Looking Ahead: MotoGP Grids Filling Up With Aprilia Working On 2016 Return

Towards the end of the 800cc era, MotoGP looked to be in dire condition. Grids were dwindling, factories were reducing their participation, and teams were in difficult financial straits indeed. By the end of 2011, there were just 17 full time entries, Suzuki was down to a single rider, and were about to pull out entirely for 2012.

How different the situation looks today. The CRTs have served their purpose - to persuade the factories to help fill the grid, and supply the teams with (relatively) affordable equipment - and the reduction in costs brought about in part by the spec electronics is enticing factories back to MotoGP. Suzuki is in full testing mode, and getting ready to return to racing full time in 2015, and Aprilia is working towards a full-time return in 2016.

In a recent interview with the official MotoGP.com website, Aprilia Corse's new boss Romano Albesiano gave a brief outline of their plans. The Italian factory will continue to work with the IODA Racing team for 2014 to collect data on the electronics and tires, which they will use as input on an entirely new project being worked on for 2016. The new bike will begin testing in 2015, with the possibility of a few wildcard appearances that year, before Aprilia return as a full factory effort in 2016. With MotoGP going to a single set of rules for 2016 - based very closely on the Open class rules for this season - making their return when the new regulations take effect makes much more commercial sense.

Though Albesiano revealed few details in the interview, some details are already known of Aprilia's direction. Last year, when the Aspar team were still in talks with Aprilia about their plans for 2014, it emerged that Aprilia were planning a bike with pneumatic valves and a seamless gearbox. In the first instance, those technologies would be applied to the existing ART project, which is itself based on the Aprilia RSV4 superbike. It is unlikely that the new bike Aprilia is working on will be a radical departure from the RSV4 layout, with engine layout and basic chassis geometry likely to remain the same. The main emphasis of the changes will probably be on improving the engine construction, removing some of the compromises made in the RSV4 to cut costs as a production bike, making it a more specialized machine.

The return of Aprilia and Suzuki will provide a quality boost for the grid. For the past two years, the grid has been kept at 24 slots, dropping to 23 with the loss of Leon Camier from the IODA Racing squad, when Giampiero Sacchi's team failed to find sponsorship to make up for the loss of CAME. Dorna's aim is to have a grid of 22 riders, all on relatively competitive equipment. That grid size is determined in part by the deal Dorna have done with Bridgestone, who supply 22 riders with tires for free. To help trim down the grid, the team which finishes last in the standings will lose its financial contribution from Dorna, and be persuaded to concentrate on Moto2. New teams entering will also have to forego the Dorna subsidy for the first year, until they have proven to be financially sound.

The entry of Suzuki has thrown the weakest teams a financial lifeline, however. The three weakest teams on the grid - currently PBM, Avintia and IODA Racing - could decide to sell their grid slots to Suzuki for 2015. The price could be hefty - 2 million euros is one number being bandied about by the well-informed website Speedweek - though with three potential sellers, that could help drive the price down for Suzuki. If there are more candidates to join - Marc VDS Racing is also considering making the step up, team boss Michael Bartholemy told Speedweek - then prices may once again rise. With Aprilia looking to come as a factory entry in 2016, IODA Racing may be able to extract financial backing from the Italian factory in exchange for their grid slots - or a role running the factory team - when they join the series.

The return of Suzuki and Aprilia would bring the number of factories involved back up to 4 in 2015, and 5 in 2016, with Avintia's strong ties to Kawasaki leaving the door open for the Japanese firm to come back, should they decide it is cost effective. So far, though, Kawasaki has been perfectly content to remain in World Superbikes, and with the ZX-10R already such a strong base package, the bike looks set to remain competitive in WSBK when the series switches to EVO regulations from next year on. Though the cost of competing has reduced considerably - Kawasaki was rumored to be spending upwards of 65 million euros a season when they raced in MotoGP, about as much as Yamaha and 10-20 million less than Honda - it is still nowhere near as cheap as World Superbikes. Kawasaki's World Superbike budget is believed to be closer to that of a satellite MotoGP team, rather than a factory MotoGP team. Even BMW's factory WSBK budget was said to be just 10 million euros a year, a cost that was considered outrageous by the rest of the World Superbike paddock.

It is not just the return of factories which is helping to boost the quality of MotoGP grids. Ducati have already pledged to sell competitive machines based on the 2014 Desmosedici for next season, at a price similar to that of the Honda RCV1000R. With the improvement in performance which the GP14 has shown, that could be an attractive option for next season. What's more, it appears that LCR Honda could also expand from one to two riders, with a second slot opened for an Open class machine, Lucio Cecchinello looking at adding a production Honda alongside the RC213V currently in the hands of Stefan Bradl.

MotoGP has gone through a long and very dark period. But the revival which started in 2012 is showing signs of growing stronger. Many threats still remain - not least, the decision by Dorna to switch to pay-per-view broadcasters - but the series is in much, much better health than it has been in some while.

Towards the end of the 800cc era, MotoGP looked to be in dire condition. Grids were dwindling, factories were reducing their participation, and teams were in difficult financial straits indeed. By the end of 2011, there were just 17 full time entries, Suzuki was down to a single rider, and were about to pull out entirely for 2012.How different the situation looks today. The CRTs have served their purpose - to persuade the factories to help fill the grid, and supply the teams with (relatively) affordable equipment - and the reduction in costs brought about in part by the spec electronics is enticing factories back to MotoGP. Suzuki is in full testing mode, and getting ready to return to racing full time in 2015, and Aprilia is working towards a full-time return in 2016.

