MotoGP should follow in the footsteps of Formula 1 and switch to sustainable fuels. From 2024, 40% of the fuel used in the MotoGP category must come from sustainable sources –either synthetic using sustainable energy or Non-food Biomass – and from 2027, all the fuel used in the three Grand Prix categories Moto3, Moto2 and MotoGP will not be of fossil origin.
The idea behind the Switch is partly to use the race function as a research and development platform and partly to bend to the inevitable. As the world faces a global climate crisis, it is necessary to move from extracting carbon stored underground and pumping it into the atmosphere to control CO2 levels in the atmosphere. The role of the race is to make the combustion of non-fossil fuels more efficient. Engineers understand the combustion properties of fossil fuels very well, but synthetic, electric fuels and biofuels burn and behave differently.
Motorsport is about converting the greatest amount of energy stored in a fuel source into the lowest possible lap time, and combustion efficiency – the conversion of fuel into power – is a very important part of it. The good news for racing fans who like the noise produced as a byproduct of combustion is that this switch means that Grand Prix races will remain home to noisy engines and paddock workers with permanent hearing damage.
Although the MotoE will persist and develop in the future, motorcycles that produce exhaust noise will continue to dominate the paddock for the foreseeable future. In this regard, 2027 is an important date. The current duration of the contract with the MotoGP manufacturers extends from 2022 to 2026. The agreement with the factories provides that the technical regulations will remain stable for this period. A new five-year contract period will begin in 2027, when such major changes can be made to the MotoGP formula. This means that the MotoGP will use internal combustion engines between 2027 and 2031.
The source of the fuels has yet to be decided, except that they are not free of fossils. But the FIM and Dorna made a restriction and specified a goal. First, biofuels cannot be made from food crops, as is the matter with ethanol, which is made from sweet corn or corn in many countries. Instead, it must be made from forest and agricultural waste or crops grown on land that is not otherwise suitable for food production.
The second is that the stated goal is to use carbon-free fuels. This means that fuels are obtained by production methods that do not emit carbon into the atmosphere, which also excludes certain forms of agriculture or the use of natural resources. Synthetic fuels should not be manufactured with carbon-emitting energy sources. The announcement by the FIM and Dorna is far from including Sport in fuel production, leaving that to the fuel manufacturers themselves.
In the race, only carbon-free fuels are allowed to be used, and how the fuel suppliers make this fuel is up to you. The announcement is a statement of intent and therefore does not contain any technical details. There is no news as to whether and if so, how the current fuel regulations, which strictly control the composition of the fuels used, will be changed. There are also no details on how or if emission standards, such as particulate emissions, will be changed in the future.