The 2012 MotoGP Revolution: Part 3 - Politics, Or Dorna vs The MSMA

In part 1 of this series, we discussed the new 1000cc rules for 2012, especially those for the so-called Claiming Rule Teams, the privateer teams which will be allowed to use engines from production bikes if they so wish. In part 2, we discussed Infront Motor Sports' objections to those new rules as organizers of the World Superbike series, and why their objections are likely to fail. In part 3, we turn our attention to the reasoning behind these new rules, the politics which surround them, and the circumstances which have served to put the changes into high gear.

Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna, is one of the most vilified men among many fans of MotoGP. He is blamed for the many changes that have altered the face of MotoGP, not least for killing off the 990s and bringing in the 800s, which have robbed the sport of so much of its spectacle. Ezpeleta gets the blame for each new rule change, charged with fiddling while Rome burns.

But those accusations have absolutely no basis in fact. Ezpeleta is innocent of almost all of the crimes that he is charged with over the rule changes, as almost every one of those changes were at the direct request of the manufacturers, while Dorna and IRTA, the organization that represents the teams, have done their best to mitigate the damage done by the factory-imposed rules.

Since MotoGP went four stroke, the manufacturers, united in the MSMA, have had the monopoly on making the technical regulations. In exchange for supporting the series and committing to building enough motorcycles to supply the teams and fill the grid, the MSMA have been able to call the shots on the technical rules, making the changes they deem necessary to keep the series alive. The idea was that the factories would manage the rules to keep the series affordable for themselves, and guarantee a plentiful supply of bikes.

It hasn't worked out that way. I wrote about the reasons that MotoGP became so expensive in some detail about three years ago: a deadly combination of the law of unintended consequences and the perverse incentives that factories have to actually raise costs to exclude competition. But it is worth emphasizing that one of the main ways that the factories justify their racing programs to the people who hold the purse strings - the executive boards of their companies, people whose first responsibility is to the continuing existence of the company, not to any notion of their racing heritage - is as the place to conduct R&D. Progress is forged in the white-hot heat of competition, runs the argument, and engineers learn much faster when they have their competitors pushing them on rather than in the sterile environment of a research laboratory. Fear of the humiliation of defeat, and longing for the euphoria of victory are powerful motivators, the proponents say.

Much progress has been made - the current and final iteration of the 800cc MotoGP bikes are utterly remarkable machines, with incredibly sophisticated electronic systems providing astonishing fuel economy and fantastic throttle response from just 21 liters of fuel - but the costs have become astronomical. Manufacturers are leaving the series one by one, while those that remain are cutting their participation. We started the 2011 season with a grid of 17 bikes, 9 factory bikes and 8 satellite machines, but cost and injury have taken their toll on the grid, with 14 riders starting at Phillip Island, and the possibility of even fewer taking to the grid at the final race of the year at Valencia.

Things are looking even worse for next year, with the cost of leasing satellite machines from the factories skyrocketing. Honda is the worst offender, a satellite RC213V reportedly costing 4.5 million euros to lease for a season, including a 650,000 euro seamless gearbox. Those 650,000 euros will buy you approximately 0.2 to 0.3 seconds a lap, demonstrating all too graphically the law of diminishing returns. Ducati and Yamaha are only a little better, but both still require between 2.5 and 3 million euros to lease a single satellite machine. The way things are looking at the moment, there could be four Hondas, four Yamahas and four Ducatis on the grid, and with the tragic death of Marco Simoncelli at Sepang, one of those Hondas is looking decidedly uncertain.

Carmelo Ezpeleta has had enough. With the manufacturers supplying so few bikes for the 2012 season, the MSMA have clearly broken their side of the bargain. The factories asked for a capacity reduction to 800cc, a fuel limit of 21 liters, an allocation of 6 engines per season, and the massive restriction of testing. They got what they asked for, but instead of seeing healthy growth, costs have grown exponentially while grids have shrunk to a farcical level. From now on, the Dorna CEO will be taking affairs into his own hands.

The introduction of the Claiming Rule Teams - a name that will surely be changed some time in the near future, as while descriptive, it is extremely clumsy - was the first step in the process, allowing teams the ability to compete at a much lower price than the existing satellite machines. With the switch to a 1000cc formula - and especially combined with the 81mm bore limit - it became possible for teams to source engines from production machines for just a fraction of the price of a satellite bike. The MSMA were prepared to accept the change, as it relieved the pressure on them to fill the grid with satellite equipment, which they are subsidizing even at the prices that they are charging. Having the claiming rule in place - the ability to demand that the engine from a CRT bike be handed over immediately after a race, for the sum of 20,000 euros - was their guarantee that rival factories (more particularly, Aprilia and BMW) could not enter unless they were willing to surrender their technology for a paltry sum.

The CRT rules will prove to be the foot in the door that Carmelo Ezpeleta is about to use to lever the rules wide open. After first Stefan Bradl failed to find the funds to make the step up to MotoGP, despite having 2.5 million euros of his sponsor Viessmann's money to spend, and then the Aspar team decided to stop leasing Ducati satellite bikes and switch to CRT status, Ezpeleta has decided to nail his colors to the mast. In a combative interview with the top Spanish journalist Mela Chercoles of the sports daily AS, Ezpeleta announced that from 2013, he will no longer be subsidizing any of the satellite teams, switching the funds instead to the Claiming Rule Teams.

Dorna pours 52% of the series' income into supporting the private teams, Ezpeleta revealed in an interview with the Corriere dello Sport's Paolo Scalera, and for that money, he can support a lot more CRT bikes than he can satellite machines. A CRT bike is likely to cost between 800,000 and 1.5 million euros, depending on the chassis and engine selected, so for every satellite bike that Dorna helps to subsidize, they could have between 2 and 3 CRT machines on the grid.

The criticism so often leveled at the CRT bikes is that they will never be competitive with the factory machines, a point driven home by the time difference between the BMW Suter CRT machine and the factory bikes at the Mugello and Brno tests. But their purpose is not to compete with the factory bikes: even if they save 3.5 million euros by switching to a CRT bike, the privateer teams will not be able to afford the salaries commanded by the aliens who dominate MotoGP. Only a factory can afford the 5 to 15 million euros that it costs to secure the services of Dani Pedrosa, Casey Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo or Valentino Rossi, and every one of those riders is worth around a half a second a lap.

The point of the CRT machines is to replace the satellite bikes. The most a privateer team running a satellite bike can hope to achieve is a place in the top 6, with a very occasional podium when luck, injury and weather conditions conspire in their favor. So the privateers are faced with a choice: spend 3 million euros to be the best satellite team, or spend a million euros to be the best CRT machine. If all of the satellite teams switch to CRT status - which you can absolutely guarantee happening once Dorna shuts off the subsidies - then instead of hoping to beat a single factory rider having a bad day to take 6th, they'll all be racing for 7th, the factory bikes out of sight. The bikes may be a lot slower than the factory bikes, but given that difference in cost is huge, that will not matter so much.

