The Troubles With Fuel Limits, Part 1: The Perfect Storm at Estoril, 2010

(This is the first installment in a, as yet undetermined-length, series examining the available data for the 800cc era MotoGP seasons to date: 2007-2010. )

New Rules in 2010, The Storm's Pre-cursors:

As the 2009 MotoGP season came to a close, the prelude to the longer-life engine rules had been put into place. The teams came to Valencia with 2010-specification engines for the post-race test. Each team, essentially, began with the same premise to make their 6 allotted engines last the entire season: cut RPM. As a consequence of the introduction of the 21-liter fuel limit in 2007, all of the teams struggled with methods for maximizing power and control under braking while limiting consumption. A de facto rev-limit would serve, in a small way, to bring a little more fuel into usable powerbands. However, Ducati arrived with a parallel strategy; an uneven-firing "long bang" motor. Both of their riders strongly preferred the feel and power delivery of this engine, so it became the center of development plans for the 2010 season.

One significant effect of this decision was to somewhat obsolete much of Ducati's existing fuel mapping data for the ensuing season. Rumored to be extraordinarily specific to each venue, the previous years' data for their even-firing "screamer" engines would need to be re-worked during the first practice sessions of each race weekend in 2010. The weather largely cooperated the great majority of the year, with very little rain interfering in the rather severe demands placed on the fuel-mapping engineers and helping to mask any underlying problems they might have otherwise faced if the weather had stalled their efforts. Furthermore, any significant struggles in this area were well disguised by a series of front-end washouts, bringing the majority of public attention to the (presumed) idiosyncrasies in the carbon fiber frame, the new Öhlins forks, the Bridgestone tires, Casey Stoner's riding style, Casey Stoner's state of mind, and even the condition of his compromised left wrist.

The Storm Hits:

All of that came to a rather abrupt change during the season's penultimate weekend at Estoril. FP1 and QP were complete washouts. FP2 and FP3 were both wet sessions. This meant that Ducati arrived at the Sunday morning WUP session with an undeveloped baseline fuel map for their riders, and no dry practice sessions to fine-tune or specifically tailor the bikes to their riders in, what turned out to be, desirable weather conditions. The night before, during a regular press debrief, Casey Stoner revealed a seemingly innocuous detail about the riders' fuel map options during a race. After explaining he has three levels to work through, this question and answer proved remarkably foreshadowing:

Q: So if there's a dry race tomorrow, there is going to be a lot of people pressing buttons on the (track), and playing around with their maps.

CS: I wouldn't be surprised, yes. They'd stagger a set of maps, and see which one is gonna work, and hopefully all these electronics work with fuel consumption management, and all this sort of stuff, and bring us home. Because it is gonna be the hardest thing. They have to go out and actually map the engine to understand how much fuel it's going to use, and if they don't understand how much fuel they are using, it's very difficult for them to know where to set it.

After The Storm:

As the race began, both Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden were competing at the front of the field. But, in the last corner of Lap 4, Stoner experienced his 5th low-side crash of the season. Nicky Hayden pressed forward, looking as though he would compete for a podium finish. However, during the middle third of the race, in the estimations of nearly every announcer, journalist, and audience member around the world, Hayden's pace appeared to have victimized his softer compound tires, and he lost touch with the leaders.

Beginning with Lap 10, Hayden immediately averaged about .2 second per lap slower for the next 12 laps. During this 12-lap middle "stint", he would consistently average .1 second slower in the 2nd and 4th sectors, compared to his pace in the opening nine laps (the gap is bigger, if the first two laps are ignored). This would not necessarily indicate much, but he had just completed a string of very tightly clustered fast laps before Lap 9, and what followed draws greater significance, in hindsight.

Apparently escaping the notice of everyone outside of his team's garage, on Lap 22 Hayden rather suddenly "recovered" about 1 second (about the pace he maintained during the first stint of the race). This detail was easy to overlook while he eventually worked his way forward and became reengaged in the battle for the final position on the rostrum. He had, in fact, improved an average of just under .5 second for the duration of the race; gaining an average of .1 in the first sector and .2 in the second and fourth sectors (he was remarkably consistent in the third sector throughout the entire race).

