The 2012 MotoGP Revolution: Part 1 - The Rules, The Bikes And The Teams

2012 is the year that everything will change. A bafflingly large number of people think this is because of the approach of Planet X, bringing destruction upon the world as foretold by the end of the Mayan calendar (which rather inconveniently now appears to end in 2220), but for motorcycle racing fans, something even more momentous than the end of civilization is on the cards. For 2012 is the year that sees the return of 1000cc motorcycles to MotoGP.

Those who were hoping to see the return of the glorious RC211V and its soul-churning V5 bellow will be sorely disappointed, however. MotoGP may be allowing the return of the liter bikes, but a couple of significant rule changes mean that the face of the grid will be altered irrevocably. There'll be no more barking V5 Hondas, nor howling Aprilia RS3 Cubes, nor will the overly optimistic and sadly failed WCM Blata V6 project be revived. The rules have been written such that the bikes will have four cylinders, use a four-stroke combustion cycle, and are likely to come in well under 1000cc capacity.

The lack of diversity in MotoGP from 2012 onwards is down to the new rule package due to come into effect. So let us first take a look at the rules laid down for MotoGP, before going on to study the reasoning behind those rules, and the effects they will have on the grid.

The Rules

The MotoGP rules as agreed by the Grand Prix Commission (the last major clarification of which came at Brno in August 2010) sets out three classes of bikes to compete in MotoGP - or rather, two major classes, one of which has two subclasses. These classes are:

  1. Factory prototype machines of between 800 and 1000cc, with a minimum weight of 153kg;
  2. Factory prototype machines of up to 800cc, with a minimum weight of 150kg;
  3. Machines of up to 1000cc, accepted as Claiming Rule Team (CRT) entries, with a minimum weight of 153kg.

All three classes are subject to a few shared technical restrictions. These are:

- A maximum of four cylinders
- A maximum bore of 81mm

The chassis used must be a complete prototype, and not be based on an existing production chassis

Factory Prototypes

In effect, the factory prototypes (though that phrase is never used in the regulations, but that is in effect what these machines will be) are just the next generation of the MotoGP bikes now being raced. The current fuel limit (21 liters) and engine allocation (a maximum of 6 engines to last for the entire season) remain in place, the only difference being the larger capacity. 

And here's where the bore restriction comes into play: Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta described the 81mm maximum bore size as a "silver bullet" for cost reduction, imposing a rev limit through the laws of physics (or rather, through the cost of defying them) rather than than by imposing a regulated cap on revs, a restriction the manufacturers, represented by the MSMA, would never accept. By imposing a bore limit and a maximum number of cylinders, any 1000cc engine will simply be unable to rev much beyond 16,500 rpm without the additional cost far outweighing the marginal benefit of the additional revs. 

The advantage of lower revs means greater engine durability, and perhaps more importantly, a lower revving engine can suffice with just standard steel coil valve springs, a much cheaper and simpler technology than the pneumatic valves being used by all of the manufacturers except Ducati. A secondary aim of having lower revving engines is also that in theory, they should require fewer electronics to keep them in check. A lower revving engine is in a lower state of tune, and it should therefore be possible to produce a smoother and more predictable torque curve, obviating the need for a lot of electronic intervention in power delivery.

The problem is, however, that it is unclear whether a 1000cc engine with an 81mm bore and 21 liters of fuel offers any real advantages. The lower state of tune may offer a wider powerband, as well as better engine durability due to less heat and friction at lower revs, but it could turn out to use more fuel, the larger capacity sucking up more gas, which would in turn require yet more electronics to manage fuel consumption.

For this reason, several manufacturers are thought to be looking at a smaller capacity engine. The head of Ducati Corse, Filippo Preziosi, has stated publicly that he is looking at an engine of between 900 and 930cc as a more efficient solution, providing extra torque without sacrificing fuel consumption. 

If they wanted, the factories could even continue with their existing 800cc bikes, something that Yamaha had previously stated they were intending to do, though the feeling in the paddock is that once one factory jumps to a larger capacity, the others will follow. So though the existing 800cc bikes could remain on the grid for 2012, exploiting the 3kg weight advantage currently available under the rules, perhaps only a couple of satellite teams could end up running the bikes, and the 800cc subclass is likely to disappear quietly off the rule book once the new formula gets underway, if not before.

So What Exactly Is A Claiming Rule Team?

By far the most interesting class of machines, though, are the new claiming rule bikes. Whenever the new CRT (as they are being called) bikes are brought up, they are invariably described as being production engines in prototype chassis, and while all of the CRT machines will most likely fit that description, the rules define no such thing. In actual fact, the rules have almost nothing at all to say about the nature of a CRT motorcycle, the only difference between a CRT bike and a factory prototype being that the CRT bikes will have 24 liters of fuel to play with, rather than just 21, and the riders of CRT bikes will have an allocation of 12 engines rather than just 6 for riders on factory prototype machines. Other than that, a CRT bike and a factory prototype are identical under the rules.

