2001 was the end of the 500 cc era in Grand Prix motorcycle racing; in 2002 the premier class would be renamed MotoGP and dominated by 4-stroke 990 cc machines. However, 2001 was the beginning of another era, that of Valentino Rossi 's run of championships in the top class.
Season summary. There was an air of excitement at the start of the 1978 Grand Prix season. The popularity of defending champion Barry Sheene had boosted the appeal of motorcycle racing into the realm of the mass marketing media.