During a post-race interview, Nicky Hayden let it slip that the bike had entered its most severe fuel-saving mode for the middle third of the race. For anyone willing to spend 30 seconds researching the claim, it is plainly visible in glaringly obvious detail rarely seen in raceday lap charts. This would clearly obviate the popular presumption that he had used up his tires, or made a poor choice in his strategy of tire selection, for he could not have so easily recovered and maintained such an improvement for the duration of the race. If "research" sounds like too much work, we've done it for you…

Race Section Summaries in Total Seconds

  Laps 3-9 Laps 10-21 Laps 22-28
Lorenzo 694.601 1180.632 693.108
Rossi 692.658 1185.010 699.196
Dovi 700.367 1195.514 698.242
Simoncelli 698.848 1195.770 698.333
Hayden 697.200 1201.062 697.241
De Puniet 700.298 1196.911 698.113
Edwards 700.361 1195.779 699.417
Pedrosa 697.659 1197.289 714.652

In the graph, you can see the three distinct sections of Hayden's race. As you can see on the total elapsed time chart for the top 8 finishing riders, only Lorenzo is faster during the third "stint".

"So what?" you say. "Two tenths here, four tenths there… he just didn't have the pace…" One fairly remarkable trait about Nicky Hayden is his ability to run laps in very tight groups; with lap times often showing only small variances from one to the next. This ability is rarely noted because he has not done so at the front of a race since 2006. And it just isn't something someone outside of the team would typically notice during a race.

Returning to the chart, it is fairly clear that Hayden inexplicably loses about 5 seconds to all the riders around him. In the first stint, he is the third fastest rider, equaling his position in the race. In the second stint, he is worse than the eighth place rider, yet he somehow recovers to be the second fastest overall in the third stint. Because, at the end of the race, he loses out on the Podium by less than 1 second, it is fair to suggest that he was capable of maintaining a pace 2-3 seconds clear of the Dovizioso-Simoncelli battle, if not for the problems he experienced with the bike.

We chose to put Dovizioso's race on the same graph as Hayden's, thinking it would offer a more consistent "control" graph for comparison, since the riders ran similar races. What we found instead raised a few eyebrows. After nearly throwing the bike away on Lap 12, Dovizioso recovers to set all of his fastest laps in a string that is nearly the exact opposite of Hayden. Ordinarily, this might be considered "heroic"; eventually reaching the Podium after nearly falling out of the race altogether. However, because this is a discussion about fuel-map strategies, a series of questions develops.

What is plainly evident is the role free practice sessions play in fuel-map settings. Riders and teams speak of setting up their bikes, and most of us still assume they are talking about things like suspensions and tire pressures. But, in reality, these mechanical settings are slaves to the work of the programmers and data techs, because changes in power delivery and fuel usage have significant effect on handling dynamics and weight balance. If there isn't sufficient practice time (and, is there ever enough?), the programmers must rely heavily on speculative inference. In the case of Estoril 2010, we saw they can guess incorrectly.

What to make of this, then? Would Casey Stoner have suffered the same fate? It is impossible to know, but certainly seems likely, given the pace Hayden was capable of. The net result left Nicky Hayden with the dubious distinction of owning the two most visible fuel shortages in the 800cc era (to date).

What we will probably never know is whether there was any fuel left in the GP10's tank. Was the bike excessively conservative to the detriment of the team, the rider, and the race? Or did it execute what was necessary to salvage the best possible finish as the bike limped over the line (Hayden's third-worst 4th Sector time was the last one, in which he would have been trying hard to catch a mistake from Dovizioso and/or Simoncelli)? Or, was this some kind of user error by Nicky Hayden? Was Dovizioso similarly saddled with a programmer's strategy for the race in which, left to his own devices, he otherwise might have cleared off the field to a lonely 3rd Place finish? Or, might there have been a spectacular race-long battle between Hayden and Dovi for that last Podium position?

(Data and charts supplied by, article co-authored by Jerry Osborne)

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Tell me again, exactly what purpose do fuel limits serve? It doesn't seem to make the racing cheaper, better, or terribly "green".

There's an argument that no matter what fuel limit there was, the teams would run up against it. But ISTM there's a happy medium in there given the race distances. A "sanity check" limit somewhere around 30 litres would remove all the questions around combined rider/bike weights, make setting the bike up easier and improve the racing. For a while anyway, until Honda/Ducati decided that a very light rider on a bike with only 20 litres would win when everyone else had a medium weight rider and 30 litres.

The manufacturers say that the fuel limits provide a huge amount of data on running an engine on partial throttle opening. It has allowed them to improve throttle response and fuel economy on their street bikes.

That does not mean much in terms of fuel usage in the UK, US or Europe. But if you consider that Honda sells some 4 million scooters in Indonesia alone, and that nearly all of those are four-stroke EFI engines, fractional fuel savings suddenly start to make sense.

Of course, you could argue that there are other ways of pursuing that research, and that racing is not a cost-effective way of studying part-throttle fuel consumption. But if it helps racing departments sell MotoGP to their boards (who have to fund it), a case can be made in favor of fuel limits. Just not a very good one ...

