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A Short History of MotoGP

Motorcycles Topics:  MotoGP World Championship

A Short History of MotoGP

Graham Baylis
November 20, 2010

Graham Baylis

The MotoGP was not always called the MotoGP, it was once known as the World Championship of Motorcycle Racing and its inaugural race was held in 1949. The first motorbike appeared in Germany around 1894 and the first motorcycle race was held in France not long after that. The United Kingdom first held the now famous Tourist Trophy races on the Isle of Man in 1906. The Isle of Man TT races are a huge attraction for both competitors and spectators alike and the modern rules were set by the FIM for the 1949 races. In 1938 the FIM organised a European Championship, however the war interrupted progress and it was 1949 before the first World Championship was held which consisted of four classes, the 500cc, 350cc, 250cc and the 125cc. At this first Grand Prix event, the British riders Leslie Graham won the 500cc class and Freddie Firth won the 350cc class. The Italian riders Bruno Ruffo won the 250cc class and Nello Pagani won the 125cc event.

As the sport developed, the motorcycle manufacturers were all trying to produce bikes for riders to win with. The Italians were very prolific during the 1950s and they dominated the 500cc class between the late 50s to the early 70s. Their supremacy was ended when the Japanese motorcycle industry developed further after manufacturing motorcycles that were consistantly winning the lower cc classes. A number of manufacturers dropped out at the end of the 1960s due to the escalating costs associated with Grand Prix racing and as a result the FIM established rules regarding the number of cylinders per engine depending upon the size of the engine. In 2002 the World Championship of Motorcycle Racing was renamed the MotoGP and there was an overhaul of the rules. The 500cc class was ended and the new 990cc 4-stroke class was introduced as the premier event. At the begining of the 2007 season, rules were altered again and this time it was to do with the tyres which resulted in a reduction in engine size from 990cc to 800cc. In 2009 tyre manufacturer Bridgestone were the named suppliers for the MotoGP 800cc class.

Every decade has had its superstars who are fondly remembered by the fans, however the Italian rider Giacomo Agostini has been the most successful, winning 15 World titles, 7 of which he won on the trot from 1966 - 1972. There have been so many gifted motorcyclists over the years and more recently another gifted Italian, Valentino Rossi has become THE name associated with MotoGP. Rossi is also noteworthy in that he won the very last 500cc race in 2001 and then went on to win the new class of 990cc in 2002. He is thought of as one of the all time greats now. He is still a young man who has several years of racing ahead of him, it will be interesting to see what further records he can break.

The MotoGP is a very exciting sport which is constantly evolving. It has an interesting history and now has a prosperous future with so much more to come.

Graham Baylis is a keen follower of motorsport, particularly the MotoGP. He always buys his MotoGP tickets from Big Rock Holidays and has also enjoyed a hospitality package at several different locations.


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