Visa delays prevented many riders and team personnel headed for the inaugural MotoGP race in India, including Spanish rider Marc Marquez, the sport’s biggest name, from boarding their flights on Tuesday.
“Flight delayed due to lack of visa for Indian GP so we’re going to pedal for a little while,” the 30-year-old Spaniard posted on Instagram with a picture of him cycling.
Marquez’s Honda teammate and 2020 world champion Joan Mir also had to reschedule his flight in the build-up to the race to be held at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida on Sunday. The delay in the arrivals of the two riders forced the Honda factory racing team to cancel a pre-race event scheduled on Wednesday morning.
Aprilia rider Aleix Espargaro too could not leave for India as scheduled on Tuesday.
“We regret the unforeseen delays in the visa issuance process,” said an official statement from the Grand Prix of India. “Please understand that this is not a reflection on our dedication and hard work. It’s an unforeseen technical glitch that’s part and parcel of the challenges faced during inaugural events like this. We’re happy to announce that most of the visas have already been processed, with many more on the horizon. Our teams are tirelessly working round the clock to ensure that every participant, from riders to technical officials, receives their visa promptly.
“We recognise the significance of a smooth experience for everyone involved and kindly request your patience and cooperation during this time. Our heartfelt thanks go out to the MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) and the Indian Government for their unwavering support. Rest assured, we are fully committed to ensuring that all race personnel arrive in India as planned, safe and sound.”
Several team personnel from MotoGP and its feeder series – Moto2 and Moto3 –also missed their flights as they did not get visa on time. An official of Fairstreet Sports, local promoter of the event, said the travel agency hired caused a technical error in the application process, leading to the delay.
Many MotoGP team personnel reportedly missed their flights, some even reaching the airport hoping that the visa would arrive by then. Many others got their visa on time and are on their way or have already reached India.
2021 world champion Fabio Quartararo, current main title challenger Jorge Martin and Raul Fernandez were able to board their flights late on Tuesday. Martin posted “India here we come. Last minute visa and really looking forward to the Asian tour” on Instagram. Quartararo’s photo post read, “Looks like we have a visa” with a photo of him sitting in the plane. Fernandez posted: “I have visa! See you in India.”
The motorcycles and other equipment had reached India for the inaugural MotoGP race last week, while the riders and team personnel were due to reach early in the week to start preparations. Their work starts on Thursday with track walks and analysing of the circuit. Friday is when riders hit the circuit on their bikes during practice. Saturday has practice, qualifying and the sprint race and Sunday the main race.
Dorna Sports is the commercial rights holder of MotoGP and FairStreet Sports is the promoter and organiser of the Indian race. The two have signed a seven-year contract.