Honda mostly sell bikes with carburetors in Indonesia they only have 1 model of scooter with FI, Thailand is were most of the bikes use FI.

Thanks for pointing that out. Honda's sales in Thailand are well over a million bikes/scooters a year, so the argument still stands. Southeast Asia is a huge, huge market for the Japanese manufacturers.

Southeast Asia is a huge market. I've been living in Indonesia for 2 years now. Most garages here won't touch a bike with FI because they don't know how to service it or have the equipment for it. And people here think it's more complicated than using a carburetor. Also don't expect to see a GP here soon, the only international circuit isn't well maintained and up to standard and the city doesn't care about it.

The Japanese members of the MSMA have made two things abundantly clear since the MotoGP reboot 1. they will only participate in MotoGP if it is an aggressive competition (horsepower war) 2. they are not the least bit interested in the power figures attainable with 990cc and 26L of fuel (over 300hp).

The MSMA know that 21L of fuel has "x" potential energy, and 4-stroke engines extract approximately "y" horsepower over race distance from the energy in the fuel. If they can approximate the horsepower over race distance, then they can estimate the rev ceiling at a given capacity. Since the manufacturers wanted to move to 800cc, they needed to rig the fuel restriction in order control the rev ceiling. They cut fuel to 21L.

The manufacturers thought everyone would play around with mass centralization (Honda's pet project), and they would work to improve the thermal efficiency by .10% here and .25% there. They imagined the formula would be stable, outsiders would be kept away, and the participants would be stratified according to the size of their budgets (thermal efficiency isn't cheap). Perfect cartel activity, isn't it? The customers are barely an afterthought, and the riders are just accessories for the bike. Honda must have thought Dani was the perfect handbag for their new mass-centralized sport.

Honda's plan didn't turn out so well, did it? Bridgestone engineered the best tires, Ducati built the best engine, and Casey Stoner rode as if he were from another dimension. Mass centralization didn't matter, corner speeds jeopardized safety and FIM circuit homologation procedures, costs skyrocketed, riders bitched, fans screamed for blood, tire contracts were politicized, tires were changed via control tire, competitors headed for the exits, and rules were changed to give certain manufacturers an advantage.

Does anyone REALLY believe that the MSMA would wreck their most important marketing venue over partial throttle fuel efficiency? If they wanted partial throttle fuel efficiency, they would increase power and torque so the bikes were never at full throttle. No, partial throttle is not what matters. Would they wreck MotoGP to keep the horsepower war and create a technical competition that makes Honda and Yamaha perennial front-runners? Is this a trick question? Would a European manufacturer and Bridgestone, a Japanese manufacturer who knew how to play the European prototype racing game, throw a spanner in the works? Is this another trick question? BTW, 2-strokes are most efficient at partial throttle--laugh b/c that's the only thing you can do.

Partial throttle fuel efficiency is only important insofar as it increases the thermal efficiency of their engines. Like I said before, if they actually cared about partial throttle, they would drastically increase power output. They didn't increase power output b/c their two real objectives were 1. horsepower war 2. reducing power away from 990cc and 26L. These objectives were to be achieved while maintaining the "pecking order" of the 500s.

That is MotoGP in a nutshell--engineers trying to control the chaos of human competition. They won't give up the competition (horsepower war) to gain control, and they won't stop meddling with the rules until each competitor is in his "appropriate" place.

"Partial throttle fuel efficiency is only important insofar as it increases the thermal efficiency of their engines."


Total fuel consumed during race=
Integral over race time t of
Power(t)/Thermal Efficiency(t)

Now at some points on the track, you want all the power you can get (like in 6th gear on the straight). That means maximising volumetric efficiency... classically that means running an AFR around 12.5, and the throttle is wide open.

However for most of the track, the power is not the maximum possible power, it's the amount of power that can be used under the traction etc constraints. So at those points, thermal efficiency is king. From an efficiency point of view, I suspect the ideal would be to make a petrol engine work like a diesel: the throttle is always wide open, the power is reduced by leaning the mixture out. Problems are:
-engine will melt;
-rider has not much in the way of rapid throttle response needed to negotiate the limits of traction (engineers not yet have sussed out front wheel traction control).

But: maybe you can still build a ridable motor that will hold together while running an AFR of 18. Its WOT max power is now only 120hp, but so what, the rider only wants 95 anyway.

So that would seem to be the trick: sacrifice volumetric efficiency for thermal efficiency when there is reduced need for power, hence leaving more fuel available for full throttle use on the straight bits. The technical challenge is to do it while still providing acceptable throttle response and engine life.

To me, this seems like a worthy challenge to any engineer.

