(Bloomberg) -- Liberty Media Corp.’s April 1 acquisition of an ownership stake in Dorna Sports SL, the organization behind the MotoGP World Championship, is a “fantastic opportunity” for Ducati, says Chief Executive Officer Claudio Domenicali. 

“We are mega happy about this thing,” Domenicali tells Bloomberg during a wide-ranging interview on the latest Hot Pursuit! podcast. “The potential of a sport which is so spectacular, like MotoGP in the US, is dramatic.”

Liberty Media, which owns Formula One, acquired 86% of the motorcycle-racing series with MotoGP management retaining the remaining 14% of the business. The transaction was valued at €4.2 billion ($4.47 billion), and the acquisition is expected to be completed by the end of 2024. In a statement about the deal, Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna, called it “the perfect next step in the evolution of MotoGP.”

A High Point for Ducati

Ducati is at a high point in its 97-year history, earning back-to-back MotoGP World Champion titles in 2022 and 2023. Last year it reported $1.7 billion in sales with record profits of $186 million, up 10.5% over 2022 results. It has a strong reputation as an aspirational motorcycle brand that offers class-leading technology. More recently, its modern Scrambler sub-brand has successfully attracted new riders. 

Yet its audience remains limited. Last year, Ducati sold nearly 60,000 motorcycles globally, compared to more than 18 million sold by Honda.

MotoGP is a much smaller business than F1, too, generating $523 million in revenue in 2023, compared to F1’s $3.2 billion. That’s why Liberty Media’s involvement could be so useful, Domenicali says.

“The benefit for Ducati in the US is in growing above and beyond just the community of hardcore bikers and getting wider,” says Domenicali, who has been a stabilizing force at Ducati Motor Holding SpA since he took this role in 2013, long after joining the company as an engineer in 1991. (Ducati’s CEO is not related to Stefano Domenicali, F1 boss and former Lamborghini chief.)

Can Liberty Do It Again?

Liberty Media has already revitalized the formerly sleepy Formula One demographic by developing smart social media campaigns and the well-known Netflix Drive to Survive series. Its experience could provide a significant boost for MotoGP, which saw its own documentary series flop, analyst Vincenzo Landino said in his F1-centric newsletter. 

Related: 16 Top Money Saving Tips For Attending Formula 1 Grand Prix Race

“Under Dorna’s stewardship since the 1990s, MotoGP has seen significant technical and regulatory innovations, from transitioning to four-stroke engines to introducing rules that democratized competition,” Landino said. “The integration of Liberty Media’s expertise in fan engagement and commercialization with MotoGP’s rich competitive landscape and Dorna’s leadership bodes well for the future of motorsports.”

Specific plans are unstated. Liberty Media could help MotoGP blossom in the US much as F1 did after Liberty acquired it in 2017, in part by attracting US sponsors for the largely European circuit. It could add more races to the calendar, too. Where F1 now has North American races in Austin, Miami, Las Vegas, Mexico City and Montreal, MotoGP has just a single US race—also in Texas. 

Read more: Drive to Survive Star Guenther Steiner on Miami F1, New US Grand Prix

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.