Grand Prix motorcycle racing

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Grand Prix motorcycle racing refers to the premier categories of motorcycle road racing. The category is commonly referred to simply as GP racing or motogp. GP motorcycles are prototype racing machines and are not available for general purchase (although road-going versions of the machines are available). This contrasts with the various production categories of racing (such as World Superbikes) that feature modified versions of motorcycles available to the public.

Currently there are three engine displacement categories of Grand Prix motorcycles—125 cc, 250 cc and MotoGP (up to 990 cc) although, in 2007, the MotoGP class will have its maximum engine displacement capacity reduced to 800cc, ostensibly for safety reasons. The premier class of GP motorcycle racing has changed in recent years. From the mid-1970s until 2002 the top class of GP racing was restricted to 4 cylinders and 500 cc, no matter if the engine was a 2-strokes or 4-stroke.

However in 2002 manufacturers were allowed to enlarge capacity of four stroke machines to 990 cc, without a limitation on the number of cylinders. While a 500 cc two-stroke machine should (in theory) deliver similar power to a 990 cc four-stroke, it rapidly became apparent that the four-stroke machines could outperform the two-strokes in almost every area and by 2003 there were no two-stroke machines remaining in the field. The 125 cc and 250 cc classes still consist exclusively of two-stroke machines.

Since nearly all medium and large capacity (over 250 cc) road motorcycles have 4-stroke engines, most manufacturers benefit more directly from the technology developed in road racing if they use 4-stroke racing engines.


125 cc machines are restricted to a single cylinder and a minimum weight of 80 kilograms and the 250 cc machines to two cylinders and a minimum of 100 kilograms.

MotoGP bikes are permitted to have engines with 3 to 6 cylinders, and have variable weight limits depending on the number of cylinders. This is because an engine with more cylinders for a given capacity means the engine can produce more power, and the weight limit is increased as a form of handicap. In 2004 there were motorcycles entered with three-, four- and five-cylinder configurations.

Like Formula One cars, GP motorcycles are made not only to be raced but also to demonstrate manufacturers' technical prowess. As a result, MotoGP machines are generally made of lightweight and expensive materials such as titanium and carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic. They regularly feature technology not available to the general public.

Examples of this include sophisticated electronics, including telemetry, engine management systems and traction control, carbon disk brakes, and advanced engine technology such as Honda's V5 engine configuration and Aprilia's RS3. The latter employs the Cosworth-designed pneumatic valve actuation system, used in Formula One cars.

While MotoGP motorcycles are only raced at World Championship level, slightly less powerful 125 cc and 250 cc bikes are available at relatively reasonable cost. A 125 cc bike costs about the same as a small car. These bikes are raced in national championships around the world.

One of the main challenges that confronts a MotoGP motorcycle rider and designer is how to translate the machine's enormous power - around 240 horsepower (179 kW), through a single tyre-contact patch roughly the size of a human hand. For comparison, Formula 1 cars produce up to 800 bhp (600 kW) from their three-litre engines but have 10 times the tyre contact surface. Because of this difficulty, MotoGP is perhaps unique in modern motor sport in that teams will often deliberately detune their engines to allow their riders a chance to control them, with most not making more than the 180 to 190 bhp (135 to 140 kW) of the front-running two-stroke bikes.


The top riders travel the world to compete in the annual World Championship series. The circuit is perhaps most closely followed in Spain and Italy, home of many of the more successful riders at the moment.

The premier class in past seasons has been dominated by Italian Valentino Rossi, winner of the 2001 to 2004 titles, with fellow countryman Max Biaggi and Spaniard Sete Gibernau his closest rivals.

Notable riders of the past include:

Riders in the 2005 MotoGP competetion:

External Links

de:Motorrad-WM es:Motociclismo de velocidad ja:ロードレース世界選手権


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