Comments

PAY PER VIEW

MOTOGP on TV. ......Not for this little black duck. :-(

If I am doing my sums correctly, it will cost me just on Aust. $ 1,200 for a one year subscription for FOXTEL in Australia.

As much as I like MotoGP, it isn't worth that much.

Bernie Ecclestone has the correct idea. Formula One must always be " Free to Air ".

F1 is still way better than MOTOGP.

Total votes: 42

Disagree with you about F1

Disagree with you about F1 being way better than MotoGP. Two wheeled racing has an inherent advantage over four wheeled racing simply because it is own two wheels and also because of the riders' lean angles which make it spectacular and overtaking is relatively more natural than in F1 which requires DRS and other such stupidities. MotoGP also produces close racing (thanks to riders like Marc Marquez and Cal Crutchlow) and on the odd occasion even repeated changes in position due to overtaking. But you are right about MotoGP committing a blunder if they go for pay per view television feed. It should be free to air. Also Bernie Ecclestone seems to manage F1 better than Dorna and Carmelo Ezpeleta. In all these points I am with you.

Total votes: 27

Live Stream/Race Archive

Does Australia not allow you to use the internet to purchase a MotoGP package? I do all my MotoGP watching on the internet, thru their viewing package. Cost me only $140 US a year to watch MotoGP and now that WSBK is the same Platform. I only need to spend $230 US to get all my motorcycle racing.

Total votes: 14

I was looking at getting the

I was looking at getting the MotoGP video pass binx as I'm unhappy with the broadcasting situation in Australia too but our internet here is poor and I don't believe my internet connection could stream the videos, so it would be a waste of money.

Total votes: 9

What is your connection speed?

The video streams offered go as low as 400kbps (low quality). It's pretty rubbish, but I doubt anyone's connection is THAT bad. Then there is normal quality (i think it's about 1Mbps), which is tolerable, and still well below pretty much anyone's internet speed. Then there's High quality, then 720p (4mbs). Even 4Mbps is pretty low when it comes to internet speeds, but if yours is lower the HQ stream is perfectly watchable. I think it's somewhere around 2Mbps.

The MotoGP videopass is an absolute must for me. Haven't gone without it for I dont know how many years. Not just for the practice sessions (i have foxtel so get all the races), but the live timing. I can't stand the basic free timing. That's just me though, I love my racing timing.

Total votes: 7

aus TV

The MotoGP race is still shown on free to air, just not the support classes or qualifying.
I have stumped up the $150 or so for the Video pass. I don't like to support dorna's business plan but the awesomeness of Jack Miller is greater than the stupidness of dornas broadcasting deals

Total votes: 17

Not free to air

I don't know about other countries, but F1 is not free to air in the UK. It's on Sky Sports, and the BBC get some limited coverage.

Total votes: 11

MotoGP not free...

where I live, New York state, USA, MotoGP is not free, we have to buy a "sports package" in addition to basic cable to get Fox Sports.

Total votes: 10

22 riders ...

... another stupid rule, who's idea is that ? just read the speedweek intervieuw with Bartholomey to know how stupid ...
and what if 12 manufacturers want to race ?

Total votes: 19

Tire Supplies

If Bridgestone refuse to supply tires for more than 22 riders...........

Total votes: 10

less

Nah not buying that. They could also allocate less tyres per rider...

Only 5 engines per year, but burning up 20 tyres per weekend ...... crazy

Total votes: 11

We

We need to fill the grid!
We need to trim the grid!
Wtf?

Total votes: 25

UK viewing of MotoGP set to fall

I have registered for BT Sport's coverage of MotoGP (after an awful experience with their website and call handlers). The coverage of the first round was ok, must improve in some areas, but acceptable.
The rest of the subscription is a total waste of money showing obscure sporting events which are of no interest whatsoever, I have had to give up SKY sports to afford the package, their other content is so much better and I have now lost BSB and WSBK!
I'm beginning to wonder if it is worth the cash, I may cancel and watch the highlights on ITV4 like many of my once avid friends are now going to do and get my SKY package back!

Huge mistake Dorna, BT Sport is second rate as an all round sports provider, you have accepted their cash at the expense of viewers just as your series is beginning to bear fruit.

Total votes: 19

TV

Great to hear making some (not all, sadly) intelligent rule changes are bringing back interest from the rest of the bike makers. But sadly, short-term greed in the form of restricting TV viewing to those willing to pay up will likely put a huge dent in advertising value to any sponsors not directly selling moto related products.
In Italy, middle aged housewives avidly watch MOTOGP when it's on free-to-air broadcasts, but chopping down the pool of viewers to the hard-core willing to pay (which excludes yours truly) will kill value of sponsorships for companies selling anything targeted at the general public as they'll no longer watch or care.
The folks at DORNA need to put on their binoculars and see the long-term view! Didn't Yamaha, despite having two huge stars, more-or-less run their program unsponsored after Rossi left for his Ducati experiment? Who will put big piles of money into sponsorship to reach a tiny audience paying to watch on the 'net or via an expensive subscription TV package? Do they expect most of the funding to come from the bike makers? How long can that last?