Whether it leads to good racing and happy riders... well, the riders are well paid :)

I can't see any alternative if fuel is the dominant constraint. If we want to go back to the good old days of chasing volumetric efficiency, the rules would need to dramatically reduce some or all of max rpm, piston area and capacity. 500cc triples and 26 litres of fuel? The manufacturers could reasonably respond that this is a technical challenge of no relevance to their business.

Well, screw 'em. F1 so far as I can see has pretty limited relevance to building better 110hp front drive shopping cars, and as a sport it seems to do ok. Maybe it's time for the manufacturers to be reminded that it's a sport, not a public R&D lab. Question is, can the sport survive if Honda & Yamaha walk? The best thing about Moto2 might be proving that it can :)


Not 100% sure exactly what you mean b/c I'm not an engineer. I'm using layman's shorthand.

In cars they measure efficiency of the engine, efficiency of the car or the engine during real world driving cycles, and even the efficiency of the vehicle to move a payload (driver, passenger, and cargo).

Using that layman's template, I'm simply trying to describe the phenomenon of improving engine efficiency (basically mpg) during "real world" conditions on the track. Basically, mpg not thermal efficiency, but I'm simply copying concepts that are commonly used to describe vehicle efficiency to the masses.

What does WOT stands for ? Wide open throttle ?

Also I wonder... a royal way of chasing volumetric efficiency while still being able to play around with thermal efficiency is through the use of direct fuel injection, isn't it...? and D-EFI would probably benefit from lower-revving engines, thanks to more time to mix air and the gasoline-rich 'pre-mix', am I right ? Maybe going 1000cc would just be to much because of the difficulty to spread the pre-mix in those big cylinders. But what about 900cc?

So why the hell is D-EFI banned, if improving fuel efficiency while maintaining high performance is the key idea nowadays as authorities like to say ?
Is it really that expensive, especially when compared to the budget for developing electronics we will never see on the road (I am not talking SBK-spec TC we get on sportbikes) ?
I've seen people like you and me (actually more talented than I am ^^) playing with spare engines to fit D-EFI on, in their garage during week-ends. So why the hell ??

So many questions... technology and racing as a show seem to be going in opposite directions only since a few years. And technologic progresses are nothing new. We must be wrong somewhere.

I've heard DI is very difficult to make work at high rpm b/c there isn't sufficient time for atomization. This is ostensibly why the new F1 regs only allow a 12,500rpm rev ceiling. I've also been told that DI has other advantages regarding predet and sparkless ignition. Such advancements would throw a spanner into F1's horsepower regulations or MotoGP's fuel limit.

MotoGP could certainly use the F1 model by imposing a low rev ceiling at 1000cc or 1200cc (depending upon desired hp), but once again, the manufacturers are completely opposed to the idea of horsepower regulations in MotoGP. They no that high-pressure DI and a rev-war would be the end of the sport so they simply ban the relevant technologies while assuring everyone that "cost cutting" is the motivating factor.

MotoGP is a Japanese cartel sport. It will probably never make sense.

phoenix1, you have come back to the horsepower war theme several times and I think that the rest of us need to understand what that means to you. As a simple phrase, it seems to conflict with the concepts you have proposed. To me, a horsepower war is drag racing but that is mostly because I grew up in the backwaters. However, in the context of MotoGP, a horsepower war seems less and less evident as the factories focus on corner speed (or perhaps more appropriately, the crew chiefs work on corner speed).

Most racing series on earth have strict horsepower limitations--regulations that do not allow for significant variance in horsepower (or they are not intended to allow variance in horsepower). F1 is bore limited and rev limited. WRC and LMS are air-restricted. NASCAR is basically spec. The horsepower limits have varying degrees of technical difficulty to achieve, and they are accompanied by a myriad of other restriction in most cases, but the end result is a horsepower ceiling.

The MSMA have said that MotoGP is to have no such performance controls. After Kato's death, the manufacturers were looking for a way to stabilize the performance of the bikes without introducing a horsepower cap. They presumably settled on reducing the fuel capacity b/c it would reduce the performance of the bikes without equalizing horsepower for all competitors. This ambition was furthered by the engine restrictions which appear to have given Honda a clear advantage.

I understand that and I also think that I understand the motivation. Currently, most of the components that make up a MotoGP bike are more or less spec: the suspension is all Ohlins and the electronics are largely Magnetti Marelli. All that is left is the motor and frame. Given that frame design typically stabilizes as engine design is settled upon, the only advantage to be gain is through motor or set up. Engineers back at the factory rely on crew chiefs to get the set up right so their job is to find hp. Without the horsepower war, there is little to justify factory involvement.

Without the horsepower war the factories may well decide that WSBK is the best use of their funds.

