Grand Prix motorcycle racing
The official MotoGP Logo
|MotoGP World Championship|
|Constructors||Aprilia, Ducati, Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha|
|Riders' champion||2015 Jorge Lorenzo|
|Moto2 World Championship|
|Constructors||Kalex, Suter, Speed Up, Tech 3|
|Riders' champion||2015 Johann Zarco|
|Moto3 World Championship|
|Constructors||KTM, Mahindra, Honda, Husqvarna|
|Riders' champion||2015 Danny Kent|
The MotoGP World Championship is the premier class of motorcycle road racing (north American terminology - not to be confused with European 'road racing' which takes place on public roads, such as the Isle of Man TT). It is currently divided into three classes: MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3. All three classes use four-stroke engines. In 2010, 250 cc two-strokes were replaced by the new Moto2 600 cc four-stroke class. In 2012, 125 cc two-strokes were replaced by the Moto3 250 cc four-stroke class with a weight limit of 65 kg with fuel, and the engine capacity for MotoGP increased from 800 cc to 1,000 cc.
Grand Prix motorcycles are purpose-built racing machines that are neither available for purchase by the general public nor able to be ridden legally on public roads. This contrasts with the various production-based categories of racing, such as the Superbike World Championship and the Isle of Man TT Races that feature modified versions of road-going motorcycles available to the public.
A Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix was first organized by the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) in 1949. The commercial rights are now owned by Dorna Sports, with the FIM remaining as the sport sanctioning body. Teams are represented by the International Road Racing Teams Association (IRTA) and manufacturers by the Motorcycle Sport Manufacturers Association (MSMA). Rules and changes to regulations are decided between the four entities, with Dorna casting a tie-breaking vote. In cases of technical modifications, the MSMA can unilaterally enact or veto changes by unanimous vote among its members. These four entities compose the Grand Prix Commission.
There have traditionally been several races at each event for various classes of motorcycles, based on engine size, and one class for sidecars. Classes for 50 cc, 80 cc, 125 cc, 250 cc, 350 cc, and 500 cc solo machines have existed at some time, and 350 cc and 500 cc sidecars. Up through the 1950s and most of the 1960s, four-stroke engines dominated all classes. In part this was due to rules, which allowed a multiplicity of cylinders (meaning smaller pistons, producing higher revs) and a multiplicity of gears (giving narrower power bands, affording higher states of tune). In the 1960s, two-stroke engines began to take root in the smaller classes.
In 1969, the FIM — citing high development costs for non-works teams — brought in new rules restricting all classes to six gears and most to two cylinders (four cylinders in the case of the 350 cc and 500 cc classes). This led to a mass walk-out of the sport by the previously highly successful Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha manufacturer teams, skewing the results tables for the next several years, with MV Agusta effectively the only works team left in the sport until Yamaha (1973) and Suzuki (1974) returned with new two-stroke designs. By this time, two-strokes completely eclipsed the four-strokes in all classes. In 1979, Honda, on its return to GP racing, made an attempt to return the four-stroke to the top class with the NR500, but this project failed, and, in 1983, even Honda was winning with a two-stroke 500.
The 50 cc class was replaced by an 80 cc class, then the class was dropped entirely in the 1990s, after being dominated primarily by Spanish and Italian makes. The 350 cc class vanished in the 1980s. Sidecars were dropped from world championship events in the 1990s (see Superside), reducing the field to 125s, 250s, and 500s.
File:2006YamahaYZR-M1-001.jpg MotoGP, the premier class of GP motorcycle racing, has changed dramatically in recent years. From the mid-1970s through to 2001, the top class of GP racing allowed 500 cc displacement with a maximum of four cylinders, regardless of whether the engine was a two-stroke or four-stroke. Consequently, all machines were two-strokes, due to the greater power output for a given engine capacity. Some two- and three-cylinder two-stroke 500s were seen, but though they had a minimum-weight advantage under the rules, typically attained higher corner speed and could qualify well, they lacked the power of the four-cylinder machines.
