MotoGP: Czech GP’s future secured with new five-year contract

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The future of the Czech Republic Grand Prix has been secured after MotoGP commercial rights holder Dorna signed a new five-year deal with the Brno Circuit earlier this week.

Brno has a long-running history with the premier class of motorcycle racing, hosting more grands prix than all but one circuit – Assen in the Netherlands – but faced an uncertain future due to concerns about the promotion of the race.

In August, Dorna announced that it had struck a new agreement with Brno that provisionally secured the future of the race, but the deal was only signed earlier this week.

Key to the new agreement has been the formation of The Czech Grand Prix Association that will take over the promotion of the race from 2016.

“The signing of this agreement is one of the most important acts as far as the World Championship of Motorcycle Road Racing is concerned,” Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta said.

“It is very important for our company, which arranges those races, that the Brno Circuit is a part of the championship for the following years. This agreement deals with all the unresolved questions about the holding of races in the past.”

Mayor of Brno Petr Vokral was pleased to confirm that the Czech GP would remain in the city until 2020 following the completion of negotiations.

“A year ago, not only was it hazy outside but the future arrangement of grand prix was hazy as well. I am glad that we have found a way to arrange MotoGP in Brno,” Vokral said.

“The breakpoint was the last year’s agreement to establish the Association, which would have public support.

“I would also like to thank Mr. Ezpeleta for his extraordinary patience, which enabled the conclusion of the agreement. Now, it guarantees that Moto GP will be held in Brno for next five years.”

AJ Foyt Racing promotes Benjamin Pedersen from Indy Lights to IndyCar for 2023 season

Benjamin Pedersen AJ Foyt
AJ Foyt Racing
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Benjamin Pedersen is the first driver to land a promotion from Indy Lights into IndyCar for next season as AJ Foyt Racing confirmed Wednesday he’ll be part of its 2023 lineup.

Pedersen, a 23-year-old dual citizen of Denmark and the United States, spent last season running the full Indy Lights schedule for HMD Motorsports. Linus Lundqvist, his teammate, won the Lights title, and Pedersen finished fifth in the final standings. Pedersen earned his only win earlier this month when he led every lap from the pole at Portland.

Pedersen also ran four races for HMD in 2021 with back-to-back runner-up finishes in his debut. Pedersen landed on AJ Foyt Racing team president Larry Foyt’s radar through a “trusted colleague” and Pedersen spent most of last season shadowing the IndyCar team.

His promotion to IndyCar comes ahead of all four drivers who finished ahead of him in the Indy Lights standings, including champion Lundqvist.

“We are really looking forward to having Benjamin as part of the team,” Larry Foyt said. “His enthusiasm is infectious, and he is 100 percent committed to IndyCar, AJ Foyt Racing, and doing the best he can to win races.

“It’s been great to have him embedded with the team this past season, and everyone is excited to hit the ground running when testing begins. It is also great to have a multi-year program in place, which will help him and the team grow together.”

Foyt did not announce a car number for Pedersen. Kyle Kirkwood spent his rookie season driving AJ Foyt’s flagship No. 14 but Kirkwood is moving to Andretti Autosport. The team has not yet announced if Dalton Kellett will return for a fourth season, and a third car for Tatiana Calderon was pulled from competition after seven races because of sponsorship non-payment. Shutting down Calderon’s team removed the only semi-regular female driver from the IndyCar field.

Pedersen, however, was signed to an agreement Foyt said “spans multiple seasons as the team plans to develop the young rookie and is aligned to a longer-term plan for AJ Foyt Racing.”

Pedersen was born in Copenhagen but raised in Seattle and currently lives in Indianapolis. He said his time shadowing the IndyCar team has given him a jump on his rookie preparations.

“I’ve spent a lot of time this season with AJ Foyt Racing learning the ins and outs of making the jump to IndyCar and it’s been really nice to do that in conjunction with my Indy Lights season,” Pedersen said. “IndyCar has been my target goal since I started open wheel racing in 2016. The racing, atmosphere, fans, events, tracks, etc. are all awesome.”