So if there is nothing describing the difference between a CRT bike and a factory prototype, how do we tell them apart? The clue is in the third letter of the acronym, the T in CRT. That T stands for Team, and under the 2012 regulations, it is the team which defines whether a machine falls under the CRT rules or under the rules for factory prototypes. Anything entered by a team which qualifies as a Claiming Rule Team automatically gets 24 liters of fuel and 12 engines for the season.

So how do you qualify as a Claiming Rule Team? Here's what the rules say:

"The selection of the Claiming Rule Teams (CRT's) will be by unanimous decision of the Grand Prix Commission. Modification to this exception due to performance of the teams requires the simple majority of the Grand Prix Commission."

What this means in practice is the following: A team will submit an entry to the Grand Prix Commission, and if all four members making up the GP Commission (Dorna representing the organizers, the FIM as the sanctioning body, IRTA as the teams' representatives, and the MSMA representing the manufacturers) agree, then the team will be accepted as a CRT. If they are refused entry as a CRT team, that does not mean they will not be allowed to race at all, it merely means they will have to run under the same rules (21 liters of fuel, 6 engines a season) as the factory prototype teams.

So, does the bike they wish to race have no influence on whether they are accepted or not? The answer to that question is, well, yes and no. Obviously, if Herve Poncharal's Tech 3 team turned up with a 2012 Yamaha YZR-M1 and Yamaha engineers in the garage and entered as a Claiming Rule Team, their application would be turned down. However, if they turned up with a Tech 3 chassis and an M1 engine, there's a very good chance they'd be accepted, depending on the support being provided by Yamaha for the engine.

The key to being accepted as a Claiming Rule Team is the perceived level of factory support. One of the reasons for allowing the Grand Prix Commission to select the CRTs is to provide the kind of flexibility that a set of written specifications cannot supply. After all, if a bunch of club racer buddies had their numbers come up in a lottery, decided to blow their millions on a season in MotoGP, and Honda decided to sell them an RC212V without any factory support (an unlikely scenario at best), then merely racing an RC212V would not make them any more competitive. Conceivably, (well, at a very considerable stretch), the Grand Prix Commission could accept them as a Claiming Rule Team to help fill out the grid.

The reason that so many discussions about Claiming Rule Teams refer to using production engines is because this will be just about the only option open to teams wishing to enter as a CRT. The factories have refused to sell engines to privateer or satellite teams for many years now, despite the pleas of Dorna, IRTA and the FIM. The last time an engine was allowed in a non-factory frame was in Kenny Roberts' Team KR machine, the KR212V. After initial success in 2006, the experience of 2007 (and Kenny Roberts failing to raise sufficient sponsorship for 2008) meant that Honda was no longer willing to repeat the experiment. In the summer of 2009, the MSMA came near to agreeing to supply just engines again, but the exorbitant amount of money they were asking (around 70% of the lease price of a full bike) made it a financially impossible proposition.

So without access to engines from the factories, the teams will either have to turn to external engine suppliers (such as Ilmor, Inmotec, Cosworth, etc) or look at developing their own engines. Without access to the kind of resources that developing a modern racing four-stroke engine currently requires, Claiming Rule Teams will instead turn to existing production engines, and radically rework them to turn them into something that could be competitive in MotoGP. This has been tried before by WCM with limited success, before the FIM, at the prompting of the Flammini brothers who run World Superbikes, ruled that the WCM (based on a Yamaha YZF-R1 street bike engine) was illegal under the rules at the time. Why the Flamminis won't win this battle again is a subject we will return to in a later episode of this series.

The rules also contain a rather clever condition, one that it is easy to miss the significance of. The rules read "Modification to this exception due to performance of the teams requires the simple majority of the Grand Prix Commission." What this means in practice is that being accepted as a CRT does not mean that you have been granted that status for the entire season. If, for example, the Grand Prix Commission decides that a team is just a front for a factory effort, then they can withdraw their CRT status and force the team to continue under the rules for factory prototypes, with less fuel and (pro rato) fewer engines until the end of the season.

The point is best explained by an example: If, say, the Aspar team (who have long and historic links to the Aprilia race department) turn up with a heavily modified Aprilia RSV4 engine, in a chassis built in an engineering shop in Noale (Aprilia's home town), they could initially be accepted as a Claiming Rule team. However, if every race weekend the Aspar team's garage is full of engineers walking around in Aprilia uniforms, the GP Commission may decide that the Aspar team is just a front for Aprilia's race department, and withdraw their CRT status. If they did so after the first 6 races (out of 18), then the Aspar team would be allowed only 4 more engines to last until the end of the year, and be forced to race using just 21 liters of fuel, rather than the 24 they were granted under the CRT rules.

