MotoGP has made history by announcing the addition of sprint races to the grand prix bill for the 2023 season. The decision to introduce this format tweak is expected to have major implications on the outcome of the world championship. MotoGP owners Dorna Sports conducted a fan survey in partnership with Motorsport Network which revealed that fans supported the idea of introducing sprint races to the grand prix format.
It is hoped that this format will attract more viewers, create more excitement and better value for fans, and increase overall worldwide exposure for riders, sponsors and bike constructors alike worldwide.
MotoGP sprint races: how they work
Sprint races will take place at every grand prix event on the Saturday, and they will run for half the distance of the main grand prix. Qualifying sessions will take place earlier in the day to decide the grid for the sprint races which will commence at 3 pm local time. Only the top nine riders will score points for sprint races, and half points will be awarded.
The current scoring system for Sunday’s grand prix will remain unchanged
Sprint races results will be counted separately to grand prix wins, meaning the winner of a sprint will not go in the history books as an official GP winner as it happens for winners of the Sunday races.
The addition of sprint races has altered the grand prix weekend schedule. The Friday session will still feature two free practice sessions, but they will take place later than before. FP1 will run for 45 minutes, starting at 10:45 am local time, while FP2 will take place at 3 pm local time and run for an hour.
Qualifying, Rules and impact on the Sunday MotoGP race
Qualifying for both the sprint race and the grand prix will take place immediately after FP3 on Saturday morning, from 10:50 am to 11:30 am local time. The grid order for both races will be decided during this session.
The technical rules for the sprint race are mostly unchanged, except for the limited fuel loads of 12 liters allowed for the sprint race, compared to the 22L allowed for the grand prix. There are also some modifications to the track limits rules, with the number of allowed infringements before a penalty is awarded being cut from five to three. Any penalty copped in a sprint race for an incident will be carried into the main grand prix, likewise any punishments handed out pre-race.
Tyre rules will not change for the sprint race, and there will be no special sprint race tires, as there is in World Superbikes. Because the weekend format has been tweaked to accommodate sprint races, there is no need to add extra engines to teams’ allocation as the mileage for each grand prix weekend will be the same as it was in 2022.
In conclusion, the introduction of sprint races to the MotoGP grand prix weekend format is a significant change that will impact the world championship. The format aims to offer better value for fans both watching from the track and from home, which is expected to attract more sponsorship and boost overall worldwide exposure.
Sprint races will take place at every grand prix event on Saturdays, running for half the distance of the main grand prix, only the top nine to cross the finish line will score points.
The weekend schedule has been altered to accommodate sprint races, with qualifying for both races taking place on Saturday morning, and the grid order being decided during that session.
Picture: Box Repsol, Marc Márquez, riding his Repsol Honda, being followed by the Pramac Ducati of Johann Zarco, the Red Bull Factory KTM of Miguel Oliveira and the Lenovo Ducati of Francesco Bagnaia at the 2021 Catalan Grand Prix., Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.