Total votes: 20

booze and fags

I have to say I think it's narrow-sighted to conclude that dorna have taken a fast-buck based decision. Times have changed beyond belief since the glory days of bike racing. If you look back 10 or 15 years, almost every bike was covered in stickers for booze or fags. That sponsorship has all but disappeared. Once plain packaging comes in, in a few years time who will even know that the ducati is red because that's Marlboro's brand colour. So the funding has to come from somewhere else. What does motogp sell, and who to? Bread makers to middle-aged housewives? Or bikes and stuff that appeals to bike fans, to people like us? And how much revenue does that generate? I can't believe its a fraction of that which came from tobacco, and broadcasting free-to-air on the BBC is hardly the best way to bridge the gap, when the only advertising is for downton bloody abbey or ten blokes go head to head to produce the perfectly striped lawn next Tuesday at 7. Me, I think dorna are gambling that bit by bit, the audience will cough up, that theyll realise pay TV is here to stay, they won't like it but they'll have to lump it, or do without.

Total votes: 8

ITV4 coverage

The ITV4 coverage is a highlights package based on the BT Sport live coverage with Keith Huwean & Julian Ryder commentating.
I don't mind watching races 24 hours after the live event, many years ago I used to have to wait a week or so to watch them on a video cassette a friend recorded for me!

The real tragedy is, the Motomatters website is far more interesting than the racing !

Total votes: 13

BT Sport

The BT Sport coverage is all done by North One, who also do the TT for the IoM Government. They sell this to ITV4 as part of the arrangement.

As Larry T says this move is incredibly short sighted by Dorna, and a complete reversal of their policy of trying to gain the maximum exposure to encourage sponsorship.
Perhaps they didn't gain as much as they thought from having free to air but surely they must have realised that we were going through a worldwide recession?

Going back to grid capacity, other than the restriction imposed by the Bridgestone deal, what is the problem with having 26, 28 or more regular teams? How can a team get on board without buying out another's grid slots?
Well surely for the sake of the show, the tyre issue can be overcome somehow?
Restricting enthusiastic well funded teams from becoming involved must surely be counter productive, even F! is looking to increase the size of their grids!

Total votes: 8

TV coverage

On a very tenuous link regarding moving from 'free to air' to 'pay per view'.
The BBC3 channel is poised to move from 'free to air' to 'on-line' only, this channel is allegedly the breeding ground for new comedy & other shows not yet ready to get main stream airing on BBC1 or BBC2. It does remind me of the zen question, "If a tree falls over in a forest & there's nothing to hear it, does it make a sound?"

Total votes: 6

The question is...

Which end of the grid is getting filled up?

Total votes: 19

Australia

At one stage things were great for watching bike (and other motor) racing, when OneHD started up it was touted as being mainly for motor racing etc. Now it's mostly reruns of Hogans Heroes and Get Smart, and they've dropped the Moto2 and 3 (ironically generally the most interesting to watch) and no doubt Dorna will be keen to get it over on to Foxtel next contract time.
As in other markets, this will be a BIG mistake. As much of a fan I consider myself, I wont be paying over a grand a year to get foxtel when I will not use it for anything else.
Additionally, the internet in Australia is patchy at best, especially if you're even fractionally outside a metro area. Where I live the only option is Wireless/3G and is very expensive, severely bandwidth limited, and during peak periods is often too slow to properly stream video (and this with the best telco/network). Streaming large quantities of video is simply not an option and won't be for the foreseeable future.

As for the grids I still for the life of me can't see why H & Y could not be made to lease their ex-satellite machines at an even cheaper rate. Effectively it's what is happening with Forward this year, but only because they were finally forced into it. Instead, Honda have spent a huge sum developing a deliberately uncompetitive bike in the RCVR. Why not just punch out a few more spares for the 2 year old RC213's? It's cheaper to make 4 of any part than it is to make 2, and a 2012 RC213 will surely hose the RCVR.

Total votes: 14

Disney's F1

Hehe, F1 better than MotoGP. Hehehe. You only have to look at how Mickey Mouse F1 has become with video-game go faster buttons that are regulated to certain sections of the track and gap to car in front, the curse of ' team orders ' amongst a billion other stupidities. Plus this yer the cars sound awful. Bernie has the right idea ? Hehehe.

It's true though that Aussies in regional areas are now screwed for moto2 and moto1 coverage which has always been the best racing. And convincing punters to pay for something they have always had for free is a tough sell. Sattelite TV in Australia is still expensive, with punters just wanting sport shafted by FOX by being forced into expensive packages.

There are other ways to get your fix that don't entail paying Dorna or Fox through your nose. For those like me with a young family to support who simply don't have the money available to spend on luxuries like pay per view, we will always be forced to find alternatives. And yes, they are out there.

Footnote: the new BT motogp commentator is dreadful. He sounds like an overexcited private-schoolboy.

Total votes: 12

Data cap

Problem for regional users is the data cap. I know the content is out there for nothing but you have to have the service to get it to you. I'm already paying $65/mo and get only 8gb, the XL plan is 15Gb ($95/mo) and the absolute largest data allowance you can buy is 25gb and they don't even put the price on the website. There is only one telco with a network worth paying for, so no competition either.
Hence, video streaming (regardless of where you source it) of large amounts of content per month is simply not an option - regardless of cost.

Total votes: 8

Re: Data Cap

Breganzane, what about sattelite internet provider ? I have friends who live remotely/NSW and they say the service is fast and not hugely expensive, in fact comparable to the larger plans on 3G/4G in metro areas in Australia. The kicker there is the heavy hit up front for the sattelite Dish+install but if you have the money and live remotely, that's an option.

