Playing Power Politics - Why The MotoGP Weight Limit Was Changed

The weight increase in the MotoGP class introduced for 2012 - from 153kg, as originally agreed when the 2012 regulations were drawn up back in August 2010, to 157kg - has had many repercussions. The addition of 4kg to the 1000cc MotoGP machines has been blamed for causing the chatter that Honda's RC213V suffers from, and for complicating the pursuit of the ideal weight distribution for both Honda and Yamaha, which the two Japanese factories had spent most of 2011 perfecting ahead of the 2012 MotoGP season.

The decision was taken in a Grand Prix Commission meeting held on December 14th of 2011 in Madrid, and though it drew little comment at the time, once the MotoGP paddock reassembled at Sepang for the first test of the year, some intriguing details started to appear. Crash.net's Peter McLaren has an excellent reconstruction of the decision process, from which it is clear that the path to adoption the proposal faced was far more complex than usual. It also reveals some of the underlying tensions in both the Grand Prix Commission and the MSMA which will go on to play a major role in the rule-making process for 2013 and beyond.

When the weight increase was first announced, the finger of suspicion was immediately pointed at Ducati. The switch from the carbon fiber (and then aluminium) subframe design using the engine as a stressed member to a full aluminium twin spar chassis design has increased the weight of the Ducati GP12; to get an idea of the significance of the switch, the Ducati Panigale - which dropped the steel trellis frame used by the 1198 for a subframe design based on the GP11 MotoGP bike - lost some 5kg in weight, just because of the minimalist chassis design. Ducati's detractors claimed that the weight increase was made to benefit the Ducati, as they would not have to search for areas to cut the weight gained by the move to a full twin spar frame.

The reality is rather more prosaic: the weight increase was proposed by Dorna to keep costs down for the Claiming Rule Teams. The initial proposal - 160kg - is 5kg less than the minimum weight in World Superbikes, and given that carbon fiber bodywork is banned in WSBK, building a bike around a production-based engine down to that minimum weight could be achieved without spending vast amounts of money in pursuit of the last few grams of weight loss. Even at 157kg, the CRT machines can get close to the minimum weight limit without breaking the bank, keeping their disadvantage with respect to the factory prototypes - already large, as the factory prototypes are designed for the race track from the ground up, have the most sophisticated electronics, and, in the case of the factory teams, by far the best riders - can be kept to a minimum.

That does not necessarily mean that Ducati had nothing to do with the decision. As McLaren reports on Crash.net, Carmelo Ezpeleta revealed that the weight increase had been proposed at the Valencia meeting of the Grand Prix Commission, held on November 5th. That proposal had been vetoed by the manufacturers assocation, the MSMA, as they have the right to do for all technical regulations under the contract which Dorna had with the MSMA from 2002 until December 31st 2011. However, that right of veto only applies when the MSMA make a unanimous decision on a proposal, with all of the MotoGP manufacturers agreeing. At Valencia, MSMA representative Takanao Tsubouchi told the Grand Prix Commission that opposition to the weight increase was unanimous among MSMA members, but at some time between November and mid-December, the other members of the GPC learned that the decision had not been been unanimous, but that the votes had gone 2-1 against the proposal.

Given that both Yamaha and Honda are now complaining about the weight increase - see, for example, this story by Matt Birt of MCN - the identity of the dissenting opinion is easy to guess. At Madrid, the GPC formally asked for the minutes of the MSMA meeting, where they learned that the proposal had not been rejected unanimously, meaning that the MSMA veto of the weight increase was not valid. The weight increase proposal was reintroduced, and as a compromise, it was phased in over two years, with the minimum weight bumped to 157kg for 2012, rising to 160kg for 2013.

So how did the other GPC members find out about the discrepancy between Tsubouchi-san's report at Valencia and the actual events at the MSMA meeting? As the minutes of MSMA meetings are not public, one of the three MSMA members must have made it apparent to the GPC members that they might find something interesting in the MSMA minutes. There is no evidence to link any of the individual MSMA members to such a leak, but logic would suggest that the dissenting MSMA member has the most to gain by making the erroneous reports by the MSMA's representative public.

What follows is based on rumor and hearsay, and off-the-record comments from sources close to the parties involved, and should therefore be regarded with a healthy dose of scepticism. But reconstructing the chain of decisions and events provides some insight into the future of MotoGP, and the future the rules are likely to take, and if nothing else, makes for an interesting intellectual exercise. The assumptions, conjecture and conclusions are entirely my own, and impossible to verify, at least publicly and on the record.

The dissenting opinion in the MSMA meeting was almost certainly Ducati, as the Bologna factory had the least to lose. Ducati Corse boss Filippo Preziosi was about to embark on a massive project to redesign the Ducati GP12, based in part on the data collected by Valentino Rossi at the Valencia test. Building a heavier bike is always cheaper than building a lighter bike, and with plenty of work ahead of them, Ducati are unlikely to have been opposed to increasing the minimum weight for the class, giving them one less factor to worry about.

