Seven MotoGP Races To Be Shortened To Tighten Up Schedule

Seven MotoGP races are to be shortened for the 2018 season onwards. The MotoGP races at Austin, Le Mans, Barcelona, Brno, and Misano are all to be cut by a single lap, the race at Jerez is to lose two laps, and the season finale at Valencia is to be reduced by a whole three laps. 

The reason for the reduction in length is to bring the races into line with the remainder of the calendar, and create a consistent time schedule. Previously, the MotoGP regulations specified a minimum and maximum length for races (between 95km and 130km), but for 2018, the specification of distance has been dropped. Race distance for all events is now to be determined by the Permanent Bureau, consisting of the FIM and Dorna.

The old race distances caused a large variation in race duration. Races could last anywhere between 40 and 45 minutes, making scheduling for TV problematic. It also meant that if there were delays at the start, or if races were wet, they could overrun the allotted TV slot, causing major headaches for broadcasters. It meant that audiences were never sure whether they would get to see the Parc Fermé interviews or podium ceremonies. 

By shortening the seven longest races, the schedule has been tightened up significantly. All of the races bar Austria and Barcelona are between 40 and 42 minutes in length. Only Barcelona is likely to be significantly longer, at nearly 43 minutes, though the reinstatement of Turn 12 made possible during the resurfacing of the circuit should make the lap shorter than it has been for the past two years, since the tragic death of Luis Salom.

The biggest change comes at Valencia. By cutting the race by 3 laps, reducing it from 30 to 27 laps, the race duration should be cut by over four and a half minutes. That is a crucial change at the last race of the season, especially given that the title has been decided at Valencia twice in the last three years. 

Reducing race distance will not have an enormous impact on fuel consumption. The one race to be reduced which was relatively critical for fuel consumption was Misano, and taking a lap away should ease the problem there. 

The change will also be important in the coming years. From 2019, Grand Prix racing will add a fourth class, in the Moto-e electric bike racing series. That race - a 20-minute sprint race - will also have to be fit into an already busy schedule. Cutting back on race length will assist in scheduling for that series as well.

The table below shows the effect of shortening races on race duration, and the amount of time possibly saved. Though times are shown to three decimal places, these are approximations, and likely to be out by several seconds.

Race Pre-2018
race
length
(laps)
Race
time
record
Record
year
2018
race
length
(laps)
Projected
new
record
Difference
Qatar 22 42:28.452 2016      
Argentina 25 41:35.644 2015      
Austin 21 43:33.430 2014 20 41:28.981 2:04.449
Jerez 27 44:57.246 2015 25 41:37.450 3:19.796
Le Mans 28 43:29.793 2017 27 41:56.586 1:33.207
Mugello 23 41:32.126 2017      
Barcelona 25 44:41.518 2017 24 42:54.257* 1:47.261
Assen 26 40:54.037 2015      
Sachsenring 30 40:59.525 2017      
Brno 22 42:47.800 2014 21 40:51.082 1:56.718
Austria 28 39:43.323 2017      
Silverstone 20 40:51.835 2014      
Misano 28 43:43.524 2016 27 42:09.827 1:33.697
Aragon 23 41:44.933 2015      
Motegi 24 42:21.259 2014      
Phillip Island 27 40:33.849 2015      
Sepang 20 40:37.691 2015      
Valencia 30 45:54.228 2016 27 41:18.805 4:35.423
             
  Longest
race
Longest
race length
       
Before changes Valencia 45:54.228        
After changes Barcelona 42:54.257        

* The layout of Barcelona has been changed again for this year, with the reinstatement of Turn 12. Race time will vary from this.

Race length calculation based on the average lap time of the fastest race time recorded at a circuit. This is an approximation, giving a rough idea of how much shorter a race will be, rather than an exact prediction. Race length will vary by track condition and weather conditions

Source: 

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Comments

Race

Current

New

Avg. speed

Qatar

118,4

118,4

162,4

Argentina

120,2

120,2

173,4

Austin

115,8

110,3

159,5

Jerez

119,4

110,6

159,4

Le Mans

117,2

113,0

161,7

Mugello

120,6

120,6

174,2

Barcelona

118,2

113,5

158,7

Assen

118,1

118,1

173,3

Sachsenring

110,1

110,1

161,1

Brno

118,9

113,5

166,7

Austria

120,9

120,9

182,6

Silverstone

118

118,0

173,2

Misano

118,3

114,1

162,3

Aragon

116,8

116,8

167,9

Thailand

?