The chances of a Claiming Rule Team having their CRT status withdrawn are slim, though. Examining the rules closely, we see that the GP Commission can only decide to change a team's status by a "simple majority." The GP Commission consists of four members, Dorna, IRTA, the FIM and the MSMA, each with one vote. A simple majority means that three of the four will have to vote for withdrawal of CRT status (or for two to vote for, two against, with the chairman - Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta - holding a casting vote). Dorna's interests lie in having a full grid (and in weakening the grip of the MSMA over the technical rules, but more on this subject in another episode also); IRTA's interests lie in racing, representing the teams as they do; and the FIM's interests lie in having close racing with a large and viable grid. Any vote in the Grand Prix Commission is almost certain to fall in favor of the team, and against the MSMA.

Can The Claiming Rule Teams Be Competitive?

That is the million dollar question. And one on which the jury is still very much out. 

There are two schools of thought here. The first - we shall perhaps call them the Cynics, though they would probably more likely style themselves the Realists - point out that the MSMA would never have agreed to allowing the existence of the Claiming Rule Teams if they thought that their own factory teams would be regularly beaten by the CRTs. The Cynics point to the dominant role that factories now have, and the immensely complex electronics that a modern MotoGP bike requires, to manage tires so that they will last the race, to manage fuel, and to manage vehicle dynamics, providing launch control, wheelie control, traction control, and generally keeping the bike as stable as possible, as this is the fastest way around a race track. Electronics are expensive, and much can be gained by throwing more modeling capacity - and therefore more programmers writing those computer models - at the data from the track. This is a battle that deep pockets will always win, and deep pockets are the one attribute that Claiming Rule Teams will not possess.

The optimists point to the allowances granted to the CRTs, the 12 engines and especially the 24 liters of fuel. One expert directly involved with both the teams and the factories keeps insisting to me every time that we meet that the factories are deeply worried by the extra fuel allowance for the Claiming Rule Teams. The extra fuel (over 14% more than the factory prototypes are allowed, and the same amount the first MotoGP bikes were allowed) negate much of the need for fuel management, meaning that bikes won't start running leaner and losing power as the race goes on, but more importantly, the CRT machines can use extra fuel to assist on corner entry - by far the most significant part of the corner for a modern MotoGP bike - without having to rely on exotic electronic strategies to manage the slipper clutch and keep the wheels in line without wasting fuel.

So although electronics will still have a major role to play in the CRT bikes - they will still need launch control and wheelie control, and to a lesser extent traction control - the really hard stuff (the fuel management and corner entry strategies) has been taken away. Electronics that are good enough may well be within the reach of the Claiming Rule Teams, and the bikes could throw up quite a few surprises. More than the MSMA had been bargaining for. 

One last word on electronics and the 1000cc machines. Those who are hoping to see a looser style of riding, with a return of power slides and riders backing bikes into corners dirt-track-style are going to be rather disappointed. The 800s have moved electronics forward to such a degree that even the CRT machines will enter corners wheels in line, with the front wheel firmly planted on the exit and rear wheel spin kept to a minimum. Even with more fuel, more torque and more power, the fastest way around the track is 250 style, all smoothness and high corner speed.

So Where Will All These Claiming Rule Teams Come From?

The answer to that is simple: One look at the Moto2 grid and you can see that 40 bikes are just far too many for a single race at this level, a fact made all the more evident with each first-turn pile-up. And the disparity among the teams is clear too: On the one hand, teams like Speed Up, Marc VDS, Technomag CIP, Interwetten and (former) MotoGP teams such as Tech 3, Gresini and Pons dominate the racing, while smaller, less experienced teams such as Holiday Gym, Kiefer and BQR have struggled to compete. Despite promises (or should that be threats) from Dorna that fewer teams would be admitted into Moto2 in 2011, there will still be close to 40 riders on the grid at Qatar in March.

For Moto2 is the training ground, a talent pool from which the better teams will be invited to field a CRT MotoGP effort in 2012. Chassis manufacturers like FTR, Suter and Kalex are learning valuable lessons on bike design in Moto2, while former two-stroke 250 and 125 teams get to grips with four-stroke racing engines, and setting up a bike powered by a four-stroke. Teams are learning to develop four-stroke racing bikes, and providing feedback for chassis development to the frame builders.

