MotoGP renews its rules and raises its age limits

7 minutes

Safety is one of the main pillars on which the World Motorcycle Championship has been working for years and is constantly evolving. Recent accidents in several categories have led the International Federation to rethink the age limits in different World Championship competitions.

MotoGP renews its rules and raises its age limits

There are situations that make it necessary to rethink the established rules. In order to achieve greater safety, circuits are improved, equipment is improved, technical regulations are modified, and a series of regulatory measures have also been adopted to achieve greater safety in the races. With regard to the lower categories of the world championships, where the youngest and most inexperienced riders compete, this increases, since they require special attention from federations and promoters for optimum training, greater protection, and a better development of the competition.

For all these reasons, it has been decided to raise the minimum age for access to competitions regulated by the International Motorcycling Federation (FIM). This is a gradual process, with a transitional season in 2022 and new final limits for 2023.


Thus, in 2023, in order to compete in a World Championship race, whether in MotoGP or SBK World Championship, the minimum age will be 18 years, while in other competitions developed under FIM regulations, such as the Junior World Championship, Red Bull Rookies, or the European Talent Cup, access will be possible at a lower age: 16 years in the case of the Junior World Championship, and 14 years for the other two championships.

As a preliminary step, in 2022 Moto3 World Championship riders will have a minimum age of 17 years old, 16 years old in SSP300, 15 years old in the Junior World Championship, 14 years old in the Rookies Cup, and 13 years old in the European Talent Cup.

New rules to increase safety: fewer drivers per race

Another important decision taken this fall was to reduce the volume of the starting grids, which sometimes exceeded 40 participants. This resulted in very tightly packed groups, especially in the first few laps, and therefore entailed a greater risk. Thus, the starting grid of championships such as the Talent Cup, which has several competitions, Asian, Northern, and European, will have a maximum of 30 riders, and in the Junior World Championship and the SSP300 there will be no more than 32 competitors.

However, while there is a minimum age limit there is also a maximum age limit for the competition. The general rule specifies that riders may not compete in World Championship events if they are over 50 years old. It is difficult to reach that age in top-level competition, but just a few years ago, in 2017, Frenchman Philippe LeGallo became European Superstock 600 champion at the age of 59. And he is still racing. No doubt that his is a very special motorcycling case, although in the Sidecar World Championship it is not uncommon to meet competitors over 50 years old. As a matter of fact, this very season the Swiss Markus Schlosser, who will be 50 in January, was crowned champion… As we can see, the maximum age limit is an area that cannot be generalized.

What is established in the Moto3 World Championship is a maximum age to remain in the category, which is the season in which the rider reaches 28 years of age. That will be the last season in which they will be able to remain in the lower class, a measure introduced in 2005 with the aim of encouraging riders to move up to higher categories.

Technical rules

For quite a few years now there have been a series of technical rules aimed at levelling the playing field. One of the first ones had to do with the 125 c. c. category, since in 1996 a combined bike-rider weight was established to balance the category in which the rider’s weight could be a differentiating element. This same criteria has continued to be applied since the Moto3 class was introduced in 2012 to replace the 125 c. c. class and has also been applied in the Moto2 category since 2014.

One of the great transformations in the concept of modern racing was the adoption of a single tire supplier for MotoGP in 2009. That season the supplier was Bridgestone, which remained in the championship until it was replaced by Michelin in 2016. The purpose of that measure was to eliminate one of the variables of the races, the tires, an element that marked big differences between the riders because only a few could access the best material of each brand. Thus, by having a single, general supplier, all riders have access to identical tires. This same criteria ended up being applied to Moto2 from 2010 and to Moto3 since its birth in 2012, and in both cases Dunlop is the manufacturer in charge of this task.

The arrival of the Moto2 category in 2010, replacing the 250 c. c. class, also introduced a new concept in Grand Prix racing: the single engine supplier. In this way, a single manufacturer is responsible for providing the riders with the engines for their bikes, all identical to each other, which are distributed regularly and by draw among the participants. From 2010 until 2018, Honda supplied the category with its CBR600RR engine, and since 2019, Triumph has been providing the riders with its Speed Triple RS 765 engine.

With the same tire and the same engine, equality in the Moto2 class is tremendous. Take the last Grand Prix in 2021, for example, where the difference in lap time between first place and 25th was less than one second. In Moto3, although there are several manufacturers involved, the situation is very similar.

Another major change introduced in the regulations in order to level the playing field was the arrival of the single electronic control unit in the MotoGP category. The importance that electronics has reached in the automotive industry is now fully reflected in the competition, and in MotoGP it is essential to use advanced technology to control the enormous power of these bikes, which exceed 275 hp for a weight of only 157 kilos. Each manufacturer developed their own electronics in a specific way for the characteristics of their bike, and the greater or lesser capacity of each factory marked enormous differences in the level of the bikes’ electronics.

To put an end to the advantage of the wealthiest, the organization implemented an electronic control unit, known as ECU (Electronic Control Unit), which would be the same for everyone from 2016. In this way, manufacturers work to adapt their bikes to certain parameters that are the same for everyone.

The ultimate goal of the promoter is to level the playing field to the maximum extent possible and to ensure that there are no advantages for anyone, that no one can benefit from a greater economic potential. This has already been tried since the birth of MotoGP, by gradually reducing the fuel tank capacity, and later, in 2009, with the introduction of a maximum number of engines per season that each rider could use, a measure that is also used in Moto2 and Moto3.

All this has led the championship to an extraordinary situation, making the MotoGP World Championship the most equal of all motor racing competitions, in its three categories, and therefore the most attractive and spectacular one of the motorsport scene.

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