In 2002, rule changes were introduced to facilitate the phasing out of the two-strokes. The rules permitted manufacturers to choose between running two-stroke engines of 500 cc or less or four-strokes of 990 cc or less. Manufacturers were also permitted to employ their choice of engine configuration. Despite the significantly increased costs involved in running the new four-stroke machinery, given their extra 490cc capacity advantage, the four-strokes were soon able to dominate their two-stroke rivals. As a result, by 2003 no two-stroke machines remained in the MotoGP field. The 125 cc and 250 cc classes still consisted exclusively of two-stroke machines.
In 2007, the MotoGP class had its maximum engine displacement capacity reduced to 800 cc for a minimum of five years. For the 2012 season the capacity has increased again to 1,000 cc.
The 2008 racing calendar consisted of 18 rounds in 15 different countries (Qatar, Spain which hosted three rounds, Portugal, China, France, Italy, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Germany, the US which hosted two rounds, Czech Republic, San Marino, Japan, Australia and Malaysia). Exclusive to the MotoGP class, there was also a US round at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California, for the 800 cc class only; this was because the paddock was not large enough to also include the other two classes. In 2008, a MotoGP event was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time on a newly prepared track. All three classes were scheduled to race but severe wind and rain prevented the 250 cc class from racing. MotoGP racing at Indianapolis is counterclockwise, with a "snake pit" complex past the start-finish line before heading down the turn one short-chute and into the infield section.
The grid is composed of three columns (four for the 125 cc and 250 cc classes) and contains approximately 20 riders. Grid positions are decided in descending order of qualifying speed, with the fastest on the pole or first position. Races last approximately 45 minutes, each race is a sprint from start to finish without pitting for fuel or tyres.
In 2005, a flag-to-flag rule for MotoGP was introduced. Previously, if a race started dry and rain fell, officials could red-flag (stop) the race and either restart or resume on 'wet' tyres. Now, when rain falls, a white flag is shown, indicating that riders can pit to swap the motorcycle on which they started the race for an identical one, as long as the tyres are different (that is, intermediates or slicks instead of wets). Besides different tyres, the wet-weather bikes have steel brake rotors and different brake pads instead of the carbon discs and pads used on the 'dry' bikes. This is because the carbon brakes need to be very hot to function properly, and the water cools them too much. The suspension is also 'softened' up somewhat for the wet weather.
When a rider crashes, track marshals up the track from the incident wave yellow flags, prohibiting passing in that area; one corner farther up the track, a stationary yellow flag is shown. If a fallen rider cannot be evacuated safely from the track, the race is red-flagged. Motorcycle crashes are usually one of two types: lowside, with the rider initially following his upended bike, and the more dangerous highside, with the rider ejected ahead of the machine. Increased use of traction control has made highsides much less frequent.
According to one estimate, leasing a top-level motorcycle for a rider costs about 3 to 3.5 million dollars for a racing season.
As a result of the 2008–2009 financial crisis, MotoGP is undergoing changes in an effort to cut costs. Among them are reducing Friday practice sessions, banning active suspension, launch control and ceramic composite brakes, extending the lifespan of engines, and reducing testing sessions.
- 1949: start of the world championship in Grand Prix motorcycle racing
- 1951: sidecars reduced in engine capacity from 600 cc to 500 cc
- 1957: Gilera, Mondial and Moto Guzzi withdraw at the end of the season
- 1958: MV Agusta win the constructors' and riders' championships in all four solo classes
- 1959: MV Agusta retain all eight solo titles. Honda enters the Isle of Man TT for the first time.
- 1960: MV Agusta retain all eight championships again
- 1962: first year of the 50 cc class
- 1966: Honda wins the constructors' championship in all five solo classes
- 1967: final year of unrestricted numbers of cylinders and gears
- 1968: Giacomo Agostini (MV Agusta) wins both the 350 cc and 500 cc titles
- 1969: as 1968
- 1970: as 1968
- 1971: as 1968
- 1972: as 1968. The death of Gilberto Parlotti at the Isle of Man TT causes multiple world champion Giacomo Agostini and other riders to boycott the next four events on grounds of safety.
- 1972: last year of 500 cc sidecars.
- 1973: deaths of Jarno Saarinen and Renzo Pasolini at the Italian round at Monza
- 1974: the Suzuki RG500 is the first square-four in the 500 cc class. The constructors' title is won by a Japanese brand and a two-stroke for the first time (Yamaha).