Dorna's hope (and the hope of the FIM and IRTA as well) is that these lessons will provided a solid foundation for the promotion of these teams to MotoGP in 2012. The Marc VDS team is already working with Suter on the Swiss manufacturer's CRT machine, and though there is no agreement in place for the team to race the bike once it is ready, the odds are good that the Belgian-based team will move up to MotoGP in 2012. Marc VDS will not be the only team: Pons, Giampiero Sacchi's new Ioda Racing project, Antonio Banderas' Jack&Jones team, MZ, and JiR, to name but a few, have all expressed an interest in moving up to MotoGP as a CRT team at one point or another in the future. Informed opinion suggests that between 4 and 6 machines will be entered by Claiming Rule Teams in 2012, with more to follow in the years to come.

What effect that will have on MotoGP, how Infront Motor Sports (who run World Superbikes) will react, what the long-term prospects are for the factories inside MotoGP, and where MotoGP will be racing in the years to come are all subjects we will cover in the following weeks. The face of MotoGP is changing, and 2012 is just the beginning. 

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No mention of "claiming". One would think that a claiming rule would be in place to limit costs across the CRTs. Great article, but if claiming isn't an integral part of the team policing, why is it part of the name?

I spent so much time writing about all the other aspects of the rules that I forgot to mention the claiming part! The trouble is that right now, we know very little about it, as the exact details have yet to be decided. 

What we know so far is that one Claiming Rule Team will be allowed to purchase the engine of another Claiming Rule Team, for a price that is expected to be between 50,000 and 75,000 Euros. The exact conditions of purchase, and the effect that buying an engine off a team will have on the engine allocation is still completely unknown. These details are expected to be decided early next year.

I wrote an analysis of the proposed claiming rule in July last year, if you are interested in the many risks involved in a claiming rule. When I asked Herve Poncharal about this, I was assured that the Grand Prix Commission does not expect anyone to actually claim an engine. The threat is merely there as a sword of Damocles, to keep everybody honest. 

unless a team is running the same kind of engine in the first place so that it would fit into the chassis. If a team runs a BMW engine what point would it be to claim an Aprilia engine if it doesn't fit? They would have to change the chassis and would have to start from scratch with a new engine and chassis.

Allowing claiming does two things:
It pressures the racing teams to use engines that are less expensive than the claiming price - keeps the cost down.
It allows a competitor to disassemble and understand in detail how the claimed engine works.
It's an age old method of preventing teams from winning based solely on having deeper pockets than their competition.

Good analysis there - now I think I'm starting to understand all those changes!

great article mate!
writing like this makes the off season almost bearable... almost

It would have much better karma if you recalculate the end of times to 2222. 2220 is just going to confuse folks. Just in case I do find the FoY, I would like those extra couple of years. Please see what you can do great scribe.

Great write up, looking forward to the rest of the story!

Great article David!
I'm not convinced about the new rules but the CRT's will be an interesting diversion whether they're competitive or not.

Given a large number of people presumably with a lot of knowledge and experience have all come up with this new rules package, it is obvious that it is not easy to create a good rule set in the modern age (ref your previous "unintended consequences" articles).

Although it seems unlikely, I really hope a good CRT can at least run with the pack behind the current top 4-5. The factories have stuck with their hateful fuel limits which have turned racing into a closed-shop, I REALLY hope the extra 3 litres a CRT gets will be enough to cause the manufacturers real pain.


PS Cue the comments saying "why is it CRT teams, that's Claiming Rule Team Teams...." :-)

The more I learn about electronics on a MotoGP bike the moore I want them do disappear. I understand why they are there but they take a way to much of the racing.

I love to see races from the beginning of the 990 era where Rossi, Sete, Biaggi and the others left almost every corner with wheel spinn.

I would really like to see a standard ECU from Dorna/MSMA on all bikes without TC, LC, AWC, fuel managemnet and so on. Then we will get back to real racing again!

BTW: Great articel, as always, David!

Can someone please explain this portion of David's article to me as I remain somewhat confused by it. The fuel used part, not the corner entry being the most significant part of the corner - I fully agree with this assertion.

"but more importantly, the CRT machines can use extra fuel to assist on corner entry - by far the most significant part of the corner for a modern MotoGP bike - without having to rely on exotic electronic strategies to manage the slipper clutch and keep the wheels in line without wasting fuel".

As a racer from the dark ages (carbs, no slipper clutch) I've always entered corners with a closed or nearly closed throttle - just blipping it to smooth out the down changes of my two 500cc air pumps. Just how does a modern machine waste fuel on corner entry?

The point of modern slipper clutches is to make corner entry as smooth as possible. With a two-stroke, which had virtually no engine braking, that was no problem. With a four-stroke, which has lots, that's a huge problem. Indeed, most of the complaints from the Moto2 riders were about the rudimentary nature of the slipper clutch.