Once the GP commission rejected Dorna's proposal to increase the minimum weight, Ducati would quickly have learned the reason for that rejection. The Italian factory has long been outnumbered and outgunned in the MSMA, but as Japanese manufacturers have dropped out of the series - ironically, as a direct result of the increased cost of competition caused by the rule changes imposed by the MSMA - the balance of power inside the MSMA has shifted dramatically. Where once Ducati faced a collective block of four other factories, now just the two Japanese manufacturers remain. After being forced to accept a number of decisions that they were less than happy with - the switch to 800cc was one of them - Ducati is now able to put up a stiffer resistance to Honda and Yamaha. Where previously, Ducati would have acquiesced to majority opinion, now, they are more determined to protect their own agenda. 

And Ducati have a bone or two to pick with the Japanese manufacturers. In the run up to the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi, Ducati looked like they might pull out of the race due to fears over radiation. Though most of those fears were allayed by the independent report commissioned by Dorna, there was also intense pressure on Ducati from the Japanese factories to attend the race. Unsubstantiated paddock rumor has it that Ducati was given to understand that if they decided against racing at Motegi, that might influence the way their proposals to the MSMA were viewed by the Japanese members. If they were to race at Motegi, the rumors suggest, then their proposals would be regarded in a much more positive light.

The lifting of the testing restrictions was seen in part as the Japanese factories making good on their promise to Ducati after the Bologna factory dropped their opposition to the Motegi race. The decision - common sense, given that testing was taking place anyway, only less effectively, using separate testing teams rather than the factory riders sitting at home being paid not to ride - was accepted with much complaint by the Japanese factories, HRC boss Shuhei Nakamoto pointing out to me at Valencia that the decision benefited factories based in Europe, who had riders and race tracks close by, rather than Japanese factories, who would have to either fly bikes, parts and technicians to Europe, or riders and crew to Japan.

Once Ducati discovered that the MSMA had misrepresented the outcome of the meeting on Dorna's weight increase proposal, they may have feared a return to the bad old days, where the Japanese factories would decide the MSMA's response and steamroller the wishes of the Italian factory. Ducati may have believed they would benefit from a weight increase, but they cannot have been unaware of the importance of establishing their role in the MSMA. 

But the decision also hints at the approach Dorna is to take to rule making for the 2013 MotoGP season. A meeting of the Grand Prix Commission is planned at the Jerez IRTA tests, with a view to thrashing out a set of rules for adoption in May. Dorna is proposing the imposition of a spec ECU and a maximum rev limit - probably in the region of 15,000 rpm - on the MotoGP class, to allow the CRT machines to be competitive and to drastically lower the barriers to entry for new manufacturers wishing to join the series. The factories are fiercely opposed to both these measures, and intend to reject the proposals.

The problem is that Dorna has not (yet) signed a new collective contract with the MSMA renewing their monopoly over the technical regulations. The old contract expired on December 31st, and no new contract has been signed, leaving all proposals to the Grand Prix Commission to be decided by a simple majority, or deferred to the Permanent Bureau, in which only the FIM and Dorna have a seat. If the MSMA do not come up with proposals which, in the view of Dorna, and especially their Director of Technology Corrado Cecchinelli, will not serve to drastically cut costs, especially the cost of leasing a MotoGP machine, then Dorna will push through its own proposals, leaving the factories to either accept them or leave. Given that neither Honda, Yamaha nor Ducati have any factory representation in the World Superbike series - and even if they do, they face an even harsher rule-making climate than in MotoGP - pulling out of MotoGP would be the very last resort. The factories know that even with identical bikes, only they can afford riders such as Valentino Rossi, Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo, and crew chiefs such as Jerry Burgess, Cristian Gabbarini and Ramon Forcada, who make the difference between winning and losing. Whatever the rules, Honda knows that their only real competition comes from Yamaha and Ducati, and the riders they can contract.

By forcing through the weight increase - especially after also forcing through the issue of front brake lever protectors and rear lights for use in the rain - Dorna is making clear to the MSMA that the rules of the game have changed, and that they now have the reins firmly in their grasp. The MSMA will either have to submit acceptable counter-proposals or start to lease satellite bikes for around a million euros per season, rather than the 2.5 to 4.5 million they currently cost. Either way, the real winner is MotoGP: the aim of the 2013 rule package is to limit the cost of the (satellite and CRT) bikes to a million euros, so that more teams can afford to take part. Neither a satellite bike nor a CRT bike is ever likely to win a MotoGP race - barring exceptional circumstances, such as the weather or a series of crashes - but if they are affordable enough for the stronger racing teams, and can at least be competitive enough to appease their sponsors, the future of the series should be assured.

The weight increase in the MotoGP class introduced for 2012 - from 153kg, as originally agreed when the 2012 regulations were drawn up back in August 2010, to 157kg - has had many repercussions. The addition of 4kg to the 1000cc MotoGP machines has been blamed for causing the chatter that Honda's RC213V suffers from, and for complicating the pursuit of the ideal weight distribution for both Honda and Yamaha, which the two Japanese factories had spent most of 2011 perfecting ahead of the 2012 MotoGP season.The decision was taken in a Grand Prix Commission meeting held on December 14th of 2011 in Madrid, and though it drew little comment at the time, once the MotoGP paddock reassembled at Sepang for the first test of the year, some intriguing details started to appear. Crash.net's Peter McLaren has an excellent reconstruction of the decision process, from which it is clear that the path to adoption the proposal faced was far more complex than usual. It also reveals some of the underlying tensions in both the Grand Prix Commission and the MSMA which will go on to play a major role in the rule-making process for 2013 and beyond.