I realize that you may not be arguing for or against a horsepower war.

"They presumably settled on reducing the fuel capacity b/c it would reduce the performance of the bikes without equalizing horsepower for all competitors."

But the fuel limit is a limit on average horsepower. The average power produced over the race distance, divided by thermal efficiency, cannot exceed the amount of energy in the fuel tank.

That is why I was banging on about thermal efficiency (how much of the fuel energy is converted into output energy).
In contrast, volumetric efficiency is power for a given engine capacity, which is no longer an engineering challenge: you make the stroke short, the valves big, you rev it high and squirt in the right amount of fuel and you will get enough power to flip the bike over backward at will... so you add electronics to manage it.

Simple, relatively speaking.

Which is why I can't get too excited about going back to 1000cc... it will only result in more power if a 250cc cylinder is more efficient than a 200cc cylinder. That might be the case, since a 1000 can move the same amount of air at lower rpm, which means fewer losses due to friction, sub-optimal ignition timing and a bunch of other things. But I doubt it will be a huge difference.

If we really want to see bikes sideways and otherwise out of shape, enforce a not-too-clever control clutch :)

Nice work,again.

It has seemed to me for a while now that the best way to revive the sport would be to amend (abolish) the fuel restrictions. I am pretty sure the manufacturers have compiled all the data they need to take back to the production bikes about this, and now it is time to get back to racing. MotoGP is at it's best when the bikes are wooly, nasty things that only the best guys can master. Whether the electronics will allow us to get back to that is an open question, but it seems that a relaxation of the fuel limits is cheap enough to try.

If the idea is to save money and be perfectly safe perhaps the races could be run on dynos at some central location and we could all have a favorite programmer instead of a favorite rider...

Above all, David keep thinking. Yours is the most thoughtful analysis of these issues that I have access to.


I can't take credit for this, the work was done by two contributors to the site. But they certainly did a great job!

The only true racing leasson that the 2000´s left us is that all of the factories "R&D racing" big talk goes out the window when the audience/budget rate stops making sense.
Since fuel limits make racing more expensive and less exiting I believe some day they will go away.

David, you have some pretty smart contributors. That was very educational.

to the return to 1000cc machines. I believe the same 21L limit is staying. If this is true, won't it make the new larger machines slower? Since the machines have more capacity and the ability to move much more fuel through them, but they still have to make it through the same number of laps as always, won't the engineers have to restrict the bikes fueling even more than the 800's?

Because you can have as large as a displacement as you want, but if that engine has only so much fuel and has to travel a certain distance, than is seems to me that the size of the engine doesn't matter. Which kind of makes the move back to a larger displacement motor a moot point. And, if it's a moot point than why spend all the money to produce completely new motors and bikes?

I don't think it has anything to do with the manufacturers giving a hoot about "exciting racing" which is the theory I hear the most. Because it won't be anymore exciting and I think it could very well become even more of a procession with riders severely handicapped by the limits placed on the machine.

Of course the manufacturers want to sell bikes and Dorna wants more viewers, but it seems since the demise of the 990's that those two entities have been going down the wrong path. Just making the bikes 1000cc won't achieve either of those two goals alone. Sure, the bikes will be the same displacement as the liter bikes on show rooms floor but if the racing is just a line of bikes going around a track then that isn't really a selling point for somebody to pick up a liter bike or to watch a motogp race. Certainly not over the excitement of the racing and the connection to sales floors that WSBK has......

Consider the following:

DORNA: We need to go back to 1000cc b/c we are tired of paying for this 800cc nightmare.
MSMA: Go screw yourself.
DORNA: What do you care? The sport is limited by fuel and the 1000s will spend less time at full throttle.
MSMA:We're not going back to 1000cc b/c the potential horsepower would be much higher. We would have huge incentives to spend money on fuel saving technologies which isn't appropriate ATM.
DORNA: Fine, if we stayed at 800cc, what is the max horsepower rating for these engines?
MSMA: Assuming a rev ceiling of 20,000rpm and assuming we keep the current fuel regulations, the engines would produce around 260hp.
DORNA: Okay, then we are running bore-limited 1000s (81mm) with a 4-cylinder rule b/c they can only make 260hp, and you will only have to stroke your engines.
DORNA: We are righting individual manufacturer contracts, it would be a shame if we kicked you out and gave the sport to European manufacturers.
MSMA: You lie!
DORNA: Look at these CRT rules, we'll cut you out if we have to.
MSMA: If we do 1000cc, will you shut the hell up about electronics and the fuel limit, and will you ban direct-injection with homologation via Mike Webb's team?
MSMA: Okay, 81mm 1000cc with 4-cylinders and 21L.
Dorna: Deal

Rider Bulletin: Any rider who complains about the electronics or the fuel limits in the press will be fined.