?

?

Motegi

115,2

115,2

163,2

Phillip Island

120,1

120,1

177,6

Sepang

110,9

110,9

163,8

Valencia

120,2

108,2

157,1

* Sorry if the table is big - moderator free to modify it

Total votes: 29

Why not hold all races on the same circuit, then they will be uniform and everything will be the same? 

Cynically, I think it is more to fit in the washing machine class but who am I to complain.

Total votes: 23

I had to read this article a few times to try to get the significance of race duration changes. I'm still new to this sport and how it rolls out on Sunday.  It strikes me that FIM and Dorna are aiming at the homogenization of MotoGP versus allowing each track and race to maintain it's own unique character. 

If they really needed to shave time off "race day" or "race duration", why not shorten the time allowed for riders to sit on their bikes at the starting grid surrounded by handlers, coaches, managers, and podium girls (I presume.  Apologies to podium girls, everywhere.)  That period seems more ripe for trimming a few minutes than changing the number of laps.

I think having teams respond to changing conditions track-to-track, day-to-day and sometimes hour-to-hour on top of rider-to-rider for multi-rider teams makes the sport even MORE exciting to watch, read about and see in person.  Standards are always a healthy practice, but attempting to normalize things like duration and # laps just seems more marketing oriented and not sport or rider oriented.

I was intrigued with I looked up Dorna, too: "... an international sports management, marketing and media company..."  I think this change is at the expense of Sport in favor of Marketing and Media.  That's a mistake at least from my ringside seat.
Total votes: 77

Races start at a specific time, cutting the grid time before hand will not change the time the race takes to complete.

Total votes: 16

I don't really like the news. Racing thrives on variance, not homogeneity. Look at F1, everything is homogeneous and sanitized and it's boring as hell.

MotoGP should keep it in mind.

Total votes: 53

The start of the race is still the start of the race. 

The last lap is still the last lap. 

Sure, maybe something could have happened in the extra lap in the race duration, but 2 minutes less of racing should hardly be noticable when on the edge of your seat. 

Total votes: 25

I'm not to bothered by the seven shorter Motogp race's. Of the seven Austin, Jerez and Valencia are usually quite boring race's, cutting some laps should hopefully bring the field closer together.

I bet Yamaha are secretly happy as tyre wear at the end of race's has plagued them since Michelin tyres have came back and the standard ECU introduced. Pedrosa could be the loser as he usually finishes race's better than he starts them.

Total votes: 16

Next thing, they will reduce the Suzuka 8 Hour Race to 7 hours, 30 minutes .

Total votes: 26

. . . . Is getting rid of the podium girls.  Too demeaning, supposedly.

Total votes: 49

Jeez, maybe Dorna should rebuild all the tracks so that they are exactly the same!  Then TV broadcasters will have a consistent Product ..   :p

Total votes: 38

Seems fine to me. Honestly, I thought that they had done it this way for a long time now.

Don't see how the current max difference in race length of 5 minutes really adds any important dimension of variablity, so tightening that up doesn't strike me as a loss.

Total votes: 50

To take an otherwise non-story and add depth and details that help put other things into perspective is a luxury we have here at motomatters.  I especially liked the charts from both David and that from jani_m in the comments section. I have to admit I tried to like that comment twice just for going out of your way to add more to the story. Unfortunatly I don't think it let me. :)

Such data does come in handy.  For example we can see Bridgestone unsurprisingly hold he race distance records for all but Mugello when take away tracks resurfaced for 2017 (Sachs/LeMans), modified (Barcelona), or not on the calendar before Michelin (Austria).  I took a screen shot of this chart for future refernce to keep an eye on how Michelin progress over distance.  

Also well spotted on the rules change to remove the race distance requirements. Typically when the FIM update the rules they show the new text in bold, but here they did not making it a hard spot... Intrestingly it was not the only change regarding race distance to this years rules. Nearly a page worth was added to the medical code to say the cheif medical officer can shorten the race distance for extreem weather conditions such as heat exhaustion where dehydration could be a concern.

It is easy to say these are inconsequential tidbits but these subtleties continue a trend in recent years to add ambiguity rather than clarity to the rules, and/or put more power into certain positions to interpret what is legal or not rather than it being spelled out in black and white. So these kinds of changes are worth keeping an eye on. 

Total votes: 18