After giving a run-down of the ten closest race finishes since the start of the four-stroke MotoGP era, in 2002, here is a breakdown of close finishes by year, rider, circuit, engine size and compared with other championships.
In all cases a 'close finish' was simply defined as a winning margin of less than one second.
It's a far from perfect system in terms of 'judging' a race, since it doesn't take into account the amount of overtaking - another crucial factor in terms of entertainment - or weather conditions, shortened races or where a late-race incident took place between the leaders (such as Rossi and Gibernau at Jerez 2005).
But it is at least a system for listing and comparing where, when and with which riders the closest MotoGP race finishes have occurred at the flag. It also produces some clear patterns - including a steep decline after the switch from 990 to 800cc engines...
Sub-1sec MotoGP race victories by year
2010 (800cc, control tyre): 3
2009 (800cc, control tyre): 3
2008 (800cc, open tyre): 0
2007 (800cc, open tyre): 2
2006 (990cc, open tyre): 6
2005 (990cc, open tyre): 4
2004 (990cc, open tyre): 7
2003 (990cc, open tyre): 5
2002 (990cc, open tyre): 6
Breakdown by engine size
Close finishes in terms of engine size.
990cc (five seasons): 28 close finishes. Average per season = 5.6
800cc (four seasons): 8 close finishes. Average per season = 2.0
Breakdown by Circuit:
Which circuits have produced the most sub-1sec MotoGP race finishes?
This list is interesting because the FIA (world governing body of car racing) is considering grading circuits in terms of entertainment value, to help spice up the action in F1. Perhaps MotoGP will do likewise?
The size of the race victory, combined with the amount of overtaking, are the two factors most would use to define entertainment in a motor race.
The maximum score possible for each circuit is nine (if they were on the MotoGP calendar every single year from 2002). Note that some circuits are yet to produce a single close finish, under our 1-sec definition.
1. Sachsenring: 7 close finishes
2. Valencia, Catalunya: 4
3. Sepang, Le Mans, Welkom, Mugello: 3
4. Estoril: 2
5. Phillip Island, Brno, Assen, Istanbul Park, Laguna Seca, Jerez, Losail: 1
Breakdown by Rider (winner):
Who should you have put your money on to come out on top in a close finish?
1. Valentino Rossi: Won 22 out of the 36 close finishes
2. Sete Gibernau: 3
3. Max Biaggi, Marco Melandri, Jorge Lorenzo: 2 each
4. Alex Barros, Tohru Ukawa, Toni Elias, Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa: 1 each
MotoGP compared with other championships
MotoGP (18 races): 3 races won by less than one-second.
Moto2 (17 races): 7
125cc (17 races): 4
World Superbike (26 races): 9*
World Supersport (13 races): 3
* includes one aggregate result.