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What is MotoGP?

The single tyre rule for 2009 has reignited the debate over what the MotoGP World Championship should stand for.

The move from 500cc two-strokes to 990cc four-strokes in 2002 saw the MotoGP championship increasingly branded as a 'prototype' class, the two-wheeled equivalent of Formula One and a place where the fastest, most exotic, motorcycles are raced by the best riders in the world.

That is how 'MotoGP' would introduce itself to a stranger at a party (or a potential sponsor) and also how MotoGP sought to distance itself from the visibly similar World Superbike Championship - a distinction that is yet to penetrate into most mainstream minds. To the general public, the main difference between MotoGP and World Superbike is simply the riders.

The end of open tyre competition in MotoGP removes a further element of MotoGP's prototype philosophy - but does it really matter?

After all, every motorcycle on the MotoGP grid has been powered by a four-cylinder engine since the start of 2007. Not much radical experimentation there then, especially since WSBK features both twin and four cylinder machines, but no-one really complained.

Even MotoGP's perceived role as a proving ground for cutting-edge technology, essential to improve future road bikes, has come to little.

Ducati produced a limited edition road replica of its Desmosedici, but BMW, Aprilia and KTM have all decided that MotoGP experience was unnecessary for the creation of their new high-performance road bikes - which they will refine and promote by racing in World Superbike (Superstock in KTM's case) instead.

If a new high performance motorcycle can be built by a major manufacturer without any MotoGP input, it is hard to see how road tyre development will grind to a halt now that open competition has been extinguished. Anyway, when was the last time a road rider popped out to buy a qualifying tyre?

So should MotoGP re-evaluate it's propose, admit it's main power is as a marketing tool and concentrate on providing entertainment under a simple 'best riders, fastest bikes' banner? From now on, when in doubt, should the show always come before everything else (except safety)?

Many MotoGP fans, and indeed motorcycle racing fans in general, continue to be mystified at how Formula One, a championship which offers so little actual racing action, continues to prosper.

MotoGP continues to be heavily influenced by F1. So how does F1 define its purpose?

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