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 As announced in December 2008, from 2010 the 250cc category has been replaced by Moto2 – a 4-stroke class aimed at being a cost-effective, but prestigious, class to accompany the star of the show, the MotoGP.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.
For unchallenged and thrilling motorcycle action, racing enthusiast are recommended to get down to Valencia from the 6th to the 8th of November 2009, where the Valencia MotoGP will be taking place at Circuito De Valencia. Spectators are advised to purchase their tickets ahead of time, as ticket sales are on sale at present, and with more than a hundred and fifty thousand spectators attending this event, ticket will sell out fast.
The Valencia MotoGP is a wonderful event that is attended by many international and Spanish riders, as it is known for its festive and celebratory atmosphere.
Date: 6 – 8 November 2009
Venue: Circuito De Valencia
The Sepang International Circuit, or as it is also known the Sepang F1 International Circuit, does not only host the Formula 1 Malaysian Grand Prix, but is home to the A1 Grand Prix and the Moto GP Malaysian Grand Prix. Many other motor sport events are also hosted here during the year.
Compared to other Grand Prix venues, the Sepang International Circuit ranks amongst the best, with the facilities and the technology to back that statement. The media resources that the circuit has available and the fantastic pit area, are facilities that the Sepang F1 International Circuit can be proud of. The grandstands and amenities for spectators are also superb, ensuring comfort and a great view of the action.
The designer of this amazing circuit was Hermann Tilke, from Germany, who has designed similar superb facilities in Bahrain, Turkey and Shanghai. The 5.54 kilometer main circuit, is usually raced clockwise, and is known for its wide straits and somewhat sweeping corners. The track was built in a very unusual manner, as only an extremely tight hairpin corner, separates the pit straight and the long back straight.
Configurations of the Sepang International Circuit can be varied for use. It allows the clockwise directed north circuit to be utilized, which is situated on the first half of the Sepang F1 Circuit. After turn number six, the track turns toward the pit straight, and is a total of 2.71 kilometers in length. The opposite side of the race track, forms the south circuit. On this circuit, the long back straight, that is used on the main circuit, then becomes the pit straight. The pit straight for the south circuit runs into the main circuits’ number eight corner, which then forms a hairpin corner. As with all the circuits at the Sepang F1 Circuit, the south circuit is also raced in a clockwise direction, and is a total length of 2.61 kilometers. Due to the versatility of the Sepang International Circuit, it is also able to host motocross and kart racing at the track.
Located close to Shiroka, Japan and east of Osaka, the Suzuka Speedway offers an entertaining and challenging course. Originally called Motor Sportsland (but re-named shortly after it opened), the Suzuka Speedway is built near Suzuka City in Japan, on land previously used by rice farmers. Suzuka offers a balance of curves and speed where the driver must be able to keep their speed under control so as not to overshoot into the two critical curves on the track, most notably the “Spoon Curve”. Traffic can be tight at the beginning, bringing drivers into quite a few possible collision scenarios.
With six total curves, and a length of almost 6 kilometers, the Suzuka Speedway is well-regarded as one of the best racetracks in the world, with several unique features. It is a figure-eight design with a multitude of fast and slow corners, including the aptly named Spoon Curve, the now much slower 130R corner, and Degner corner.
The Suzuka Speedway is the host of the Formula One Fuji Television Japanese Grand Prix and one of the oldest and most-famous motorsport race tracks in Japan.
Designed as a test track in 1962 by John Hugenholtz, Suzuka Speedway is a unique circuit. Naturally, the track doesn’t actually intersect with itself on its figure-8 layout; instead, the back straight passes over the front section by means of an overpass. Due to its unique layout, Suzuka is a massive test of driver skill and is easily one of the most difficult racing circuits in the world. Nevertheless, the track is loved by drivers and spectators alike for its challenging design and many opportunities for overtaking.