But the difference may not be as large as the critics fear. Speaking to the Corriere dello Sport, Ezpeleta was clear about his willingness to help the CRT machines by allowing them even more fuel if necessary. Currently, the CRT machines will be allowed to use 24 liters of fuel, rather than the 21 currently allowed for the factory prototypes, but the CRT bikes could get even more. "If [24 liters] is not enough, then we'll give them another two liters," Ezpeleta said. "Or maybe even three."

Paddock sources have already hinted that the factories are worried about the three extra liters that the CRT bikes will be allowed. Another two liters on top of that could make a massive difference to the bikes. The extra fuel is aimed at compensating for the massively complex electronics which the factories use to smooth corner entry and provide a linear throttle response, with electronics swallowing an ever larger portion of MotoGP budgets - and, incidentally, providing the R&D justification for racing, with response at part throttle such a crucial factor for road bikes. Without the need to save so much fuel, the CRT bikes can burn fuel with a fast idle on corner entry, then run rich to provide a nice controllable throttle response to get drive out of corners and onto the straight. That is simple to achieve and set up, and almost as effective as the software produced by MotoGP's brightest brains for the factory bikes.

To force through extra fuel for the CRT entries will require a good deal of bullying and blackmail on the part of Dorna. The MSMA will still have the monopoly on the technical regulations, but that monopoly could be circumvented. Dorna is negotiating contracts with each manufacturer separately, instead of with the MSMA collectively, and by dividing the factories among themselves, Ezpeleta should be able to wrest control of the rules. He may even decide to unilaterally take the power to make technical regulations away from the factories, and risk the factories walking away from the series.

It is a gamble worth taking, for MotoGP remains the most prestigious motorcycle racing series, and the factories have a long-held belief in the value of Grand Prix racing and a desire to race in the premier series. They could switch their attention to the World Superbike series, but the Flammini brothers wrested control of the technical rules away from the factories a long time ago, and so any defectors would find themselves just as powerless in the WSBK paddock as they could become in MotoGP. Or perhaps even worse, as they would also have much less freedom to develop technology and be without the perceived glamor of the Grand Prix series to help promote their brands.

If the MSMA factories are to rebel against the new order imposed by Dorna (and fully backed by IRTA and the FIM), their most likely course of action is to reduce their involvement to just the factory teams. But that, too, would be playing into Ezpeleta's hands: "If they want to race with just six bikes [two factory Ducatis, two factory Hondas, two factory Yamahas - DE], that's fine, they will be world champions and I will focus on the other 16 bikes on the grid," the Dorna boss told AS. The factories will get the podiums and victories they need to sell participation to their boards, while behind the factory bikes, a large group of CRT bikes should provide much better entertainment for the fans to watch.

Though many will mourn the loss of the factory prototypes - there is a good deal of snobbery on display among the purists in the paddock - their demise (or at least their excesses being curbed) is a good and necessary thing. The purists argue that MotoGP should be the pinnacle of motorcycle racing, and that production-based engines have no place in the series. Leaving aside the fact that the restrictions of capacity and fuel allowance already place artificial and unnecessary limits on the machinery, they overlook the fact that all those shiny toys that they love have to be paid for somehow. As long as MotoGP continues to fail so utterly to raise sponsorship money - a legacy of tobacco sponsorship, which saw teams able to choose their sponsors, instead of having to go out and chase them - then the series' only hope of survival is to provide entertainment. Those 800cc MotoGP bikes have been marvels of technology, but have provided some of the dullest racing we have ever seen.

Back in 2005 and 2006, MotoGP fans used to mock fans of Formula One, asking how could they watch such an immensely dull series. But over the past few years, the roles have been reversed, with more and more overtaking happening in F1, just as it has disappeared from MotoGP. F1's popularity has continued to grow, while MotoGP's has stagnated, only kept afloat by the wave of support that Valentino Rossi brings from people attracted to his charisma, rather than motorcycle racing. F1 has realized that it is in the business of entertainment, while MotoGP's purists still believe they exist in a world still isolated from the economic vicissitudes of the world that funds them.

F1's success has been down in large part to Bernie Ecclestone's deal with the teams to make the racing more exciting. Say what you like about Bernie Ecclestone - and there are many things to say, most of them unprintable - but he understands that he cannot rely on the manufacturers to keep racing going. This is a lesson that Carmelo Ezpeleta has learned once again over the past few years, a lesson that he had disregarded since the days that Ecclestone left MotoGP (or 500GP as it was then) to concentrate on Formula One.

The point is this: manufacturers make their money by selling motorcycles, and racing is just a tool that can help them develop and market the bikes that they sell. Racing is subsidiary to their main business, the business of making and building road bikes. The teams, on the other hand, are in the business of racing, and nothing else. If the factories decide they don't want to go racing, they can find other outlets for promoting their products, but their core business does not change. If the teams decide they don't want to go racing, they cease to exist and their members will have to go and get proper jobs, an unbearable and unthinkable fate for most of them.

In his interview with Mela Chercoles, Ezpeleta was clear what side he came down on. "We have to move in the direction that Formula 1 has," Ezpeleta said. "We have to make rules which are simpler, cheaper, which allow more people to be interested and which allow more on track battles." Ezpeleta pointed to the irony that Moto2 had faced such heavy criticism when it was announced, but was now probably the most eagerly awaited race of the weekend. To be able to move in the direction of closer, more entertaining racing, Ezpeleta has to take control of the series once again, and put the rules back in the hands of the people whose livelihoods depend on it: the teams, the organizer and the federation. If the factories want to come and play, that's fine, but they will have to play by Dorna's rules, instead of the other way round.

MotoGP is changing, and faster than planned. When I first started writing this piece - back before the 2011 season had started, before getting sidetracked by the many dramas which this season has produced - I believed that the radical changes that MotoGP is about to undergo would take another 5 years to come to fruition. Events have overtaken my thinking, just as they have overtaken the series itself, and by 2013, MotoGP could be a completely different series to the one we see today.

With the satellite teams eliminated, factory entries could be reduced to just six bikes, who will settle the championship among themselves. Behind the factories, a full grid of 24 bikes will be battling it out on bikes which are much closer in performance than the factory prototypes we see today. With a lot more fuel at their disposal, the riders have a lot more options for overtaking, and much better chances of correcting any mistakes they make in attempting to pass. Added to softer Bridgestones, which will both warm up and wear out more quickly, bringing tire conservation back into the equation, the battle for 7th could very much be the best battle on the track. With Dorna providing the TV coverage, you can expect a lot more coverage of the action down field than of the riders at the front, at least if the factory bikes remain as sterile and sensitive to mistakes as they are today. The 800s encouraged perfection, punishing mistakes and rewarding riders capable of hitting the same centimeter of the track lap after lap. Softer tires and bigger engines should improve the show, even for the factory bikes, but the real entertainment will come from the CRT bikes.