- 1975: Giacomo Agostini (Yamaha) wins the 500 cc class. Yamaha was the first non European brand to win the riders' championship.
- 1976: Barry Sheene wins the first 500 cc championship for Suzuki.The FIM gives in to the riders' boycotting of the Isle of Man TT, and the round is taken off the calendar.
- 1977: Barry Sheene wins the 500 cc class. The British Grand Prix moves from the Isle of Man to the British mainland.
- 1978: Kenny Roberts (Yamaha) wins the 500 cc class, the first American to do so
- 1979: as 1978
- 1980: as 1978. Patrick Pons (Yamaha 500 cc) and Malcolm White (passenger Phil Love) (sidecar) are both killed in the British GP at Silverstone.
- 1981: Marco Lucchinelli (Suzuki) wins the 500 cc class
- 1982: Franco Uncini (Suzuki) wins the 500 cc class. The Yamaha OW61 YZR500 is the first V4 in the 500 cc class.
- 1982: Jock Taylor (passenger Benga Johansson)(Windle-Yamaha) is killed at the Finnish sidecar GP. Imatra is subsequently removed from the GP calendar.
- 1982: last year of 350 cc class
- 1983: Freddie Spencer (Honda) wins the 500 cc class. Spencer and Kenny Roberts win all 500cc races for the season between them.
- 1984: Michelin introduces radial tyres in GPs
- 1984: 50 cc class uprated to 80 cc
- 1987: push starts are eliminated
- 1988: Wayne Rainey wins the first 500 cc race using carbon brakes, at the British GP
- 1988: Alfred Heck (passenger Andreas Räcke) is killed during free practice in the French Sidecar GP
- 1989: Iván Palazzese (Aprilia) is killed in 250 cc German GP at Hockenheim
- 1989: last year of 80 cc class
- 1990: 500 cc grid switches from five to four bikes per row
- 1992: Honda introduces the NSR500 with a big bang engine
- 1993: Shinichi Itoh and his fuel-injected NSR500 break the 200 mph (320 km/h) barrier at the German GP at Hockenheim
- 1993: Nobuyuki Wakai (Suzuki) is killed during the practice session of the 250 cc GP in Spain
- 1994: Simon Prior, passenger of Yoshisada Kumagaya, on an LCR-ADM, is killed in a crash involving seven outfits in the Sidecar GP at Hockenheim
- 1998: 500 cc switch to unleaded fuel
- 2002: MotoGP replaces the 500 cc class; 990cc four-strokes can now race alongside 500 cc two-strokes
- 2003: Daijiro Kato is killed during the Japanese GP in the MotoGP class at Suzuka when he hits the barrier at 340R (Formula One car driver Allan McNish had a serious crash during the Formula One car race the previous October there, resulting in a reprofiled 130R for 2003, known as 85R and 340R.).
- 2004: MotoGP grid switches from four to three bikes per row while 250cc and 125cc classes retains four bikes per row in 2004 beyond
- 2004: Makoto Tamada earns Bridgestone their first MotoGP victory at the Brazilian GP
- 2005: MotoGP adopts flag-to-flag rule, allowing riders to pit and switch to bikes fitted with wet-weather tyres and continue if rain begins to fall mid-race
- 2007: MotoGP engine capacity is restricted to 800 cc four-strokes. Ducati wins the championship and constructor title, the first European brand to do so in the premier class in 30 years
- 2008: Dunlop drops out of MotoGP
- 2009: Michelin drops out of MotoGP and Bridgestone becomes the sole tyre provider.
- 2009: Kawasaki suspends MotoGP activities for 2009 and considers privateer team
- 2010: Moto2 replaces the 250cc GP two-stroke class. All engines are built for Moto2 by Honda and are four-stroke 600cc in-line four-cylinder producing ~125 bhp and rev up to 16000 rpm.
- 2010: Moto2 rider Shoya Tomizawa is killed in Misano
- 2011: MotoGP rider Marco Simoncelli is killed in Sepang
- 2011: Suzuki withdraws from MotoGP at the end of the season
- 2012: Moto3 250 cc four-stroke single-cylinder class replaces the 125 cc two-stroke class
- 2012: MotoGP raises the maximum engine capacity to 1,000 cc and introduces claiming rule teams.
