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It is official. Liberty Media is set to acquire MotoGP by year-end 2024 from Dorna.

As we reported earlier, Liberty Media who currently owns Formula 1 (F1) will pay €4.2 billion (RM21.34 billion) for the acquisition. However, the deal is not a complete takeover but rather only 86% of Dorna, while the balance 14% remains with Dorna.

Dorna Sport S.L. currently holds the television rights to the premier MotoGP championship as well as the World Superbike Championship (WSBK). They are also involved in the managment and marketing of several other motorcycle championships including the Spanish Road Racing Championship (CEV), British Superbike Championship (BSB), the Trials World Championships (Indoor and Outdoor).

This stunning development will unit the world’s premier two-wheel motorsport series with the world’s best four-wheel series.

There is no shake up in Dorna’s management at this moment as it was announced that Dorna will remain as an independently operated company. As such, Carmelo Ezpeleta will remain the Dorna CEO, and his his team will continue to run the business from Madrid, Spain. Apart from that, Dorna will be part of Liberty Media’s Formula One Group tracking stock.

“We are thrilled to expand our portfolio of leading live sports and entertainment assets with the acquisition of MotoGP,” said Greg Maffei, Liberty Media President and CEO. “MotoGP is a global league with a loyal, enthusiastic fan base, captivating racing and a highly cash flow generative financial profile. Carmelo and his management team have built a great sporting spectacle that we can expand to a wider global audience.

The deal will be completed by the end of 2024 and is subject to the receipt of clearances and approvals by competition and foreign investment law authorities in various jurisdictions. This is why Liberty Media did not acquire 100% of Dorna’s interest in MotoGP, so as to not send up a red flag for anti-competition regulators.

Of course, the news has attracted no shortage of comments from netizens, albeit the majority being negative. The most obvious theme is the fear of MotoGP turning into another F1 circus. However, let us be reminded that F1 had grown by leaps and bounds since Liberty Media acquired it from CVC Capital Partners in 2017.

With all being said, let us see what Liberty Media has in store for MotoGP for next season.

BMW may join MotoGP in 2027, admitted the new head of BMW Motorrad, Markus Flasch.

They are the only major European manufacturer who are missing from the MotoGP field and there have been never-ending questions about their absence. However, the news coincides with Dorna’s proposed sweeping changes across the series, including returning the maximum engine capacity to 800cc. There have rumours to state as far as BMW and Dorna’s discussions have already resulted in a agreed deal.

Flasch, in an interview with Motorrad made it clear that he is an “absolute advocate of motorsport.” It bodes well for someone who was the head of the M Sport division before joining the motorcycle department in November last year. He says he also sees BMW’s future involvement in racing other than WSBK, FIM World Endurance, and German IDM series.

He added, “It has to make sense for us, that’s clear, and that’s why we are taking a detailed look at it.

“I would not rule it out.”

In fact, Dorna is keeping two grid spots open for an additional factory entry after Suzuki pulled out, to the consternation of KTM who had wanted that spot for 2024.

BMW has also already assembled a strong team in developing their two-wheeled racing programs. Former EWC and WSBK champion (and former Suzuki MotoGP test rider) Sylvain Guintoli  heads the EWC team and WSBK development programme. While MotoGP podium finisher Bradley Smith is contracted as the other test rider.

2021 WSBK champion Toprak Razgatlioglu as BMW’s factory rider has yielded immediate top results too, scoring two wins and two podiums from six races (including Superpole) in two rounds thus far.

Could this finally be the news BMW fans have been waiting for? Watch this space!

A motorcyclist died after ramming into a car which stopped in the emergency lane at Kilometer 116.9, North-South Highway, near Batu Pahat. The car driver is said to have stopped to make a phone call.

Batu Pahat District Acting Chief of Police, Superintendent Shahrulanuar Mushaddat Abdullah Sani said, before the incident, the victim Mohammad Fared Zakaria, 35, was riding a motorcycle from the direction of Ayer Hitam towards Pagoh.

He said, upon arriving at the location, there was a car that stopped in the emergency lane because the driver wanted to answer a phone call.

The victim could not avoid the car and crashed into it. The crash resulted in the victim suffering severe head injuries and broke both arms.

The victim was taken to the Sultanah Fatimah Specialist Hospital in Muar but was pronounced dead while receiving treatment at 7.50pm. However, the driver of the car survived and was not injured, said Superintendent Shahrulanuar.

