MXGP - What is MXGP?
The FIM Motocross World Championship ‘MXGP’ is in its 62nd running this year. Up until 2004, off-road motorcycle racing was split into three classes based on cylinder capacity, 125cc, 250cc and 500cc. In the middle of the last decade, and to reflect the wide presence of four-stroke engine technology, the championship was adjusted and split into two classes, MX1 and MX2. ‘MX1’, which was renamed in 2014, is open to riders of any age and is now titled ‘MXGP’. The MXGP class permits the entry of machinery from 250cc two-strokes to 450cc four-strokes, while the ‘MX2’ class is for machinery from 125cc two-strokes to 250cc four-strokes and has an age restriction. Only riders under the age of 23-years-old are permitted to enter the FIM Motocross MX2 World Championship.
The 2019 calendar will involve twenty rounds that will see the teams and riders travel to new locations such as Hong Kong and China in addition to the usual European venues.
By definition motocross is a closed circuit, off-road motorsport that takes place on a natural track consisting of man-made obstacles and jumps; the layout itself also makes use of the landscape for elevation changes, terrain and distinctive features.
A Grand Prix sees the riders of each class complete two 30 minute and 2 lap motos, with 25 points awarded to the winner and scaling down to one point for 20th place. The standings of both races are combined for an overall result. In the event of two riders tying on points then the second race ranking determines the order of the final classification. At the end of the season – that normally runs from March to September – the rider with the highest number of points is crowned world champion.
Motocross places a higher emphasis on rider skill and fitness than outright machine performance than most other motorcycle sports. Of course, a well-tuned machine tailored to the rider’s style with great handling and suspension is essential for Grand Prix success but for the most part it comes down to rider technique, condition and physical and mental strength.
The FIM Motocross World Championship is the most diverse motocross series in the world. It covers every style of track known to man from the classic old-school tracks that have been around for decades through to the more modern day ones that incorporate big jumps, waves, and timing sections.
Over the twenty round series the riders are tested on all sorts of terrain. From the bottomless sand of places like Belgium and The Netherlands through to rock hard clay of France, all of the riders in contention must be agile with a strong ability to adapt, especially on days where the condition of the track is affected by weather.
Grand Prix races usually take place on a Sunday, while the practice sessions and qualification races take place on Saturday. The classification from the Qualifying Race determines the order of gate pick. The riders start the race in one single line with the rider who won the Qualifying Race choosing his gate first followed by the rider who finished second place, and so on. The gate falls at once and it is he who has the quickest response paired with a strong engine and 100% traction who will narrowly edge out 39 other riders at turn one.
Each entry list sees 40 riders competing for points. Most of the riders are permanently registered competitors with the local federation of each grand prix able to nominate a handful of the best regional names to try their hand against the world’s best.
At the end of the season the grand finale of the year is generally the ‘Motocross of Nations’, where the three fastest riders from each country compete for the pride of their country. While this meeting is not part of the world championship it remains one of the most prestigious events on the calendar that is hugely popular with fans and riders alike, attracting crowds near the 80,000 mark.