- 2013: knockout qualifying style is introduced
- 2014: removal of the claiming rule teams and introduction of the Open Class category
- 2015: Suzuki returned to MotoGP as a constructor after a four-year hiatus
Top riders travel the world to compete in the annual FIM World Championship series. The championship is perhaps most closely followed in Italy and Spain, home of many of the more successful riders early in the 21st century. As for the 2011 season, 25 riders of eight nations participated in the premier class of the championship.
The Riders' World Championship is awarded to the most successful rider over a season, as determined by a points system based on Grand Prix results.
Giacomo Agostini is the most successful champion in Grand Prix history, with 15 titles to his name (8 in the 500 cc class and 7 in the 350 cc class). The most dominant rider of all time was Mike Hailwood, winning 10 out of 12 (83%) races, in the 250 cc class, in the 1966 season. Mick Doohan, who won 12 out of 15 (80%) of the 500 cc races in the 1997 Grand Prix motorcycle racing season also deserves an honourable mention. Valentino Rossi is the most successful contemporary rider, having won nine titles including six Moto GP titles, and one each at 500 cc, 250 cc and 125 cc levels. The current (2015) champion is Jorge Lorenzo.
- Qatar, Doha, Losail International Circuit
- United States, Austin, Circuit of the Americas
- Argentina, Autódromo Termas de Río Hondo
- Spain, Jerez de la Frontera, Circuito de Jerez
- France, Le Mans
- Italy, Mugello Circuit
- Spain, Catalunya, Circuit de Catalunya
- Netherlands, Assen, TT Circuit Assen
- Germany, Sachsenring
- United States, Indianapolis, Indianapolis Motor Speedway
- Czech Republic, Brno, Masaryk Circuit
- United Kingdom, Silverstone Circuit
- San Marino, Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli
- Spain, Aragon, Motorland Aragon
- Japan, Motegi, Twin Ring Motegi
- Australia, Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit
- Malaysia, Sepang, Sepang Circuit
- Spain, Valencia, Circuit Ricardo Tormo
The following shows the key specifications issues for each class. It was also introduced for the 2005 year, that under rule 2.10.5: 'No fuel on the motorcycle may be more than 15 °C below ambient temperature. The use of any device on the motorcycle to artificially decrease the temperature of the fuel below ambient temperature is forbidden. No motorcycle may include such a device.' This stops an artificial "boost" gained from increasing fuel density by cooling it.
At the beginning of the new MotoGP era in 2002, 500 cc two-stroke or 990 cc four-stroke bikes were specified to race. The enormous power advantage of the 2X larger displacement four-stroke engine over the half the size two-stroke meant that by the following season, no two-stroke bikes were racing. In 2007, the maximum engine capacity was reduced to 800 cc without reducing the existing weight restriction. MotoGP-class motorcycles are not restricted to any specific engine configuration. However, the number of cylinders employed in the engine determines the motorcycle's permitted minimum weight; the weight of the extra cylinders acts as a form of handicap. This is necessary because, for a given capacity, an engine with more cylinders is capable of producing more power. If comparable bore to stroke ratios are employed, an engine with more cylinders will have a greater piston area and a shorter stroke. The increased piston area permits an increase in the total valve area, allowing more air and fuel to be drawn into the engine, and the shorter stroke permits higher revs at the same piston speed, allowing the engine to pump still more air and fuel with the potential to produce more power, but with more fuel consumption too. In 2004 motorcycles were entered with three-, four-and five-cylinder configurations. A six-cylinder engine was proposed by Blata, but it did not reach the MotoGP grids. Presently four-cylinder engines appear to offer the best compromise between weight, power, and fuel consumption as all competitors in the 2009 series use this solution in either 'V' or in-line configuration.
In 2002, the FIM became concerned at the advances in design and engineering that resulted in higher speeds around the race track; regulation changes related to weight, amount of available fuel and engine capacity were introduced. The amended rules reduced engine capacity to 800 cc from 990 cc and restricted the amount of available fuel for race distance from 26 litres (5.7 imp gal; 6.9 US gal) in year 2004 to 21 litres (4.6 imp gal; 5.5 US gal) in year 2007 and onwards. In addition, the minimum weight of four-cylinder bikes used by all participating teams was increased by 3 kg (6.6 lb).