Comments

What I don't get is ...

How the 3 factories weren't aware that the MSMA told GPC/Dorna that the rule change was unanimous and thus veto'd when it was a 2-1 vote? Surely someone was paying attention? Why keep silent when you know the vote was misrepresented?

Both sides Ducati vs Yamaha/Honda have it in their best interest to know what the rules are ASAP so they can plan and develop their bike accordingly. Could it be that after the MSMA lied, Ducati quietly went behind their back and notified Dorna that they had voted for the increase in weight and the two collaborated to delay the announcement in order to give Ducati an advantage in knowing what the true weight requirements would be as punishment for the MSMA (Yamaha/Honda) lying about the vote?

You would think that Honda/Yamaha/MSMA would know the chances of getting away with this is slim to none... why take the risk of pissing off Ducati? Maybe it's tit-for-tat, but seems like there are more effective ways to mess with Ducati.

Total votes: 125

Messing with Ducati.

"...but seems like there are more effective ways to mess with Ducati."

For instance, poaching their best rider and running rings round them them for the entire year?

Total votes: 139

So, it's like Dorna is acting

So, it's like Dorna is acting like they own the series eh? Wow and they're going to set the agenda and rules and steer the series in the direction THEY decide on and in THEIR TIMELINE? And, everyone will just have to do what THEY SAY? Oh dude.

Total votes: 156

Dorna

Dorna aren't just acting like they own the series - they DO own the series. Which means they can set the agenda and rules, and steer the series in the direction they decide on and in their timeline, as you say. Haven't you been aware of the power struggle that's been going on recently? This is what it's all about.

And about time too. The factories have ruled this particular roost for far too long.

Total votes: 148

I follow the series fairly

I follow the series fairly closely and know the general goings on. To be sure I am saying that Dorna is changing the series and the factories are griping, and I have no mercy for them. So we are on the exact same page. What else can you do but poke fun at the situation it is so obvious.

Total votes: 133

WSB..

We also know that Ducati have the hump over the 6kg extra they've had to start the season with in WSB..?

Total votes: 129

Divide & Conquer

Divide & Conquer is an old Bernie Ecclestone strategy, and it has worked almost every time. Basically, when the teams band together to collectively bargain for commercial revenues and rules-making authority, the commercial rights company buys the votes it needs. In F1, Bernie needed an allegiance with Ferrari. Like Ducati, Ferrari was worried about being financially outgunned or under-compensated so it was relatively easy to sway them into breaking ranks and signing Concordes that gave them special privileges, like rules veto, bonus payments for historical significance, and championship bonuses. Concorde expires in 2012, and they've dropped out of FOTA. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Ducati is a small Italian factory with almost no financial backing. They rely on Marlboro to get them through the season, but that relationship has been a bit strained with the Arrivabene vs. Stoner row and the poor results since signing Rossi. Ducati would be an easy vote for Dorna to purchase, and, if Ezy has learned anything from Bernie, he's almost certainly made Ducati an offer.

Off Topic: I thought carbon fiber was only banned in WSS.

Total votes: 145

Interesting point you make

Interesting point you make with the comparison to F1 and it's Machiavellian plotting.

I have no idea what the implications are if Ducati get bought out (see link)

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-03-04/ducati-eyed-by-hero-motocorp-as...

But Ducati have been through a number of different owners, just in the last decade. Maybe the "Hero" offer, if it goes ahead will mean more money to fund the racing programme.
Asia and the Subcontinent is where the Japanese manufacturers are throwing their resources into; Theres not a lot of room for expansion in terms of bike sales in the established markets of The US and Europe. Asia is also where DORNA is looking to expand with more rounds i this part of the world. So maybe not just a team Owner but a company owner from the East will further Ducatis prospects?

Cheers

Total votes: 147

This is not right way to to keep costs down

It's pretty frivolous of Dorna to propose the weight increase to keep costs down for the Claiming Rule Teams especially because Honda and Yamaha had both invested huge financial and human resources into developing their new 1000cc machinery believing the weight limit would be 153kg.

Total votes: 143

whose costs?

The point was to reduce CRT cost. Honda can be a bit pissed but they can deal with it as they have shown nearly bottomless pockets. I think they are just posturing so they can point to this and say 'see, we don't always get our way.'

Chris
http://moto2-usa.blogspot.com/

Total votes: 131

Yes, I agree but

MotoGP is not child's play, you can't change rules when you remember something! It's obvious that Dorna had not taken everything into account, weight increase proposition proves that. I think that weight increase is good thing for MotoGP class, but the time of imposition surely isn't.

It's pretty frivolous of Dorna to propose the weight increase early in November (at the Valencia meeting of the Grand Prix Commission) when Honda and Yamaha had already developed their new 1000cc machinery believing the weight limit would be 153kg.

Total votes: 157

Honda and Yamaha should have

Honda and Yamaha should have thought about that before they falsified the minutes of the MSMA meeting. I have no sympathy for them at all. Don't blame Dorna for keeping the Japanese factories honest.

Total votes: 135

That's not the point

You don't seem to understand. It was decided early in 2010 that the minimum weight limit would be 153 kg. Honda and Yamaha have built their bikes around that regulation and then Dorna makes proposition to increase minimum weight limit in November 2011.

