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Costs of Participation

DISCLAIMER: The content on this website represents personal opinion, combined with a careful assessment of information within documents obtained during an extensive program of research. All documentation is readily available in the public domain. 

The cost of participation in the Motocross World Championship is a complex matter. The issue of prize and start money (or lack thereof), together with the hefty entry fees (€10,000 a season or €1,000 for one-off GPs), is a controversial subject, and one which has indirectly affected many other elements, such as the dwindling line-ups and, until recently, the 'pay-to-play' riders who made up the numbers at the back of many GP races.

Prior to Youthstream's appointment as promoter, the Motocross World Championships paid start money to 42 riders per class and prize money to the top 25 finishers in each moto. There were also no entry fees payable to enter a GP. The purse payments were eliminated by Youthstream soon after they were appointed promoters, and their justification was that this money would be better invested into the promotion of the championship. With a better-promoted championship and increased media coverage, Giuseppe Luongo claimed the sport would grow, attracting more lucrative sponsors to the teams and riders, thus enabling them to earn far more than they had lost due to the withdrawal of prize and start money.

Just how much money did the riders lose from this decision? Below is a list of the prize money scale for the 1998 world championship. We have also calculated the 2013 value of that money, taking into account inflation in the intervening 15 years.

1998 Prize money schedule (per moto) (Swiss Francs):



Swiss Francs:

Euro equivalent:

Equivalent to
(in 2013 money):


SFr. 1,350

€ 1,096

€ 1,567


SFr. 1,080

€ 877

€ 1,254


SFr. 810

€ 658

€ 940


SFr. 690

€ 560

€ 801


SFr. 615

€ 499

€ 714


SFr. 570

€ 463

€ 662


SFr. 525

€ 426

€ 610


SFr. 495

€ 402

€ 575


SFr. 450

€ 365

€ 522


SFr. 420

€ 341

€ 488


SFr. 405

€ 329

€ 470


SFr. 375

€ 304

€ 435


SFr. 360

€ 292

€ 418


SFr. 330

€ 268

€ 383


SFr. 315

€ 256

€ 366


SFr. 300

€ 244

€ 348


SFr. 285

€ 231

€ 331


SFr. 285

€ 231

€ 331


SFr. 270

€ 219

€ 313


SFr. 255

€ 207

€ 296


SFr. 255

€ 207

€ 296


SFr. 240

€ 195

€ 279


SFr. 225

€ 183

€ 261


SFr. 210

€ 170

€ 244


SFr. 210

€ 170

€ 244





1998 Start money (SF)

SFr. 1,200

€ 974

€ 1,393

While we can understand Youthstream's viewpoint, we nonetheless feel that the removal of prize/start money and the implementation of entry fees is entirely wrong. The world championship is the highest echelon of motocross racing. We feel that any riders talented enough to be competing at such a level should be rewarded handsomely by the promoter for their efforts, their sacrifices and the risks they take, not the other way round.

The riders are the stars of Luongo's show. Without them there would be no race, and Youthstream would have no product to promote.  The riders are who the fans pay to see. They are the individuals on whom the cameras are focussed, and about whom the journalists write and the TV and trackside announcers talk. They are the performers, and we feel that they should not be paying for the privilege. 

Giuseppe Luongo's argument is straightforward. The riders don't work for Youthstream, so why should he pay them? He says that he provides the platform for them to ply their, and their team's, trade.  And for that he charges. We do not agree with that view.

Luongo points to the high profile teams in the paddock, with their big transporters and hospitality units, as evidence of his policy's success. And there is no doubt that the factory teams do appear to be well-funded. Has the 'invest for the future' policy worked? Are those factory teams and riders better-off through the sacrifice of prize money and the additional investment of up to €1,000 entry fee per GP?  

At the top end of the GP food chain it may well be the case. We know that Tony Cairoli makes good money, although we also know that, in inflation-adjusted terms, the superstars of the early and mid-1980s made considerably more.

However, further down the field the financial situation isn't nearly so buoyant. Outside of the factory efforts, many of the teams receive little manufacturer support, and the huge outside sponsors that Luongo promised ten years ago have largely failed to materialise (or remain within the sport beyond the initial term(s) of their commercial contractual agreement). Many of these teams are financed personally by the team owners, and irrespective of the promotional mechanism(s) provided by Youthstream (such as, many find it a struggle to compete.  Several of those teams have been unable to afford to contest a full season, and many more have folded or quit GPs altogether to instead concentrate on domestic racing. It is these teams and riders - the ones without factory assistance - who find that Luongo's idealistic equation just doesn't add up.