The CRT bikes are the future of MotoGP: that was obvious from the moment the rules were announced. But just how far and how fast the changes would come has surprised everybody, even Carmelo Ezpeleta. Economic circumstances and sheer chance - part of Honda's price rises are due to the drop in profits the company suffered after the massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan back in March - have conspired to accelerate the changes that the series is undergoing. MotoGP will continue to be the pinnacle of motorcycle racing, but the difference is, it won't necessarily be the pinnacle of technology any more. If it is the pinnacle of entertainment, everyone but the most diehard purists will be able to live with the changes.

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Great article, David (again).
Espeleta is clearly stuck between a rock and the MSMA, it's an unenviable position that he has probably partially brought upon himself.
Nevertheless, at least he is thinking along the lines required to rectify the problem.
If would be interesting to see the 4 aliens duke it out on roughly equivalent CRT bikes, would it not?!!

Nice article. However, after re-reading Part 2, I was expecting some commentry on Infront being purchased by Bridgepoint and maybe negating any potential arguments that Infront might have with the use of production engines by CRTs.

We now have seen that some of the recent restrictions / changes have been revisited - such as engine size, testing restrictions and use of production based engines. One restriction that I would like to see revisited is the rule that the riders can only compete in one class. In the past we had riders winning multiple championships in one year - tell me who wouldn't want to see the Aliens also racing in Moto 2?

From my point of view it is a very exciting future.

It will still be the pinacle of motorcycle racing technology. The peak will just be somewhat less lofty.

David, could we see a closer relationship between factory engines and CRT engines in the near future that may eventually be available to the consumer and therefore WSB? Given the idea that all bikes will become CRTs in the future, could Honda, Yamaha, and even Ducati make motorcycles (engines) with more of a compromise between factory and production engines even if they are rated 'racing' only? Example: Honda's V4 future RVF machine! Since Honda is supplying Moto2 engines, why not make their own satellite engine for CRTs?

As long as no one mentions CRT and the fact the MotoGP grid next year is two completely separate classes then it could work out. I can't say a 6-bike World Championship is something that's going to get me out of bed early to watch, but that's because i understand CRT. I wish I wasn't aware of the changes and was just pleasantly surprised by the increased grid size.

One question I'd like to ask - What would make CRT unique compared to World SuperBikes? It's clear the difference between MotoGP and Superbikes, but CRT? Not so sure.

World Superbikes could be the big winner in all this, especially if Rossi makes the moves when he's done in MotoGP. At the end of the day if MotoGP loses it's prototype based racing philosophy then what does it have left? They can't live of Rossi forever.

That's not to say CRT isn't a necessary evil, because prototype based racing has become near unsustainable in many forms of racing as technology evolves and becomes ever more complex and expensive. But the solution it appears already exists - Superbikes :)

OK, so engines will be production-DERIVED, but they are likely to become more and more unlike the production engines that gave birth to them over time, as engineers around the paddock start to make significant changes. And CRT chassis are still race-only prototypes.

As David says, if the CRT side of the series grows and grows, it will hopefully become more about racing teams than motorcycle manufacturers.

CRT bikes will use production engines only. The rest of the bike will be supplied by non-factory suppliers, much like Moto2 is now. So other than the engine, nothing else will be from a production bike. Theoretically, not even the engine HAS to be from a production bike. The key point has always been that the bike has to be a prototype, not just the engine (or frame, or electronics, or whatever). The bike as a whole you shouldn't be able to purchase off the showroom floor. Of course it is very debatable that a WSBK isn't as much a prototype as a CRT is, but at least the bikes on the showroom floor look like the WSBK machines.

...and should be carefully read by any purist (snob?) that keeps dreaming on about uber-expensive tech toys and not looking at the demanded sacrifice far bigger than the sport and sponsors can stand, more so each passing year.

I, for one, would not miss the factory prototype MotoGP bikes, as they are now, if everybody was on CRT bikes.
The current aliens would still race each other, with others coming into the "fight". If the bikes are still special, fast and interesting, it's that "fight" that everybody will still want to see.

If things ever go into that direction (CRT-type bikes conquering the full grid), it's not so difficult to imagine manufacturers starting to prepare, then selling, some sort of "race-kits" for the production engines, to be used specifically in this race class.
Even better (maybe more feasible?), some race tuner "houses" like, for instances, Ten-Kate, could start a fairly interesting business in this.

The "engine-kit" idea is appealing because, with a claiming rule in existence, no one would be willing to make engine-kits too special and expensive when other manufacturers/tuners can steal important ideas for a small amount (20.000 euros?) when triggering the claiming rule. Yet the competition would demand a certain commitment for a high level of preparation (winning is the nature of the sport afteral).

Likewise, specialists like FTR, Suter, Kalex, Moriwaki and others, could make some really fantastic stuff for the chassis, driven by the competition.
...who knows, maybe even "joint-venture" deals, where certain chassis builders could specialize their chassis for one engine on certain seasons (example: FTR/Aprilia(RSV4), Suter/BMW(S1000RR), Kalex/Kawa(ZX10R), and etc). Maybe dedicating to other engines of other manufacturers on later seasons, and so on. A bit like Formula 1 in that aspect.

Exhaust manufacturers would still play an important role as well, being directly/indirectly involved in the engine performance and tuning.
The tyres, suspension and braking components would still evolve like today, just like the electronics would (Magneti Marelli still the strongest name out there, it seems).

With all honesty, I can't really understand what's so "wrong" with the CRT racebikes to make anyone think they're not interesting or not worthy. They're still the pinnacle of motorcycle racing technology, they're still enough prototype in my book to make a WSBK machine look basic, undeveloped and heavy.
They seem far more appealing and challenging for racing "on a budget", more sensible and practical in this day and age, for everybody involved in the sport (other than the MSMA, that is).
...Instead of the expensive factory racebike tech exercises by the manufacturers, which, sooner or later and in comparison, no one will be able to justify the high costs. Perhaps not even the manufacturers themselves.

Under the old rule, when the WCM team built it's R1 derived 990, it was banned until they came out with their own crankcase, as well as much finger waving in their direction. As I remember. Fast forward to today and the MotoGP series wants to sponsor the whole grid on what was an illegal race bikes just a few years ago.

I fully accept that CRT is MotoGP's near future but their status as #1 has to be in question. Yes, MotoGP will have the top 10 best riders in the world (for now), but unlike Moto2 where there is much better structure, might riders be tempted over to WSB where there may be more manufacture support as they lose ground in MGP?