It's not the point of being honest, but the point is that a serious company (Dorna) must behave in an appropriate manner, to propose and adopt the rules when it's time for that.

http://motomatters.com/news/2010/02/17/motogp_2012_1000cc_regulations_mo...

Total votes: 156

On the contrary

On the contrary, I understand perfectly. Dorna have a perfect right to propose rule changes, and the MSMA have a right to veto those changes, but only if their decision is unanimous. The manufacturers wish to protect their interests; Dorna also wishes to protect its interests, which include assisting the CRT teams to make a decent fist of it.

Yes, Dorna's proposal to raise the weight limit was made rather late in the day, but not impossibly so. The manufacturers had nearly 6 months to the date of the first race to accommodate those changes, but instead 2 of the 3 manufacturers tried to steamroller a veto through when it was clearly illegal to do so.

As a result, the 6 months Honda and Yamaha could have had to accommodate the rule change was reduced to about 4 and a half months. Which serves them right; if they wish to falsify minutes they should be prepared for the consequences.

Total votes: 130

The weight increase propsiton was made on November 5th!

Do you think it's serious of Dorna to propose minimum weight increase at that time? Do you really think that Japanese manufacturers had enough time to accommodate to those changes? If you do, 0K, I can't change your mind.

Total votes: 123

We have to agree to disagree, I think

I'd say that 6 months to decide where 4kg of ballast should be applied on a MotoGP bike is manageable, especially as it was a time when all the bikes were in process of development and finalisation. Had the decree been made during the racing season, it clearly would have been unacceptable.

Total votes: 128

two wrongs don't make a right

Even if they shouldn't have proposed the weight increase so late they weren't actually breaking any rules in doing so. Whoever lied about the decision being unanimous was cheating the system. They deserve to be slapped down for such behaviour.

Total votes: 137

Something feels wrong

I've got a bit of a problem with this minimum weight thing. When I was racing improved production in the late 80's here in Oz, I had an '85 GSXR750 that weighed 170kg in race trim.

Back then our minimum weight for production based 750's and over was 165kg, and many "A" grade teams had to add ballast to meet this minimum. These bikes had fibreglass fairings, steel brakes, steel tanks and 25 year old designed engines.

So how the hell can a CRT bike built with modern materials need a minimum weight of 157/160kg?.... Just the motors alone would be 15kg lighter than what we were using.
There is no doubt in my mind that a CRT bike could weigh 140kg dry without going to extremes.

So why the 157kg minimum? ...My theory is it's Dorna's idea to do a "lets blunt the handling of these bikes" tactic to get the "not quite as fast" riders closer to the front.

Total votes: 144

The CRTs have something like

The CRTs have something like twice the power your bike had. So frames, wheels and brakes have to be made much more sturdy.

Total votes: 161

Tyres?

Agreed, krymmelmonster, and grip levels have grown with tyre improvements, so forces exerted in cornering and braking have grown in that regard as well.

Tyres and rims have grown much wider, and even with the advent of carbon-fibre componentry I wonder if the total weight of of rims/wheels/brakes these parts would be more.
It would be interesting to chart the weight trends of particular componentry along the course of the last 20 years even, to see where the gains and losses have occurred. Is there a story in that, David?

Total votes: 145

Weight

The real problem is that motoGP is trying too hard to sell road bikes. For how long was 500cc considered the appropriate capacity limit? More than 50? Then as specific outputs increase, perversely we find bikes with double that capacity. Which implies they are also heavy. Big, fast and heavy... because that's what sells on the road.

Go back to 500cc, drop the minimum weight, and give the riders something they can physically control and a power output that can be managed without electronics...

Total votes: 145

Bring back 2 strokes...

Advances in 2 stroke emissions have been fantastic the last few years. That will give the manufacturers something to work on. Bring them back and watch them fly!

Total votes: 142

The urge to merge

The + 4 ruling was bad timing, but as evidenced by Sepang 1 & 2 is no train smash for Yamaha and HRC. Power politicking all round.
Back to that 1199 Panigalle. The thing only weighs 164kg complete with emmission control catalytic converter,stainless exhaust and all the road legal ancilliary kit.
Now,if Dorna and Carmello can convince Ducati to go full production with a 1000cc L-4 version, the MSMA and the whole GPC can find a clear path towards merging GP prototype and SBK into one cost effective premier class. I guess thats Ezpeleta's dream anyway. He's surely working hard at it.
SBK should be run as Superstock in my book anyway. With the current fuel restrictions,added ballast and proposed spec ECU for 2013 on the cards,how long will it be before Checa,Biaggi and co. are lapping circuits faster than GP prototypes.

Total votes: 131

Other side of the coin

The on the cards buy out of Ducati by Indian motorcycle giant Hero is another point. They produce 2 wheel transport for the masses,but are eager to have a complete package of products across the spectrum of motorcycling. They will gain hugely from Ducati's cutting edge technological experience gleaned from GP prototype racing to produce kit the masses can enjoy worldwide for a song. The Japanese giants have done it for years.
I'll never forget the very first movie 'On Any Sunday' which featured Kenny,Steve and Malcolm.
In the one clip the commentator suggests Yamaha should stick to musical instruments inasmuch as motorcycles are concerned. America in the sixties it was. Triumph or Harley.

Total votes: 135

Why blame Dorna?

