You would have noticed a new sprint race on Saturday if you watched the MotoGP 2023 season opener at Portugal last weekend.
The Sprint Race format is new for the MotoGP class beginning this year, following in the footsteps of the World Superbike Championship and Formula 1. It is hoped that racing fans will get more value from their tickets at the track and more viewership from home.
So let us take a closer look to how it works.
What is a MotoGP Sprint Race?
The sprint race will take place at all 21 rounds of the championship this year, bringing the total number of races to 42.
The qualifying format for Moto3 and Moto2 classes remain the same.
As mentioned above, the race takes place on Saturday, starting at 3pm local time, regardless of venue.
It also means some shake up in the practice formats:
- Two timed practices sessions P1 and P2 will take place on Friday.
- These two sessions will determine the best times for the two qualifying sessions.
- The 10 fastest riders will head straight into Q2.
- The rest of the riders from 11th and down the field will need to shoot it out in Q1.
- The day begins with an untimed Free Practice session.
- Followed 10 minutes later with Q1.
- Two fastest riders in Q1 will head to Q2.
- Q2 begins another 10 minutes later.
- Now, the 12 riders (plus the 2 fastest from Q1) will battle it out for the top 12 starting grid positions.
- The starting grid positions are the same for the Sprint Race and main Race on Sunday, which differs from WSBK and F1.
- Sprint Race begins at 3pm.
- Free Practice 4 (FP4) has been scrapped.
- The Race begins at 2pm.
Length of Sprint Race
The length the Sprint Race will half of the main Race. For example, the Main Race consists of 26 laps at the Sepang International Circuit, thus the Sprint Race will see 13 laps.
The Sprint Race awards falf the points of the Main Race since it is only over half the distance. As such, the points range from 12 maximum points for first placed finish, down to 1 point for 9th placing; compared to 25 maximum points for the champion down to 1 point for the 15th place in the Main Race.
However, weird as it may seem, the points accrued in the Sprint Races do not add towards the final championship standing, unlike in WSBK.
- The allowed full fuel load for the Main Race is 22 litres, thus 12 litres (extra 1 litre) is allowed for the Sprint Race.
- No special tyre allocation for the Sprint Race, unlike WSBK. It is up to the teams to work around the number of allowed tyres for a race weekend.
- Engine rules remain the same, as FP4 has been scrapped for the Sprint Race.
Penalty rules for infringement in Sprint Races are the same as used previously in practice and qualifying sessions. The penalties will carry over to the main race or being handed during the race itself.