Also - the streams I have used previously are not a huge amount of data. You don't get super high quality streams but you can get *almost* HD but again, you can pick and choose the stream quality and therefore the amount of total data / bandwidth needed doesn't necessarily mean have to bust your cap.

Mr Emmmett sorry for derailing the thread into an Australian access issue ! But it is a bugbear for many of us now.

Total votes: 13

Ping

As I understand it ping time is the biggest problem, followed by over-subscription and weather conditions affecting the performance. As far as I can tell you basically still need to have a 3G service for normal internet use etc, otherwise it's horribly unresponsive even when it's not slowed to a crawl by traffic.
I don't think this is entirely off topic since this ties in with the discussion over the sport's move to pay tv or internet delivery. Which ever way you slice it there's a proportion of the clientelle who will be lost. Carmello's gamble is on the size of that proportion.

Total votes: 8

Ping

Ping doesn't matter with satellite feeds if you are talking streaming. Sattelite is best at constant data rate ie, downloading large files or streaming From a single source. Where satellite fails (and the ping problem) is many repeated server requests quickly, ie, loading lots of small files quickly, like you would find on most any website. So if thinking streaming/remote areas then sattelite is one of the best options.

Total votes: 7

That's what I already said, perhaps poorly.

The slow ping of satellite means that for normal internet browsing etc you still need to have a 3G connection. Hence, if you want to stream a reasonable amount of video you have to pay for 2 services - neither of them cheap. You're back to the cost of foxtel.

Total votes: 4

erm...

The BT Sports commentator sounding like an over-excited private school boys is due mostly because that is what he is!

Total votes: 6

Aprilia

With Honda and Yamaha now supplying and next year Ducati as well, the CRT / Open category will cost Aprilia instead of making a profit from it. Why else is IODA not running two riders.....

If they do it for brand building / marketing purposes they better introduce some more models first. Untill then I do not expect them on the grid in 2016.

Total votes: 5

"... the reduction in costs

"... the reduction in costs brought about in part by the spec electronics is enticing factories back to MotoGP ..."

There is not a shred of evidence to support this claim.

Total votes: 15

Exactly the opposite

Its cost both factories listed more money to adapt to the new spec hard and software. They said it outright. But don't worry, as people keep repeating wrong information it will magically transform from fiction to fact.

Not to mention that both factories also had well-established plans to return to the series well before the 2016 rules were released. As has been said here before, correlation does not imply causation but maybe that's no longer true either.

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

Total votes: 6

Spec electronics in Formula 1

Former Benetton engineer Pat Symonds told Mat Oxley that after an initial cost increase to adapt to the software, the spec ECU in F1 cut electronics costs by 50%. That will happen in MotoGP too.

Of course, what happened was that the teams then went and spent the money saved on electronics on aerodynamics. But that's impossible to control.

Total votes: 5

That's the whole point, isn't it?

First off, F1 does not have spec software, only spec hardware.

>>that after an initial cost increase to adapt to the software

So it will cost Aprilia and Suzuki more to get back to the grid. Great way to attract 'new' manufacturers.

>>But that's impossible to control.

So why implement these rules if the overall budget is not affected?

And we have no idea what the electronics cost in F1 is. Aero testing and simulation are the huge costs. Then the engines. Then the drivers. I suspect they cut 50% of the costs of an area that was not one of the major spending zones. And the racing did not improve from the spec box.

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

Total votes: 7

Budgets

The only way to control spending is by controlling the budgets. But policing budget caps is impossible, especially with factories involved. They have the ability to hide and disguise costs in a million places, and would never agree to the kind of full-scale audit which would be necessary to police a budget cap.

So it's fair to say that Honda and Yamaha will continue to spend whatever budget they can extract from their boards. However, the goal of spec electronics (and a rev limit) is to limit the advantage offered by unlimited spending on electronics. No doubt Honda will find other areas which offer gains, but the aim is that those other areas don't offer the same performance advantage, and other factories can be competitive without needing to spend themselves into bankruptcy. 

Will it cost more for Suzuki and Aprilia to come back to the grid? Given that they have not been in MotoGP, and are now seriously attempting to come back, it appears that those costs are not large enough to deter them. For the first time in 8 years, manufacturers are coming back to MotoGP, rather than leaving. So whether you agree with the direction the rules are going in or not, they appear not to be deterring new factories from entering. 3 years ago, nobody was even considering entering.

Total votes: 18

Cheerleader for the new rules, regardless of the facts.

>>So whether you agree with the direction the rules are going in or not, they appear not to be deterring new factories from entering. 3 years ago, nobody was even considering entering.

3 years ago were were in the midst of a global financial crisis and that factories cut back on racing is nothing to be surprised about. To tie their return to the changing rules when all of the factories have been fighting against those rules is completely wrong. They are returning because they want to race, not because of the rules. Correlation does not imply causation yet again.

>>but the aim is that those other areas don't offer the same performance advantage, and other factories can be competitive without needing to spend themselves into bankruptcy.

Funny how the last time non-factory bikes were competitive (and even won a race) there were far fewer restrictive rules. Last time a non-Honda/Yamaha title was won there were much fewer restrictions. Q: How can you not come to the conclusion that restrictive rules drive up the cost and spreads out the field? A: have a business relationship with Dorna.

