Dorna Press Release: MotoGP To Introduce 3pm Saturday Sprint Races From 2023

The Dorna press release announcing the fact that MotoGP will be introducing sprint races from the 2023 season appears below. Deeper analysis with perspectives from the paddock will appear later this week:


Sprint races to be introduced at all Grands Prix from 2023
Saturday, 20 August 2022

The FIM, IRTA, MSMA and Dorna Sports can now announce a new Sporting Format to be introduced for the FIM MotoGP™ World Championship from 2023. Sprint races will be introduced at all Grands Prix, creating an exciting, action-packed programme for fans on every day of a MotoGP™ race weekend and maintaining a consistent format across the calendar.

Sprint races will take place at 15:00 on the Saturday of each Grand Prix and be approximately 50% of the full race distance. The Sprint race will have a 15-minute grid procedure, and the sporting rules will be the same as a full-length Grand Prix race on Sunday.

In Sprint races, points will be awarded as follows:

  • 1st Position: 12
  • 2nd Position: 9
  • 3rd Position: 7
  • 4th Position: 6
  • 5th Position: 5
  • 6th Position: 4
  • 7th position: 3
  • 8th position: 2
  • 9th position: 1

Sprint races will not determine the grid for the Grand Prix race. Riders must be free to race on Saturday, without the need to consider their Sunday grid position. The grids for both the Sprint race and the Grand Prix race will be set from qualifying, which will retain its Q1-Q2 format.

The introduction of Sprint Races allows every day of a race weekend to offer fans and broadcasters the best possible experience on track and off, with track action on Friday, Saturday and Sunday focused on maximum spectacle to show off the best of MotoGP™. In addition, the new format will provide increased engagement opportunities for fans, broadcasters and media across the event and increase the profile of the MotoGP™ class without reducing that of Moto2™ and Moto3™.

2023 race weekends

The MotoGP™ class will have two practice sessions on Friday, which will be of a longer duration. The combined timesheets from these sessions will determine the direct entrants to Q2, guaranteeing Friday increased significance and exposure.

On Saturday morning, the MotoGP™ class will have one 30-minute Free Practice session (similar to the current FP4) followed by Q1 and Q2 for qualifying. The Sprint Race will then take place at 15:00, creating an incredible line-up of MotoGP™ track action on Saturday.

Sunday will remain a spectacle for fans and broadcasters, with the Moto3™, Moto2™ and MotoGP™ Grand Prix races. The target will also be to have MotoGP™ as the last race on Sunday at each event, allowing for an improved podium ceremony, on-track celebrations and the possibility of fan track invasions at each venue.

MotoGP™ sessions will be the last of each block, further standardising the format of the race weekend and maintaining the same order throughout each event. Moto3™ will be followed by Moto2™, followed by MotoGP™.

Here are some quotes from the Press Conference held on Saturday in Austria.

Jorge Viegas, FIM President: "The fact is, as I read in social media, this is a Sprint Race press conference. So, this is true, 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. 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, as Carmelo says, in the TV, but also to the spectators. We need more spectators, we need a better show, and we need to fill the Saturdays. There are some details that still need to defined, decided together with the teams, together with the riders, together with the manufacturers. But, in principle, you already announced the major part of the new things! The only thing I think you are still in doubt about, is that this Sprint Race will not count for the grid; the grid is defined by the qualifying."

Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna Sports: "It has been the aim of the Championship; FIM, IRTA, and Dorna, from the beginning to try to improve every time, as much as we can, everything in the sport: the safety, the show, everything. We are working in all the areas but especially in that. We have been looking at other sports for different possibilities and we are trying to offer a better show, especially for the fans, the promoters, and television. It’s very important to us to offer a new schedule which will, in our opinion, improve our presence in all the Grands Prix. This has been something discussed obviously with the FIM, with the manufacturers, and with the teams, and then yesterday, I talked with the riders in the Safety Commission. Even if the Safety Commission is for safety, since the beginning, I has been very proud to talk with the riders about different things. Obviously the matter to inform the riders is something that must be made by their individual teams, but yesterday we had some discussions and I’m very happy to hear the President of the FIM announce what we want to announce today."

