Take top motorcycle manufacturers, such as Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki and unite them with elite motorcycle riders from all over the world, put them in 16 different countries and you have created the Moto GP .
Coined the premier motorcycle championship, the Moto GP’s 18 grand prix weekends showcase racing prototype motorcycles in Spain, Qatar, Turkey, China, France, Italy, Great Britain, Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, San Marino, Portugal, Japan, Australia and Malaysia. And new in 2008, a United States Moto GP round will be held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on September 14 for all 3 classes of races – Moto GP, 250 and 125 – in addition to the United States round at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California for the 800cc class.
Protoype bikes at the Moto GP
The Moto GP draw is the cycles themselves – these bikes aren’t available for purchase or legal to ride on public roads. Motorcycle manufacturers build these bikes for Moto GP riders. Riders like Moto GP’s current World Champion – USA’s own Nicky Hayden. And riders ride the bikes for their teams, and essentially their sponsors like Hayden’s team – the Repsol Honda team backed by the motorcycle manufacturer Honda and the Spanish oil and gas company Repsol. According to SpeedTV.com Moto GP News, leasing a top-level motorcycle for a rider is about 3 to 3.5 million dollars!
Moto GP races
Of the three categories or classes of races in the Moto GP, the Moto GP class is designed for racing’s elite with no restrictions to any specific engine configuration and the maximum engine displacement capacity of 800cc’s or 4-stroke engines. Intended for the experienced rider, the minimum age for entry is 18.
The middle level gives riders age 16 and older a chance to test their skills in the 250 classwith 250cc or twin cylinder cycles. And even 15-year-olds can test the waters in the Grand Prix in the 125 class containing single cylinder engines. Maximum age for the 125 is 28.
With races spanning 95-130 kilometers and lasting 40-45 minutes, the Moto GP race is no sprint. It’s a really long haul for the Moto GP class riders who earn points for each Grand Prix weekend position – 25 for position 1, 20 for position 2 all the way through to position 15 where the rider receives 1 point.
Changes to the race
The Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) first organized the Grand Prix Road-Racing World Championship in 1949. Since 1992, Dorna Sports now owns the commercial rights to the race.
Many changes to the race itself have changed throughout the years, such as the amount of cylinders allowed. Prior to 2005, if rain appeared after a dry start, the race could be red-flagged or stopped so riders could start on wet tires. Now, if it rains, officials wave a white flag and riders can choose to pit to swap the motorcycle – the only difference in the cycle can be the tires. It’s all about the tires. The right tires in the right weather conditions are a major asset in winning the Moto GP. For that reason, a new rule will open up for riders in 2008 to allow more tires per race weekend – 18 for the front and 22 for the back for a total of 40.
And of course, the biggest news for those of us in the U.S. is the 2008 addition to the Moto GP – the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on September 14. Start planning for this big trip now as those hotels are already booking up fast.
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