In the late 1990s WSB was as popular as 500GP. If MotoGP continues to be a parade and the CRTs become a mish-mash of half decent bikes to the ridiculous, it won't matter that Casey Stoner may be the most talented rider on earth. The racing will just be too hard to watch.

In the late 1990s WSB was as popular as 500GP
No it wasn't. In the British Isles perhaps, but I remember Brno being near empty... and as was recently pointed out, most Spaniards don't know Checa is a world champion, even if they know what Danny Pedrose had for breakfast this morning.

When I first became interested in GP racing, the factory team in 500 GP was MV Augusta and the rest of the field raced for second. Same in 350s.
There was still enthusiasm about that challenge but it was between the second tier, not for the win, unless something happened to Ago's bike.
The big difference now is that at least there are at least 6 to 8 "real" factory bikes on a grid (at least in theory).
Your explanation of the planning behind the coming changes and outlining some likely scenarios lifts my confidence that somehow Motogp may find its way back.
Surely thats what we all want.

Great article, thanks for the insight.
At last we have some rule changes that may bring us back to racing rather than watching a computerized R&D testing session.
My wish: That electronics could be reduced to give riders more chance of creative solutions as they ride (remember Vale drifting the 990?). How about banning any device that over-rides a rider input.
I'll take a second wish too: Less side grip on the tyres. This would mean lower corner speeds (safer) and I reckon this would also increase the chance for a variety of corner solutions rather than just one line.
Please keep up the good work David.
Any comment on CRT vs WSBK times, I would have expected CRT to be faster but they don't look it!

At least there is some hope that MotoGP will steer towards something more interesting (and save itself).
Dorna has a chance of lifting from F1 only the best idea, the one that works. Take the tyre examples and the electronics. Forcing the F1 way of changing different set of tyres is unthinkable but lowering the side grip is completely viable. Even better if they don't offer constant performance racewise.
The reason why this series distances itself from WSBK in the 90's is also in the personalities of the riders and the fierce battles. If they make it boring, computer driven, with no chance for the human side ... they will lose the advantage of having the best crop of riders.

Insofar the only thing that never lower it's value in those years is the quality of Mr Emmet articles.

The stage is set for 2012 with a few details and confirmations to be ironed out.
Suzuki's participation remains the big question. At this point it does appear that 2012 will be a bit of a 3 tier race within a race. Factory/sattelite/CRT in that order. What Carmello needs to do is push through a 'performance equalization' bill for CRT's as they have in place with SBK. Mass penalties for twins dependant on 3 race result intervals. Add or remove ballast accordingly. Personally I deplore that ruling in SBK, but it may be worth using in GP in terms of fuel allocation.
CRT too slow on aggregate. Incrementally increase their fuel allocation until the best CRT riders regularly battle the top factory riders.
That in itself would destroy the factories' control of the technical rules.
A silly season we did not have this year. A super silly one next season would be most welcome. Picture the possibility.
The acknowledged aliens are out of contract 2012. By mid 2012 they are battling against Colin who has 26 litres on the start line. They decide that the way forward for them is to claim 26 litres and sign with CRT outfits for 2013.
Parity and GP status restored all around. Pecking order determined by teams and riders.
Bring back the tobacco giants. The globe is going up in smoke anyway. A litre of fuel here, a cigarette there and a nuclear meltdown somewhere else. The show goes on. Hope for an intiguing one 2012 and a well sorted formula for 2013.

Having at least one of the big four riders sign up to ride a CRT bike would be a huge step forward for the sport.

Sadly, I don't think one season of development is enough time for the teams/crews to learn the relevant lessons.

Of course, if Dorna were to give those teams a performance levelling litre or two of fuel...

Surely Dorna spends 52% subsidizing IRTA, which includes payments to the factory teams?

What did Dorna quote last year? Was it $250M? I'd be blown away if Dorna is paying $12M per satellite bike.

I think Dorna are spending 52% to subsidize all of IRTA, which includes the MSMA amounts. If Dorna are subsidizing the entire grid with 52% of income, Dorna is paying roughly $8M for each machine--a more believable sum, imo. Those numbers jive better with the cost of making an international feed, which is rumored to cost somewhere between $50M-$100M.

Also, FOTA is only entitled to 50% of F1 revenue. I'd be stunned if a handful of non-manufacturing teams received 52% of MotoGP revenue.

That 52% probably includes all of the teams in the paddock, including 125 and Moto2 as well. It is unclear whether he is including the free transport allowance which Dorna provides the teams for the flyaways. So it's probably closer to 2-3 million for the satellite teams.

Thanks for clarifying, David. Paying 52% to everyone in IRTA, including Moto2 and Moto3, makes more sense.

If I'm not mistaken, weren't the Moto2 bikes slower than WSS bikes when they were first tested? Aren't they faster now than WSS bikes? I imagine the same may be the case with the CRT teams.

If I'm not mistaken, weren't the Moto2 bikes slower than WSS bikes when they were first tested? Aren't they faster now than WSS bikes? I imagine the same may be the case with the CRT teams.

The times they are a' changing....

The idea that Dorna is fine with 6 bikes always up front winning championships and races while they focus the camera on the CRT's having "good battles" for 7th is a bit short-sighted. What's the point then if winning in this sport becomes like shooting fish in a barrel? Where is the sport in that? Though it's rarely the case, it seems like with the current situation ALL of the riders and teams have a shot (though admittedly a long one) of bettering their results with every passing GP. When Edwards puts that Tech3 Yamaha on the podium it's quite satisfying to watch, more so because you know he just did it as a qualified underdog. Still, it was the rules being equally fair to everyone that allows this to happen.

I agree that using some engine parts from production motors (and trust me, there will be very little re-used once GP teams get their hands on them) to build GP engines does not dilute the sport. Pricing the sport out of reach from the people that ARE THE SPORT does though. If teams can't afford to go racing than racing can't afford to exist, period.

I laugh at the factories that think we need their "official" involvement for the sport to exist. That's nonsense. What we need is for them to wake up to the fact that their noses are so high up in the air it's pressing against their foreheads and not letting them think straight. Honda can start a "Honda Cup" if they want to continue building motorcycles so expensive they price themselves out of the paddock. Cutting involment to allow them to do so was not part of the original deal. What's next, a $10 million dollar Honda of which there's only one on the grid?!?

The "Japan Earthquake" excuse is really annoying too when that other Japanese factory is pricing their machinery 50% less and making no excuses about it. Don't get me wrong, I want Honda in the sport. They make beautiful and innovative machines, and I believe we are much, much better off with them participating. But we don't need them or any other factory to exist as a sport....