It doesn't seem like all of you read the article. Dorna was trying to increase the minumum weight limit to help CRT teams. If the MSMA rep hadn't lied about being unanimous the increase would have been implemented with plenty of time for Yamaha and Honda to build their bikes around. You really can't fault Dorna for this...nor can you blame Ducati if they were the whistle blowers.

Total votes: 142

Why don't?

This link is from 2010, and it proves that the minimum weight for machines over 800cc for 2012 is 153 kg.

http://motomatters.com/news/2010/02/17/motogp_2012_1000cc_regulations_mo...

Honda and Yamaha had both invested huge financial and human resources into developing their new 1000cc machinery believing the weight limit would be 153kg. Dorna has proposed increase minimum weight plan early in November 2011. Japanese manufacturers simply didn't have enough time to build their bikes on time, at least not in a proper way. They have every right to be angry.

Total votes: 136

Unfortunately, I can't agree

Unfortunately, I can't agree with this post or your others. I feel zero sympathy for Honda, Yamaha and the other 2 Japanese giants who have "ruled the roost" for too many years in regards to rule making. The fact that they were caught out by a lie (and who knows how many others we never knew about) resulting in veto's of rules is just karma in my books. Honda and Yamaha's apparent abundant funds has been a direct reason for pricing the rest of the field out of competition, and I, like many hope that the competition get's closer. Some of these measures may appear drastic now, but I feel Dorna, and the GPC are pulling back control and we may see in future years a more co-operative environment among manufacturer's and organizers.

Total votes: 142

You don't have to agree with me

0K, you don't have to agree with me, we are here to exchange opinions, aren't we?

Don't let me be misunderstood, I don't justify manufacturers, but I surely want justify Dorna who is acting totally frivolous with the proposition of minimum weight increase early in Novemeber 2011 when Honda and Yamaha had already build their bikes.

Total votes: 135

Why are you so protective of

Why are you so protective of the factories? They have massive budgets compared to the CRT teams and until recently have also been able to make up the rules exactly as they wish. I honestly believe all this bleating by the factories is just posturing; they've been caught out in a lie and they're simply trying to cover their tracks.

And Dorna is not being frivolous, they have a serious aim which is to maintain MotoGP as a viable series, and for that they need the CRT teams to be present and to get value from the series.

And the factories have not finalised anything. They are testing at present; the 'final' race bikes won't be manufactured until after the last test. In truth, a racing motorcycle is in a state of constant evolution, so there is never a 'final' state.

Total votes: 147

Frivolous?

Dorna are protecting their golden-egg-laying goose.

They purchased the rights outright from the FIM and their interest in GP racing is in selling TV satellite feeds.

If they had consistently less than 16 riders on the grid, there was a clause by which the rights would revert to the FIM.

After years of paying millions and millions of dollars to the likes of Gresini, LCR, etc. to enable them to compete, they were still losing teams, so they were forced to make it cheaper by bringing in a new 'level' of bikes.

It has nothing to do with competition and all to do with Dorna's bank balance.

These people aren't motorcyclists or even sportsmen - they are venture-capital-backed TV executives. Don't ever lose sight of this when measuring their efforts against what is good for our sport.

Dorna, with their continual fiddling of the rules, has actually cost more money than the factories could ever hope to - if it wasn't for them we would still see the likes of WCM, Roberts, Foggy Petronas, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Aprilia, and possibly the inclusion of BMW, MV, KTM, Blata, Csysz...

Those are teams that have specifically pulled out of GP racing because the continual rule changes made it impossibly expensive.

Dorna are a plague on bike racing.

Total votes: 108

Only in marketing land

Back to that 1199 Panigalle. The thing only weighs 164kg complete with emmission control catalytic converter,stainless exhaust and all the road legal ancilliary kit.

Yes, but this is the mysterious "dry weight" which apparently excludes tyres and the gearbox. Measured in the same marketer's kg, the 1198 only weighs 168... yet with everything topped off it is 197kg. If you allow a similar fudge and deduct 12kg of fuel, you get to 181kg for the Panigale measured in the same way as a motoGP.

Total votes: 144

Let them take their ball home with them!

Much as it is nice having factory technology in MotoGP I can't help thinking that things would be so much better without their selfish political agenda's.

Race teams business is to race, not to sell bikes and the manipulation of the rules to keep factories at the top is appalling and leads to much poorer grids and racing.
Open the doors to race teams to work to rules designed to keep costs realistic and motorcycles competitive by the governing body.

Much as I thought I didn't like what Bernie Ecclestone has done to F1, I can see that he basically he has the right approach. Make realistic rules and if the factories want to join in then all well and good, but if they went would it really be so much of a problem? I don't think so, there are plenty of options for teams to get good machinery which are stifled due to the factories power over the whole sport!

Total votes: 140

ECU's and rev limiters

I still don't see what the problem is with a "stock" ECU??? Rev limits....not so much a good idea IMO. This relentless war on costs was always gonna happen, and, again IMO the best thing that could happen. I've said it before, if a team like Aspar cannot afford to run a satellite team, then everyone's in trouble.

Clearly take outta that equation HRC, because as written above, they've got bottomless pockets always have had, always will do. Hence this whole complaining about weight limits is laughable. As David writes, the only winner is Moto GP.

