One of the main complaints aimed at the last-minute rule changes in MotoGP is that they made it impossible to explain to the casual viewer exactly who is riding what, and why.

How many categories are there exactly in MotoGP? Who has more fuel and who doesn’t? And who loses what privileges if they win or podium? To clear up some of the confusion, here is our simple guide to the categories in MotoGP.

There are two categories of bike entered into MotoGP:

  • Open 
  • Factory Option

All MotoGP bikes, Open or Factory Option, are 1000cc four strokes with a maximum capacity of 1000cc, a maximum bore of 81mm, and a minimum weight of 160kg. They all use the standard Magneti Marelli ECU* and datalogger.

They all have a choice of 2 different compounds of tires at each race. Each team has to decided whether to enter as Open or Factory Option team before the start of the season (28th February). Once the season is underway, they cannot switch until the following season.

The differences between the two classes are as follows:


  • ECU Software – All Open entries must use the champioinship software written by Magneti Marelli and controlled and supplied by Dorna
  • Fuel – Open entries are allowed 24 liters of fuel for the race. Most teams don’t need that much fuel, and have 22 or 23 liter fuel tanks fitted.
  • Engines – Open entries may use up to 12 engines for the entire season
  • Engine development – Open entries can modify the design of the engine between sealed engines. They cannot open the seals and change an engine once it has been used, but if a part of an engine needs to be redesigned for more performance, they can introduce that modification in the next engine used. In other words, engine #2 can be different in design to engine #3, and engine #5 can be different to engine #7.
  • Testing – Each rider has an allowance of 120 tires for testing purposes. Open teams can organize tests at any track, with any rider, and test until they run out of tires.
  • Tire allocation – Bridgestone bring three different specifications of tire to each circuit. The Open teams can use the softest and the medium specification tire.

The Open entries will run under these same rules throughout the 2014 season. No changes will be made based on their results. They keep the same fuel, tires and engines whether they win, podium or finish 23rd.

Factory Option

  • ECU Software – Factory Option entries are free to use any software they like. In practice, this means the ECU software written and developed by the manufacturers, which is much more sophisticated than the championship software.
  • Fuel – For 2014, Factory Option entries are allowed to use 20 liters of fuel for the race. This is one liter less than in 2013.
  • Engines – Factory Option entries may use only 5 engines for the entire season.
  • Engine development – The design of engines for Factory Option entries is fixed for the entire season. The first engine used in FP1 at Qatar must be identical in specification in every way to the last engine used at the race in Valencia.
  • Testing – Factory Option riders can only test at the official tests at Jerez, Barcelona and Brno, and at one other designated test circuit. Test riders can use the 120 test tires allocated to each Factory Option rider to test developments.
  • Tire allocation – Of the three different specifications which Bridgestone bring to each track, the Factory Option teams can use the medium and the hard specification.

The change made to the rules on 18th March gave manufacturers which did not win a race in 2013 and manufacturers which are new entrants some special concessions. These concessions only apply to Ducati and to Suzuki, once Suzuki join the championship in 2015. Some of those concessions will be lost if they start to achieve wins or podiums.

Ducati / Suzuki

  • ECU Software – Ducati is free to use any software they like. In practice, this means their own ECU software.
  • Fuel – Ducati is allowed up to 24 liters of fuel for the race. It is unlikely they will use all 24 liters, 22 or 23 liters is more likely.
  • Engines – Ducati may use up to 12 engines for the entire season
  • Engine development – Ducati can modify the design of the engine between sealed engines. The rule is the same as the Open entries. This allows Ducati (and Suzuki, in 2015) to develop their engines.
  • Testing – Ducati has the same testing privileges as the Open entries. This is to allow them to test their developments with the factory riders, who can push the bike harder than test riders.
  • Tire allocation – Ducati will start 2014 with the same tire allocation as the Open entries, the soft and medium specification tires.