In fact, why aren't all GP bikes effectively based on CRT rules?!? Even factory team bikes should be. With production bike racing like WSBK, AMA, and BSB getting closer to their real roots everyday (as in actually resembling something from the dealership) we leave room for GP to take over from there. It would drive costs down for everybody involved if manufactures had to actually race with the engines (and I use the word engines with all the looseness required to get my point across) that they are already developing for us consumers anyways. This way 95% of the bike would still be prototype, and the developments and innovations made in GP's would directly affect consumers much, much faster. If a factory feels their current production engines are not up to par, they can develop some that are and stop crying about it. This should also make it much easier to convince the people upstairs in the fancy suits to involve themselves in the sport. There is a much better argument for continuous R&D on an engine we already have (ie: money already spent), then there is for reverse development from a money-no-object powertrain that might see "some" of it's innovations transfer to the road.

The purists can cry themselves to sleep at night lamenting the loss of million dollar transmissions if they want. I'm gonna be sleeping just fine knowing that because of it there will be racing on TV come Sunday.

Don't get me wrong, I love pure Grand Prix racing motorcycles.

I don't think the lap times seen so far can be determined as being definitive. Sure, they've been woefully off the pace of the front runners, but it's not like the riders who've ridden them have been pace setters in MotoGP. First there was Damien Cudlin. He's respectably fast, but in his MotoGP appearances he's been over 2 seconds off the pace on machinery that's been much higher up the order. Then there's Mika Kallio who since his MotoGP debut, and subsequent return to Moto2, hasn't been near the front at all.

I certainly don't think we've seen what a CRT machine is capable of since we've not seen riders of CE II's capabilities aboard one yet. Honestly, I don't think they're going to be a bad as everyone seems to think. Will they be fighting with the front runners? I don't think so, but I'm sure they'll be up there with the tail end of the factory bikes. If not in 2012, then certainly by 2013.

If what I'm posting seems like a dream, remember what the MotoGP paddock thought about going 4 stroke. I seem to remember them derisively labeling the 990s as "diesels" prior to actually getting them on the track. Much of the attitude towards the CRT bikes seems like the same sort of derisiveness on the part of the purists and the current teams themselves. Personally, it looks to me like a whole new world about to open up.

As much as I agree with what Ezpeleta is trying to do, I don't see it working for too long. The first year, yeah. But, how long are we going to want to watch a race within a race? That just doesn't seem sustainable to me.

I see two things happening after the first year or two:
1. The factories figure out a loophole for them to weasel some leverage again, (temporarily reduce costs for satellite teams?) and the CRT concept slowly goes away.

2. The fans get tired of watching the pinnacle of two-wheeled racing being so sloppy and start complaining. Ezpeleta reacts by creating the "Moto1" class... goodbye prototypes.

Maybe none of the above, but surely it can't last too long having two classes of racing within a single class?

I guess it doesn't matter though, no matter what they do, I will be still be watching.

Thanks for a great article

First of all, the MSMA 'only' make rules that will give them an advantage to win, nothing else. This 'R&D' mumbo-jumbo to sell product is a bunch of C@*&! A seamless gearbox 650,000 euro? How is that EVER gonna filter down to a street bike? The electronics are works of techno-genious, but again, how does that translate to the street? I've got several bikes, and even my 'liter rocket' gets 40'ish mpg 'IF' I ride it like I'm suppose 'on the street'. Moto GP is a classic case of the inmates running the asylum! Don't know about you guys, but I'm really getting sick of the MSMA talking out of the both sides of their mouths!

David, what is the cost of running a WSBK team and how does that compare to Moto GP 'sat teams' & CRT?

From the interview of Shuhei Nakamoto published on the site a little while ago :

"Q: Is the gearbox, the transmission technology, is that something that could come to road bikes one day ?

I don't think so. Because racing machine transmission, usually shift up at maximum revs. If you short shift, in this case a big shock happen with the new transmission system. But a road bike usually short shifts, and never uses maximum revs."

I guess that answers your question ! ;-)

You picked a bad technology to rant against, imo. Dual clutch is a reality in many passenger cars, and I think electronically-assisted gearboxes are one of the few new MotoGP technologies that could actually be equipped on modern sportbikes.

The problem with the seamless gearbox is the enormous cost and the minute contribution to value-added. Should Dorna and the satellite teams be forced to pay an extra $1M so Honda can develop a street bike technology that will theoretically raise their profitability? Dorna and IRTA want to pay for technologies and brands that improve the spectacle. A seamless gearbox is a huge waste of euros from the perspective of private teams, private team sponsors, and Dorna. However, I think semi-auto seamless gearboxes may prove quite useful for street riders.

the seamless gearbox in question is NOT a double clutch system, and in any case what real benefit is there to a road rider in saving 20ms/shift? If it was just to make shifting easier, why not fit an electronic quick shift? So far as I know, Triumph and Aprilia are the only ones to do so (and very recently), yet the technology has been there for 20 years and it's roughly 3000 times cheaper...

In F1, teams adopted dual clutch transmissions. Everyone was skeptical about their production relevance (same is true of active suspension). However, after 2 decades of production car development, dual clutch is available on quite a few cars (as well as tiptronic-style shifters), and quite a few cars have active suspension as well.

The same general process could play out in bikes. Quick-shifters haven't been widely adopted b/c blipping the throttle and jamming the bike into a different gear isn't the best thing for transmission longevity. Semi-auto gearboxes are different, and their introduction into production bikes would be tied to MotoGP racing. The systems would be different than the MotoGP systems, but the basic concept of seamless, clutchless, sequential shifting would still be intact.

F1 cars don't have dual clutch gearboxes, they have single clutch boxes with probably some similar seamless system that Honda has.

Yes, more bikes is usually good but to say that CRT is the future of GP is to take what GP represents and discard it in favor of lucrative media distribution rights. I understand all the complaints about everyone wanting to be entertained and why they think that CRTs will make their Sunday morning TV watching a bit more exciting.

What this group is failing to account for is that all of the tech advances that are currently available for purchase on a showroom floor come directly from MotoGP. Traction control, multiple maps on the fly, slipper clutches, well behaving efficient 200Hp street engines, etc., all owe their existence to the manufacturers developing expensive prototypes to race. The stuff that worked made it to street bikes and the stuff that didn't was left in the garbage pile. And yes, that is an expensive process. Back when we had tire competition we also had advances in tire technology. Has any major tire advancement been made since switching to a spec tire? The multi compound street tires we can buy are directly traceable to MotoGP development. What new development has come out in the last 3 years?

So now as GP is transformed from development to entertainment where are the next generation technologies going to come from? Make no mistake, GP has always been about development, the entertainment aspect and the need to make big TV contracts is a relatively new phenomenon. The sport is already being NASCARised by its dependence on personalities, now they are taking the next step and starting to remove the ability for any manufacturer to develop an equipment advantage. The Bike of tomorrow can't be too far away.