But I am worried about Dorna going down the F1 route with regards to the running of Moto GP. That spells nothing but trouble and even more bickering schoolgirl type spats.

Be VERY interesting to see what Ducati make of next years CRT bikes, because, I'll put money on Aprilia being the ones that get the best results CRT wise..

Total votes: 143

Impose that spec ECU with

Impose that spec ECU with some heavy TC limits! I want to see them sliding again!

Total votes: 130

If you can't see them sliding

If you can't see them sliding now, you either need a better eye doctor or a better MotoGP telecast. :-)

I must confess to often being irritated by all the talk about them not sliding, and all the talk of the "good old days". Like most nostalgia it tends to be myopic and distorted by the mists of time.
I watched Mick Doohan's first GP win the other week, and there wasn't a lot of sliding - the occasional loss of traction followed by a near high-side - and frankly it was a lot less interesting to watch than Casey/Jorge/Dani/Ben et al chucking the four strokes into some of those long sweepers and getting them seriously sliding on the exit.

Total votes: 161

Totally Agree. I never

Totally Agree. I never watched any of the 500 races, and recently saw a replay of the 96 spanish GP. I was surprised, the bikes did not move around at all whether under braking, cornering or accelerating. They look totally planted.
There were 3 Honda riders fighting at the front and nobody else was close to them. They all rode the same line and there was no overtaking for the last 15-20 laps, except for when Criville crashed on the last corner. They also overtook a few riders.
Basically all the things I see people complaining about now were there in the 500's, and this race was described as a classic. The TV coverage was also pretty average and didn't show any other good battles further down the field (if there were any).
When I compare this race to last season, last season was much better from a spectacle point of view. Stoner in particular slides the bike far more than I saw from any 500 rider, and the bikes move around more. The lean angles were much smaller in the 500's - I like seeing riders with 65 degree lean angles, I find that impressive. The TV coverage is also much better, and you have more idea of what is actually happening in the race.
If I had my choice, I'd take todays racing.

Total votes: 146

See if you can find

a video of Gary McCoy in his prime on the red bull 500 Yamaha. The particular one I recall was at Suzuka, around the Dunlop curve. He had the back hanging out all the way round, amazing to watch. His skill in this was unique, these were not easy bikes to slide controllably like that. Rather that trashing the tyres, they lasted well. It was eventually theorised that the slide kept the tyre cool, and he won a few GP's and even looked a possible title hope for a little while before injuries caught up with him.

Total votes: 131

And Gary was a sensation back

And Gary was a sensation back then wasn't he?? For precisely that reason, that he did slide the bike.
Those photos from last year, showing Casey (at Valencia?) and Vali (in Italy?) were just beautiful because they showed the bike set up and turned in early, and then sliding from the apex.
Sweet :-)

Total votes: 133

Having watched the 500's

Having watched the 500's since the mid 1980s I certainly agree with you. It is very easy to selectively choose some video or a particular race to make the claim that the 500s were better, but what about all the races where someone ran away and hid? Or the complete Honda domination for many years?

As for Gary McCoy, yes he was spectacular, but he gained a temporary advantage by using a different tire construction to the others, the 16.5" Michelin. Sliding a bike like that is not the way to be consistently fast on a road circuit. Even Stoner himself recently commented that sliding the bike the way he does is sometimes not the quickest way.

Total votes: 153

i didn`t quite get it.

Thanks David for presenting the facts (whatever they may be) and the opinionated writing. If things developed this way, its not unreasonable to deduct that Ducati did the trick on the Japanese factories.
What I don`t get though is: where can we see the favorable disposition of the Japanese factories, in return for Ducati's attendance? Maybe this promise was made by somebody else, maybe the pressure to attend TwinRings came from Dorna, along with the promise. Makes sense too, for as of 2012, Dorna has the upper hand in writing the Book with regards to technical rules also.

Total votes: 140

2 stroke technology

Modern 2 stroke technology is way ahead of four stroke..

It's more efficient..more powerful..less parts and more reliable...

Look up the lotus omnivore engine...

You can even tune up to be peaky high revving monster or a low down torquey beast....

The factories have far too much invested in the four stroke infrastructure with it's myriad spare parts and far more expensive R&D and costs of development so no factory is willing to take on the modern 2 stroke technology...

Total votes: 131

Don't agree with you about

Don't agree with you about modern two stroke technology being more advanced than four stroke. It's just that two strokes by their nature need special solutions to control emissions and improve fuel economy.

However, I must be one of the few people who doesn't understand why MotoGP has gone to 1000 cc when the rest of the motoring world is downsizing to smaller engines with turbos. Surely this was an opportunity for MotoGP to position itself at the forefront of engine technology, not take a backward step. Whether small four strokes with turbos or modern small capacity two strokes, at least show some forward thinking. But going to 1000 cc is like F1 going back to V12s. It would be great from a romantic point of view, but it makes no sense for the premier class of motorsport in the modern world. That's why F1 is moving to small capacity V6 turbos. MotoGP has missed the boat in my view.

Total votes: 141

A point about regulations

This comes down to a point that I've been pushing for a while, most people seem to forget that MotoGP, and all motorsport for that matter is a team sport which includes the rider and the support crew, the team that comes up with the best package is the one that wins, it always has been this way, but F1 is trying to go away from this and MotoGP is in the process of doing the same.