>>Will it cost more for Suzuki and Aprilia to come back to the grid? Given that they have not been in MotoGP, and are now seriously attempting to come back, it appears that those costs are not large enough to deter them.

That's pretty disingenuous. They have been planning on coming back before spec electronics were mandated and if anything the new rules have complicated the process for them.

Its nothing about cost and everything about control. All of the changes they made to 'level the playing field' has done anything but. Dorna wants to control the entire series, from the entries to the tires to the equipment on the bikes and soon enough the bikes too. That's not GP racing.

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

Total votes: 10

A matter of honor

>>  Q: How can you not come to the conclusion that restrictive rules drive up the cost and spreads out the field? A: have a business relationship with Dorna.

If you believe this, you should stop reading this website, as I would have no credibility. I deeply, deeply resent this charge. I am prepared to sacrifice my position in the paddock and my credentials for the sake of my integrity. I have, behind the scenes, had heated discussions over things I have written, along with veiled remarks about my position in the paddock. I will not toe the company line because I am required to.

So why do I support a spec ECU and a rev limit? Because it is the only achievable way of limiting costs in MotoGP at the moment. A completely free rulebook would be much better, perhaps, but factories would be much more likely to leave if you took away the fuel and engine capacity limitation than if you limited electronics. Factories have no desire to compete in a truly unregulated rulebook.

Then there's the matter of top speeds. As lap times drop, and speeds get higher, the series is outgrowing circuits. Too many tracks are already only marginally safe. Assen is an example, the Hoge Heide / Ramshoek section is one of the best sections of racetrack on the planet, but there are serious concerns over safety there, as the bikes are going through there quicker and quicker, and sliding for longer when they crash. The increased weight doesn't help either. But there are many circuits which face the same problem: the bikes are getting too quick for the track. You can't keep moving back walls, because you simply run out of space, or into unmovable obstacles. And if you move the fans back too far, they stop coming because they are too far away from the action. Safety is one reason MotoGP doesn't go to Laguna Seca any more. It's a reason why even an iconic track like Mugello is coming under scrutiny. 

If tracks are already becoming unsafe under a set of rules like this, then what happens in an unregulated formula? You would have to build special tracks with vast amount of runoff, or else put chicanes in everywhere, butchering some of the great tracks of the world. Or else spend millions on finding alternatives to gravel traps to slow crashed bikes down. 

Why do I support the new rules (or rather, some of them)? Because they are the only realistic chance of ensuring MotoGP has a future. I have changed my mind to a certain extent, after talking to many, many people many, many times in the paddock. My relationship or otherwise with the event promoter has nothing to do with it, and frankly, I find it deeply insulting that anyone would even suggest such a thing. I support these rules because I believe in them. I have listened to information on all sides of the argument, and made up my own mind. You may not agree with what I believe, but I would ask that you believe that I came to my assessment honestly. You believe your own set of facts, I believe you are mistaken, I see a different set of facts. If you don't believe in my integrity, you really shouldn't be reading this website. 

Total votes: 18

a matter of perspective

>>If you believe this, you should stop reading this website, as I would have no credibility. I deeply, deeply resent this charge.

You posted on FB at the beginning of the season something about your choices being between jumping through all the hoops Dorna requires of you to get a press pass or stay at home and write articles critical of them. To me that seems like play nice to get paddock access or stay at home and be a contrary voice. Nothing new or special about that choice. And not no credibility, just less. Your writing is enjoyable, that's why I read and support it, not because I believe what you say is gospel. Maybe just being in the paddock gives you Dorna-vision.

>>So why do I support a spec ECU and a rev limit? Because it is the only achievable way of limiting costs in MotoGP at the moment.

Yet you keep saying how it will not limit what the factories spend, just reduce their winning gap. Which is it? Saying that the factories are being enticed to rejoin by the new regulations when they have had plans long before the new regulations to rejoin the series? Maybe its the rose colored glasses I have on when I'm looking back at your older work which to me seemed to have more critical thinking and examples but maybe it was just more in line with what I thought. The tires are the primary and cheapest way to limit performance yet it is those exact parts that are emphasizing the single design path to victory that is making the sport visually bland. Dorna can't make BS deliver tires for the benefit of the sport but they'll be able to manage a customer software development portal with an outside manufacturer and 12 different teams yelling for 12 different directions and keep the guys with the biggest purse from gaining a big advantage. And that's the best way forward?

>>Then there's the matter of top speeds.

When was the last time we had a crash on the straight?

>>Too many tracks are already only marginally safe.

Funny, rider injuries are at an all time low. The only recent fatalities have been directly on-track when riders were hit by oncoming bikes. I'm not saying purposely make things unsafe but this is motorcycle racing, it is an inherently dangerous undertaking, yet safety is improving all the time. Ask any old rider and they'll tell you racing today is much safer, even with the speeds, than what they had to put up with. If safety is really was the issue they would make tires with less overall grip which would reduce cornering speed, which is where all the crashing happens, and would reduce top speed as well. The only reason they can lean to 60+ degrees is because of the tires. Although I am not a fan of spec tires the fact that they are not being used to limit performance in any way is telling.

>>then what happens in an unregulated formula

Who said anything about unregulated? A short and concise rule book is more effective then trying to be granular any day of the week. Spec equipment is primarily what I don't like but that does not mean completely unregulated. A fuel limit easily provides a performance cap and if anything is extremely relevant to modern society.

>>You may not agree with what I believe, but I would ask that you believe that I came to my assessment honestly.