Safety has been a concern at the circuit’s 130R, a 130-meter radius turn starting past the Crossover, following two tragic accidents in 2002 and 2003. Track officials revised the 130R, which has been compared to Spa’s Eau Rouge, redesigning it as a double-apex section, one with an 85 meter radius, and then a second featuring a 340-meter radius, leading to a much closer Casio Triangle (chicane).
During the Suzuka Speedway’s first major event since the revisions during the 2003 MotoGP Grand Prix of Japan, MotoGP rider Daijiro Kato was killed when he crashed in the new section headed to the braking zone for the Casio Triangle. (MotoGP has not returned to Suzuka since the incident).
Other than the Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix, the Suzuka Speedway also hosts the Suzuka 1000km endurance race. NASCAR organized a pair of exhibition 100-lap races on the East Circuit, a 1.4 mile layout which utilizes the pit straight and esses, before rejoining the main circuit near the Casio Triangle. The cars were Winston Cup and Winston West Series cars and the field was by invitation for the two races, run after the 1996 and 1997 seasons.
Today, the Suzuka Speedway stands as one of the most unique racetracks in the world. There is an adjoining amusement park, shopping mall, museum, several hotels, a motocross track and even a bowling alley within the circuit or next to it. Moriwaki and a slew of other Japanese hot-rod firms are located across the street from the main parking lot.
Istanbul Park blends in seamlessly among 10 thousand of years of antiquity. Respectful of the country’s past, yet bold enough to represent the future of Formula One. The circuit was constructed during 2005 and is unique in that the cars run in an anti-clockwise direction around the circuit, making the Turkish Grand Prix only the third race on the F1 Grand Prix calendar to do so (with the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola and the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace at Interlagos being the other two). This spectacular 5.378 kilometer track was designed by famed German architect Herman Tilke, the same man who created the memorable tracks at Sepang, Bahrain and Shanghai.
The track at Istanbul Park has an average width of 15 meters, ranging from 14 to 21.5 meters, and covering over 2.215 million square meters total. There are a total of 14 corners including six right and eight left turns, the sharpest with a radius of merely 15 meters. The circuit runs over four different ground levels with a start/finish straight over 650 meters in length. The total race distance of the Turkish Grand Prix is 309.356 kilometers spread out over 58 laps.
Turn 8 in particular has achieved legendary status in a short amount of time. The corner is a fast, sweeping corner with four apexes, similar to a multi-apex sections of the old Nürburgring. Spectators and drivers alike raved about Turn 8, comparing it to legendary corners such as Eau Rouge and 130R. The circuit itself has already been compared to Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. Another notable corner is Turn 1, a sharp downhill left-hander immediately after the front straight. This corner has been nicknamed by some as the “Turkish Corkscrew” in comparison to infamous “Corkscrew” at Laguna Seca. Both the 2006 F1 and MotoGP races at the circuit featured mutliple incidents at this corner.
Logistically speaking, Istanbul Park currently has a total capacity for 155,000 spectators, which are accommodated in 10 grandstands and 5 unnumbered and grassed general admission areas. Istanbul Park is located on the Asian side of Istanbul, approximately 90 kilometers from the centre of the city.
The Main Grandstand at Istanbul Park is located on the Pits Straight directly opposite the start/finish line and pit-boxes. It presents you with an excellent view of the Pits Straight, including the build-up to and the start of the race, the checkered flag at the finish of the race, as well as a view of the racing teams and their pit activities. The western side of the grandstand is situated opposite the podium, offering spectators great views of the podium celebrations after the race. The start line is located towards the middle of the grandstand. The F1 Village is also located behind this grandstand, which is easily accessible from this grandstand. Three bigscreen TV’s are located along this great grandstand, enabling spectators to follow the entire race and not lose track of the procedures.
Overall the five general admission areas provide for excellent viewing and offer good value for money admission. Istanbul Park is a naturally hilly circuit featuring a variety of steep mounds, which makes the viewing in the general admission areas good. But as always there are no seats and you must be there early to get a good spot, which you stand to lose should you have to visit a toilet or leave to buy food.