Herve Poncharal, IRTA President: "Back from the summer break, we had a very important meeting together with Mike Trimby to represent the teams as IRTA, with Carmelo and Carlos Ezpeleta. This was really the first time that we saw the project, and from the very beginning, we liked it a lot. If you don’t move forward, you make a step backwards, I think, and although our show is great, maybe the best on Earth, that doesn’t mean we cannot have room for improvement, and there is room for improvement. As Carmelo said to us also, yes, we looked at what is happening somewhere else, and we would be stupid to not look at what is happening somewhere else and works somewhere else. From the very first point I really liked it, we had a meeting with all our colleagues in the Independent MotoGP teams, and universally they supported and they liked it a lot, thinking that it’s going to help also the teams’ business because the media, I’m quite sure, will like it a lot, will love it; the sponsors when the media are more active, will like it a lot.

"So all I can say is we have in mind not to create any inflation, so therefore engine allocation, tyre allocation will remain the same; mileage on the weekend will remain more or less the same. So, there will be no more track action. We will try not to give more work to the riders, but there will be more action, more excitement, which is what MotoGP is all about. I’m very proud to be part of the Championship, to have Carmelo and Jorge next to me to announcing this important news. For sure, as Jorge said, there are still important things to be fine-tuned. We always listen to everybody and when it is something which is visible and clearly an improvement, we will adapt ourselves. But overall, I think this is an important day for MotoGP, and I believe 2023 will be even more exciting."

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Comments

Their vision is way more advanced and organised than I thought it would be. I'm all for it and I reckon the changes as quoted will be amazing for both the spectators and the coffers alike.

When the financial belt has to be tightened do you go out swinging or drop to your knees and grovel? Dorna decided to swing for the fences and are all in. I've got dibs on riding shotgun. 

Not so sure about vision but I do agree...why not have a sprint race ?

I appreciate the purist point of view but what we have now isn't what they had in years gone by anyway. Why on earth does Ago have so many of those race wins, why is he allowed to count them when he could race in multiple categories each weekend, 39 doubles, pretty impressive really. They used to have more than one race in the past too, just different bikes. Things change, the rules have changed many times, so in some ways it isn't what it used to be. Speaking from a viewers perspective it's an extra race each weekend....winner. Free practice is often boring to watch even though I usually watch all. I read some comments about how FP1,2 and 3 have become qually sessions and this is a bad thing. I agree but at least when they are so important for getting through to Q2 we see the riders going for it each session. A lack of preparation for the race is not always a bad thing. Possibly if they had more sessions to prepare for the main race the race would become more of a procession. I can understand why the riders might not be happy. I think the teams will figure out the best way to approach each weekend and it will be the same for all. I'm not going to be doing it so I do think it's up to the riders but from a selfish viewers point of view it equals more action.

Longer practice sessions on Friday plus a sprint race which counts for points and no more tires?!? And now if you’re travelling to a GP you have to attend 2 days (2 tickets of course). It’s a money grab at the expense of the riders. 

There is no mandate for you to attend both days. I am sure there are attendees who go for three days who will welcome racing on 2 days rather than 1 as at present. From all the fuss, you would think that the riders were being asked to ride twice per day as happens on Sundays in WSBK!

More entertainment and excitement offered, an intent of not increasing the riders workload by much at all besides having to put their head down and attempt some overtakes on Saturday with tyre and fuel preservation not being a thing.. FP3 style essentially but with elbows. 

The stats won't be an issue either way. You can split them or not on the fly. It's no different than them splitting Motogp chips and lower class chips (except when you're talking about Rossi. If you're Jorge - too bad) 

If we wanted to get pedantic because of "being a purist" then Ago's records would come into question, as would the number of races per season, or then we could break it down even further and lay out the level of competition based on how many world champions are in the field when counting the the value of Rossi's titles vs Stoner, Lorenzo, Marquez etc.

How far do you want to take it? Can we not simply differentiate between the two as we see fit? Is there a rule that says it's forbidden to discuss?