The highest speed for a MotoGP motorcycle in 125 cc category is 249.76 km/h (155.19 mph) by Valentino Rossi in 1996 for Aprilia and the top speed in the history of MotoGP is 350.5 km/h (217.8 mph), set by Marc Marquez riding a Honda during the race at the 2015 Qatar Grand Prix.
On December 11, 2009, the Grand Prix Commission announced that the MotoGP class would switch to the 1,000 cc motor limit starting in the 2012 season. Maximum displacement was limited to 1,000 cc, maximum cylinders were limited to four, and maximum bore was capped at 81 mm (3.2 inches). Carmelo Ezpeleta, the CEO of Dorna Sports, indicated that the projected changes were received by the teams favorably.
From 2012, teams not entered by one of the major manufacturers could seek "claiming rule team" (CRT) status. Claiming rule team were intended to allow independent teams to be competitive at a lower cost and increase the number of entries in MotoGP. Claiming rule teams benefitted from less restrictive rules on the number of engines that could be used in a season, and with larger fuel allowances during the races. Under the claiming rule, CRTs agree to allow up to four of their engines per season to be claimed, after a race, by one of the major manufacturer teams at a cost of €20,000 each including transmission, or €15,000 each for the engine alone. From the 2014 season, the CRT class was dropped in favour of an "Open Class" specification - allowing teams using the control ECU hardware and software certain benefits to increase their competitiveness.
Moto2 is the 600 cc four-stroke class, launched in 2010 to replace the traditional 250 cc two-stroke class. Engines are supplied exclusively by Honda (similar to IndyCar Series when Honda solely supplied IndyCar Series V8 engine machines in 2006-2011), tyres by Dunlop and electronics are limited and supplied only by FIM sanctioned producers with a maximum cost set at 650 EUR. Carbon-fibre brakes are banned and only steel brakes are allowed. However, there are no chassis limitations. From 2010 onwards, only 600 cc four-stroke Moto2 machines have been allowed.
The 125 cc class was replaced in 2012 by the Moto3 class. This class is restricted to single-cylinder 250 cc four-stroke engines with a maximum bore of 81 mm (3.2 inches).The minimum total weight for motorcycle and rider is 148 kg (326 lb). Riders in the Moto3 class cannot be older than 28 years, or 25 years for new contracted riders participating for the first time and wild-cards.
|Displacement||1,000 cc (1.0 L; 61.0 cu in)||600 cc (0.6 L; 36.6 cu in)||250 cc (0.25 L; 15.26 cu in)|
|Combustion||Four-stroke (from 2012)|
|Valve-train||DOHC, four-valves per cylinder|
|Fuel||Unleaded 100 octane (no control fuel)|
|Fuel delivery||Fuel injection|
|Power||240 bhp (180 kW)||> 140 bhp (100 kW)||> 55 bhp (41 kW)|
|Rev limit||17,500 - 18,000 rpm|
|Speed||350 km/h (217 mph)||280 km/h||231 km/h (144 mph)|
|Cooling||Single water pump|
|2002 minimum||2007 minimum||2010 minimum|
|2||135 kg (298 lb)||137 kg (302 lb)||135 kg (298 lb)|
|3||135 kg (298 lb)||140.5 kg (310 lb)||142.5 kg (314 lb)|
|4||145 kg (320 lb)||148 kg (326 lb)||150 kg (330 lb)|
|5||145 kg (320 lb)||155.5 kg (343 lb)||157.5 kg (347 lb)|
|6||155 kg (342 lb)||163 kg (359 lb)||165 kg (364 lb)|
- In 2005, fuel tank capacity was reduced by 2 litres (0.44 imp gal; 0.53 US gal) to 24 litres (5.3 imp gal; 6.3 US gal)
- In 2006, fuel tank capacity was reduced by a further 2 litres to 22 litres (4.8 imp gal; 5.8 US gal)
- From 2007 onwards, and for a minimum period of five years, FIM has regulated in MotoGP class that two-stroke bikes will no longer be allowed. The maximum fuel capacity is to be 21 litres (4.6 imp gal; 5.5 US gal).