When that happens I will stop watching.


Is a sport. It's by far and away a performance spectacle first, and a test bed for technology second. Like any other sport it depends on fans knowing of it's existence and being able to relate to it's makeup. That's why soccer is more popular then bob-sledding. We can relate to riding motorcycles and the feeling it gives.

Anyone who thinks it's an R&D test bed first is only kidding themselves. That's a line of BS fed to you by the factories. Sure, we all know of the benefits that racing R&D brings is priceless. But the factories are more than happy to do it behind closed doors too. Honda pulling out of F1 didn't see a drought in the development of Honda's four-wheeled technology, did it? Even Honda would admit it's a commercial sport first. If MotoGP didn't help sell bikes, they would not be in MotoGP.

Changing the rules to allow production based engines will not stop manufactures from developing new technologies or any "equipment advantage" as you put it.

If you think what GP represents is a test bed for manufactures to see who can one up the other, I wholeheartedly disagree with you.

The sport needs the fans way more than the fans need the sport. And we all know that the fans want to see good, honest, exciting racing. They want to be ENTERTAINED.

The bike of tomorrow is already here. It's called Moto2, and it has been the most entertaining class for the past two years....

Thought you'd be well aware of that Chris.

There is a new championship in the making that will be THE championship for purist.

Google: intercontinental championship race tech ,
to find out about the future of prototype racing.

Would love to see(and hear)2-stroke's again!!!!

Honda is to blame about the poor state of Motogp,they pushed for 4-stroke's over 2-stroke's.

The MSMA are fools. There is an easy fix to curtailing costs.

1. Ban TC, LC, Anti spin, and wheelie control. Do this by a control ECU. This would eliminate the costly electronics.

2. Up the fuel regs to 25 liters across the board.

Problem solved. Let the MSMA develop the electronic nannies and fuel consumption at their respective test tracks.

Make some simple, cost effective rules (and also state no changes for 5-10 years), and you'd see Kawasaki return, Suzuki, Aprilia, and BMW. You might even have KTM join the show.

The MSMA has driven costs up and up and up. Honda, particularly this year, outspending any other mfr by a long shot.

This shouldn't be permitted. The MSMA wrote the rules (*cough Honda) and you are seeing their very own regs fail back on them. They are too stubborn to change and Honda particularly, likes things the way they are as they can outspend for a championship if need be.

I will say I'm happy to see Carmelo break out the brass ones. It's been a long time coming.

If nothing changes over the coming year(s), I for one, will be gone. No more attending races, no more subscription, no swag buying, the MSMA can get f****d! The 990's were awesome, then you went and changed it, costing everyone millions more and drove everyone away. The 800's are boring as all get out and not enjoyable to watch, despite what rider is winning.

I think tinkering only with engine regs is short sighted. If we want significant chassis development the rules have to be less restrictive on streamlining (maybe just for CRT). This would allow different chassis configurations which are currently effectively banned. NSU, back in the late 1950s, for example.

That could have the effect of allowing bigger billboards on the bikes as well, if streamliners are a success (i.e., more appealing for sponsors). Wind tunnel tunnel time and CFD expertise is likely to be expensive, but as pointed out here when talking about WSB, the bike is only part of the cost of racing.

I'm pretty sure the conservatism of the factories would mean only private teams would chance trying something different, but it would be fun to see a privateer beating the factories.

In fact, I think the full-prototype idea of GP is really quite recent. Go back before Honda entered and you were looking at refined versions of production engines. In the two-stroke era... up to the 1999 model, a TZ250 still had bosses on the crankcases related to the TZR. Plus, even the full race bikes had low-scale production versions: you could buy a TZ500 or an RG500 (as did one J. Burgess) and race it in your national races.

For me, as a kid in the 60's and 70's, the contrast was between small, light and very effective 2-strokes (mainly TZ350's) and lumbering big-bore 4 stroke super-bikes. Then the TZ700 appeared, followed by the other variants. The RS500 triple was probably the last "affordable" customer 500.

So I really don't care if the engines are prototype... in fact I'd prefer if they were accessible so I might get to see a few on my local track, rather than 60 near identical 600's. And I'd prefer them to be small, light and sharp handling, fast by finesse rather than brute force.

But most of all, I'd like to know what is under the fairing, and what the teams are trying in order to get an advantage because frankly, from a technical sense MotoGP is now boring. The teams are so paranoid about letting slip some info that all they release is meaningless drivel. There is no room for innovation at team level and the lower ranking teams have to take what comes in the box. I might conceivably even get excited about traction control and part-throttle lean-burn throttle response if I knew what the issues were, what was being tried, what was working or not working. Thank god for Ducati's woes, or there would have been nothing of interest except the Honda gearbox (which seems now to have been replicated by the other teams, so 600,000€ to stay in the same relative place).

The very worst case suggestion I've heard is making the tyres worse. Let's see: 1000cc bikes with more power than their tyres can handle, heavy and wide so that the riders have to hang off the side of them like sail boats.... oh, and teams aren't allowed to modify anything from what the manufacturer supplies.

Sounds like production bike racing circa 1980, but at 40 times the cost and all the spectators know is that the Orange ones seem to be a bit faster than the blue ones and the red ones fall down a lot.

If I was dictator?

500cc twins, minimum 130kg, no fuel limit and all engines claimable for 100K €.

Crazy? What's the point of being a dictator if you have to be sensible...

...or maybe the way many people seem to worship over-engineering, when it became actually impractical. More so if looking at the current situation of Grand Prix racing, or this sad era for the economy.

Sometime not too long ago (errr... for some it might be), to use production based parts (developed) for GP racing, was not a demerit to the sport, or to the racebikes, nor to the specialists/tuners -or even factories- that made the best use of it.
I used to think that was actually a smart way to use resources, even to prove that something that is made for the public has quality that can be used, for the most demanding and highest performance categories of the sport.
Now it became a "dirty word" for some fans.

PS: let me know if that dictatorship can accept bribes to include 500cc 4 cylinder 2-strokes ("clean" modern ones, with Direct Injection - heh, swallow that, Honda!).

Ah, I think if we let back in 4 cylinder 2 strokes, the 4-stroke camp will have a temper tantrum and demand 990cc and 5 cylinders so they can be competitive ;-)

Slightly more seriously, I think there is a real problem with too much power. It's crazy that as technology has improved and specific output increased enormously, we have increased (doubled!) capacity limits. In consequence, we need huge investments in traction control. Plus, the concern is that if in a few years we have gotten rid of fuel limits to save money, we will be looking at bikes capable of routinely achieving 360km/h... and that will impose real safety issues at most circuits. Push the spectators even further back?