There are a number of strategies you can use to control engine braking on corner entry. The simplest is merely to run the engine faster (e.g. a fast idle) going into the corner, producing less engine braking (you can experiment for yourself, by accelerating, and then closing the throttle completely, then doing it again but keeping the throttle a quarter open). The most complex is to balance engine idle, clutch pressure and a host of other parameters electronically. It's easier to burn more fuel to control corner entry, than to use exotic electronics strategies to control engine braking. 

thanks david for the idle speed adjustment.
I was "given" advice by an experienced SV650 club racer to set my SV race bike idle speed to 3,000rpms.
didn't really understand until now.

a fantastic insight to weird and wonderfull rulebook of MotoGP.

My head spins sometimes getting round these rules !

Remeber the old 500 rule book :

500cc & 2 stroke. NEXT. haha

As a guage for how competitive a CRT team can be I look at the lap times between superbike and motogp at the shared circuits. This year some some superpole times would have qualified for the motogp grid and that is without carbon brakes and a heavier package to boot. So I can see a few upsets on the cards for 2012. Maybe suzuki should run the Motogp chassis with GSXR1000 superbike engine ...

im not so sure, rossi said that if motogp had slicks similar to those used in wsbk, motogp bikes would be atleast a second faster, so i have my doubts over wether sticking a modified gsxr1000 engine in a suter chasis will be successful. also the level of electronics in wsbk is ridiculously high now compared to what it used to be, so the comparisons between a crt team and a wsbk team would be very interesting.

I don't remember anything like that... maybe you mean it the other way around - if WSBK had MotoGP slicks then it would be the Superbikes that would be faster?? As it stands now I'm sure that the slicks in MotoGP allow much greater lean angle and faster corner speeds than in WSBK.

Given that each circuit consists of 12 or more corners, that's a lot of time spent braking. So yes, it can.

I suppose I must be sorted into the cynic herd, not because I believe the allowances for CRT teams can't possibly be enough to overcome the factory budgets - I actually believe a smart and committed team could find the right formula to make it work, but rather, I doubt because of the specific wording of the rules: "Modification to this exception due to performance of the teams requires the simple majority of the Grand Prix Commission."

It appears to me that the very intention of the rule is to make certain that the CRT teams will never run at the top with any regularity. The wording doesn't actually talk about factory involvement or how many factory uniforms are in the garage (though I do understand that is what they are getting at) but rather, it specifically says if your performance is too good, your CRT status will be removed.

--------------------------------------------- - MotoGP Data & Statistics

Two things.

1. If 3 out of 4 of the governing bodies interest lies in better racing, then they will favor anything that mixes up what has been viewed as a fairly bland few year. If a CRT starts winning, that will fall in line with their interests.

2. IRTA, DORNA, FIM, all seem to have lost faith in the MSMA to create good racing, and will almost certainly spite them for the sake of it.

So while the MSMA might want to get rid of a CRT team who is creating problems, DORNA will always hold the final key (with that handy casting vote). The only exception will be virtual unanimity. The interesting part, is I am sure that if a CRT bike creates enough of a problem, MSMA might have to start making concessions to win favor of each of the governing body. What an interesting development.

There are a couple of assumptions there that I think are worth questioning. First, a CRT winning isn't the same thing as closer racing. The next is that IRTA or the FIM have an interest in closer racing when I am not sure that is true. IRTA has an interest in improving their opportunities for good results and therefore opportunities to attract sponsorship. Again here, a CRT winning races doesn't benefit the rest or IRTA. Also recognize that IRTA consists of satellite and factory teams, neither of which are CRT team and will not benefit from a CRT beating the factories - the Satellites will be finishing that much further back. And the FIM gains nothing from closer racing.

So, in most cases, the MSMA is directly threatened by a competitive CRT, IRTA is less directly but still threatened by a competitive CRT and the FIM has no interest one way or the other. That leaves only Dorna to share an interest with the CRTs.

It is in Dorna's interest to let the mfgrs keep winning as long as the grid is filled out. The mfgrs are the only ones that can afford to pay 8+ mil to the top riders who are also huge merchandising businesses that create the television market that Dorna makes money from. If a nobody on a CRT starts to push the market favorites out of podium positions then that CRT will be designated a factory team due to their performance, not due to factory support, personnel, uniforms or anything else.


As David has pointed out, the 21L rule makes 800cc about as good as 1000cc b/c thermodynamics, not total displacement, influences how much horsepower the bikes can produce over race distance. During the 21L era qualifying has become increasingly important b/c overtaking has become more difficult. Interestingly enough, qualifying is still not fuel limited.