- From 2007 to 2011, engines were limited to 800 cc four-strokes
- In 2012 engine displacement was increased to 1000cc
- For the 2013 season minimum weight was increased to 160 kg (350 lb)
- For the 2015 season minimum weight was decreased to 158 kg (348 lb)
Tyre selection is critical, usually done by the individual rider based on bike 'feel' during practice, qualifying and the pre-race warm-up laps on the morning of the race, as well as the predicted weather. The typical compromise is between grip and longevity—softer compound tyres have more traction, but wear out more quickly; harder compound tyres have less traction, but are more likely to last the entire race. Conserving rubber throughout a race is a specific talent winning riders acquire. Special 'Q' or qualifying tyres of extreme softness and grip were typically used during grid-qualifying sessions until their use was discontinued at the end of the 2008 season, but they lasted typically no longer than one or two laps, though they could deliver higher qualifying speeds. In wet conditions, special tyres ('wets') with full treads are used, but they suffer extreme wear if the track dries out.
In 2007 new MotoGP regulations limited the number of tyres any rider could use over the practice and qualifying period, and the race itself, to a maximum of 31 tyres (14 fronts and 17 rears) per rider. This introduced a problem of tyre choice versus weather (among other factors) that challenges riders and teams to optimize their performance on race day. This factor was greeted with varying degrees of enthusiasm by participants. Bridgestone had dominated in 2007 and Michelin riders Valentino Rossi, Nicky Hayden, Dani Pedrosa, and Colin Edwards all acknowledged shortcomings in Michelin's race tyres relative to Bridgestone. Rossi, disappointed with and critical of the performance of his Michelin tyres, switched to Bridgestones for 2008 and won the world championship in dominant fashion. Pedrosa switched to Bridgestones during the 2008 season.
In 2008, the rules were amended to allow more tyres per race weekend—18 fronts and 22 rears for a total of 40 tyres. The lower number of tyres per weekend was considered a handicap to Michelin riders. The only MotoGP team using Dunlop tyres in 2007, Yamaha Tech 3, did not use them in 2008 but switched to Michelin.
For 2009, 2010 and 2011, a 'spec' tyre supplier, Bridgestone, was appointed by the FIM (with Michelin no longer supplying any tyres to MotoGP). For the whole season Bridgestone provided four different specifications of front tyre, six of rear, and a single wet specification—with no qualifying specification. For each round Bridgestone provided only two specifications for front and rear. Tyres are assigned to riders randomly to assure impartiality. Jorge Lorenzo has publicly supported the mono tyre rule.
This article may lend undue weight to certain ideas, incidents, or controversies. (November 2011)
- Hitting the Apex, a documentary film about MotoGP, was released in 2015 and is now available on DVD.
- Fastest, a documentary film about MotoGP, was released in 2011 and is now available on DVD.
- Faster, a documentary film about MotoGP, was released in 2003 and is now available on DVD.
- The Doctor, The Tornado and The Kentucky Kid, a documentary on the 2005 United States motorcycle Grand Prix
- GP-1 (Atlus)
- GP-1: Part II (Atlus)
- GP500 (MicroProse)
- 500cc Grand Prix (Microïds)
- MotoGP: Ultimate Racing Technology series (THQ/Climax)
- MotoGP (Xbox) (THQ)
- MotoGP 2 (THQ)
- MotoGP 3: Ultimate Racing Technology (THQ)
- MotoGP '06 (THQ)
- MotoGP '07 (THQ)
- MotoGP '07 (PS2) (Capcom)
- MotoGP '08 (Capcom/Milestone)
- MotoGP 09/10 (Capcom/Monumental)
- MotoGP 10/11 (Capcom/Monumental)
- MotoGP 13 (Milestone)
- MotoGP 14 (Milestone)
- MotoGP 15 (Milestone)
- MotoGP (PS2) (Namco)
- MotoGP 2 (PS2) (Namco)
- MotoGP 3 (PS2) (Namco)
- MotoGP 4 (Namco)
- MotoGP (Namco)
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- MotoGP Rules Update: 'CRT' Name Dropped, Replaced With 'Open' Motomatters, 17 October 2013 Retrieved 2014-12-17
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- Jorge Lorenzo satisfied with single tyre rule motorcyclenews
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