There's nothing dishonest about it. You're openly advocating for Dorna's vision of grid tightly controlled by them. Whether that vision is right or wrong is an opinion call.

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

Total votes: 12

To "thecosman"...

Over the years I have been reading Motomatters, "thecosman" has posted frequently and IMO his comments have added substantively to the quality of the discussion. However, in this particular discussion, I believe he is (a) out of line with the personal attacks, and (b) wrong on the implications of Dorna controlling the rules or not controlling them.

I'll say nothing further about (a).

Regarding (b) I believe Dorna's approach is the only practical way to avoid having one or two big spenders effectively "purchase" the MotoGP championship. And also, Dorna's approach is the best bet to improve the show, i.e. the quality of the on-track action.

As for viewing MotoGP as a pure technology game - few rules and let the most creative and best engineers win - well no thank you. With current economic realities in the motorcycle indudtry, we can't afford it and would be bored by the on-track procession if we tried. Just my 2 cents worth.

Total votes: 13

that's my point

A. There have been no personal attacks. To think David is not affected by his environment especially now that it is his livelihood would make him unique in all of humanity.

B. Keep laying out all this stuff that has no basis in fact.

>> I believe Dorna's approach is the only practical way to avoid having one or two big spenders effectively "purchase" the MotoGP championship.

Complete speculation. Yet we can see in the past that simple rules can result in smaller factories being competitive. Ducati did well before the spec tires forced them down the generic racing motorcycle road that they still haven't shown they are capable of taking. Suzuki was showing progress but then the spec tire didn't help them, in fact it gave them one less way to improve the bike. Aprilia was doing relatively well last year but this year they can't run their own electronics so are slower. If you look at the lessons of the past they don't jive with your predictions of the future. And this website-based software development? I can see it being gamed already. Any factory can show up with code pre-written (they have a factory full of engineers) for the MM ECU, thus requiring little to no effort from MM or Dorna to implement. The Ducati software debacle clearly showed how the smaller teams are incapable of supporting such a complex setup so the factories can bury them in upgrades. As always, control is only an illusion. And if in the end the big factories win, so what? They earned it. Its not easy to build a bike of that performance level as the past few years of CRTs have clearly proven.

>>And also, Dorna's approach is the best bet to improve the show, i.e. the quality of the on-track action.

Tires, Dorna's call, are the main reason for the boring racing. The spec tires. Look at all the hooplah that happened from allowing the open bikes to use a softer one! Tires could transform the racing if Dorna had the leverage to force BS to make changes. But for some reason they don't.

>>few rules and let the most creative and best engineers win - well no thank you.

All the golden days that people want the racing to be like had few rules. We all loved it when Honda's engineers came up with the V5 and demolished everyone else. Yamaha's crossplane crank is a great idea, has a great sound, provides great feel, and yes, is an engineer's concept. When Ducati was winning Preziosi was a genius with his subframe chassis ideas. At least until they lost Stoner. Now they had to poach the next engineering genius from Aprilia. So all the engineers' hard work is worthless and taking away from rider skill? Every top rider will completely disagree with that sentiment. And the best engineers are nowhere without the best riders. And visa versa. What makes GP special is everyone involved down the line doing the best they can to beat everyone else. There are currently 3 riders and 2 factories in that category now. That may change and add a factory and a rider or 3 but that will have nothing to do with the rules and everything to do with the factories and riders wanting every advantage they can get.

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

Total votes: 6

Misinterpreting FB posts

>> You posted on FB at the beginning of the season something about your choices being between jumping through all the hoops Dorna requires of you to get a press pass or stay at home and write articles critical of them. To me that seems like play nice to get paddock access or stay at home and be a contrary voice. 

'Jumping through hoops' means paying money, carrying advertising, helping to promote certain Dorna products. It does not, nor would it ever, affect what I think of certain things. I can go to the track and write articles which are just as critical as if I am sitting at home. I fully expect to get my pass pulled at every race I go to, in which case it won't matter what I write anyway, so I try to report what I believe to be factually correct, and when forming my opinion, I base it on what I believe is best for the sport in the long run. I deeply resent the accusation that I would conform to corporate pressure. I would not, and will not. I have been called aside and given a stern talking to by representatives of Honda, Yamaha, Ducati, IRTA and Dorna. So far, I only have the FIM to go...

Total votes: 9

No Need to Get Resentful

I don't think anyone has accused you of sycophancy. Occasionally some of your analysis triggers a bit of skepticism. No disparagement intended.

For example:

"I can go to the track and write articles which are just as critical as if I am sitting at home."

Oh yeah? The strength of your analysis comes from the great depth of your information. How are you going to get this information if Dorna give you the same treatment that COTA gave Kevin Schwantz last year? Are Lin, Herve, Gigi, and Livio going to promptly return your calls? Is Mike Webb going to be your mate?

I enjoy your work. I often send it via hyperlinks to my friends. But like some other readers, I sometimes have a different perspective. No disparagement. Just different. Sometimes even contrary, I suppose. Still, no hard feelings.

Total votes: 6

Phone calls

I would like to think that people would still return my phone calls. Information isn't just found at the track. And I really do resent being accused of kowtowing. My life would be a very great deal easier if I did, it costs me personally and professionally to try to remain objective. I am doing this because it is something I believe in. Sometimes, especially when I am accused of bias or buckling to corporate pressure, I think it would be a good deal easier to jack it all in and get a nice office job once again. Maybe have a vacation. Get a good night's sleep. Earn a comfortable living. So pardon me for being a little prickly about this.

