The otherwise sleepy town of Afyonkarahisar in western Türkiye will be transformed into a throbbing center for motorsports as World Motocross Championship (MXGP) arrives for its final stage on Saturday.
The MXGP of Türkiye will be held on Sept. 3 and Sept. 4 at the state-of-the-art 250,000-square meter Afyonkarahisar Motorsports Complex, located at the heart of the city.
The event is organized by the Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) and the Turkish Motorcycling Federation (TMF).
Afyon has been home to MXGP of Türkiye, since it first hosted the event back in 2018, under the auspices of the Turkish Presidency and with support from the local municipality and the governorship.
Around 150 riders from 25 teams, including industry leaders Yamaha, Honda, Kawasaki and KTM, are expected to participate in the championships in four different categories.
Besides the main world championship event MXGP, it will also bring the youth World Motorcross Championship or MX2, Women's Motorcross Championship MXW and the European Motorcross Championship, MXOPEN.
MXGP governing body FIM head Jorge Viegas is expected to attend the season-ending event, among other high-profile guests.
With China joining the list of broadcasters, the organizers are expecting the Türkiye leg of the competition will reach over 3.4 billion sports fans across 180 countries. Last year, more than 1.8 billion sports fans tuned in to watch the event.
Since its arrival five years ago, MXGP of Türkiye has made significant contributions to the promotion of the country and the region in particular.
According to the TMF, last year's event made a contribution toward Türkiye's promotion worth nearly 300 million euros ($301.16 million) and the figure is expected to exceed 400 million Euros this year.
In 2021, videos and content about the MXGP of Türkiye generated over 650 million interactions on social media.
In the meanwhile, the transportation, accommodation, daily consumption and souvenir shopping of the teams, athletes and spectators also contributed TL 5 billion ($274.43 million) to the region's economy.
Thirteen riders will represent host Türkiye in different categories of the MXGP event this year. They include, Şakir Şenkalaycı, Mustafa Çetin, Batuhan Demiryol, Emircan Şenkalaycı, Ömer Uçum, Yiğit Ali Selek, Murat Başterzi, Tuğrul Dursunkaya, Eray Esentürk, Burak Arlı, Mevlüt Kolay and Volkan Öztürk.
Irmak Yıldırım, who joined the World Women's Motocross Championship MXW for the first time last year, will make an appearance as well. The young athlete will be eyeing a tope 10 finish against some of the world's fastest female racers.
In the build-up to the main event, Afyonkarahisar kicked off Wednesday the country's largest motorcycling festival, Türkiye MotoFest.
Besides events for petrolheads, it is hosting over 50 different sports activities and events, organized by the Youth and Sports Ministry.
They will be accompanied by 10 concerts over five days, featuring some of Turkey's leading musicians. This year's festival will feature names like Koray Avcı, Erol Evgin and Ajda Pekkan. Popular musicians Gökçe, Yüksek Sadakat and Sagopa Kajmer performed on the first day of the event.
The 2022 championship and festival also coincide with Afyonkarahisar's celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the Great Offensive, the largest and final military operation of the Turkish War of Independence.
The city was one of the stages of the military offensive, led by the founder of the Turkish republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
The MXGP of Turkey and Türkiye Motofest hosted nearly 150,000 spectators and visitors last year and is expecting to push that number over 200,000 this year, according to the TMF.