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Old 12-19-2009, 06:24 AM   #1
MOKE1K
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Thumbs up Grandprix Timeline

Grand Prix and MotoGP: A Timeline
by Superbikeplanet
Friday, December 18, 2009
The FIM's recent announcement that the MotoGP class will return to 1000cc in 2012 makes this an opportune moment for a general timeline of the class.

1949: Grand Prix series originates as a scruffy world championship. All machines are powered by four-stroke engines. An AJS Twin wins the first 500cc title.

1951-59: The 1950s are possibly the strangest period in Grand Prix history with single-cylinder Manx Nortons lining up against wild, dustbin fairing equipped V-8 Moto Guzzis and the like. German manufacturers are eventually allowed back into the FIM, once everyone was reasonably certain they were sorry about that whole Hitler/Nazi/WWII thing.

1952: First 500cc championship won by a four-cylinder--Gilera.

1952-1974: Gilera and the MV Agusta dominate the 500cc championship. Races are held on cobblestone streets, with minimum safety equipment and tires so bad that today you would not mount them on the family rickshaw. All with ten or fifteen rows of spectators sitting picnic-style on the immediate outside of fast corners. Bad things ensued.

1966: Honda enters the 500cc world championship, winning the constructor's championship and their first 500cc GP (Jim Redman). It's on.

1968: February, Honda announces pull-out of GP series, a move followed by other manufacturers.

1971: Jack Findlay wins the first 500cc race on a two-stroke (Suzuki).

1972: Yamaha wins first 500 GP, on a two-stroke TZ350.

1973: Yamaha introduces in-line four 500cc two-stroke.

1974: MV Agusta wins last 500cc championship by a four stroke before the MotoGP era. Rider: Phil Read.

1975: Four-cylinder, two-stroke 500s rip a hole completley through what most feel is the end of the performance envelope for a Grand Prix bike. Yamaha wins first 500c title, ridden by Giacomo Agostini.

1976-1977: Suzuki wins two world championship with Barry Sheene as rider. Machine: square-four RG500 two-stroke.

1979: Honda returns to Grand Prix and introduces the infamous NR500 four-stroke GP bike. The oval-piston machine with a redline of over 20,000rpm would be raced in the 500 class until the 1982 season, sadly without success.

1982: Honda introduces NS500, a two-stroke, three-cylinder 500. Nimble, fast and incredibly light, historians suggest that the NS500, at one point, weighed less than 250 pounds in race trim. Freddie Spencer logs Honda's first 500cc two-stroke win.

1983: King thumping: American Freddie Spencer wins Honda's first 500cc world championship on the NS500 V-3.

1985: Freddie Spencer wins both 500 and 250 world titles in one season while riding Honda NSR500 V-4 and NSR250 machinery.

1990: 500 grids shrink as many secondary riders join newly-launched and subversive WSBK series. FIM and others suggest that 500cc Grand Prix class should be limited to 600cc four-strokes. Regardless, 1990 season remains a bellwether for the ultra fast and unforgiving 500cc two-stroke racer.

1992: Honda introduces "Big Bang" NSR500 engine configuration. It is quickly copied by Cagiva and others. Later, Honda factory rider Michael Doohan sets paddock on ear by requesting and using a conventional "screamer" engine to win multiple world titles.

1992: Wayne Rainey wins world title for Yamaha in a season where he, at times, raced with a non-Yamaha chassis under him (ROC chassis).

1991-1993: Electronics, first in the form of data acquisition and later engine management, begin to have a huge part in Grand Prix racing.

1993: Now in full Bastille-storming mode, Honda's NSR500 punches past 200mph at Hockenhiem.

1994: Aprilia moves on a trend in which some feel a big 250 would win 500 Grand Prix races. The Italian company launches the RSV400 twin at Jerez. Sadly the one rider who could probably make it happen, Valentino Rossi, is still back in Italy doodling on a notebook and dreaming of what may one day be.

1996: Honda launches NSRV500cc twin, a V-twin two-stroke 500.