Shahrulanuar said the police are still investigating and the case is being investigated in accordance with Section 41 (1) of the Road Transport Act 1987.

The police are also asking for the public’s cooperation to channel any information about this incident at any nearby police station or through the Johor Contingent Police Hotline at 07-2212999 or through the Batu Pahat IPD Police Hotline at 07-4343999.

Photo: PDRM

The government will review and submit a new target for the number of EV (electric vehicle) charging stations after Hari Raya Aidilfitri. The existing target is 10,000 stations operating by 2025.

Minister of Investments, Trade and Industry, Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz said the actual number will only be known through the meeting of the National EV Driving Committee (NEVSC) which is scheduled to take place after the festival.

However, he informed that he had already held preliminary discussions with industry activists and EV public charging station installation companies.

“God willing we will discuss (with NEVSC) after this Raya.

“Officially, the number so far is 2,020 units, but that the number is close to more than 2,100 units during the unofficial discussion,” he said.

He added that industry activists and public EV charging station installation companies expressed confidence that the target of 10,000 EV stations by 2025 could be realised.

“As announced before, the target is 10,000 (EV charging stations) by the end of 2025, so we have to plan carefully.

“If we can’t reach that 10,000, we have to make a more realistic target, but it seems that through my discussion with the charging station installers, they are still confident because they can see the high demand, so they are a little braver to build the charging station.

“I’m trying to make sure we can reach that target,” he said.

On March 20, Tengku Zafrul was reported to have said that the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry (MITI) will re-examine the target of 10,000 EV charging stations by 2025 through the NEVSC meeting.

The target is guided by the Low Carbon Mobility Development Plan 2021-2030.

The Felo TOOZ has something which every electric motorcycle needs: Range. That is not a problem as the manufacturer claims a 720km range per charge.

Launched by Thai company, Smartech, all that battery needs space thus making for one of largest motorcycles on the road, nevermind the Honda Gold Wing “vibes.” It is still capable of hitting a top speed of 202 km/h, though.

Apart from the range, the Felo TOOZ has several high-end features including a 12-inch TFT instrument panel that connects to your phone, and pushing audio through a 6-channel surround sound system. Other features are like a tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS), ABS, traction control. Not groundbreaking features, but it does make the bike the most technologically advanced electric motorcycle, thus far.

The TOOZ also supports TYPE2 charging (from 20% to 80% in 20 minutes). The specs also mentioned an optional 8 liter cooling box that can be fitted to one of the panniers. The use of the word “optional” suggests that production is already planned.

You can charge your electrical devices from the TOOZ, but it also has V2L technology which means you can use the bike’s batteries to supply power to your home. That hints of a large battery capacity.

Smartech is one of the stars of Thailand’s electric vehicle sector, with its new electric motorcycle brands FELO and RAPID both starting with a clean sheet and the company well-funded and well-resourced with expertise.

Producing motorcycles in Thailand is seemingly a good idea, because most of the world’s biggest motorcycle manufacturers already produce motorcycles there. Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki, BMW, Triumph and Ducati all manufacture a portion of their global range in the Kingdom.

Our only gripe: Please design electric motorcycles better rather than something akin to being cobbled together in the driveway. A better designed bike can surely entice more potential buyers.

Two Malaysian students died after being involved in a road accident around Lake Tekapo, New Zealand, yesterday. Three of their colleagues were injured in the same crash.

The Malaysian High Commission in Wellington, New Zealand has informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the tragedy.

“Two victims were reported to have died at the scene while the other three have been flown to Christchurch Hospital, South Islands, New Zealand for immediate treatment.

“The Malaysian High Commission in Wellington with the help of the Malaysian community in Christchurch, is extending appropriate consular assistance to the victims and family members to ensure that the welfare management of all victims runs smoothly.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Malaysian High Commission are ready to help if the next of kin decide to bring the body back to Malaysia.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also wishes to express its condolences to the family members of the victims involved in this incident,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan said his party is waiting for the decision of the families of the two deceased victims to be brought back to Malaysia or otherwise.

“Our students in New Zealand who had accidents have all been taken care of, those who were injured and died have been taken to the hospital and their bodies will be taken care of.

“We are waiting for the family to come or even to ask for whatever help is needed. The High Commission of Malaysia is always ready to help,” he said.

There were also reports that there was another fatal accident involving 2 cars and a motorcycle on the same road, just 2 hours after the accident involving the Malaysian student. Altogether, these accidents caused 20 injuries and 3 deaths.

The Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) say they will not compromise with smugglers.

Citing the latest arrest of 34 Customs officers at KL International Airport (KLIA) Cargo suspected of being involved in the smuggling of vehicle spare pars and contraband items, Chief Commissioner Tan Sri Azam Baki said they will not just act against these corrupt officers but also ensure the lost revenue is returned to the country’s coffers.

The corrupt practices is suspected to have been going on since 2017, constituting more than RM2 billion of losses in tax revenue.

“What is also important is that we act against these people to stop leakages and losses, and to track the money so that it can be returned to the government,” he continued.

Azam warned that those in cahoots with corrupt civil servants would also be made to pay. “We will make them return the money, including through payment of taxes that they avoided paying before.”

The MACC had also arrested an additional 27 persons including business owners in connection with the case through a special operation codenamed Samba 2.0.

Azam said a taskforce comprising the MACC, the Inland Revenue Board (LHDN) and Bank Negara was set up to investigate the case, adding that it was on the case for six months before the arrests were made.

“These officers were involved with inspection and prevention. The officers, who we believe have received bribes from companies and forwarding agents, would let the goods go without inspection or declaration.

“Even if they did carry out an inspection, it would not be thorough,” he added.

Thus far, the investigation has revealed that the Customs officers received RM4.7 million from a syndicate to facilitate the smuggling of vehicle spare parts, chewable tobacco, cigarettes, liquor, and health products.

231 bank accounts with more than RM17 million belonging to the suspects were also frozen by the MACC’s anti-money laundering division.

“We are not involving the Customs Department in this case to avoid any conflict of interest,” he added.

Malaysian motorists will enjoy two toll-free days on highways for 2 days during Hari Raya Aidilfitri. However, the government will not extend the it further.

The Deputy Works Minister, Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan explained that they will not extend it as the government has already allocated RM37.6 million to cover the exemption. The sum will be paid to the 33 highway concession companies.

“That is about RM19mil per day. This is the Cabinet’s decision and it’s final,” he said after inspecting preparations by PLUS Malaysia Bhd for Hari Raya Aidilfitri at the Persada PLUS Corporate Tower here yesterday.

On Thursday, Works Minister Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Linggi announced that the government has approved a two-day toll-free period on April 8 and 9 for Class 1 private vehicle users on highways in conjunction with Hari Raya. The same measure was also done during the Chinese New Year in February this year.

Ahmad Maslan added that PLUS anticipates a daily traffic of approximately 2.1 million vehicles during the festive holiday. The particularly busy days are expected to be 5, 6, 9, 12, 13, and 14 April, compared with 1.82 million during regular peak days.

PLUS is set to deploy over 4,500 personnel on its highways to ensure swift response during the period.

“PLUS has 70 staff during daily peak hours at its traffic monitoring centre to monitor, gather and disseminate the latest traffic information and coordinate assistance to highway users.

“Motorists should plan their journey using the digital travel schedule available on the MyPLUS-TTA app,” said Ahmad Maslan.

The government had announced earlier that Puspakom’s (Pusat Pemeriksaan Kenderaan Berkomputer/Computerised Vehicle Inspection Centre) monopoly as the sole mandatory commercial vehicle inspection service provider will end in September 2024, when its concession expires on 31 August.

As such, parties (read: workshops) who are interested in offering the services are invited to send in their applications in the first quarter of 2025. These workshops must appoint employees who meet the qualification requirements, plus use computerised inspection equipment approved by the JPJ.

The Minister of Transport, Anthony Loke also stressed that the government will not provide assistance in setting up these facilities. “We won’t spend money building their system,” he said.

Loke also stated that the single service provider issues, besides the lengthy inspection wait time, had existed for many years.

“Large vehicles, lorries and buses are held up for hours. There have been complaints that some states only have one service centre.

However, the government iterated that they are not closing down Puspakom wholesale. Instead, they wish to see other inspection centres giving Puspakom for their money (no pun intended).

The current Cabinet had decided not to renew the concession in order to open up the sector to all qualified parties to carry out the inspections on behalf of the Road Transport Department (Jabatan Pengangkutan Jalan/JPJ). The Minister had said that such move “allows a more competitive service environment and facilitate all Malaysians.”

It had enjoyed a three-decade-long monopoly despite the existence of the anti-monopoly statutes, as the DRB-HICOM concern was set up in 1994 by the government during the time.

The Penang LRT (Light Rail Transit) project is expected to start in the middle of this year.