Best solution, keep the fuel limits, but no one is able to give me a good reason why the teams should be restricted to a 4cyl 1000cc engine with a max bore of 81mm?

If the sport is going to have any future that isn't reliant on having big personalilities then it needs to be on the fore front of motorcycle technology that can be marketed to the motorcycle industry, SBK can remain the low cost series with very similiar bikes, but MotoGP should not go down this route

My suggestions:
No engine regs, just a fuel, or equivalent limit. Honda can continue to play with 4strokes, Suzuki could return with a 2stroke, Kawasaki could run a small capacity turbo, Norton could run a rotary.
Do away with spec tires, the only reason we have these is because Michelin dropped the ball when over night tires were banned, given time, they would have caught back up though, much like Bridgestone did (interesting to note that there was no talk about a spec tire when Bridgestone and Dunlop were in the series but no competitive), but ensure that each team has access to all the tires within their suppliers range. As another advantage for small teams (ie. Ducati, FTR, etc) they can come up with a wacky solution (such as a carbon fibre frame with a stressed engine or wishbone front end like the old Elf bike) and be able to get tires that work with it
Ban lease bikes as it is currently structured, there is no benefit for a satelite team to have a very talented engineer who may come up with a cheap but very effective modification as they are not allowed to implement it, consequently, the satelite teams will never be competitive with the factory teams

The factories will naturally want to have a connection between what they race and what they sell so will be less experimental, the smaller teams though can work on something different which may be very effective, but low cost.

And finally for my novel. Dorna needs to remember that the more successful they make the series the more success is worth to the teams, and if they can afford to spend the money they will somewhere, ban electronics, they will pump money into aero, ban aero, they will find something else

The outcome of my suggestions above should reduce the factories willingness to spend big as why would you when someone on a shoestring budget can come up with the next big idea and consistantly beat you

Total votes: 142

Reason

"Best solution, keep the fuel limits, but no one is able to give me a good reason why the teams should be restricted to a 4cyl 1000cc engine with a max bore of 81mm?"

The MSMA don't want unlimited capacity, and the FIM are probably opposed as well b/c they don't want to sanction it or insure it. Unlimited capacity and free-induction would be a great formula for the fans, but the manufacturers want something more clearly defined. If you check out the "red lines" article on crash, the manufacturers have Swiss Watch syndrome (or whatever Ross Brawn calls it). They prefer the certainty of endless refinement to the uncertainty open rules.

Total votes: 130

Kind of the point

That kind of the point with my suggestions, one of the big reasons I'd assume the factories are against opening regulations as having tight regs mean that any solution has to be very well developed which 1. is very expensive, and 2. relies on extensive experience with the part being developed.

A more open set of regulations means that a small team would be able to come up with an alternative solution that is more in line with their experience, and if it is a better solution should not require nearly as much development to realise the gains from it

As for the FIM insuring or sanctioning it, 1. top speeds and power output would be limited by the teams still needing to get to the end of the race so they can't go crazy, and 2. with MotoGP bikes reaching 350+km/h maybe it isn't the worst idea in the world to impose a top speed limit (say 350km/h). Anything learnt by the teams above that speed has no real world applications anyway

If the factories don't like it, tough, more teams can come in, want to be the bleeding edge of technology, allow electric motorcycles with an equivalent amount of stored energy as the current fuel limit. It may not have an immediate impact, but in the future we will have electric sports bikes, and MotoGP should look at getting onto that now before they get left behind

Total votes: 137

Rules

The MSMA impose two different kinds of rules. Stable rules and barriers to entry. Stable rules like the capacity restriction, 4-stroke rule, and cylinder count are merely designed to protect investment. If the factory commits $200M to MotoGP over 5 years, they want a competitive bike that will serve as a platform for decades of development. In an open formula, the MSMA are at risk. The MotoGP class was ratified under the pretense that 2-strokes had become irrelevant engines. They don't want to spend money on certain technologies.

Barriers to entry are rules like the 21L rule or the engine life restrictions (also for cost cutting). Perhaps the original intention was benevolent, but once the manufacturers realize that rules are keeping people away, they generally want to keep them in place.

An unlimited formula would be much too fast. Qualifying is not fuel limited, and there are no rules to stop a backmarker from turning up the wick to get some time at the front for the sponsors. Furthermore, open formulas would develop fuel saving technology more quickly, and performance would continue to rise.

How would you enforce a top speed limit?

Total votes: 128

Rules

Top speed limit should be easy, FIM issued GPS tracker on every bike at throughout all official testing, and race weekends, with a say $1mil fine for exceeding the limit. Fine is harsh, but a top speed limit is very easy for anyone to implement, so there is no excuses for breaking
Rules where the engine execution is as tightly controlled as MotoGP and combined with the fuel limit severely reward those who have the money to spend on the development
The engine limit is probably one of the stupidest rules enacted in recent years. I would be very curious to know how many engines are killed as a direct result of the testing process to ensure that the engines last long enough as opposed 1 engine per race
Regarding 2strokes being "old tech" (not your words) if they are so inefficient, they won't be able to compete with the same fuel limits as the 4strokes so will naturally not be used, unless someone comes up with a way to make big power while being efficient (say any companies out there that would like to prove this???, maybe they would like to enter MotoGP to show this) This is what the rules I'd propose would be based on, bring new companies in MotoGP from outside the traditional motorcycle industry

But, and this would be a big one, and would be the most difficult to convince the FIM to accept, would be to remove the minimum weight rule, but have a minimum set of safety regulations that need to be met, regardless of the tech used in the bike, this would allow light weight tech to be rewarded

To limit use of super expensive materials, new rules limitiing the material cost, I'm not entirely sure yet how this would be written up as you can't just base this on a $ per kg limit as say titanium is much more expensive then aluminium on this basis, but you also use much less so may be okay.