Without fuel restrictions, the benefits of running an 81mm 1000cc engine will be evident b/c the 1000cc engine can run at max power (16,000rpm) without serious reliability consequences. The 800cc bikes will have trouble reaching their theoretical 20,000rpm red line without reliability complications. For this reason, I think the engines will trend towards 1000cc. In the 21L era, starting outside of the top 5 makes it very difficult to win.

My analysis is a bit oversimplified, but I think it will hold true. With a little luck, we will see late-apexing and tire smoking during qualifying in 2012.

isnt the general consensus following the idea that the 1000s will blast past on the straight and hold up the 800s in the corners. During qualifying the 800s will be able to wait for clear track time.
the 800s already lap quicker than the 990s did at some tracks.
its a good point about the fuel limit, but it applies to the 800s too.
I really have no idea, But I still think the 800s will have the advantage over the 1000 with the fuel limit.

The circuit best laps (qualifying) are faster for 800s at every track on the calendar except Valencia, where Rossi still holds the pole record from 2006.

If they added 25% more capacity, the bikes would get slower?

The 800s are faster than the 990s b/c Bridgestone developed a superior front tire and b/c the manufacturers spent tons of money on weight reduction so they could tune weight distribution (Ducati developed the winning strategy by throwing more weight over the rear of the bike). Apples to Apples, a 1000cc version of the current bikes with the current control tires should have little problem outqualifying the current 800s when the effects of the engine reliability rules are taken into account.

I have been struggling with this for a while now, and you have cleared a lot of fog in just a couple of posts. I suppose the next question would be can the tyres work on both bikes, and which bike will they make it work for.

...3 kg difference, which is less than a fuel load.

However, the CRT's are at a bigger risk of not getting on with the tires.  They will want to rearrange suspension geometry and weight distribution to take advantage of the added fuel to get more aggressive torque curves, but the tires may not be as willing a participant.

Moto 1, Moto 2 & Moto 3. Doesn't take a genius to see the Motogp jig is up. The factories pull out within a few years and toss some money at private teams. All done and dusted. I wonder if there would be such little uproar if F1 adopted the same rule set. I'm not happy about it at all. It'll be just like NASCAR.

WHY do the MSMA want a 21L fuel limit? Could someone please explain the reasoning behind this absurd rule!

Because they learn so much about getting good throttle response with lean air/fuel ratios. That doesn't matter to the people who ride sports bikes, but it does to the millions of people riding EFI scooters in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Far East. 

MotoGP is 21L b/c the MSMA have to sell the sport to the board of directors. Dorna would rather sacrifice scores of manufacturers than lose Honda or Yamaha so partial throttle fuel efficiency has been MotoGP's raison d'etre since 2007.

Some fans are willing to let the MSMA ruin sports competition in the name of technological progress. It is a painful reminder of humanity's susceptibility to marketing and humanity's incessant desire to pursue an absolute virtue like "technological progress" without any understanding as to what it means or how it manifests itself. No one stops to consider whether MotoGP is the best venue to pursue absolute technological progress.

Step 1: Assume that prototype means "unlimited technological progress". MotoGP is a prototype racing series; therefore, assume MotoGP also means "unlimited technological progress". Should we allow rules that ruin the racing/riding but improve technological progress? Discuss. :-/ Rigged debate at best. Half of the fans don't even see the problem with the underlying assumptions.

MotoGP is a social commentary of sorts. A human competition and a mechanical engineering competition have been subverted by a software writing competition. Welcome to the 21st century--digitization is the law and "progress" is independent of humanity. Society can actually "progress" though mankind is worse off. MotoGP can progress even though the riders/fans have fewer bikes and they complain about electronic rider aids. Fascinating world we are living in.

Intelligence will win in the end. Not sure how much longer we will have to wait before people realize that the recent changes to MotoGP are supply-push (corporate strategy and political societal engineering) rather than demand pull. Consumers have been after the same thing since 1900--speed, the feeling of leaning the bike over, and freedom from the cage. Suddenly, sportbike consumers care most about partial throttle fuel efficiency? can I say this diplomatically? That is the dumbest thing the MSMA have ever said. I don't leave my car in the garage and go for a ride b/c partial throttle fuel efficiency makes me horny. The MSMA engineers (those who claim that sportbike riders demand partial throttle fuel efficiency) should be loaded onto a Saturn 5 rocket and aimed directly into the sun.

:) Thanks for reading.

The MSMA don't really care about your sportbike. They care about the 6 million small capacity scooters they will sell in Indonesia next year. A lot of the purchasing decisions there will be made on fuel economy and throttle response.

