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Le Mans shows other MotoGP races how to succeed

In an unprecedented MotoGP weekend, nearly 300,000 people filled the stands at Circuit Bugatti in Le Mans and this cinematic layout reached another extraordinary landmark as a massive attendance of 297,471 tickets were sold for the event.

This meant a step up from the attendance record set in 2023, when MotoGP drew 278,805 spectators to set a record among two-wheeled Racing circuits.

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Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta was thrilled at the time. Nothing could have been more fitting for the 1000th MotoGP race.

“All weekend the atmosphere here in Le Mans has been incredible, so we knew the attendance was going to be high. But to break the all-time record and see it’s well over quarter of a million people is something truly special”.

Even when other promoters struggle to fill the stands during current period of change and renewal, Le Mans never fails. What is the secret? Claude Michy, to whom Ezpeleta alluded in that 2023 speech with devotion. A Frenchman deeply rooted in the world of football – he was the President of Clermont Foot 63 for 14 years – has very clear ideas about how to achieve success. He has followed them faithfully since he began managing this GP 31 years ago “without a circuit, motorcycles, or anything else”.

Standing behind a desk full of well organised papers and a walkie-talkie, he tells Autosport. “I don’t have a computer,” he modestly replies. ‘I’m very fond of ideas. It’s the most important thing of all. More than a laptop.”

Claude Michy

Claude Michy

Photo by: Marc Fleury

The ideas he models together with an exceptional team, who relentlessly work on their projects, recognising that “the emotion and satisfaction of the people who come to the races are what we strive to cultivate. It’s not about the ticket price, but about the benefits and services it offers.”

For Michy, what matters most is the people. He pushed to have spectators not only on Sunday but the entire weekend. So promotion and activation is crucial.

“I work hard to make sure there is a partner for every service we provide. In my mind, this is not just a race, but a great festival, a dream fulfilled on and off the circuit ”.

This is fuel for boosting spectacular activities with stunt shows or even having the launch of Fabio Quartararo’s new livery in front of 50000 people singing the national anthem on Saturday afternoon. According to statistics, 70% of European race fans attend races only on Sundays. “And we have to fight to change this trend,” he says. But he also recognises that each country has its own unique culture and idiosyncrasies, so replicating their model may not be a guarantee.

At Le Mans, everything is included in the ticket. For a general admission price of €106 for three days, “we offer free motorcycle or car parking, a camping site slot, free access to most of the stands, lockers to store helmets, free tolls, discounts on purchases, access to the fan zone, concerts, headphones access to the official radio program…”

And maybe the most significant thing: “It is free for children under 16 years old”. Michy says, “It is about cultivating the future generations and families coming to the race track to enjoy it. In turn, investments come from other sources through the collaboration of stakeholders and collaborators.”

Racing ” data-author=”Yamaha” data-custom=”false” data-src=”https://cdn.motorsport.com/images/mgl/Y998knAY/s8/fabio-quartararo-yamaha-factor.jpg”>Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha Factory <a href=Racing ” width=”1200″ height=”800″ loading=”lazy”/>

Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha Factory Racing

Photo by: Yamaha

It is an outstanding business model. “We’re the only private promoter on the calendar,” he explains, “and that forces us to invest a lot, take risks, and try to satisfy the expectations of many fans.” As a result, he places a higher value on “services” than ticket prices. In addition, he doesn’t care about breaking records. “We don’t want records, but rather doing things well, simply,” he says.

This way of doing things is inspiring. Dan Rossomondo, Chief Commercial Officer for Dorna, values Michy’s way of putting the fan at the centre of everything he does. “It is about working more closely with the promoters to enhance the race experience and be truly fan centric. Claude is a great example of how you take our unmatched on-track product and couple it with fan engagement throughout the weekend. He has also done a wonderful job in nurturing our next generation of fans by offering access and that is being imitated by other circuits.”

MotoGP’s future looks bright, according to Michy. “Dorna has done a fantastic job. Carmelo Ezpeleta is a great guy to work with. Whenever I have a new idea, it [Dorna] motivates us to act on it. This MotoGP is all about Carmelo. And everything will continue to go well even with Liberty’s arrival because this sport is super healthy. This is a great show that lasts just the right amount of time and is exciting.”

Therefore, he does not want an F1 round: “We must protect the spirit of this sport,” he says. “Watching the Miami race the other day, one was amazed at how many celebrities and personalities attended. Everyone wants to be in Formula 1. But I don’t think we need that here. A different business model, a different sport, a different culture. We already have a perfect show with MotoGP.”

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