Rossi: Eef we cannot-uh add fuel-uh, then we must-uh add weight-uh to Pedrosa's bike-uh.

I hope this is thought provoking.

Personally, I think the 1000s will have so much torque that they will have to be ridden like giant 250s. If throttle simply makes the bike wheelstand, it will be important to carry speed all the way from curb to curb. The fastest line right now appears to be 250-in and 990-out. The new 1000s will have more potential torque than a 990cc, less fuel than a 990cc, and much different tires. Imo, the racing line will change.

That last line is seriously important: the racing line will change but the primary issue, in my mind with the fuel limits is that they dictate the racing line: the fastest and most efficient way around the track is wheels in line, high corner speed. However, that isn't the fastest way around the rider in front of you.

The fuel limits dictate a sort of racing the is about damage control: there is only one line and I just have to nail it every lap to keep anyone from passing me. In my mind that isn't racing.

. . . and F1's sembelance to modern 'vehicles' is what? Vettel's Red Bull has what design feature that we'll be seeing shortly on a car at the lot? So, it seems what I'm reading is that the MSMA are twisting the rules for their benefit only and damn the racing! Is that the jist of what I'm reading? There have been major rule changes to F1 over the last decade, w/several teams threatening to leave/start their own series . . . but that didn't happen.

What if Dorna/FIM did what the Flammini (sp?) brothers did to WSBK---made their OWN rules, damn what the manufactuers said, or thought? When the rule changes, especially the 'tire' rule, was made, they were predicting the death of WSBK, but that never happened. Does anyone actually think that Honda/Yamaha would leave Moto GP if the rules were changed to something they did not like? I doubt it!

At the moment, the engineering rules don't make ANY sense! The premier racing series engineering rules are set so that they can sell more SCOOTERS? NASCAR's rules look GREAT compared to these idiots! Is this RACING or a 'green' series?

KERS is F1s link to manufacturing relevance. In 2013 it will be low revving turbo 1.6 liter 4 engines. MotoGP has no parallel. When a ktm team made a front wheel kers for their 125 it was promptly banned. Don't want no darn technology development goin' on over here.

What all us enthusiasts seem to regularly forget is that racing is not the racing of old that we all wax poetic about, now it is just entertainment. Dorna's main concern is selling TV broadcast contracts for the maximum possible profit. Grid size, racing 'quality', health of their most valuable rider asset are concerns only in the sense that they affect the valuation of TV packages. In this environment where is the financial incentive for teams to innovate on motorcycle design? Nowhere.

What I can't understand is why the alcohol and tobacco sponsors were run out of the paddock? They were the biggest supporters of the sport. If there was more sponsorship money available more teams would be able to participate - increasing grid size, teams would be able to take more design risks, creating innovation and having more varied bike designs would likely mix up the racing a lot. Having outside money available would also eliminate the factories' stranglehold on the latest tech. Anything is available for a price but as of now only the factories have deep pockets so they can keep it behind closed doors. Talk about cutting your nose off to spite your face.


It became a catch twenty-two, did the racing industries want to be associated with products that caused illnesses and death in exchange money? At the same time many countries passed laws that would not allow advertising by tobacco and alcohol (some forms).

While we do still have Marlboro and Rizla in the paddock it is restricted. Marlboro had to be creative in changing their logo on the Ducati (bar code design) and Rizla in some images is photoshopped out. Also, I think the LCR Playboy sponsorship wasn't allowed in Qatar (if I'm not mistaken).

Sure it would be great to have all those old sponsors back dumping millions of dollars into the racing scene, you also have to remember that they have had decreases in revenue year after year and had to change their business models to adapt.

"What I can't understand is why the alcohol and tobacco sponsors were run out of the paddock?"

Would sponsorship by Columbian drug cartels by acceptable to you?

The tobacco industry kills millions of people a year. Most developed nations are moving toward ever more stringent limits on advertising, in the hope that more of their population will pay taxes for longer rather than dieing slowly in expensive hospital beds.

While I'm sure that Dorna couldn't give a toss over tobacco ethics, the viability of tobacco sponsorship would not survive progressively more stringent advertising bans (imagine automated image processing that blanks certainly logos from the bikes on tv). In fact the money came into the sport at least in part because it was a loop-hole past the regular advertising bans. The loop hole is closing. The remaining options are to race in countries with lax legislation (Qatar, Dubai, China), but only while the images can still get on TV.