Truer words have never been spoken. The MSMA do not care about sportbikes or sportbike racing. They care about using MotoGP to develop scooter technology.

If the MSMA want to work on scooter fuel-efficiency, they need to fuel-limit Moto3 and redirect their racing budgets. Racing companies can take their place in MotoGP without fuel-limitations. MotoGP riders can ride without electronic interference/assistance.

I'm not disagreeing with your point. I'm just pointing out why Honda and the MSMA can justify the heavy use of electronics in MotoGP. It's a subject I'll be returning to.

Agreed...until some company in China "borrows" this technology...and outsells the MSMA in Indonesia.
The MSMA will then be shocked to find their business model funded not only the ruin of "our" sport, but their competition's success, as well ! :-)

But seriously....Great Article!...PLEASE keep them coming!

No final clarification as to what CRT is circa 2012.Another complex rule change.
I get the jist of it,but right now nothing is cast in stone.When they 'saved costs' by dipping into 800 rule,Ducati gambled with success.Paid off,thanks by and large to 'win it or bin it Stoner'.
Everytime the goal posts are moved,the quickest thinker will steal an initial advantage. 2012,I suspect will be 2007 revisited.
I expect the good old tarmac will have a huge say come 2012.
Some circuits will love the almost defunct factory 800's,some will favour intermediate 880-930 prototypes and some will smile on 1000cc CRT machinery.
Having said that,one would be obliged to admit that rider input is being blunted as technology progresses.
Nevertheless,someone in a saddle will wring that extra piece out to claim the title,whether on 800/1000 21 litre prototype or 1000 CRT.
I look most forward to it.
Thanks David. Off season withdrawal is painfull at best.

Can everybody please stop using "CRT teams" It's a little redundant right?! lol (claiming rule Sorry I know it's not a big deal, but just my 2 cents. Great posts though.

If Moto GP is the most effective and efficient way for Honda and Yamaha to develop their tiddlers, I think that they have lost their way. Carbon brakes, GPS electronics, pneumatic valves, $14 million salaries to riders, slipper clutches, obsessive development of chassis, wind tunnel testing, etc…all of this somehow is the best way to make their tiddlers more appealing??? That makes no sense whatsoever…I don't doubt that they say it, but it makes no sense.

Great article, as usual.

Convoluted rules to the point of stupidity, as usual.

You would have to have more money then brains to run a CR team. The moment you show potential you will be kneecapped down to 6 engines and the rest of it.


MotoGP, come in! You are breaking up! I'm losing contact! (and interest)...static snow...

Can someone please explain how a long-stroke 81mm engine revving to within an inch of its life at 16.5K is going to be ANY more 'reliable' than a short stroke at 20K? Both engines will see similar piston speeds and crank / con rod stresses.
I can envision that, just perhaps, the narrow bore limits valve size to the point that the engine's RPM is limited more by breathing than raw stress. Is that remotely possible? If so, the formula may actually make some sense; otherwise I have to call BS on the whole fiasco!

And don't get me going about the asinine 21 liter limit. Simply adding 3L to the formula would fix a huge number issues at zero cost. I suppose that's just a little too easy, and doesn't offer enough opportunity for Ego Infliction by TPTB.

You're not missing anything, in fact you've hit on the central stupidity of the new rules. When they came out with the 81mm limit and proclaimed it a "silver bullet" for containing costs I was astonished, not believing that anyone with any knowledge of engines could make such a statement.
Stress is still the limiting factor, breathing isn't any part of it.
And I completely agree about fuel limits.

Two pistons are of equal size. One piston reciprocates 16,000 times per minute while the other reciprocates at 20,000 times per minute. They will be under the same stress b/c piston velocity is the same?

Furthermore, it is the top end, not the bottom end, that poses the biggest problem for the manufacturers. It is very difficult to run a valvetrain at 20,000rpm while maintaining tolerances. The longer the engine runs, the less likely it is to hold together.

I do agree that the 21L rule is garbage, though. I also agree that breathing issues may ultimately negate any major horsepower advantages the 1000cc engines hoped to have. Time will tell.

10 years ago I rode my Honda Dominator around the globe. Three months and 10k km in India. The most frequently asked question.... "How many kilometres do you get to the litre sir?' They always took great pride in pointing out how much more efficient their 100-150cc steeds were than my thirsty heavily laden 650 was.

thanks to David for a well written - much needed explanation.
I am a bit, well more, puzzled about the direction. In the last year moto racing had surged in popularity thanks to several factors:
- entertaining racing
- rider skills
- close competition
- easy to watch / understand with no non-sense like F1 pit-stop strategies

(and yes of course some guy in yellow didn't hinder too).

