Editor's Note: This continues a series counting down the top 15 stories in MotoGP in 2012, as determined by the Soup staff.
Some analysts say the U.S. economy stabilized and showed baby steps of growth in 2012 for the first time since the Great Decession of 2009.
That recovery, as modest as it may be, hasn't reached the "motherland" of Grand Prix motorcycle racing in Europe, especially in Spain, Portugal and Italy. The economy continues to tank across much of Europe, and the finances of MotoGP teams, sponsors and circuits remain stuck in neutral at best.
Unemployment for people younger than 30 in Spain reportedly has reached 50 percent. Those are the same people that used to flock to bleachers and hillsides at Jerez, Barcelona, Aragon and Valencia. No mas.
Even if you believe that MotoGP attendance figures are at least in part fiction--and some do--there's no denying that there's fewer bodies watching the races on site.
Event attendance was down by 49,000 at Jerez, 22,000 at Aragon, 15,000 at Valencia and 5,300 this year at Catalunya.
That drop was a metaphor for the entire season. Overall MotoGP attendance dropped by more than 150,000 fans, as 2,215,543 people strolled through the gates at 18 races this season. That's the lowest attendance number for the five MotoGP races that have featured 18 races, in 2007-08 and 2010-12.
Eighteen-race attendance peaked at 2,416,210 in 2008. Last year, 2,369,949 attended MotoGP races, the second biggest total in the 18-race era.
Money troubles also hit European circuits, as all four Spanish MotoGP tracks were rumored to be in the red, struggling to find a way to make a profit during Grand Prix weekends. It is rumored that a Ducati team, at the end of a test at Jerez, found themselves locked inside the track. The track had changed banks during the day and the new owners slapped new locks on the gates.
Sachsenring in Germany also was in financial trouble before securing a new deal with Dorna, and Estoril was dropped from the 2013 schedule after a 13-year run due to lack of euros.
These are all sobering statistics and realities. But Dorna's response to the economic struggles of the sport were puzzling, to say the least.
Instead of diversifying its schedule across various countries around the world much like a stable stock portfolio, Dorna doubled-down on insanity for 2013 by putting half of the 18 events on the calendar in just three nations. Spain again will host four races despite its economy swirling down the porcelain bowl. Italy's production isn't much better, but it will keep its two races. And the United States - which has shown only a niche appetite among spectators and almost no interest from corporations - will play host to three races with the addition of the Austin round.
Bernie Ecclestone continues to funnel eight figures of Constructors prize money into even the most destitute Formula One team's coffers every year by realizing the fans, companies and circuits of Old World Europe lack the dosh to fuel the sport. So Bernie has taken F1 to petro-kingdoms flush with cash, places where $50 million annual sanctioning fees can be written without an eyeball twitch.
Does Dorna need follow suit? In these times it's hedging a losing bet by keeping the power base of MotoGP in nations like Spain.