Plus there will probably be yet another increase in minimum weight "for safety reasons" as we need stronger chassis, wheels, brakes, fatter tyres... not to mention high-pressure fuel pumps, reservoirs for pneumatic valves... and vast numbers of sensors and electronics. Then even more problems with chatter and tyre destruction. A whole gas factory, as the French say. That as much as anything is playing to the corporate way of engineering: more complexity, more motor... and a shortage of subtlety, real novelty and ...class.

The Harris-WCM was, pretty much, the CRT equivalent in 2003, before its production R1 based engine demanded a drastic change in the project, to make it as a full-on prototype.

One image for those that seen it in action...

...did this look, sound and ran like a 2002/03 Yamaha R1, production roadbike (or production race equivalent) to you?

Because, for the first tests and races, it went with the engine taken, then developed, no more no less, from a 2002/2003 Yamaha R1.
The 2002/03 R1 production bike didn't even have an airbox w/ram-air, and peak horsepower was around 150hp figures (generous estimate).

WCM modified the engine with dedicated pistons, valves, cams and other bits, such as an airbox w/ram-air.
The first Harris-WCM with this production-based R1 engine, started with 180+ hp, and it reached 200 hp (+33% hp increase!) before the production based engine was dumped, by demand of MotoGP rules at that time.
To put things to perspective here, that's the same peak HP output of the first Yamaha M1 factory prototype that, little over a year before, was being tested by Kocinsky and Biaggi.
Yes, one of the "official" prototypes built with a budget and resources "X" times bigger than Harris-WCM.

This racebike had a specific chassis frame, as the name suggests, by Harris (renowned for fantastic chassis on many privateer GP racebikes over the years), top brakes and suspension, etc.

My question is, would you call the Harris-WCM a "glorified" WSBK in its day?
I would like someone with an "against-CRT" aproach to explain in here why would a CRT be just a "glorified" WSBK, or any less of a prototype if we look at the history of Grand Prix?

It seems to me that a lot of people are taking these CRT rules as "stick a production-engine on a specialized chassis" and placed some blinkers in their own eyes, while shouting "no-no-no-no!!".
What the rules are saying is that "you can develop a race bred engine ALSO from a production engine, on a prototype chassis".
IMHO, this is a great opportunity to have engine gurus making their ideas function, starting on good production engines (Aprilia RSV4 is still my top pic) and go up ahead from there, working in conjunction with good chassis makers.
Very much like the good old days of GP (to me anyway). ...and a bit like Dave Hagen did with that Harris-WCM in 2003.

CRT is not meant to be "stick a production-engine on a specialized chassis", but that will be the de facto outcome.

If a team shows up with an RSV engine and all of the Aprilia factory WSBK engine kit, they will be forced into the factory category. If they somehow manage to evade factory classification, the MSMA will claim max engines to impoverish the team. The threat of claiming is probably enough to make sure no manufacturer aids the CRTs with WSBK engine parts anyway.

What are the CRTs supposed to do? They probably can't afford to build limited runs of their own titanium internals, though I've heard that a breakthrough technology has drastically reduced the price of titanium parts. CRTs can't lease pneumatic valve tech, nor can they manufacture it. They probably can't increase the bore b/c they can't build a new top end to match the bottom end (maybe machining is possible though).

In all likelihood, CRT engines will probably be like Supersport trim. The teams will probably only be able to afford high-performance aluminum aftermarket parts (balanced rods, high-compression pistons, etc), and aftermarket cooling systems. Supersport provides plenty of horsepower, but it lacks the little things. The engines are bigger and heavier b/c the materials are less exotic. The engine internals generate higher reciprocating g's. The materials can't handle the same operating temps as factory prototypes so they need more frontal area for cooling. Production engines don't have crankcase air pumps. An engineer could probably go on forever about the real handicaps of CRT status.

The heavily modified production engines you describe will not arrive until everyone races under 81mm 1000cc 4-cylinder 24L rules. When the threat of factory classification is removed, CRT will be able to invest in modifications.

A while back, I wrote that CRT could actually use heavily modified engines if they chose one production engine, and they all pooled their resources to develop it. Perhaps then they could afford much more sophisticated parts AND remove the threat of factory classification. Unfortunately, IRTA don't seem to realize the opportunities of operating as a collective.

I can agree with you that the limitations to CRT are still too heavy and will play against them, but there's always a possible situation where the well ridden CRTs can match the slowest Satellite bikes. When -and if- that happens it's the same as winning the cause (proof as more sensible investment for privateers, it starts from there).

Still, I'm not sure I understand your post (sorry, probable language barrier!)...

...why can't a CRT team present a racebike with an engine from say, the Aprilia RSV4, then further develop it to fit the CRT rules, achieve performance as good as the WSBK equivalent (perhaps better even?) in a prototype chassis and stay within the rules, i.e, escape factory classification?

...the "Claiming Rule" makes little sense if it serves as way for the MSMA to break up financially the CRT?

....are you saying that we better expect CRT bikes to run with something like SuperStock derived engine performance/tuning adapted to the rules?

The CRTs, while much more "affordable", aren't exactly cheap (over half a million euros?) and I would assume a very healthy dose of engine tune on them.

I'm honestly intrigued, and I do think the debate, supported by those more inside this, can be useful to clear doubts among everybody -which includes me- regarding an interesting matter.

The factories will never claim an engine (at least the Japanese factories never will). Claiming an engine would be a tacit admission that their multi-million dollar engines were beaten by a hotrodded street bike, and the Japanese factories would never want to lose face so badly. As for Ducati, I think it depends on how Aprilia treat them in WSBK. If Aprilia don't push for rules which Ducati believe will leave them uncompetitive, then Ducati won't claim Aprilia engines. If Aprilia push hard for weight and air restrictor penalties in WSBK, then Aprilia engines might get claimed in MotoGP.

The real weapon that the factories have is the change of status. That needs a majority of the Grand Prix Commission members, and Dorna, IRTA and the FIM will always side with the teams, unless the CRT in question is being incredibly blatant. The teams have to reapply for CRT status at the end of the year, at which point agreement has to be unanimous. But things might have changed by the end of the year, and the rules might get changed again to make it easier for CRTs to remain CRTs.

Thank you for the insight, David.
That is how I had perceived the "general idea" so far, although not without a good share of doubts!
And indeed, being just the first year, the book of CRT rules is open for changes anytime later.

What you wrote makes absolute sense, and I think that probably is what hasn't been discussed enough, to clear people's minds.