Given Japan's current woes,I wonder whether Honda and Yamaha will even bother to go all the way with 1000cc machines early next year. They have the most well sorted 800's and the 21 litre limit remains. I can't see any gain by going to 1000 for them. Ducati appear to be on their way to fielding 1000's, but with all of them confined to the 81mm bore,I don't see much to be gained,except weight.
Perhaps therein lies Rossi's complaint about ballast. The 800 HRC bikes with the lighter riders and Lorenzo on the Yamaha may have an edge over the heavier 1000 Ducati with heavier riders.
If it works why fix it ? Just refine it. Surely for the Japanese, in the short term why change to 1000 ? The gains appear to be very limited.
Anyway,thanks for that David. Look forward to seeing what Estoril 2011 throws up.

There shouldn't be any reason that a 1000 would be heavier than an 800.

I believe the primary reason to go to a larger displacement (I don't believe Ducati will go all the way to 1000cc because of fuel usage) within the limits of the 81mm bore rule would be increased torque which makes horsepower more useful to a rider

I've been a big fan of the 800cc format, the insane corner speed and lower rotating intertia of the smaller engines makes corner entry and exit just a little more exciting, and that's what it's all about in my book. It'll be fun who gets up to speed fastest with the 2012 rules, but with the great racing we're having this year, it's a damned shame that we can't have another year of 800s.

Anyways, assuming a 800cc and a 990cc GP motor are both designed to the same 'engineering safety factors' and are well designed, the 990 will have to weight a good deal more. The increased torque will require stronger and massier cranks and rods, the higher power will require larger heat capacity in the block (heavier motor block) and more coolant/oil or higher flow. The gears will have to be larger and the output shafts more durable. If a constructor is trying to optimize all parts of the bike and minimize their non-ballast weight (i.e. competing with every part of the bike), many parts will have to be made heavier and larger to handle the increased requirements of the 990. This goes all the way from engine parts and radiators to even the hubs and frame.

I agree that the 800cc bikes have come into their own. Regular changes to the formula have a serious negative effect on excitement of racing. I also think that the corner speed is visually exciting but it really inhibits passing. Watching an old 500cc race, the passing is unbelievable primarily because the tires couldn't handle much corner speed.

As to the weight of the motors, within the context of the fuel limits, I would expect that most factories would opt for more low-end torque and overall horsepower won't increase significantly. As a result, the cooling needs shouldn't significantly greater and the structural components of the bikes shouldn't need to be that much stronger.

If we were talking about going to unlimited fuel and an additional 200cc, I would agree, the bikes would need to be bulkier.

That said, you are actually the engineer and certainly have a better sense for the magic the factories enlist.

"990 will have to weight a good deal more."

No, the weight of an engine is determined by how strong it needs to be, which is determined by how much power it has, to first order, and how it is delivered (ie firing all four cylinders at once would require a much stronger motor) to second order. Easiest way to see that is to look at turbo motors: an 800hp 1500cc turbo motor is no lighter than an 800hp 3L NA motor.

Since the 1L motors are unlikely to have more peak power (there's already enough; and there's no more fuel) the weight difference should be minimal.

The 1000 will by virtue of its capacity produce more torque than the 800 at more friendly rpm. Chugging around on any Sunday over the favoured mountain pass of the day,granted. Being less oversquare will produce max torque exactly where you don't want it for high intensity circuit racing.The ideal was always to have your torque run linear with the power output on the rpm curve. The linear delivery makes it predictable.
Inasmuch as weight is concerned,I speak under correction here,but I seem to recall the 2011 rules requiring that the 1000's have a minimum weight limit of 2 or 3 kg more than the 800's. Sorry,I need to go back to the proposed 2011 rule book on that one.Add to that the CRT issue which already appears to be doomed in its infancy,coupled to Suzuki's evident desire to close the book and GP looks like a 3 horse race between HRC/Ducati/Yamaha for the forseeable future.
The lower revving,torquier power delivery of the higher capacity bike will no doubt benefit a heavier rolling mass out of a corner,but the even higher maximum torque inline with max power at max revs has more potential. Electronics govern the rest outside of rider input and mechanical grip.
Harkening back to 2 strokes,I recall a great old superbike shootout in the USA back in 72/73. I don't have the test anymore,but it threw up some sound figures.
Lap times achieved,rolling mass,drag strip and dyno charts. Your contestants were the Z1 Kawa,Mach 4 Kawa,HD Sportster,Trident T150,Norton Commando,
Ducati 750 GT, Honda CB 750, BMW 750 and the Suz 750 waterbus.
Therein lay the most mixed up motley crew of engine configurations and combustion philosophies one could dream of.
The Mach 4 trounced everything in every category and proved the most efficient.Even snubbed the Harley for ultimate torque whilst giving up 250cc.
I'm not suggesting we return to 2 strokes,merely pointing out the potential merit of the smaller capacity engine maxing torque/power more linearly at higher rpm over the big bang plonker at a circuit race.
Increasing the capacity also physically increases the reciprocating mass within the motor. More load,more stress on components,more wear.
You are probably right RatsMC, Ducati may opt for a 900 compromise.
Personally,I wish the GPC had just stuck with 800 in its current form. Just as I wished they had stayed with the 990 formula.
2006 provided a great year, just as 2011 is shaping up to be. Just when everyone is in with a shout, the GPC change the rules and the next great season takes another 4 years to find its feet.