The more I think on it the harder it seems to push back against. The sport needs more cash and this shake up seems like a really good win for the fans. Never forget that the sport is a complex marketing exercise dolled up in a pretty dress. 

I consider myself a racing purist and I'm not a fan of this sprint race.  One of the comments made is that they are still deciding how the race wins will count.  Will they count as a GP win or sprint race win?  Hopefully they will not count as full GP wins, if they do it will not take long before Ago's or Rossi's race win totals are surpassed!  Taken to the extreme at 42 races a year these totals could be smashed within 3 years!   History doesnt seem to mean much.

Being objective i can see the benefits to new people/fairweather fans.  I knew this would be coming in when i read the questions in the survey.  

More time on track does not equal more excitement. That there are precious few grands prix each year only increases the pressure to perform. I don't like it.

Sure, they will be exciting and so I will be swiftly proven wrong. But it seriously devalues championship points and the importance of the race proper.

You worry more of stats then actually watching more racing, I guess we are all different. 

A man so consumed with this new "project" he didn't know what bikes he was running next year, or his rider line up.

Needs to reassess his priorities.

This could be interesting. Will title rivals do ‘win it or bin it’ efforts on a Saturday for half points, at the risk that they’re injured and can’t race on Sunday? MotoGP is as much about strategy now as it is about speed and I’d expect the thinkers to hold back a bit on Saturdays. Which means that, because the times are all so incredibly close now, we might see more underdogs making it onto the podium. This tendency would logically be even more so if the Saturday points didn’t even count for anything.

I’m actually not a great fan of sprint races. Although it counts for nothing since the die is cast, I’d have been more keen on a super pole time trial type of thing, for points. That would have given us a quite different spectacle, where we could see each rider at their best.

Not so sure. The field is tight, if a rider 'goes easy' they finish with a big zero. Half distance race means likely no tyre drop. Less time for the field to stretch. Enough time for the front to cook up in traffic. If it's 12 points for a sprint win then it's still a big points drop if a rider isn't up there. It's a shorter race but the first lap will be like a normal race, just less fuel. I think the best chance for a Peco or Fabio to avoid injury is to hammer the start, hammer the first 3 laps and be in front of the madness. 12 points is still a good haul.

Half a tank of fuel on a competitive package brings Vinales right back into play (in theory). 

If you're championship focused you have no choice but to put your head down and sharpen your elblows, injuries be damned. Jack, Marc, Martin etc will be licking their lips deep down for a scrap like this. Fortune favours the brave. 

Thinking about the crews more than the riders. Serious extra load on them. And as noted above, there has to be consideration taken as to whether a win in the "sprint" race counts the same as a win in the "real" race, even with half points awarded. Got the same problem in WSBK; no disrespect to Jonny Rea or anyone else, but their win record shouldn't be counted against those of Merkel, Foggy, etc., who had fewer races on a weekend and rode just as well.

You can compare the numbers. You can present and interpret them in many ways. They don't tell the full story though. They are just as they are, numbers. It is pointless comparing old riders to new. John Surtees won the 500cc title in 1958 winning the 6 races he started. With the form he was on that year if there had been more races he would have won most of them it seems. Especially when you consider that he won the other 6 races he entered riding a 350cc. Obviously won that title too.

So in one season you have an on form rider with only 6 starts to increase his premier class win tally. At the same time you have a rider who became champion having only started 6 races of 7. There was not the 18 or 20 races modern riders have to complete. There was not all of those extra opportunities for other riders to mount a challenge. You also have a rider who attended 6 championship events but added 12 wins to his overall total. He didn't have much competition either due to having the best bike and due to only a few riders starting all of the races. Only 7 riders started 6 or 7 races. Nevertheless, the numbers are there and it's hard to argue against a 100% strike rate. Shame he only got 8 points for each win though. It's a plus, it's a minus, it's just numbers. That being the case, no matter how they dish out championship points, their only real meaning is who takes the title in that given year.

Merkel.

Titles: 1988, 1989. Starts: 117. Wins: 8. Starts per win: 14.6.

Fogarty.

Titles: 1994, 1995, 1998, 1999. Starts: 220. Wins: 59. Starts per win: 3.7.

Rea.

