What is MotoGP?
Simply the World's Best Riders
MotoGP is the premier motorcycle racing world championship; an 18-race series visiting 14 countries, four continents and with pan-global television coverage. Seven nationalities of the world’s most skilled riders line a grid armed with cutting-edge motorcycle technology with prototype machinery fielded by four manufacturers: Ducati, Yamaha, Honda and Suzuki.
Established as a world championship by the FIM (Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme) in 1949, MotoGP is now into its 62nd year. It is the oldest motorsports championship in the world and the premier class of three racing classes that take to the track on a typical Grand Prix weekend.
Formerly labeled ‘500cc’, the championship underwent a change in 2002 with new technical regulations permitting the introduction of four-stroke machinery and increasing the engine capacity to 990cc, thus becoming MotoGP. From 2007, the rules were again altered limiting engine capacity to 800cc. MotoGP has been administrated by commercial rights owners Dorna Sports under the supervision of the FIM since 1992.
MotoGP has a rich history with Grand Prix events having taken place in every corner of the world throughout the last 61 years. In 2009 alone, more than 2.2 million people streamed through circuit gates to watch MotoGP. Riders from Italy, Great Britain, Spain, the USA and Australia are just some of the nationalities that have all totaled high numbers in terms of race victories and world titles.
In addition to the premier class, there are also two ultra-competitive World Championship Grand Prix categories that form part of ‘MotoGP’. The 125cc and Moto2 (formerly 250cc) World Championships have their own races at each Grand Prix, meaning that by the end of the season three new champions are crowned.
On a typical Grand Prix weekend there is a race in each of MotoGP’s three categories:
Is the first step for young riders into world championship competition. Maximum engine displacement is 125cc (single-cylinder units). The maximum age for riders is 28 years (25 for wild-card riders or those newly contracted and competing in a 125cc GP for the first time) and the minimum age is 15 years.
This new 4-stroke class was announced in December 2008 and replaces the 250cc category from 2010. Moto2 is aimed as being a prestigious yet, cost-effective accompaniment to the premier class of MotoGP. Honda is the sole engine supplier, and Dunlop provides the tires. The bikes are powered by a 600cc 4-stroke engine, producing around 140hp, and the Moto2 class will continue the 250cc series’ pursuit of developmental excellence with the running of a prototype chassis which is free from limitation.
The design and construction of the chassis is free within the constraints of the FIM Grand Prix Technical Regulations. The main frame, swingarm, fuel tank, seat and fairing/bodywork from a non-prototype (i.e., series production road-homologated) motorcycle may not be used. The minimum age for riders is 16.
The ultimate test for the finest talents in motorcycle racing, in which the maximum engine capacity is the aforementioned 800cc (4-stroke engines) and the minimum age for riders is 18. Motorcycles competing in the MotoGP class must be prototypes.
A Grand Prix event takes place over three days, with the first two of those for practice and qualification for each class. The third day is race day. There are free practice sessions on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, and then in the afternoon on Saturday a single qualification practice determines grid order for Sunday’s race, with the fastest riders taking the front slots. In MotoGP the three fastest riders take positions on the first row of the grid, with the rest lining up in rows of three behind. In 125cc and Moto2 it is four riders per row.
After warm-up sessions for each category on race day, traditionally the 125cc contest begins the program, with the Moto2 class following and then finally the blue ribbon MotoGP event. This can be subject to change however. Races vary in length of between 95-130km and normally last between 40-45 minutes, conforming to a set number of laps which differs at each track.
Pit stops are rare, but permitted, and are especially applicable in changeable weather conditions when riders can enter the pit lane and switch machines to one fitted with different spec tires (only MotoGP).
The current MotoGP World Champion is Italian Fiat Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo. Valentino Rossi has moved to the Ducati team. Meanwhile, the likes of Repsol Honda rider Casey Stoner (2007 MotoGP World Champion), Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso are also stars of the show, with riders such as Americans Colin Edwards, Nicky Hayden and Ben Spies all challenging for top-five finishes.
The list of participants in each Grand Prix is composed of the permanent riders, contracted and nominated by their teams for the whole season, and wildcard entries – who are often local riders. Approximately 19 participants enter each MotoGP race, about 40 take part in each Moto2 race and the 125cc races usually involve around 30 riders.
Riders from around the globe take part in the World Championships including the following countries: Australia, Austria, Colombia, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Norway, Qatar, Russia, San Marino, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, UK, USA and Venezuela.
MotoGP also has close links with the Riders for Health charity, which helps health workers in Africa have access to reliable transportation so they can reach the most isolated people with regular and predictable health care.