If any Ducati rider wins a race in 2014 or 2015, or if they accumulate 2 second places or 3 third places between them, then their fuel allowance will be cut from 24 liters to 22 liters. If they rack up 3 wins between them, then they will also lose the softer tire, and use the same tire allocation as the other Factory Option manufacturers (i.e. medium and hard specifications).

Finally, a list of who is competing under which set of rules, and what bikes they are racing.

Riders competing as Open entries

No. Rider Bike
9 Danilo Petrucci Aprilia ART
5 Colin Edwards Forward Yamaha M1
41 Aleix Espargaro Forward Yamaha M1
7 Hiroshi Aoyama Honda RCV1000R
17 Karel Abraham Honda RCV1000R
45 Scott Redding Honda RCV1000R
69 Nicky Hayden Honda RCV1000R
8 Hector Barbera Kawasaki
63 Mike Di Meglio Kawasaki
23 Broc Parkes PBM
70 Michael Laverty PBM


Riders competing as Factory Option entries

No. Rider Bike
4 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati GP14
29 Andrea Iannone Ducati GP14
35 Cal Crutchlow Ducati GP14
68 Yonny Hernandez Ducati GP13
6 Stefan Bradl Honda RC213V
19 Alvaro Bautista Honda RC213V
26 Dani Pedrosa Honda RC213V
93 Marc Marquez Honda RC213V
38 Bradley Smith Yamaha M1
44 Pol Espargaro Yamaha M1
46 Valentino Rossi Yamaha M1
99 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha M1

* An ECU, or Electronic Control Unit, is just a specialized computer for running an engine. It collects data inputs (throttle position, engine revs, bike speed, and 80 or 90 more), and is able to send signals to the ignition, fuel injectors, and throttle butterflies, controlling sparks, fuel, and airflow.

The decisions on how much fuel to inject and when to ignite is controlled by the software loaded on the ECU, in the same way that Microsoft Windows or Mac OSX is loaded on a computer. The Magneti Marelli championship software controls fuel injection and ignition differently to the software which Honda, Yamaha or Ducati use.

Photo: © 2014 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.

  • Unbelievable really, instituting rule changes in March. I wish there were more manufacturers involved so they could not just roll over Ducati or any new entry in an attempt to curb quick developments.

    And can somebody explain to me why the use of different tires (which are being manufactured anyways, to provide to the series’ teams) is rule dependent and not a noise… And your tire choices change based upon what category you are in?…….

    What in the flying sheep is this crap? Who comes up with this stuff? I think a 5th grader could come up with rules which make more sense.

    The tire issue is the root of many problems.. and if they are going to stay with a single provider (which is the case) then please offer more options to teams for general use openly.. not half-assed and with restrictions based upon performance. Just wow..

  • Goop

    Wait, so Ducati are allowed to use their own ECU software? I thought they had to use the spec software that the other open entries use… This is getting silly.

  • Rob Liddell

    I understand wanting to make close racing, but if Ducati can’t make a fast bike I’d say they should skip a season and come back with something that can compete.
    As it stands with their own ecu on a bike that follows open class rules, it seems like their best bet would be to land in 4th every race in order to gain points and keep their tires, fuel, and engines.
    I’m having trouble understanding why Yamaha factory is having more trouble with the tire change than Honda factory? Could someone help me there?

  • Adara

    Great summary, just what I needed!
    It will be interesting to see whether or not these concessions are enough for Ducati to finally catch up to Honda and Yamaha..

  • KSW

    MLB announces change to rules following spring training. (Dorna Changes rules into preseason testing)
    * Four Strikes/3 Ball rule enacted to increasing on base action.
    * Bat weight limited and cork allowed for players who can’t bench press 500 lbs or are limited in stature hoping they’ll get more home runs and increase the infield action.
    * Chicago Cubs hire all 150 lb players who are into yoga with hopes there focus and bat speed will make them competitive under the new MLB rules.

