MotoGP to have sprint races in every round from 2023

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MotoGP will have Formula One-style sprint races in every round of the championship from 2023, the International Motorcycling Federation (FIM) and organisers said on Saturday ahead of qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix in Spielberg.

Formula One in February approved a plan to hold three sprint races instead of six in 2022 after trialling it at three races last year, and MotoGP said it would follow suit although their sprint races would have no bearing on grid positions.

The sprint races will take place after the qualifying session of each Grand Prix on Saturday and be approximately 50% of the full distance.

Points will be on offer for the sprint races, with the rider finishing in the first spot earning 12 points, the second getting nine and third seven.

The grids for both the sprint race and the Grand Prix race will be set from qualifying, which will retain its Q1-Q2 format.

“We think after two years of Covid, all of us have made incredible sacrifices to keep having this important championship and it’s time to give more exposure on television but also to the spectators,” FIM President Jorge Viegas told reporters.

“We need more spectators and a better show,” he added, saying that there were some details to be decided together with teams, riders and manufacturers.

Most riders, including 2020 champion Joan Mir, welcomed the decision and said sprint races would be entertaining for fans and riders alike.

“It will be interesting changing the approach of a race weekend,” said Pramac Ducati’s Johann Zarco.

“We are used to being super focussed for Sunday because we have only one race but now overall 44 races all the year… just physically and mentally it can be interesting.”

Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro, though, had concerns over the format. “I am not really enthusiastic with this new idea. 44 MotoGP races are very, very risky and very demanding. In terms of safety, it’s not the best idea but we have to try and see.”

Reigning MotoGP world champion Fabio Quartararo lashed out on Friday against the plan. “I’m not the one who makes decisions about race formats, but I think we’re entering a totally stupid format,” Quartararo was quoted as saying by Autosport.com.

“If we do it from time to time, like in Formula One, I think it can be interesting, but every Saturday… Honestly, there are circuits where you’re physically exhausted, like Assen, Mugello.

“When we finish the race, we’re exhausted. Honestly, I don’t think it’s right to do this without asking the riders’ opinions. Or at least, I wasn’t asked.”

(Reuters)