A predictable, easy to manage torque curve is actually a completely flat horizontal line with no variance with RPM. The linear delivery of power is best achieved this way as the power is delivered in a completely uniform manner.

Of course, that ideal isn't easy to reach and it is even harder when trying to maximize horsepower which is exactly the reason that the 800cc motors require complex electronics: smoothing out the torque curve of a motor that has a naturally narrow max torque curve.

Nice article, Rusty. Hayden is a particularly interesting subject b/c he has fallen so far from grace during the 800cc 21L era. He has occasional flashes of brilliance, but a majority of the time he is fighting the bike and the electronics. I think it is really sad what has happened to him. Early in his career he was known for overriding his equipment, and burning up his tires. Now that we have very durable Bridgestone compounds, Hayden doesn't have enough fuel to ride his style. Troubling.

Am I the only one who thinks it's crazy to worry about fuel consumption of the GP bikes when MotoGP is more than happy to transport the GP circus from Germany to California to Brno to Indy to Misano? Any notion that Dorna cares about looking "green" is obviously false. Crossing the ocean 4 times, when with a proper schedule 2 would suffice.

I know that's not the real issue, just something I find rather incredible. As in many things with GP, it seems, tradition trumps practicality or real cost savings.

All the 800cc era has done is create a bunch of bikes with "bad" engines - engines that in their basic characteristics are unrideable, and only through the addition of increasing amounts of electronics are the engines usable. Will the 1000's change that? I can't see them doing so, as the limit on fuel will still force a need for electronics to get a engine that produces as much power as possible while running as lean as possible.

The whole "GP as a partial throttle opening test for scooters" sounds like such BS (not that I doubt it's veracity). The Japanese are smart people; surely someone somewhere along the line must have said "surely we can pay people to run 100 scooters around Suzuka for a year and it will cost less than racing in GPs". Must be one of those cultural things I don't understand!

Hopefully the match up with f1 will make the motogp guys see the light. Has worked a treat in F1. Increase fuel and change tyre brand or either one would do..

Having read these few thousand words, I feel quite naive. I believed that when Hayden backed down with his tempo (@ Estoril), it was because of his physical condition, loss of concentration, or perhaps tyre mishandling. But never that his bike's ECU would dicatate his riding alltogether. It must be frustrating for the guy, no matter how big the salary.
I prefer watching riders race, not mechanics or programmers. They can create their own "nerdy" virtual racing, totally non physical, on big screens, enjoying themselves and whoever cares to attend.
As for the various pros and cons over the 1000cc bikes, they will be totally different (Ducati says out of 2.500 part numbers only a hundred will remain common between new and old bikes). As for the displacement itself, it is my understanding that it will be much closer to 900cc than to 1000.
Having said that, It makes sense that the manufacturers are eager to spend money on technologies that can provide a street - turnover. In their wisdom, I think they decided to develop certain technologies through WSBK and others through MotoGP. Preferring not to bet all their money on one horse, and accordingly not to be held hostage by a single organizing body. Having Infront and Dorna is absolutely preferable to having just one of them.

this is racing. When you create any rule that slows down some riders at times while others are completely unaffected, you've created a prejudice against the former while giving the latter an advantage. What's right about that? The MSMA is so fixed on controlling things that they've lost sight of the big picture, it's racing not a mileage contest. As Ghostdog6 said, if the series want to show they're doing what they can for "green", schedule the damn races where you aren't making trips back to Eastern Europe then back across the ocean to another US round, etc.

They won't convince me it wouldn't be cheaper to have a small "track" where they could hire 100 folks to ride scooters all day than it is to run a MotoGP operation to figure out mpg optimization for those scooters.

It's quite simple, get rid of the fuel limits.

As many people have pointed out, it is actually not the fuel economy at partial throttle "data" that is keeping the fuel limits around. Limiting fuel keeps expensive electronics in, and small companies out. After all, why worry about out competing small companies, when you can just outspend them.

Let's hope Rossi being pipped at the line this weekend will have him whinging loud enough that it will get the ball rolling toward adjusting the fuel limits...