Total votes: 7

its a compliment

David, its often the case that people disagree and cast aspersions because what one has said is not what they wanted to hear, but is sufficiently influential and opinion-forming to garner support. The time to worry is when no-one disagrees. That means you've probably become boring or irrelevant. Don't take it to heart so much - apart from anything else, the only person who'll ever really know how much integrity and principle you have is you yourself, because you can never really prove it to a sceptic - but in any case, the heat in this current debate tells me you're at the top of your game.

By the way, you'd hate the office job. It sucks the life out of you (he says bitterly).

Total votes: 11

Addressing your points

>> Funny how the last time non-factory bikes were competitive (and even won a race) there were far fewer restrictive rules.

1. There were satellite bikes on the podium last year. Cal Crutchlow looked like he had a great chance of a win last year. I'd call that competitive.

2. The last time a satellite bike won a race was because Toni Elias was given the special 'factory' Michelin tires which Pedrosa didn't win. That had nothing to do with restrictions, that had to do with tires. If anything, it shows how rigged the series was with just a few players having access to special equipment.

>>Last time a non-Honda/Yamaha title was won there were much fewer restrictions.

Last tme a non-Honda/Yamaha title was won was after a rule change, when the Japanese factories badly misjudged the rules. It was won by one of the most remarkable motorcycling talents in history. Restrictions or otherwise in the rules had little to do with it. 

>> They have been planning on coming back before spec electronics were mandated and if anything the new rules have complicated the process for them.

Both Suzuki and Aprilia have known that spec electronics were on the cards for 2017, the date just got moved up a year. The process has slightly complicated Suzuki's return (though they have different and much bigger problems than electronics), but it has not really impacted Aprilia's return. They are using the Open class as a way to develop a bike for a full factory return. Electronics has no impact on their return.

Factories race because factories want to race. Electronics is one reason they tell themselves they go racing. It is only a small part in a whole range of reasons to go racing. 

Total votes: 19

ditto

>>There were satellite bikes on the podium last year. Cal Crutchlow looked like he had a great chance of a win last year. I'd call that competitive.

I've been saying for a while that changing the rules will accomplish nothing, its the riders and the gradual optimization of all aspects of performance that create the gaps and processional racing.

>>The last time a satellite bike won a race was because Toni Elias was given the special 'factory' Michelin tires which Pedrosa didn't win. That had nothing to do with restrictions, that had to do with tires.

He got special tires one time and that has nothing to do with riders now having spec tires? He's now in Moto2 because he couldn't get the spec tire to work or adapt to it. The regulated spec tires.

>>Last tme a non-Honda/Yamaha title was won was after a rule change, when the Japanese factories badly misjudged the rules.

Then keep changing a simple set of rules!

>>Both Suzuki and Aprilia have known that spec electronics were on the cards for 2017, the date just got moved up a year.

Yes and they both have expressed their desire to enter as 'Factory' teams to not have spec software so they could develop their own technology. Dorna is doing this against all the factories desires as there will no longer be a 'Factory' class. Saying that this is enticing them to rejoin is plain wrong.

>>slightly complicated Suzuki's return

That's a nice way of putting it. I thought you said the new rules were attracting them to come back, not putting stumbling blocks in front of them. Odds are high that Suzuki would be more competitive if they were allowed to use their own electronics. The new rules are putting Suzuki at a performance disadvantage and forcing them to spend money to adapt to the rules, both of which go against what you have been touting as the reason for the new rules.

>>but it has not really impacted Aprilia's return

Admittedly not much because they now only have one bike on the grid. But the loss of using their own electronics package would have been a performance hit had they been back in force.

>>Factories race because factories want to race. Electronics is one reason they tell themselves they go racing. It is only a small part in a whole range of reasons to go racing.

Take away reasons one by one and what happens? Racing is definitely used as a marketing effort but don't mistake that with it being only a marketing effort.

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

Total votes: 15

Aprilia next to Norton

I am guessing the the two Aprilia slots wil be right next to the vaunted Norton slots that seem to pop up every year.

I can't see why Aprilia would waste money in MotoGp. They dominated WSBK for the last several years and still can't sell bikes in the US. I don't know what their sales stats are in other countries (or if WSBK gave them a bump) but I can't imagine finishing 15th in every race will help.

As a Eurosport subscriber I was disappointed the DORNA went with BT. I would imagine they are losing viewers as folks who already pay for Eurosport are supposed to pony up even more money for a 3rd rate sports channel to watch the same 3 guys win race, after race. Of the folks I know who watched on Eurosport non have subscribed to BT and all refuse to pay the excessive fee for the MotoGP video pass.

Filling the grid with lousy bikes (CRT, and whatever it's called this week) is like filling a salad bowl with celery. It looks nice, fills up the sapce but does nothing for the end product.

MotoGP has been horribly mis-manged and "ruled" into the ground. Every single "cost cutting" dictate has resulted in the exact opposite effect, the price to be competative is so high now that there are only 4 bikes capable of winning.

Total votes: 16

MotoGP video pass in Oz

I live in Sydney and have ADSL 2 with iinet. I've had the MotoGP.com video pass for several years. It IS awesome and for $200 AU it could be considered good value for money. Usually my internet connection is up to the task of streaming at the 2nd highest quality setting.

