVID-19 thing, both personally and professionally?
Luongo: Never give up and think positively, have an open mind and be ready to make any changes which in normal circumstances you would never think to do.
MXlarge: You had the provisional calendar out at the end of last year, and while it is only the start of January, do you see any changes yet?
Luongo: It’s too early, we follow closely the evolution of the virus and the vaccination, I believe we will know more at the end of February, but our goal remains to make a full championship with spectators, even if we have to start one or two months later than the actual calendar.
MXlarge: There are a number of vaccines that came out in December and it looks like the World might be back to order in a few months. Have you spoken to places like Oman or the people in Italy for that second round about what might happen, or is it too early to be making those calls?
Luongo: Like I said above, we have to wait and see at least until the end of February.
MXlarge: Amazing how many factory teams we have now in the paddock with KTM, HRC, Husqvarna, Kawasaki, Yamaha, GasGas, and now Beta. So, around half the starting gate will be factory riders. Is this a little more like you would prefer a GP, that most of the riders are full factory or part factory?
Luongo: It’s amazing to have so many factories, it’s a dream and I believe in the next two years there will be one or two more manufacturers entering MXGP. It will be fantastic to have all factory riders on the starting grid, but we have to be realistic, and what we have now is already fantastic.
MXLarge: There were some comments from Gautier Paulin and Clement Desalle about salaries at the moment, and having spoken to people like John Van Den Berk, Steve Dixon, and several other prominent people in the GP paddock, they, like me, feel the motocross riders make more money now than ever before. What is your opinion and was that one of the goals when you first decided to go in the direction, we are now in with MXGP?
Luongo: Frankly I am a little bit disappointed about Paulin and Desalle’s comments because with their very good careers they have made very good money compared to the salary of Motocross riders of 10-15 years ago, the question is, for a manufacturer is it better to pay a lot of money for a rider at the end of their career or to pay less for a young rider who has the future in front of him - so the answer is easy. I think the salaries in MXGP are very good, and like all sports, the more the riders are up front the more money they will make. Anyway, this problem doesn’t concern us, our job is to make Motocross great and every year we are making it greater and greater, and during the difficult circumstances in 2020 we have proven Infront Moto Racing’s strong commitment. The prices and salaries of the riders are decided by the market.
MXlarge: Several riders have had operations on problem injuries, like Jeffrey Herlings and Antonio Cairoli, plus Tim Gajser is always improving and no doubt Jorge Prado will improve from last year. I know you might not want to answer this question, but do you have a feeling who can win the championship from this group?
Luongo: The Championship will be won by one of the top riders who is the most constant, and who has no injuries during the season.
MXlarge: KTM are talking about it possibly being Antonio's last season. Being that he is such a legend and a fellow Italian, will there be something special organized at maybe the final Italian GP or the MXoN?
Luongo: I think the MXoN, as it’s in Italy this year, will be the great occasion to make a great celebration for Antonio.