MotoGP chief Carlos Ezpeleta has laid out the new format of race weekends in 2023, following the announcement of the addition of sprint races at every round of next year.
The extra racing action – and a renewed focus on fan entertainment – will see a revamped Saturday schedule and a compressed Sunday, as the Moto2 and Moto3 classes lose their warm-up sessions to make room for a new premier-class fan show.
MotoGP 2023 weekend schedule
9.00-9.30 Moto3 practice 1
9.50-10.30 Moto2 practice 1
10.45-11.30 MotoGP practice 1
13.15-13.50 Moto3 practice 2
14.05-14.45 Moto2 practice 2
15.00-16.00 MotoGP practice 2
8.40-9.10 Moto3 practice 3
9.25-9.55 Moto2 practice 3
10.10-10.40 MotoGP practice 3
10.50-11.05 MotoGP qualifying 1
11.15-11.30 MotoGP qualifying 2
12.55-13.10 Moto3 qualifying 1
13.20-13.35 Moto3 qualifying 2
13.50-14.05 Moto2 qualifying 1
14.15-14.30 Moto2 qualifying 2
15.00 MotoGP sprint race
9.40-9.50 MotoGP warm-up
10.00-10.30 MotoGP ‘Rider Fan Show’
11.00 Moto3 race
12.15 Moto2 race
14.00 MotoGP race
The first impact of the new schedule will be felt on Friday, where practice sessions lose their ‘free’ tag to signify that they will now be the only two chances of the weekend to qualify directly for Q2 on Saturday morning. MotoGP riders will also gain more time for their second outing to make up for the loss of one Saturday practice.
Free practice will return the following day, however, with a single session before qualifying to replace what was previously known as FP4, normally used by teams to concentrate on race set-up – although the practicality of that is uncertain now that it will happen at a very different time of the day from both the sprint and the main race.
MotoGP qualifying will kick off directly after, with an anticipated start time of 1050 local, which will then be followed by respective qualifying sessions in Moto3 and Moto2. That builds up to a 1500 scheduled start for the sprint race which will, as previously announced, be half the distance of the Sunday race (rounded down in case of an uneven number of laps) and for reduced points, with only the top nine scoring and a 12-9-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 allocation.
One important confirmation was also that the new races will be limited to only 12 litres of fuel, designed to prevent factories with more horsepower on tap (like Ducati) from dramatically dialling up what is available to riders rather than limit it to conserve fuel. It’s not yet certain whether that will be managed with smaller fuel tanks or a way to control the amount added to the current tanks – but it’s believed that a number of teams are opposed to the former idea for cost reasons.
Despite sprint races being scheduled for Saturday, it’s arguably Sundays that will see the biggest shake-up to the schedule, however. MotoGP warm-up will be halved in time from 20 minutes, and Moto2 and Moto3 will lose their sessions, with that decision being rooted in a dual motive of creating time for both a fan show and for support races to take to track.
The plan is that MotoGP, now scheduled for a 1400 local time start every weekend, will always be the final race of the weekend, with any support classes (like Red Bull Rookies or the various Talent Cup championships) slotting into the time previously used for Moto2 and Moto3 WUP.
The details of the new fan show format are still to be decided by series bosses but it looks to be based around the highly successful paddock show promoter Dorna currently runs in World Superbikes.
Setting aside 30 minutes (and hinting that rider attendance will be made mandatory), it will give a chance to allow fans at the track to engage with racers – but may also hold some added value for TV broadcasters, too, depending on the final format.