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2020 MotoGP: The cost of doing business at the top

There is an old adage which says that to make a small fortune from motor racing you first start with a large fortune. Most everyone knows the cost of racing in the top flight of motorsports – Formula 1 and MotoGP – is astronomically expensive but do you have any idea exactly how much?

Multiple MotoGP world championship team Repsol Honda recently published on their media page a sampling of the costs of doing business at the pinnacle of two-wheeled motorsports and it is not for the faint of heart. Taking the example of a satellite team, where most racers start their career before moving into the factory teams if they’re good enough, leasing a complete MotoGP race machine costs up to 2 million euros (RM8.9 million) per rider for a season.

This will give the team access to two race bikes plus any upgrades and improvements made to the bike during the race season but no spare parts. Should the electronics package need to be replaced, that will be 100,000 euro (RM449,237) to you, sir, including all sensors and cables with no electronic part costing less than 1,000 euros (RM4,492).

Braking is, comparatively, not as expensive, only costing 70,000 euros (RM314,465) for a season – this figure is capped by the FIM, motorcycle racing’s governing body – and includes three pairs of calipers, three master cylinders, 10 carbon discs, and 28 sets of brake pads. If more brake parts are needed during a season, they have to be purchased at extra cost.

As any rider knows, crashing during a race, or even a track day, racks up repair bills like no one’s business but at MotoGP level, be prepared for a heart attack. A low side crash which involves putting the bike on its side and sliding for a bit can cost somewhere between 15,000 to 20,000 euros (RM67,385 to RM89,847).

If a rider high sides the bike, this could mean the team having to fork out 100,000 euros (RM449,237) to repair or replace stuff like tyres, wheels, discs and suspension. For a slow motion replay worthy viral video high side, the cost involved can easily reach 500,000 euros (RM2.24 million) to replace the fuel tank, swingarm, chassis, engine or electronics.

Part of what makes up the high cost of racing in MotoGP is the materials used in constructing a race bike. For example, the carbon-fibre used in the bodywork and fairings costs two euros per 100 grammes, compared to steel which is a paltry 0.2 euro per 100 grammes.

Those ultra light weight wheels used on MotoGP bikes? The author lifted a naked magnesium rear wheel at the MotoGP round in Motegi, Japan and was astounded at the weight or lack thereof. The cost? A jaw dropping 4,000 euros (RM17,969).

This is mere pocket change compared to what the official tyre supplier, Michelin, has to pay to support every MotoGP round. For each race, for all the teams, Michelin spends 1.2 million euros (RM5.39 million) to supply tyres, wheels and technical personnel.

Since MotoGP is a worldwide race series, with racing carried out on five of the seven continents, supporting costs for running a team are similarly large. For a team of 19 personnel, travel costs can go up to 700,000 euros (RM3.14 million) per year excluding the team principal, manager and riders, who more than likely will travel in a higher class or on a private jet.

Add in catering and hospitality and your yearly team expenses go up another 600,000 euros (RM2.69 million). This does not include the cost of ground logistics, transport, vehicles and other miscellaneous items which can increase the team’s yearly budget by another 700,000 euros (RM3.14 million).

If you were thinking competing in a lower class such as Moto3, with the thought costs might be lower, they are, but compared to campaigning a production class like superbikes, are still high. A complete Moto3 race motorcycle – without engine, dashboard or transponders – costs a minimum of 85,000 euros (RM381,851).

You will need an engine to go with that Moto3 racer which costs 12,000 euro (RM53,908) per engine. However, the engine manufacturer will lease you a Moto3 engine package costing 60,000 euro (RM269,542) that gives you six engines, two throttle bodies and two gearboxes for one season.

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