India is set to host its first ever MotoGP race at the Buddh International Circuit on the outskirts of Delhi on 24 September, but the event has been embroiled by problems with visas and custom clearances.
Several teams, including the factory Honda squad and its star rider Marc Marquez, have been forced to reschedule flights as their e-visas were still being processed by the government.
In a statement issued late on Tuesday evening in response to the travel chaos, Fairstreet Sports, which is organising the race with support from the state government of Uttar Pradesh, said it is working with Indian authorities to ensure all remaining visa applications are processed in a timely manner.
It expressed confidence that all team members will be able to reach in India in time for the race to take place as scheduled.
“We have been updated about the current issue of delays in the visa issuance process,” the statement read.
“We would like to share that we have been working relentlessly to resolve the same in the best possible manner.
“Close to 500 visas have been cleared and a large number will be done shortly. The dedicated teams are doing everything possible to ensure every rider, team, technical officials visa are issued at the earliest. This incident was unexpected and we are doing whatever is required to address the same immediately.
“We understand the importance of a seamless experience for all participants and attendees and encourage everyone to be patient and cooperate with us and the teams.
Main straight view from Grandstand
Photo by: Sutton Images
“We are immensely grateful to the Indian Government, MEA [Ministry of External Affairs], MHA [Ministry of Home Affairs] and the UP Government for their continued support and coordination.
“We are confident that all pending visas will be processed and all race personnel required for the race would reach India timely and safely.”
While some teams including Ducati and Aprilia were able to send their personnel in India on time, other team members have been left stranded while awaiting approval to enter the South Asian nation.
Those affected have blamed both Indian and European agencies involved in the travel process for the delays.
Should there be further delays, MotoGP will have the option of curtailing Friday’s running either partially or fully, a measure it adopted during the Argentine GP weekend when technical issues with cargo planes meant the freight arrived late to Termas de Rio Hondo.
This is not the first time a major international race in India has been hit by travel issues. Several members of the Formula 1 paddock faced similar delays when Buddh International Circuit was part of the calendar from 2011-13.
However, the Formula E event in Hyderabad went ahead smoothly without similar bureaucratic hurdles earlier this February.