Now every change is for worst. 800 + electronics called for less spectacular racing. Tyres affected also racing. Fuel limitations. Less sessions. Then the 6 engines. And now even more complications to follow .... Not adding that one day or the other that guy will leave..... this to me seems that they want to loose spectators not increase them.

...a $30 rev limiter installed so that its working order could be verified during grid positioning before the warm-up lap..would have solved all of this mess of trying to reduce costs...

When businessmen pretend to be engineers..sigh.

True or false: The more complex a moving part system, the more likely things are to break.

True or false: Men never cheat and enjoy losing.

True or false: It is human nature to find the maximum performance/"efficiency" of a system in order to prove ones own self worth.

The factories will never stop, ever if there is a small chance they can pick up the smallest advantage over the opponents if they throw an extra ten million at R & D. This has been proven time and time even happens in modern politics...people learn to dance about the rules. We try to get away with as much as possible without getting caught, or we bend the rules to the point irreversible transformation. The more minute the detail of the rule, the easier it is for people to dance around it. The solution, dumb down the rules. (This should be done for a number of reasons, 1) well read my post... 2) it makes the sport more easily accessible to people. The most recent example of this I saw in the US in chicago IL where the NHL hockey team, the Blackhawks, won the Stanley Cup trophy (championship)...many everyday people said they never watched hockey because the rules were to hard to understand..."they didn't get it"....therefore they immediately changed the channel back to the baseball game where rules are easier to understand for the average "not a sports nut" person who make up an extremely large percentage of TV viewers. I personally cannot wait till the 2012 season when I get to explain the whole CRT concept to a girlfriend who I force to watch the races with, and get the see the dumbfounded look on her face when she asks me to put the NFL game back on....

someone please save's looking more and more like the motorcycle version of NASCAR. governed this, governed that...boring races.....I'd rather watch "run what ya brung" racing that I believe the prototype class was developed to be. I'll sit through a 45 minute race even if one person is out there dominating clearly because of a better long as he's setting new track lap times and making everyone else look bad.

Governing anything,even in life needs to be restrained...the more you bend and form something and try to change it or control it...the weaker, more unstable, more dangerous it becomes...and more and more it resembles less and less of what it originally was.

Something that I have had in my head but haven’t really seen discussed is that this rule set is clearly transitional – I don’t believe anyone on the GPC believes this set of rules will be maintained for any period of time. I’m guessing that this series of articles will get to this but it looks to me like this is an attempt to try a bunch of different things out at the same time: attracting new participants, playing with engine configuration rules and dabbling in parity regulation. None of these small steps define the series but if they change the makeup of the competition, a clearer picture of the future of MotoGP will emerge.

--------------------------------------------- - MotoGP Data & Statistics

Your explanation of the reason for 21L fuel limits sounds depressingly reasonable. I'd been wondering why the limitation but your logic seems right on. Oh well, scooters rule I guess. I'd really hoped that the return to liter-bike displacement would likewise return us to (what now seems to have been) the 'golden years' of the tire-smokin' 990s, but I can see now that probably won't happen.
BTW: Haven't CRTs been replaced by LCDs?
Thanks for really great analysis and superb writing; as another commenter said above, it almost makes the off-season bearable. Almost.

Thanks for the great write up.

If the manufacturers were looking for lean-burn fuel efficiency for scooters much more sexy would've been 500cc strokers with direct injection! Aprilia already has a little DI scooter currently available (although I think the technology is leased). Unfortunately, 2-stroke is dead, even though DI can potentially overcome the pollution and fuel efficiency limitations that will forever be associated with them.

Something needs to change in order to get exciting racing back in the premier class.

There's been some interesting debate on what capacities will be used in 2012 because of the fuel usage, due to the balance between capacity and revs. Ok, if they're fixated on setting a fuel limit, how would this be?

Fuel capacity: 21L, standard type
Engine capacity: open
Engine configuration: open

You want 2 stroke? Fine. You want 3 cylinders? Ok. 6 cylinders? No problem. Rotary? Go right ahead. Just keep the fuel usage to 21L. Electric? Okay, we can do that too, but you're restricted to the amount of energy contained in 21L of fuel. Your challenge is to carry it...

Would that be cheap? Well, no, probably not. Would it be interesting? Absolutely!

I'm with you v2rider, keep the rules simple, specify the amount of fuel (and the number of wheels :D) leave the rest up to to teams. Real prototype racing!

I think any rule changes that will allow more teams to compete is a great thing. The factories have quite a stranglehold on MotoGP as a whole. Not sure if it will happen in practice, but the theory of specialist chassis builders and engine suppliers working together to make fast hybrids sounds good.

Though no matter what the rules it will probably be the team with the biggest budget that wins out. In the case of MotoGP that means factory backing.