MotoGP is a Grand Prix-style form of motor racing that is exclusive to motorcycles only. It has the illustrious honour of being the oldest motorsport championship in the world, with the first-ever annual competition being held in 1949.
MotoGP is the highest standard of motorcycle racing. Events are held on road circuits, with motorcycles made by some of the biggest names in the world. The governing body for MotoGP is the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM).
How is MotoGP won?
A MotoGP race will typically consist of 20 motorcycles from varying manufacturers starting in a grid format. The grid positions are allocated based on the qualifying times of all of those taking part, with the fastest qualifier starting at the front, or pole position, as it’s commonly known.
Unlike other motorsports such as Formula One, MotoGP is a sprint to the finish (no pit stops for fuel and tyre changes) with the first to cross the finish line, after the designated amount of laps, declared the winner.
In the early days, the World Championship was dominated by European and British motorcycle manufacturers, before the motorcycle manufacturing boom in Japan in the 1960s. This boom saw the likes of Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki enter the fray and stake their claim, with all three picking up Championships in varying categories.
The rising costs of Grand Prix racing meant that by the end of the 60s, Yamaha were the only Japanese manufacturers competing for the World Championship. In response, the FIM introduced rules that restricted the number of cylinders a bike could have in relation to the category they were racing in to level the playing field.
Golden Age of MotoGP
By the 1980s, the likes of Honda and Suzuki had returned and ushered in a golden age of World Championship racing, with all of the big-name manufacturers again competing for titles. The 1990s saw Australian great and MotoGP legend Mick Doohan win five consecutive world titles before a series of injuries prematurely ended his racing career.
In 2002, the World Championship re-branded itself as MotoGP and this change coincided with the birth of a MotoGP legend – Valentino Rossi. After winning the 2001 title with Honda, the young Italian went on to win a further two titles before a sensational move to Yamaha saw him win a further two consecutive world titles.
Rossi then had to wait until 2008 before landing his sixth world title and quickly followed that up with his seventh in 2009 (both with Yamaha), taking him to within one title of equalling the great Giacomo Agostini’s all-time record of eight.
Chasing the dream
After a brief move to Ducati in 2011 for one year, Rossi went back to Yamaha to continue to chase that elusive eighth world title. After exploding onto the scene and dominating the early 2000s, Valentino Rossi is still very much the poster boy of MotoGP and, even now in his early 40s, there’s every chance he’ll equal Agostini’s amazing record of eight titles.