MotoGP™ is the premier motorcycle racing World Championship; a nineteen-race series visiting over fifteen countries and multiple continents with global television coverage. Many nationalities of the world’s most skilled riders line a grid armed with cutting-edge motorcycle technology - with prototype machinery fielded by manufacturers including Aprilia, Ducati, Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha and KTM.
MotoGP™ was established as a World Championship by the FIM (Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme) in 1949. It is the oldest motorsports championship in the world and consists of three racing classes that take to the track on a typical Grand Prix weekend. Formerly labelled ‘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 altered, limiting engine capacity to 800cc, and once again from 2012, setting the maximum engine displacement at 1000cc. 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 since its inception in 1949. Italy, Great Britain, Spain, the USA and Australia are just some of the nationalities that have produced riders with a high number of race victories and world titles -, the details of which can be found in the Results & Statistics section.
As well as the premier class there are two ultra-competitive smaller capacity World Championship Grand Prix categories, which form part of ‘MotoGP™’. The Moto3™ (formerly 125cc) and Moto2™ (formerly 250cc) World Championships have their own races at each Grand Prix, meaning that by the end of the season three World Champions are crowned.
On a Grand Prix weekend there is a race in each of MotoGP™’s three categories:
Moto3™ – The 4-stroke, 250cc, single-cylinder class replaced the 125cc GP category in 2012. The maximum age for riders is 28 (25 for wild-card riders or those newly contracted and competing in Moto3 for the first time) and the minimum age is 16, unless the rider in question is the Champion in the FIM CEV Repsol Moto3™ Junior World Championship, in which case they can be younger.
Moto2™ – The Moto2™ class replaced the 250cc category from 2010. Honda is the sole engine supplier, and Dunlop provides the tyres. The bikes are powered by a production 600cc 4-stroke engine, creating around 140hp, but 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.
MotoGP™ – The ultimate test for the finest talents in motorcycle racing, in which the maximum engine capacity is the aforementioned 1000cc (four-stroke engines) and the minimum age for riders is 18.
At selected events, the race timetable is augmented further by the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup, Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup, and British Talent Cup – initiatives designed to unearth future MotoGP™ stars from across the world.
A Grand Prix event takes place over three days, with the first two of those for practice and qualification for each class. MotoGP™ riders need to qualify for a slot in the top-ten qualifying session by posting competitive times during any of the first three Free Practices. A “second-tier” qualifying then takes place with the slower riders on Saturday, yet has the incentive of the top two making it into the top qualifying session shortly after. Moto2™ and Moto3™ Qualifying is held during one session. The third day is race-day.
MotoGP™ Qualifying explained:
There are three 45-minute Free Practice sessions, which on a regular race weekend will be held Friday morning and afternoon, and Saturday morning. The times set in those sessions will count towards Qualifying, with the combined results determining whether a rider will participate in Q1 or Q2.
Q1 consists of the riders whose times are 11th place and below, and is a 15-minute session. During this time riders will have the incentive to qualify for Q2, which the two fastest of the Q1 session will be able to contest. This will result in 12 riders contesting the final 15-minute Q2 session, to determine the starting order at the front. The riders not in the fastest two places in Q1 will take grid positions 13 and below according to their placement in Q1.
There is also a 30 minute Free Practice 4, which is held before the two Qualifying sessions. Times set during FP4 do not count towards the combined times used to decide which Qualifying a rider will take part in.
After warm-up sessions for each category on race-day, traditionally the smallest category, in this case Moto3™, takes to the track first, with the Moto2™ class following and then finally the MotoGP™ machines. This can, however, be subject to change. Races vary in length 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 tyres (only MotoGP™).