2001: The pregnancy. Last season of exclusive 500cc two-stroke. Valentino Rossi wins final 500cc title. Rossi logs Honda's 500th Grand Prix win.

2002: The birth. MotoGP season begins with enormous global interest in a class some term "two-wheeled F1". 990cc four-stroke powerplants bend dynos the world over. Guaranteed grid positions are said to be worth princely sums. Kawasaki, Suzuki, Honda, Yamaha, Ducati, Aprilia and others build 990cc four-stroke racers. Lap records burn like cord wood. Cubic power of MotoGP makes former class king 500cc two-strokes redundant in short order.

2003: By '03 engine management and programming are a huge and integral part of MotoGP technology. Critics say that the ability of the ECU to smooth the rough edges from a 990cc MotoGP bike has killed motorcycle racing as we knew it for 30 years, while supporters says it has made MotoGP safer. End effect: MotoGP bikes are more like The Terminator than they are Jason Bourne.

2005: Ducati wins first MotoGP race.

2007: Safety and other factors mandate that 990s become 800s. But the smaller machines are, in many instances, as fast or faster than the 990s they replaced. Use of pneumatic valves and other F1-style equipment push rev limits into the stratosphere, with several machines believed to be revving near or past 20,000 rpm.

2007: Ducati wins MotoGP and constructor's championship.

2008: Team Roberts, run by living legend Kenny Roberts, pulls out of MotoGP after a lack of sponsors willing to pony up the $7-10-15 million required to run a GP team come forward.

2008: Once thought to be unstoppable, MotoGP is rocked by a global economic crisis, Kawasaki attempts to withdraw from MotoGP but is legally prevented from doing so. Former Kawasaki bikes are raced as Hayates, with Dorna overseeing the team. Grid positions, once thought to be as valuable as Beverly Hills real estate have, in fact, little value.

2009: FIM announces that MotoGP will return to 1000cc in 2012. An 81mm bore and a limit of four cylinders are just the first measures released in an effort to limit RPM, and cost.
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Old 12-21-2009, 07:00 AM   #2
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That skips over the reason Japanes manufacturers pulled out in '68. The FIM instituted massive rule changes that resulted in completely redesigned bikes.
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Old 12-21-2009, 07:26 AM   #3
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Thanks for the history lesson pplassm, what was the cause of the rules being changed in 68?
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Old 12-21-2009, 08:01 AM   #4
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So, special displacement advantages for specific engine types are perfectly okay in MotoGP but evil when done in AMA?
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Old 12-21-2009, 09:19 AM   #5
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Depends on how far off the engines are in specifications in my opinion. What are you referring to in this timeline?
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Old 12-21-2009, 09:42 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MOKE1K View Post
Depends on how far off the engines are in specifications in my opinion. What are you referring to?
It's been so long, apparently he's forgotten that the 600cc and 1000cc I-4 categories are "made up" for racing. (as well as the near-defunct 750cc)
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Old 12-21-2009, 09:57 AM   #7
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I know what hes refferring to, just not in this timeline.
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Old 12-21-2009, 11:30 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The_AirHawk View Post
It's been so long, apparently he's forgotten that the 600cc and 1000cc I-4 categories are "made up" for racing. (as well as the near-defunct 750cc)
2002. Two strokes allowed only 500cc. 4 strokes allowed 990cc. Hardly fair.
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Old 12-21-2009, 12:05 PM   #9
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Quote:
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2002. Two strokes allowed only 500cc. 4 strokes allowed 990cc. Hardly fair.
You're right - them 990s WERE at a heluva disadvantage.........
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Old 12-21-2009, 12:13 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seruzawa View Post
2002. Two strokes allowed only 500cc. 4 strokes allowed 990cc. Hardly fair.
True but at that time the 500cc times were not that far off from the four strokes, unlike today. Uncompairable imo, to running 1-4'strokes against 1200cc twin fourstrokes. I remember the use of 2stroke twins in 1996 that beat up on the 2stroke V4s at couple of tracks.
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