MotoGP attendance figures have plummeted in 2022. While the French Grand Prix held up its end of the bargain, drawing in 225,000 visitors over the race weekend, schedule staples like Mugello (Italy) and Silverstone (Great Britain) struggled to sell tickets. Whether fans attribute that drop in interest to Rossi’s retirement or the current economic climate, one thing’s for sure, MotoGP needs a solution stat.

To attract fans back to the track, MotoGP turns to its friends in Formula 1 (F1) and the Superbike World Championship (WSBK). Both racing series hold sprint races on Saturdays preceding the full-distance race on Sundays. While F1 only incorporates the demi-races at particular tracks, every WSBK round includes a sprint race.

MotoGP hopes to implement the additional competitions on a similar basis. Friday’s FP1 (free practice) and FP2 would remain unchanged but qualifying sessions would follow FP3 on Saturday. The half-distance sprint races would replace FP4, with the qualifying session determining the starting grid for both Saturday and Sunday races. Not everyone is on board with this plan, though, including reigning champion and Yamaha Factory rider Fabio Quartararo.

"I think it's totally stupid," admitted Quartararo. “If we do it from time to time, like in Formula 1, I think it can be interesting. But, every Saturday? Honestly, there are circuits where you are physically exhausted, like Assen, Mugello.”

Among the riders, however, sprint races seem like a very subjective matter. 2020 MotoGP champion Joan Mir doesn’t mind the extra work, citing both entertainment value and personal preference as driving factors.

"Well, at the end, for the show, it will be better," the Suzuki man conceded. "This is a fact. More races means on a Saturday there will be some more entertainment. For me, at the end I enjoy racing, I enjoy when I take overtakes and everything more than a free practice (session).”

Despite Mir’s take, the paddock remains split. Red Bull KTM rider Miguel Oliveira is apprehensive about the sprint race’s implications, raising concerns over the knock-down effect it could cause throughout the race weekend.

"I quite like how it is at the moment," noted Oliveira. "Right now, it's quite stressful. Like today I made this little mistake (crashing in FP2) and I'm out of Q2, and if tomorrow morning rains, it will be quite stressful."

Unfortunately, MotoGP will have to assess the situation with teams, riders, organizers, and sponsors before making an official announcement. Whether they adopt the new sprint race format or not, they will need to find a way to put more butts in seats come 2023.

Got a tip for us? Email: tips@rideapart.com