Total votes: 135

Top Speed

I'm not opposed to the idea of a top speed limit, but I do wonder about the tolerances associated with GPS tracking. Furthermore, a top speed limit would be a tough sell to Honda b/c they use the "Honda lane" to increase the value of their brand.

Fining curbs abuse, but I think you'd have to exclude results, and black flag riders for repeated infraction. The fine is stealthy, but results exclusion and black flagging are in the public domain. Hard to say how fans will react. The fine is also a bit tenuous b/c it has disproportionate impact on the teams. A $1M dollar fine would bankrupt a CRT, but Honda would barely notice the money had gone missing.

The rulebook already explicitly bans the use of exotic composites and ceramics for engine construction, but the costs would rise almost immediately if the rules were liberalized for capacity or induction. The manufacturers would go straight to Atkinson and Miller cycles, as well as high-pressure direct injection systems and forced induction. The amount of power extracted from a liter of petrol would soar, but the technology would have little application in the motorcycle world. Consumers are not worried about getting 20% better fuel economy on their CBR for a 20% increase in MSRP.

Total votes: 117

Rules

Good point about the GPS accuracy and the fine, not sure about the technology to use for tracking, but i have no doubt it can be done with sufficient accuracy. As for the penalty, say black flag from the event, plus 1 additional race per infringement. As for Honda not liking it, again tough, let's see their argument for how going more then 350km/h and how they can make that safe
As for going to alternative engine executions, the current factories are not the best placed to use them as they are heavily invested in using the current engines. In fact a quick googling indicates that the Miller cycle engine is currently being developed by Mazda, Scuderi, and possibly VW, 3 manufactures that could be used to help develop new MotoGP engines together with an existing (or new) frame manufacturer like FTR.
As for turbo's Honda to my knowledge does not produce any turbo vehicles currently and based on their history are very dedicated to the 4stroke (see the 6cyl 250) so it is unlikely that they will go down this route, one of the smaller companies (such as Kawasaki) with a history in this may want to go down this direction. If a turbo engine is much more efficient at making power with the fuel limits, then the cost to produce an engine that can compete should be lower as it will not need to be a well developed.
As per my last post, the point of this is to allow technologies where the current manufactures are not the experts and allow other manufactures to use MotoGP to show off their capability which should attract more teams, and use of differing technologies would also improve the racing as they will each have different pros and cons.

Finally, if you have any doubt as to why would non motorcycle manufactures get into MotoGP, look at the TTX racing, and also Kawasaki, started simply to advertise Kawasaki Heavy Industries

Total votes: 118

Rules - fuel efficiency

Forgot to comment on your comment about efficiency
Motorcycles are not imune to the current trend to reduce fuel use (look at the developments in electric motorcycles), also being more fuel efficient does not need to result in less fuel used, but can also mean more power which people are interested in, or same power from a smaller capacity but lighter engine

Total votes: 120

Endurance racing

Pitch it to the FIM as an endurance racing formula. No displacement limitation. No induction limitation. No stroke limitation. Top speed limit at a modest speed for safety. Then allow no minimum weight or low minimum weight. With a top speed limit, you could allow dustbins if you really wanted to. Max fuel cell capacity. Max fuel allotment.

I think that would be really cool, but I'm also convinced it will never happen in GP. The formula doesn't meet the needs of anyone in the GPC. The FIM might like it, but they barely play a role.

Total votes: 123

New manufactures

Firstly, seeing as this is going on and on, I'm in this as I think it's an interesting topic
I see your point about the likelihood of this ever getting into MotoGP as no one currently in it would support it. However, if Dorna and the FIM continue with the direction they are going ultimately they will turn the series from something followed by a smaller, but more dedicated group who does spend money on the products of the race, to something that is wholy dependant on having a successful participant with a very media friendly personality with fans who have no real ongoing interest in the sport, and ultimately will limit the audience it can reach

The purpose of the above rules would be to bring in a whole new source of investment from area's that currently have no interest in MotoGP who would bring their customers/followers to the sport (ie. electric motor manufactures) and would give the sport 1. a technological edge over other sports (such as F1) and the bragging rights and 2. a way of marketing as being a progressive series that develops for the future, which should help getting investment from governments that want to be seen as helping fuel efficiency and manufacturing.

If MotoGP was to go down this route first, they would also get first pick of manufactures that lets face it, are already working on the future of motorcycles and they would be in the series for more then simply advertising

But yes, it is all very unlikely to ever happen, and I think it is a great shame as without this sort of forward planning, sports such as F1 and MotoGP are slowly going to become irrelevant to most people which are already able to buy vehicles off the shelf that are far in advance of what is raced in the supposed technological peak racing series, and any further tightening of the rules will only make this worse and and the downward spiral faster.

Total votes: 129

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