What is MotoGP?
The MotoGP Championship is the pinnacle class of world championship road racing that developed primarily in Europe after the FIM (Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme) consolidated the regulations for motorcycle competition for the first time in 1949. In the past, the pinnacle class was the 500cc class of the Road Race World Championships, but in 2002 the regulation was changed to create the MotoGP class in which 2-stroke machines of up to 500 cc and 4-stroke machines of up to 990 cc competed together.
The regulation was changed again in 2004 to limit the MotoGP class to 4-stroke machines only, and the displacement limit was reduced to 800 cc in the regulation from the 2007 season. Since then, new regulations have also made a single maker the sole supplier of tyres for MotoGP, limited the number of tyres that can be used by a team during race week and reduced the number of test days.
In 2010, regulations changed to limit the number of engines a single rider can use during the season to six. 2011 was the last for the 800cc machines, with regulations changing for 2012 to allow 1000cc bikes onto the grid.
A major change for the 2014 season is that all teams were required to source and use a standard MotoGP ECU. In 2015 it was decided that all engine management systems including injectors, bypass systems, variable intake systems and ignition must be operated exclusively by the original and unmodified ECU signal. Factory teams are allowed to develop their own software for it up until 30th June 2015. After that date they will switch their development programme to the 2016 unified software and will not be permitted to update their old software except for minor bug fixes that might affect safety. The manufacturers that are new to the MotoGP class in 2015 or that were not participating as contracted entries in 2014, may continue to develop their own software until the end of the 2015 season.
Other 2015 regulation changes see the minimum weight of a 1,000 cc machine will be reduced by 2 kg from 160kg to 158kg and the carbon brake discs must be one of the permitted sizes for outside diameter, that is: 320mm and 340mm. At certain circuits, such as Motegi, the use of 340mm carbon brake discs is mandatory for the race for safety reasons.
The factory rider entries are subject to a 20-liter fuel limit and five engines for the season. The rules confirm each manufacturer is allowed to enter up to four factory riders. New manufacturers are allowed nine engines and a pass on the homologation requirements freezing engine design and internal parts.
Non-factory entrants that source the MotoGP software package for the spec ECU are allowed an extra four-liter fuel load. Each rider will also get 12 engines per season.
During all practice sessions, warm up and the race a maximum of 21 slick tyres, 10 of which are front tyres. Of these 10 front tyres a maximum of 6 can be either specification A (hard) or specification B (soft). For the 11 rear slick tyre up to a maximum of 5 can be a specification A (hard) or a maximum of 7 can be specification B (soft). There is a standard allocation of 10 wet tyres: 5 front wet tyres and 5 rear wet tyres of the standard specification.
With all these changes, MotoGP is firmly in a new era. Both full factory and CRT bikes have a light chassis of around 150kg, the machines achieve a maximum output of over 220 hp and reach speeds of over 340km/hr. The latest electronic control technology is employed throughout. Competitors compete for position in approximately a 40-minute race on paved circuit with a length of 4~5km, with laps capped to about 110 to 120 km.
A new split qualifying procedure was introduced in 2013, with the fastest riders from practice going into a pole shoot-out. The existing three 45-minute practice sessions remained, but the first half hour of qualifying became additional practice and does not count for the grid. Qualifying itself become two 15-minute sessions known as 'qualifying practice 1' and 'qualifying practice 2'. QP1 commences 10 minutes after the end of the new practice four, with a further 10-minute break before QP2. The 10 fastest riders in the combined times from practices one, two and three go straight through to QP2. The rest of the field have to participate in QP1, from which the fastest two riders qualify for QP2, with the remainder forming the grid from 13th back. QP2 then decides the top 12 grid positions.
Italian riders, including Valentino Rossi and Giacomo Agostini, have the best all-time records, winning a total of 20 titles in this premier class. Yamaha has a total of 16 titles, including ten in the GP500 and five in the MotoGP. Yamaha Factory Racing won the Triple Crown of Rider, Team and Manufacturer’s title three years consecutively, 2008 – 2010 and the Rider’s title again in 2012.