Grand Prix Motorcycle Racing
With history going back to its first FIM organized event in 1949, Grand Prix motorcycle racing is an international series which has gathered a loyal following of fans who turn out in droves to watch driver and machine become as one as they compete for the checkered flag. As the main championship of motorcycle road racing, the Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix is divided into three categories: 125cc, Moto2, and MotoGP. Setting the Grand Prix series apart from other motorcycle racing series, such as the Superbike World Championship, is the fact that the motorcycles competing in the Grand Prix are built specifically for racing and therefore cannot be bought at a dealership and are not licensed to ride on public roads.
The MotoGP series consists of eighteen races, held in fourteen countries, on four continents, with global television coverage ensuring that fans all over the world can share in the excitement. Currently seven nationalities are represented among the riders who line the starting grid, with four manufacturers – Ducati, Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki – providing the latest in motorcycle technology.
Now in its 62nd year, MotoGP is not only the premier motorcycle racing world championship, but it is also the longest running championship series. Under the supervision of the FIM, the series is managed by Dorna Sports and has been since 1992. With more than 2.2 million people attending races in 2009, there is no doubt that spectators appreciate the effort put into the organization of each of the eighteen events, which feature races in each of the three categories.
The 125cc category is the stepping stone into this exciting sport. The minimum age for riders is 15 years, with the maximum set at 28 years – the exception being for wild-card riders, or riders who are newly contracted and competing in a 125 cc event for the first time, where the minimum age will be 25 years. Maximum engine displacement in this category is 125cc single-cylinder units. As announced in December 2008, from 2010 the 250cc category has been replaced by Moto2 – a 4-stroke class aimed at being a cost-effective, but prestigious, class to accompany the star of the show, the MotoGP.
Recognized as the ultimate test for motorcycle racing’s finest talents, MotoGP allows a maximum engine capacity of 800cc (4-stroke engines) and the motorcycle must be a prototype. The minimum age for riders competing in the MotoGP class is 18 years. Fiat Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi is the current MotoGP World Champion, having claimed his seventh premier class title in 2009.