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Monday, March 20, 2023

The rules, schedule, how points will be awarded

Here’s the rules, the schedule, and how points will be awarded…

Sprint races will feature at every round

The Sprint race will be on a Saturday afternoon at every round. It will NOT replace the normal Q1 and Q2 qualifying sessions, which will decide the grid for both the Sprint and Sunday race.

How many points in the Sprint race worth? How long is it?

The Sprint race is half the normal race distance, and half points will be awarded (12 points for a win, 1 point for 9th).

Do Sprint race results count in the MotoGP record books?

No, the Sprint results will be listed separately.

Dorna’s Sporting managing director Carlos Ezpeleta said: “In the end, this is not another Grand Prix race that we’re adding to the weekend, to the format.

“We’re basically changing one practice for a sprint Race which will give points, meaning that from now on for the historical data, it will be the Sunday that continues to give the GP winner. So the winner of the grand prix will be the winner of the race.

“Then historically the riders will have one more row of data on, let’s say, on their profile. So a rider will have a number of fastest laps, a number of poles, a number of podiums for which it will only count the podiums of the Sunday, and a number of victories. And from now on, they will have a number of sprint race victories. That will be one more row on their profile.

“There will be a podium for the sprint race, but it will not count for the total number of podiums that the rider has. And you know, finally will be the GP winner, will be the one that wins the race on Sunday will be exciting for the fans.”

How does it affect other MotoGP sessions?

The two Friday Practice sessions will be extended (currently 45 minutes) and the combined times used to determine direct access to Q2 (instead of waiting until after Free Practice 3 on Saturday morning).

FP3 will now be reduced from 45 to 30 minutes – thus effectively becoming FP4 (albeit at a different time to the races) which has been dropped from the schedule – and directly followed by Q1 and Q2. The Sprint race is then the last Saturday MotoGP action.

What about Moto2 and Moto3?

Moto2 and Moto3 will continue to have a single, Sunday, race. The order of the track action and Sunday races will also be ‘standardised’ next season with Moto3 followed by Moto2 and finally MotoGP whenever possible, ‘allowing for an improved podium ceremony, on-track celebrations and the possibility of fan track invasions at each venue’.  

Why are Dorna introducing Sprint races?

“You already know that we are going to introduce: Starting next year, a sprint race on the Saturday afternoon of every Grand Prix; not like in Formula 1, but in every Grand Prix,” said FIM president Jorge Viegas.

“We think that after two years of Covid, when all of us made incredible sacrifices to keep having this important Championship, it’s time to give more exposure, in the TV, but also to the spectators. We need more spectators, we need a better show, and we need to fill the Saturdays.”

“It has been the aim of the championship to try to improve everything as much as we can, working in all areas,” said Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta.  “We have been looking at other sports, different possibilities, to offer a better show. It has been discussed with the FIM, the manufacturers and teams.”

IRTA president Herve Poncharal said: “If you don’t move forward you make a step back. Although our show is great, it doesn’t mean you cannot improve.

“Yes, we look at what is happening somewhere else and what works somewhere else.

“We had a meeting with all the Independent MotoGP teams and they unanimously supported the idea. It will also be better for the media and sponsors.

“There will be no more [costs] because there will be no more track action, so we won’t need to change the tyre or engine allocation.

“We will try not to give more work to the riders, but provide more action and excitement.”

Which riders are skeptical?

Fabio Quartararo: “I think it’s stupid.

“Yes, it’s the same mileage. But the amount of risk and the amount of energy you give for a race or to do 14 laps in FP4 is not the same.

“I do what they tell me to do… at the end, I think it’s great that qualifying will still be the position that you will start the real [Sunday] race.”

Aleix Espargaro: “I really want to think, I really want to believe that the management of the championship thinks that this [Sprint] is the best thing for the show, for the sport, for the popularity… I don’t share this idea, but it’s just my opinion.

“I think it’s not the solution. I think that the risk is going to be too high. I think that 44 starts [a season] in MotoGP are too many. They say it’s going to be the same track time, so nothing changed. But FP4 and a race are not the same! But I will try. They choose what they want and we have to adapt. Let’s try, maybe it’s a good solution.”

Which riders support the idea?

Jack Miller: “Massive fan of it [the idea]. It’s another chance for a bonus! But no, why not try it. I think a sprint race would throw a good element into it, where it’s all or nothing. 

“Half points makes you want to risk more I guess and you don’t have to worry about tyres, about fuel or anything like that. 

“Also physical condition because a lot of these [normal] races you can’t push to your absolute max the whole time. But for half race distance you can kind of hold your breath and get it done. 

“I think why not give it a crack. I think it will be an amazing addition and would be something the fans love to see.”

Johann Zarco: “It would be a good challenge. It’s very interesting, it’s always a good show and it would be nice for the public. It’s nice to watch in Superbike so why not in MotoGP. 

“[But] I think it should be almost the same points as a long race because it’s the same intensity but just shorter.”

Joan Mir: “One part I like is the Friday for me makes more sense, because it [decides who] passes directly to Q2. That is something great. Now on Saturday morning, straight away to go to FP3, which is a qualifying, I don’t like so much.

“But then if we make 24 races, going out of Europe and also double races, it will be tough psychologically. This is difficult, but we have to try.”

Pol Espargaro: “Now, with the full information, you see things in a different way. Yesterday, for sure I was super against this, but today, there is some benefit of doing that, in the way they explained it to me and the way they want to do it. So if I put it into the balance, I want to try this, I want to see what’s going on.

“For sure, on the other hand, it’s going to be harder for everyone, physically and psychologically, and we are going to take more risk [for] the same money. Me, riders, and also the mechanics. But on the other hand, if we are able to improve the show, money is going to come back in a different way [because] sponsors will invest in the sport.

“So overall, we need to do something, and I think it’s not a bad way to do it. But I think that if you explain it better, then everything flows much easier.”

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