The further down the field you go, the more the problem is amplified for the competitors. We know of many riders outside of the top 15 who get no salary, and some who have to pay their own entry fees. Those are the riders who need the assistance that prize and start money would provide. To them, it would be an enormous boost to their chances of financial survival and their continued participation in the championship in which they have earned the opportunity to compete.

Youthstream's supporters argue that a prize fund would make negligible difference. But looking at the 1998 prize money schedule above, can the sums involved really be dismissed as 'negligible'? 

To better understand the value of the prize and start money system, we undertook an analysis of the top twenty riders from the 2012 MX1 world motocross championship and the prize and start money those riders would have earned for their season, had prize money been paid at the 1998 levels, (again with an inflation-adjusted figure to give an indication of today's value).

2012 championship position:


Prize/start money if paid at 1998 level:

Equivalent to
(in 2013's money):



€ 44,318

€ 63,374



€ 36,986

€ 52,890



€ 33,759

€ 48,275


C Pourcel

€ 34,770

€ 49,721



€ 32,297

€ 46,185



€ 29,764

€ 42,563



€ 28,559

€ 40,839



€ 27,492

€ 39,313



€ 24,710

€ 35,336



€ 26,013

€ 37,199



€ 25,891

€ 37,025


S Pourcel

€ 23,529

€ 33,646



€ 24,053

€ 34,395



€ 24,113

€ 34,482



€ 16,015

€ 22,901



€ 9,804

€ 14,019



€ 13,031

€ 18,634


De Reuver

€ 11,180

€ 15,987



€ 16,916

€ 24,190



€ 9,353

€ 13,375

While the cynical reader could argue that Antonio Cairoli might not need another €63,000 (in today's value), Tony may well disagree with you. Notwithstanding Cairoli's bank balance, there are plenty of other riders who we feel would be grateful for the prize money that they would have earned if they were racing in the pre-Youthstream days.

Take Davide Guarneri for example. 13th place overall in 2012, Davide would have earned €24,053 in prize money for his 2012 results under the prize money scale of 1998 (equivalent to €34,395 in today's money). Add to that his €10,000 entry fees for 2012, which weren't applicable back in 1998, and he is down by nearly €45,000 at today's money. Davide needed to have earned more than €45k in 2012 so as to be better off than he would have been if he were merely a non-salaried privateer 15 years ago.

Milko Potisek, 19th in 2012, would have been better-off by €10,000 in entry fees and €16,916 in prize money (€24,190 in today's money) under the 1998 system. That's €34,190 total. Is that really not going to make a difference to the Frenchman?

Isn't something better than nothing? 

In reference to entry fees, Youthstream  argue the teams pay the entries anyway, not the riders. In the case of the top teams, that is true. But we mustn't lose sight of the fact that the money all comes from the same pot.  €10,000 paid out in entry fees just means that there is €10,000 less remaining in the budget that could be being paid to the rider either as salary or bonus.

To us, prize and start money matters. In our opinion, its abolishment erodes the very credibility of the championship. The world championship should be a contest between the 40 fastest riders that the world has to offer. The current costs of competing, aggravated by huge entry fees, lack of any prize fund, and the removal of qualification, which we will discuss later, is stifling talent and opportunity and eroding the integrity of the series.

Many riders worthy of competing in the world championship either can't afford to, or else have decided that it's just not worth it. Riders like Marcus Schiffer for example, who stood atop the podium in Lommel in 2012 as part of Germany's victorious Motocross des Nations team, could not get a GP ride in 2013. And at €1,000 an entry with no money to be won, can anyone really blame him for not entering as a semi-privateer? There are countless other riders too who also are talented enough to be competing at world level, but either can't afford a place on a team, or else have decided that it just isn't worth it to race the GP series. That situation, to us, is completely wrong. Riders who are talented and fast enough to compete at the highest level of motocross racing should be able to race the world championship and be able to at least cover their costs while doing so.

We'll let Marc de Reuver have the last word:

Next: Qualification and the Credibility of the Championship

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