Select Page

Updated 4th March 2024 regarding the new 2024 concession rules and regulations re use.

MotoGP engines are perhaps the most important aspect of development and racing.

For a beginner just starting to watch MotoGP it is important to understand not just the engine’s capacity but how they are developed and the regulations around the racing championships.

First let’s look at what capacity engines are used in MotoGP, who makes them and the cost that goes into their development.

MotoGP Engines

Aleix Espargaro MotoGP 2023

Aleix Espargaro image courtesy of Joe McGowan on Flickr

MotoGP engines are unlike any other racing engine, or motorcycle engine on the planet and can reach speeds up to 349 kph (217 mph).

It is important to understand they are not available to the general public.

These engines will never appear in road bikes and you cannot purchase them.

Even when they are retired, they are not for sale.

Even the way in which the engines are tuned and the power they put out is not something they are developing with road users in mind.

They are specifically designed for the premier class of racing: MotoGP.

The maximum displacement allowed in the premier class of MotoGP is 1000cc, with four cylinders and a maximum bore of 81mm.

Only 6 gears are allowed, and no turbo or supercharging is permitted.

The MotoGP regulations and restrictions for engines are very tight as we will see further in this article.

Configurations

While the regulations are strict on engine size and power in order to keep the sport competitive, manufacturers do not have limitations on engine configurations.

Teams may choose to use an engine with either a straight four or a V-four cylinder configuration.

What is the difference between a V4 and an inline engine?

  • Inline-fours have longer crankshafts which help stabilise the motorcycle helping them to handle better,
  • V4s make more horsepower because their shorter, stiffer crankshafts allow more high-rpm performance and are faster down the straights

What does this mean when racing?

Inline fours can be faster when they are able to utilise their U-shaped cornering lines to generate high corner speeds that out do the V4.

However, a V4 uses a V shaped cornering line and has faster speed down the straights.

Now that there are more V4s on the grid the two styles of cornering creates an interesting clash leaving the inline fours shut out if you like.

For the 2024 season, there will be 20 V4 engines on the grid and only two inline-fours (Yamaha).

Being the last to use the inline four Yamaha has made their latest inline four operate as much like a V4 as they can

However, Yamaha MotoGP project leader Kazutoshi Seki stated that he will consider building a V4 instead if this season does not prove more successful.

Franco Morbidelli inline-four leading the v4 of luca marini

Franco Morbidelli’s inline-four leading the v4 of Luca Marini. Image courtesy of Joe McGowan on Flickr

So which is more successful?

The V4 and inline-four engines had actually been equally successful since the MotoGP class was introduced in the World Championship 20 years ago up until 2023.

However, the Ducati V4 2023 season win means the V4 is now the most successful configuration so far in MotoGP.

Cost

The engine is one of the most expensive parts of a MotoGP bike with manufacturers spending a large portion of their funding on engine development.

A MotoGP bike’s engine parts in total will cost up to

  • 425,000 AUS $
  • 226,000 GBP £
  • 263,000 EUR €
  • 287,000 USD $

Some of the most valuable parts on their own can be $AUS 25,000 (The total bike cost can be between $AUS 1,000,000 and $AUS 4,000,000).

And they need between 7 and 10 of these just for racing events, plus testing engines.

It amounts to a considerable sum of money for teams to come up with just on parts.

Manufacturers

In the top class of MotoGP, manufacturers or constructors as they are also referred to develop and provide engines for all the teams participating in the MotoGP class.

Each constructor owns a team called their factory team, and most then provide engines and bikes to one or more satellite teams.

For Factory teams both riders must use the same engine but Satellite teams can have different engine specs for different riders.

The 2023 constructors are as follows

  • Ducati
  • KTM
  • Aprilia
  • Honda
  • Yamaha
Francesco Bagnaia aboard his all conquering 2023 Ducati powered Lenovo bike

Francesco Bagnaia aboard his all conquering 2023 Ducati powered Lenovo bike. Image courtesy of José Manuel P. Saavedra on Flickr

What is the Constructor Championship?

If you are new to MotoGP, then you may be wondering what the constructor championship is. This championship runs parallel to the riders’ championship and is for the constructors or manufacturers of the engine.

Points are awarded for manufacturers the same as for the individual riders’ championship depending on where their engines finish each race.

The higher the engine manufacturer places at the end of the race the more constructor points they can pick up and win the constructor championship for the season.

Ducati is the current constructor champion and leading the 2023 season so far.

It is interesting to note in Moto2 they award the constructors’ championship to the chassis builder as they all use the same engines manufactured by Triumph.

Moto3 works the same as MotoGP with the limitation of 250cc capacity engines.

Number of Engines allowed

Teams are allowed 7 Engines per rider per season.

Now because this is MotoGP it’s never that straightforward and engine allowance, testing and the technical control and monitoring is also dependent on something called concession points and the ranking they place a manufacturer in. We will have a look at the new concession system a little further down.

Depending on how a team ranks they will be given different engine allowances and approval requirements.

The procedure for engine approval is covered in more detail further down in this article.

For teams in Ranking A, B, and C they are allowed 7 engines per season unless there are 21 or more races cited on the official calendar then teams are given an extra engine giving them a total of 8.

Manufacturers in Ranking D are allocated 9 engines and 10 for longer seasons.

The use of this 8th (or 10th) engine will only be allowed starting from the 19th event of the season.

This engine allocation is to cover all sessions for all weekends but does not include engines for testing.

If for any reason a rider is replaced say for injury, the replacement rider will be deemed to be the original rider for purposes of engine allocation.

So basically, no extra engine is what that amounts to.

According to the regulations wildcard riders are given exclusive use of 3 engines.

