2002 MotoGP Rd 1 – Japan – Suzuka – 7th April

Conditions – Wet


  • First MotoGP race, replacing the 500cc category as the premier-class of Grand Prix racing. The MotoGP formula had 990cc 4-strokes competing alongside the 500cc 2-stroke machines.
  • Nine 4-strokes start the race on the grid of 21. Rossi and Ukawa on the V5 Honda, along with wild-card Itoh. Biaggi and Checa on the across-the-frame 4-cylinder Yamaha. Roberts and Gibernau on the V4 Suzuki, along with wild-card Ryo. Laconi was the sole entry on the Aprilia triple.
  • Rossi wins from pole position after dropping down to 5th place at the end of the first lap and then taking the lead from Akira Ryo on the 16th lap.
  • Three different manufacturers on the podium.
  • First 500cc bike across the line: Norick Abe in 5th.
  • First Grand Prix win for a four-stroke machine since Giacomo Agostini won the 500cc German GP in 1976 at the Nurburgring circuit.
  • Rossi becomes only the second rider ever to win on both 2-stroke and 4-stroke machinery in the premier-class of Grand Prix racing; other rider to achieve this is Giacomo Agostini who won on a four-stroke MV Agusta and two-stroke Yamaha.
  • For the first time ever less than 3 seconds covered all the qualifiers for a premier-class Grand Prix.
  • Ride through penalty for Olivier Jacque for making a jump-start.
  • Quoting Julian Ryders about this race “My overwhelming memory of this race is the new 4-strokes trampling all over the 2-strokes on the run down to turn 1. To see it was to understand the future and instantly realise the strokers were dead. Before the lights went out the 2-strokes were man eaters. A few moments later they were as scary as your average moped. It was instant and astonishing”.

2002 MotoGP races

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