MotoGP Sprint races in 2023: The rules, schedule, how points will be awarded

A major change to the MotoGP 2023 calendar weekend format will see the introduction of Sprint races at every round of the 2023 world championship.
Alex Rins, Portimao MotoGP test, 12 March
Alex Rins, Portimao MotoGP test, 12 March

Here’s the rules, the schedule, and how points will be awarded…

Sprint races will feature at every round

The Sprint race will be on a Saturday afternoon at every round. It will NOT replace the normal Q1 and Q2 qualifying sessions, which will decide the grid for both the Sprint and Sunday race.

How many points is the Sprint race worth? How long is it?

The Sprint race is half the normal race distance, and half points will be awarded (12 points for a win, 1 point for 9th).

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Do Sprint race results count in the MotoGP record books?

No, the Sprint results will be listed separately.

How does it affect other MotoGP sessions?

The two Friday Practice sessions will be extended (currently 45 minutes) and the combined times used to determine direct access to Q2 (instead of waiting until after Free Practice 3 on Saturday morning).

FP3 will now be reduced from 45 to 30 minutes - thus effectively becoming FP4 (albeit at a different time to the races) which has been dropped from the schedule - and directly followed by Q1 and Q2. The Sprint race is then the last Saturday MotoGP action.

How is the grid decided?

The starting grids for the Sprint race and for the full Sunday race are both determined by the qualifying results from Saturday.

Takaaki Nakagami, Portimao MotoGP test, 12 March
Takaaki Nakagami, Portimao MotoGP test, 12 March

What about Moto2 and Moto3?

Moto2 and Moto3 will continue to have a single, Sunday, race. The order of the track action and Sunday races will also be 'standardised' in 2023 with Moto3 followed by Moto2 and finally MotoGP whenever possible, 'allowing for an improved podium ceremony, on-track celebrations and the possibility of fan track invasions at each venue'.  

Why are Dorna introducing Sprint races?

“It has been the aim of the championship to try to improve everything as much as we can, working in all areas,” said Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta.  “We have been looking at other sports, different possibilities, to offer a better show. It has been discussed with the FIM, the manufacturers and teams."

IRTA president Herve Poncharal said: “If you don’t move forward you make a step back. Although our show is great, it doesn’t mean you cannot improve."

What do our experts think?

Keith Huewen said: "I hope they let them race. My probelm is if this causes a raft of protests, penalties and all that other bull… The great thing about this Sprint race is that it’s going to be a dog fight. 

"We’re all fairly sure that they are going to be using a bike to the maximum and that’s the attractive bit for us all on a Saturday. Your tongue is going to be hanging out watching the screen. 

"It’s going to be elbow-to-elbow and they’re all very close in terms of lap times. We’ve seen what they are capable of in one lap during testing, but that means nothing when you get to a race."

Peter McLaren said: "If you look at the number of races there’s going to be twice the amount of races - okay the Sprint races are shorter - but they’re going to be more frantic so there’s probably going to be twice the amount of penalties isn’t there. 

"It just goes with having more races. You see at the end of the year where riders receive punishments because it’s not the first time they’ve committed an offence and those things are going to crop up more and more simply because there’s more racing going on and there’s more banging handlebars. 

"There’s no holding back in these Sprint races. Inevitably people are going to be making mistakes and there’s going to be more punishments. It’s going to be a tough one."

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