If a team should use their allocation, they can apply to the technical director for another engine.

What are Concession points?

A major change to the concession point system has been rolled out from the end of season 2023. The change came following approval by the Grand Prix Commission ahead of the Valencia GP 2023, and now mean teams will be divided into 4 ranks – A, B, C or D depending on Constructor Points awarded.

These rankings will give the following benefits to the teams, or limit the benefits:

motogp concessions table

* Wildcards are not subject to engine specification freeze. A maximum of three wildcards can be used before the summer test ban and a maximum of three wildcards after the summer test ban.

** Must discard a previous aero specification.

The rankings will be determined on the percentage of the possible maximum points they have accrued in each window (stay with me I promise it makes sense in the end).

The two windows are as follows:

Window 1: From the first event to the last event of the season.

Window 2: From the first event after the summer test ban to the last event before the summer test ban begins in the following season.

The maths will work as follows according to the regulations:

Manufacturers will be ranked based on the percentage of points scored in the Constructors championship. The regulation states this is calculated as follows:

Points scored divided by the maximum points awarded (25 x the number of GP Races held, plus 12 x the number of Sprints held)

So, in 2023 this equated to the following based on the constructor points awarded:

  • Ducati: 700 points = 96%
  • KTM: 373 points = 51%
  • Aprilia: 326 points = 45%
  • Yamaha: 196 points = 27%
  • Honda: 185 points = 25%

This results in the following rankings for 2024, at least until the start of the summer ban (July) when it is possible manufacturers may change rankings for the remainder of the season.

  • Ducati: A
  • KTM: C
  • Aprilia: C
  • Yamaha: D
  • Honda: D

Remember this is not the team championship this is the manufacturers only. The team championship is a combined effort between both riders for the team, where the constructors championship is only awarded to the highest placing rider for that manufacturer for each sprint and main race.

Wild Card riders do not accrue constructor points.

If a team should change ranks during window 2 (so after the summer test ban but before the next summer test ban then the following concessions change immediately:

  • Test tyre allowance will be reduced/increased as per their rank – unless the manufacturer has already used more tyres than the number they have been reduced to
  • Private testing with or without contracted riders
  • Testing at any GP circuit or three manufacturer-nominated circuits for the remainder of the season
  • Wildcard allowance increased or reduced. This includes the cancellation of any wildcards that had already approved by the GPC for the period after the test ban.
  • Aero updates will be reduced/increased as per their rank (unless manufacturer has already used more aero specifications than the ones reduced to).
  • If changing down from Rank C to D: Engine allowance increased, free engine specification, and one more aero update allowed if a previous iteration is discarded

Changes for the following season if changing ranks in window 2 are as follows:

If changing up from Rank D to C – Engine allowance reduced, engine specification frozen UNLESS the manufacturer returns to Rank D by the end of the season.

Regulating Engine use

Manufacturers ranking in A, B or C must provide a sample of their engine pieces to technical control.

These are stored in tamper proof cases for the duration of the season.

If at any point during the season these parts need to be checked against the engine being currently used by the rider, they can be assessed to ensure no upgrades have been made after the start of the season

There are penalties for the team if they have breached this rule.

Manufacturers in Ranking D do not have to go through this process and do not provide any parts to be stored like this.

They are also allowed to make development changes throughout the season.

A new engine is deemed to be used when the motorcycle with that engine crosses the transponder timing point at the pit lane exit.

How is this monitored at races?

There is a Marshall in the riders’ box to record which engine is being used and how much that engine has been used.

How many kilometres can each engine run for?

On a race weekend a bike travels on average a distance of 600 kms. This equates to about 12,000 kms per season. Using this equation each engine needs to be able to do 1,700 kms or just a fraction more to be safe.

What is a MotoGP engine plan?

Teams look at the calendar and develop what is called an engine plan which assesses which tracks put most load on the engine.

These tracks require the freshest engines.

This applies to Motegi, Qatar and Malaysia.

To ensure the engines can handle the pressure at these tracks a new engine (so one that has no kilometres on the clock) is put in on Friday night, this allows the engine to reach its optimal functioning capacity of approximately 250 horsepower

This means the engine is at its peak performance for the race.

Sachsenring in Germany is one where they don’t need to do this due to a lot of leaning and differences in the track layout.

On the Friday for free practice teams will use engines that have lot of use.

This is why we see a lot of blow outs on the Friday.

Teams can adjust RPMS but not much else (unless they have concessions which allows development during the season).

Adjusting the RPMs means they can stretch the engines a little further if needed or get a little more horsepower if needed.

This is an assessment done as the season goes on – if they have had to retire an engine or two a team can be in big trouble at the back end of the season. (remember Malaysia requires an entirely fresh engine and it’s at the end of the season) they can then reduce the RPM and get more use from the engine.

It does present other problems, but it may be the difference between finishing and not finishing.

Alternatively, they can alter the RPMs to add some horsepower.

Upping the horsepower even just slightly drastically reduces the number of kilometres an engine can do.

This is usually only considered if no engines have been retired throughout the season.

To Conclude

Understanding the engine regulations makes for more interesting watching during FP sessions and into the Sprint race as now more than ever engine numbers are playing a huge part in the excitement.

Why?

Because too many crashes on the Friday and Saturday leaves teams under pressure to fix bikes.

If they can’t get it done, it can leave the rider with no bike for the sprint race or maybe even the main race.

If you watched the 2023 German GP at Sachsenring (round 7) this was a major problem facing Marquez after a series of crashes – 1 on Friday, 3 on Saturday and 1 on Sunday.

And there we have it. The development, regulations and the issues teams need to consider throughout the season to bring us the best of the best in racing year after year.

 

Related Posts