    Can anyone see this happening anywhere else but a Private Equity Investment trying anything to get there money back?

    I was a former Junior Olympic Gymnastics all around champion. I”d have had no chance if the rules changed like this so my competitors could match my routines and I was forced to be half I could have been.

    Everyone, stop paying for MotoGP online and instead buy some Scott Jones Prints. It’s the best thing you could do for MotoGP. This small action would remind the world that content creators are important (otherwise every magazine is a book and internet sites are as exciting as a dictionary). MotoGP would return for free and the lot would be sold at a discount rate to a group who actually cared about racing not what continent there next vacation house will be built on. Sorry, day dreaming as the Aston Villa v. Stoke match is a bit boring waiting for Moto 1, I mean, MotoGP, as it’s all we get.

  • Seb

    Let’s see how the paddock reacts when Ducati wins races, which is soon. On the paper their advantage looks enormous (I too thought they had to use the spec ECU). Interestingly, it’s not the first time Ducati are advantaged by the rules. Just temember when the 916 was introduced in WSBK.
    I think we’ll never see a series in which all participants have equal chances. When we see Dovi winning races, we might think twice about the stupid concept of “aliens”. More than half of the MotoGP riders would be aliens on the best machine. Most aliens would finish fa from the podium on bad bikes. All MotoGP riders are exceptional.

  • Yeah, all the off-season BS is now academic, and guess what Mark Marquez (with a broken leg) and Repsol Honda just showed themselves to be completely dominant in the first race of the season. Basically it’s over already, Marquez on the Honda will win the 2014 championship, barring serious injury or catastrophe, like the officials black flagging him in every race in order to give the competitors a chance.

    It’s over baby! :)

  • MikeG81

    “Interestingly, it’s not the first time Ducati are advantaged by the rules. Just temember when the 916 was introduced in WSBK.”

    What about the 916 was “advantaged” by the rules?

  • L2C

    “Can anyone see this happening anywhere else but a Private Equity Investment trying anything to get there money back?”

    Now that was a very astute and penetrating observation!

  • L2C

    These changes to the regulations were released today, just before the races, believe it or not:

    “Should any rider, or combination of riders nominated by the same Manufacturer, participating under [the Open class concessions], achieve a race win, or accumulate two second places or three podium places in dry conditions during the 2014 and/or 2015 seasons then for that Manufacturer the fuel tank capacity will be reduced to 22 litres. Furthermore, should the same Manufacturer accumulate three race wins in the 2014 and/or 2015 seasons the manufacturer would also lose the right to use the soft tyres available to Open category entries.”


  • crshnbrn

    @ Aaron B. Brown

    I fear you may be correct. Marquez on a Honda with the current tire selection from Bridgestone with 20 liters of fuel will repeat as champion baring injury. The best we can hope for is the rest of the field making him earn it as he did at Qatar.

  • peter

    MikeG81 says:
    March 23, 2014 at 12:52 PM
    “Interestingly, it’s not the first time Ducati are advantaged by the rules. Just temember when the 916 was introduced in WSBK.”

    What about the 916 was “advantaged” by the rules?

    uhm, it was allowed to be 999cc while the fours had to be 749cc. it also had a weight advantage for while.

    and yes, i used to own a 916, and i put 40k miles on it in like 4 years, and in my opinion, it was/is the greatest roadbike ever made. having said that, the 916 in wsbk had several advantages to allow the twin to be competetive with the 4 cylinder bikes.

  • MikeG81

    “uhm, it was allowed to be 999cc while the fours had to be 749cc.”

    Yes, to make up the disadvantage of having 2 less cylinders. It didn’t come close to 999cc’s either, until ’98 when Ducati went to 996cc’s.

    “it also had a weight advantage for while.”

    For one year, one where a 750 led the title until the last race. A rule that was a screw up on the part of the FIM when they forgot to convert lbs to kg.