Titles: 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020. Starts: 341. Wins: 117. Starts per win: 2.9.

No extra work for the crews since they are equally prepared no matter if it’s a race or a practice session. 

I’m a big fan of sprint type races. Let the beasts be angry and the boys get their elbows out for whole race without having to preserve tyres and fuel. To ensure that they can actually position themselves for the best sprint race and best Sunday race I’d also like more tyres to be made available. That way we get to see the full on racing as well as the usual exciting stuff. As a kid in Karts we’d approach 5 lap sprints completely differently to 15 lap races, I imagine they will do the same.

They will only be using one set in the  sprint race that normally would be practice session where more than a set would be used. Seriously, reading the comments here it seems some of the posters are not thinking through what’s actually going on. 

The comments above make me think no one here watches WSBK. Three races per weekend. All the WSBK race "win" records will be obliterated. So what? Seems to me if you are a racing fan you would be in favor of races.

Bob Cousy isn't the all-time leader in playoff wins because they changed the rules and now have a maximum of 28 playoff games in 2022 vs. seven when he started playing. Soccer--sorry, football--teams play for so many "championships" now that I can't keep track. If you are worked up about the records and the stats, that ship sailed long ago. 

It's just entertainment, called racing--I am in favor of more races rather than less. It does work in WSBK, and it will be a big improvement in motogp.

Why not organize a MotoGP race everyday? Marginal revenue and marginal cost matters. They are paying too much, and likely gaining to little by doubling the number of races in a season. They are just borrowing against the MotoGP concept and calling it revenue. This is the kind of thing you do if you're planning to offload the sport. 

…who watches every session of every class in MotoGP and WSBK, I’m excited at the prospect of sprint races. Herve said that they wanted more people in the stands i.e. arrest falling attendances, and I think that this is a positive strategy. The sport will go backwards if it doesn’t continue to evolve.

Nothing wrong with sprint races per se, but awarding points is not a great idea. It's harder for existing fans to keep track of the championship points for various riders, and the security of their place in the standings. It will be difficult to explain to casual fans why sprint race wins don't actually count as wins, and how the race results chart for Sunday (wins) relates to the points scored.

There are an incredible number of gimmicks MotoGP could use to spice up Saturdays without undermining rider championship point scoring. How about a qualifying series? The Saturday race is full grid, full points, half distance, and the points affect qualifying championship standings, which determine the grid. Get a title sponsor for the qualifying championship. A rider could choose not to participate, but they are merely giving the competition a free day to hone their Sunday setup. Maybe just have two qualifying heat races of 12 riders each. The top 12 in the championship, and the bottom 12 in the championship. Wildcards get assigned to a heat based upon their practice times. The top 5 finishers in each heat race get qualifying spots 1-10. If you finish 6th in the top-12 heat race, you'd start 11th on the grid. That shakes things up a bit, and creates Saturday races.

Maybe have the qualifying series scored by overtakes, and make Saturday and overtaking spectacle. Reverse the starting order for the bottom 16 riders in the qualifying series. Let the top 8 choose their starting position (starting with the 8th place finisher in practice) for the Saturday race. Each position gained at the race-end is a point. Positions lost is 0 points. Finishing order of the qualifying race is the grid. If you're 8th place do you start from the front and try to steal pole, even though you'll score no points for overtakes? Interesting set of dilemmas. 

Maybe make the Saturday race for teams and manufacturers points. Sunday is for rider points. Maybe have major events like golf. Pick 4 events per season that are two-race events. Top event scorer wins a major. Have a separate championship tally for the majors cup. 

Every idea has pitfalls and complications, but the GPC could have been MUCH more creative without undermining the fundamental scoring system. 

These creative ideas are more confusing than the system which is already in place. They score points related to where they cross the finish line. There will be two races each weekend. The sprint race is half the distance and therefore half the points of the Sunday race. This is simple. Simple things are easier to understand for 'casual fans' and for all, including the competitors.

I have no idea why they want to mess around with what counts as a race win. They will all be race wins because a rider will have won a race. Protecting the integrity of the sacred almanacs to spare ludite anxiety is a waste of oxygen.