An analyst of Kenanga Investment Bank Bhd., Teh Kian Yeong, said that the main contractor, Gamuda Bhd. is already in final stage of discussions with the government to finalise the implementation model of the project involved.

“This is subject to government approval, while the Environment Department has published an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report for this LRT segment on March 5.

“This federal government-funded project consists of land acquisition costs of approximately RM1.5 billion and construction costs of between RM7 billion and RM8 billion.”

This is ambitious projecte, connecting Tanjung Bungah in the north to Permatang Damar Laut in the south of the island. This route includes several important locations, including:

  • Penang Airport,
  • Bayan Lepas and Bayan Baru,
  • Ayer Itam,
  • Penang Hill,
  • Ferry Terminal,
  • KOMTAR (main station),
  • Pulau Tikus.

There is also a line that connects to the mainland of Peninsular Malaysia, with its main station at Penang Sentral, through a 7.2km long tunnel link under the seabed.

The route to the north reaches Kepala Batas, while the route to the south ends at Nibung Tebal. The route furthest to the east reaches Kulim South and Kulim North.

Among the important locations connected are:

  • Juru,
  • Tambun,
  • Batu Kawan,
  • Lunas (this writer’s late father’s hometown),
  • Bukit Mertajam.

The Penang LRT project has long been desired by the island’s residents due to worsening traffic congestion. It will also play an important role to developing the infrastructure for tourists to the state, apart from further developing the economy of several cities and towns along the way.

The Road Transport Department (Jabatan Pengangkutan Jalan/JPJ) has issued a warning to not decorate vehicles with decorative lights, especially during the festive season.

We as Malaysians are generally very creative and this spirit is brought to the point of decorating or customising our vehicles, regardless if they are cars, motorcycles, lorries, rickshaws, bicycles and so on. However, the authorities do not appreciate this creativity because they have a duty to ensure that each of our vehicles is safe not only for us, but also for all road users.

The Public Relations Officer of the Road Transport Department, Mohd Syahmi Abdul Latif explained that the act of decorating vehicles with decorative lights is wrong.

“Even if the intention is only to celebrate Ramadan, vehicle owners are warned to remove the decorative lights and return them to their original state or be fined.”

“In any case, the decision rests with the responsible officer. For this type of offence, the fine is usually between RM100 and RM200,” he said when contacted by Berita Harian.

He said this when commenting on a video uploaded to the Tik Tok application by a user who goes by the name @kaksuemeow, which shows her car fully decorated with decorative lights.

@kaksuemeow claimed she had encountered the police several times while driving in Bukit Bintang but was not fined.

“On the contrary, the police only showed thumbs up. I have already removed the decorative lights from the car but there is still a possibility that I will decorate them again. It took me about six hours to install all the lights and wrap them around my car,” she added.

F1 owners, Liberty Media is said to be nearing the conclusion to buying MotoGP from the current rights owner, Dorna for more than €4 billion (RM20.5 billion).

The Financial Times reported that both Liberty Media and Dorna are in exclusive talks to unit the worlds’ premier car and motorcycle racing championships under one umbrella.

Liberty had won out against other bids including one from TKO who owns UFC and WWE. There was another another bid from the Qatar Sports Investments who owns the Paris-Saint Germain football club, who held talks with Bridgepoint.

Bridgepoint, along with the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board are the shareholders of Dorna, in which Carmelo Ezpeleta works as the CEO. Dorna owns not only MotoGP, but also MotoE and World Superbike.

However, the deal will be scrutinised by competition regulators should it come to pass. The European Union has a competition law in place to prevent companies from creating cartels and monopolies. (Malaysia has the The Malaysian Competition Act, 2010 which came into force on 1 January 2012, but no one seems to enforce it.)

A silver lining for MotoGP perhaps is that Liberty Media have helped with F1’s growth since taking over from CVC Capital Partners 2017.

Some of their programs include the Netflix series ‘Drive To Survive’ which grew the sport’s fanbase further, besides acknowledging and using the power of social media. The F1 calendar has also grown under to  include races in Las Vegas, Miami, Jeddah and Doha.

The Financial Times reports that F1’s operating profit in 2023 was USD392 million (RM1.85 billion), a 64% growth from 2022. Revenue grew from USD2.5 billion (RM11.84 billion) to USD3.2 billion (RM15.15 billion).

By contrast, Dorna’s revenue was €483 million (approximately RM2.5 billion) in 2023.

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