The only problem is that Sunday nights, when the races are on, seems to be peak time for internet use in our neighbourhood. That can result in insufficient download speed and consistent interruption in the stream. Worse case scenario is watching motoGP on terrible ten (hardly worth dragging Daryl Beattie in for the pointless, uneducated host's dribble) and then the other races in an off-preak time.

Total votes: 6

Sydney

Sydney, the biggest city with some of the highest population density in the country - and you still can't reliably stream video. This is my point. Whether the bottlenecks are at the receiver's end, or the senders end, or in between, it seems to me that live video streaming to a mass market is not a reliable way to go, particularly in countries with poor infrastructure like Australia.

Total votes: 5

You can download reliably, but you pay.

Yeah, you are right, no matter which way you slice it, we have to pay more now to watch the same amount of MotoGP at the same quality, as we did last year. I could get great video download speed if I upgraded my internet connection, but then as you said, we might as well pay for foxtel.

For me it's really ironic as I had decided not to purchase the video pass this year (I've had it the previous 5) in order to save money. I thought, "no, I'll forgo watching practice and the post race conference and just watch the races on ten", only to find out at the first race weekend - no qualifying and no moto2/3 - and they're the races that I usually enjoy the most! I could not find anywhere in the coverage by ten of the first race, any comment from the host about the fact they were not showing the above. Really weak.

Total votes: 7

Perception is reality.

Often said, it doesn't mean that it's right.

The whole point of this site is impartial appraisal and assessment of data, which then leads to some reasoned conclusions. The absence of corporate fluff is why I rate this site as THE best - and why it won an award, or a few.

It works. Remember David's assessment of engine noise to try and understand HRC's/Ducati's engine design; and then the Honda/Yam/Duc seamless? He doesn't say this is fact, he sets it out and we can agree or disagree. I mostly agree and often learn something.

Cos - you seem a nice guy and knowledgeable, but I have to agree with Lew on this one - you are not providing technical opinions here , you are trying to tell David that he isn't telling the truth as he sees it and, because it doesn't fit with your own views, that he has been corrupted.

I will be polite and say that I think you are being very unfair.

I think we have learnt a little bit more about David's professionalism and credibility though.

Total votes: 6

I love most of this site and

I love most of this site and its reporting but feel that his reporting on the rules and direction of the sport is lacking. I don't agree with everything else but at least feel that it is well reasoned and logical. If he looked at the rules like he looked at seamless transmission shifts instead of this:

>>and the reduction in costs brought about in part by the spec electronics is enticing factories back to MotoGP

it would look like this:

Suzuki is spending money to adapt to the spec rules and will likely initially be less competitive because of it. They are having to do the job they already once did all over again. And if they do come back in 2015 then they will have to do it partially again when the spec software is introduced the following year. As they have been testing and developing the GP bike for the past 2 years there is no correlation between entering in 2015 and the spec rules. In fact, the combination of Honda's push for reduced fuel and having to adapt to the spec hardware are main reasons they are not competing this year. Aprilia has their own hardware and software that was developed to a pretty high level in WSB which they used to good effect all year long to harass Ducati's prototypes costing 10x more. Now they have to adapt to a new hardware system which does not happen for free. They also have been in the series with plans for a factory entry for years. If there is any cost savings for these factories it is well in the future, if at all for Suzuki as in the entire 4 stroke era they have never fielded a customer bike so will not reap the rewards of selling customer machines. Although in reality this point is moot as the only savings that are of real concern are those for the Open teams to enable them to be more competitive.

There is no opinion in the above paragraph.

>>you are trying to tell David that he isn't telling the truth as he sees it

No, I am saying that he favors the vision that Dorna is promoting for the sport. And he has said his opinion has changed on that topic since he's been in the paddock. I feel that a lot of the time someone on the outside looking in has a clearer view of what is going on and that being immersed in Dorna has affected him.

Maybe I was being too harsh with my black and white depiction but since David just said that as part of his dealing with Dorna he promotes some of their products how were we to know that? I'm a little surprised to hear that as I thought it would be said upfront, as journalists usually do when they are reporting on someone who is a source of income to them.

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

Total votes: 11

A source of income

Dorna is not a source of income to me. It is a source of expenditure. I earn zero money from Dorna, other than through the reporting I do on MotoGP for this website and other publications. I have never received any money of any kind from Dorna. I once received a video pass upgrade, so I could review their product. That's it.

And your 'opinion-free' paragraph is packed with opinion. But because it is your opinion, you cannot see it.

One thing, however, we do agree on. Much worse tires would be a massive step forward for the series, and do a lot of the job of spec electronics. Dorna is pushing Bridgestone to produce worse tires, but when Bridgestone pays Dorna 8 figures to race in the series, it's hard to persuade them to produce worse tires. And if you have tire competition, it's hard to control tire performance. The Australian Superbike system used last year sounded excellent. Competing tire manufacturers, but all selling homologated tires at a low price.

Total votes: 4

Big piece of pie for me

Humble pie, that is.

Apologies for accusing you of selling out for not thinking like I do. Typing on a keyboard sometimes brings out the least tolerant part of me.

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

Total votes: 4

Not a problem

I respect and appreciate your opinion, Chris. And I appreciate your apology even more. I can only assure all of the readers on this site that I try to form my own opinions based on my own experience and ideas. They may be wrong, or they may be right, but they are my opinions. Any information offered from sources paying me will be clearly marked as such.

Total votes: 5

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