I don't think Dorna, IRTA and the FIM would bring the whole CRT idea up if that would mean having an environment of "terror and suspicion" from the MSMA towards those teams.
Having the private teams "living in fear", too afraid to push on the engine developments (from production engines) would be the same as introducing flawed bikes in the grid, ones that wouldn't even go faster than any SBK...
That doesn't make any sense to me as a business model, nor a good move for the premium category of this sport. But I believe many are guessing that is what will happen (therefore becoming "anti-CRT"?).

I guess it's understandable that the CRT can make the MSMA feel uneasy (paranoid with sneaky "side colaborations" from outsider manufacturers, with the CRT), but I would think that none of the factories would dare to be embarrassed by triggering the "Claiming Rules" without a really blatant and a somewhat obvious reason. That would mean giving the real importance to CRT, which -I believe- is not what the MSMA want. Just like you said already, anyway.

The engine internals generate higher reciprocating g's.

Is that a serious comment, or do you just use words without understanding them?

I dunno the official term. I'm just referring to the additional inertial forces of spinning heavier reciprocating parts. Those inertial forces have a negative impact on handling and acceleration. Heavier parts also generate more stress on the bottom end.

I guess it's not g's b/c the rev ceiling will be about the same for everyone.

David, I agree with just about everything you write. I visit Motomatters almost everyday. You have made me register to finally comment with this nonsense though! I am reading this thinking no,no,no! There are other ways to make the racing more competitive. I think the softer Bridgestones will help a lot. Tire management has been eliminated by the 800's. As for cost, the economy will recover and the teams will have money. They did in the past and will again. No one cares about back markers, no matter how good the battle is. Look at F1, they added teams to the grid to build numbers, but all they do is get in the way. Nobody watches the race and thinks, "Gee, I wonder how the HRT boys are doing?" Viewer numbers are up through more competitive racing due to chassis and tire changes. I want to see the best riders on the best bike a manufacturer can produce. I looovvve Moto2, but that is not MotoGP! Tracy P.S. Still love ya!

The cost trajectory for the sport is simply out of control. The economy will recover but to what? There is a new world out there economically speaking. GP has to be around when the economy is humming again if it is to be like it was and that is still years away. In the mean time something needs to be done to change the way the manufacturers are destroying the playing field.

Thanks Tracy, there is always room to disagree here. However, the money in MotoGP was always an illusion. After tobacco advertising was banned, first on TV and increasingly elsewhere, in magazines and cinemas, tobacco was left with nowhere to go but sponsoring motorsport, especially after they were granted an exemption from the sponsorship ban as well. So tobacco companies had lots of money and nowhere to spend it except motorcycle racing and F1. Once that was banned (as was inevitable) the money dried up. We are stuck now with the real cost of racing, and the real level of sponsorship, and that precludes the ridiculous level of money needed to build and race these factory bikes. CRT is the only solution.

Or at least, it is until Dorna gets the marketing right and starts raising real sponsorship money. That's the area that needs real work.

I've only been a MotoGP fan since 2004. I was writing a script and needed my lead to be a race driver so I thought F1 was the obvious choice but F1 was boring as hell. Then, sitting in Malta, I turned on a MotoGP race. Philip Island 2004. Rossi and Sete right down to the wire. Two blue bike going at it tooth and nail. Rossi didn't even need to win, he did it because that's what racers do. WoW! Welcome to MotoGP. Then I watch Mark Neale's film Faster. Again, Wow! It's on. I'm a fan. I can't get enough. I don't give a shit what engine is under what rider. I just want to see the red mist like they do. I want to see it come down to the wire.
In 2004 the major sponsors were, Gauloises, Telefonica Moviestar. Marlboro, Repsol, Camel, d'Antin, Fuchs, etc. That's a lot of money coming in from those sponsors. Now here we are in 2011 wondering about the future of sport we all love. Now the big teams are Yamaha, sponsored by - Yamaha, Ducati, sponsored by Ducati, Honda still has Repsol and San Carlo Gresini (thank god) and Suzuki still has Rizla to sponsor their only bike, Tech 3 for the satellite Yamaha squad. You get the idea. A lot less money coming in. Mean while F1 has Red Bull, Vodafone, Marlboro, Petronas, etc. Yamaha saw the tide changing when it went with Fiat as a title sponsor. Fiat doesn't make motorcycles but Rossi was winning on a Fiat Yamaha, then Lorenzo. Just like Vettel is winning in the Red Bull car. Does Red Bull make race cars? No, they pay for them. Do you really care that it's a Renault engine behind him? Are you more likely to drink a Red Bull or go buy a Renault because Vettel is unstoppable? Force India F1- Title sponsor - King Fisher Airlines. And the list goes on.
What if, in MotoGP they all end up in the same machine? In Catalunya last year, Rossi and Lorenzo were on exactly the same bike and it gave us the ride of the season. Rossi and Stoner in Laguna - who cared what they were riding? They rode the wheels of both bikes. It was the daring and will of two amazing riders that we were caught up in. Rossi and Gibernau in Austrailia in 2004. The Telefonica bike vs the Yamaha of Rossi. The Spaniard vs the Italian. The story of Rossi beating Biaggi was made all the more exciting with Rossi having had change to Yamaha but don't think for a second it wouldn't have been a great race with them both on Hondas. The Repsol Honda vs the Camel Honda.
What motoGP needs is close racing and great riders. Amazing riders with a bit of flair. Who is James Hunt? He made F1 something greater than it was. Who is Berry Sheene? Cut throat racers that could win but weren't worried about how they can across in front of the camera. Here's the bigger version of me.
I'm not worried about CRT. I hope Carmelo Ezpeleta takes charge of MotoGP the way Berni takes charge of F1. I don't care what is inside Rossi's frame. I don't care if he's riding the Vodafone, Mercedes, Vespa, as long as Casey on his AT&T, Starbucks, Porsche, Piaggio and the other aliens have comparable machines and they keep showing each other a wheel down to the wire.
And as far as R&D goes. Yes we get the trickle down. Great, like I need traction control on my bike. Track time makes you fast, not new gadgets.

Personally i`m not a fan of this CRT idea, but short of Dorna employing Mike Tyson to knock some sense into MSMA members to make prototypes more affordable, by dumbing them down, i cant see what else Dorna could of done.
If it comes down to six factory prototypes on the grid and totally dominating the races in a few years time, i think it will be more healthy for the sport to push out the factories and have a grid full of CRT`s, but i hope it doesn't come to that.
Some people will say that only 5 riders stand a chance of getting on the podium at the moment, but in my opinion that is mainly due to their riding ability rather than a large disparity in machines [excluding Ducati], like i think there will be between prototypes and CRT`s with the present rules.
Others might say that back in the late 60s/early 70s Agostini on the MV was normally the only serious factory bike in the race,and he would win by miles, even lapping the 2nd placed rider, yet the GPs would draw huge crowds.
But times have changed, back in them days far more people had bikes on the road which sparked a interest in them for the sport. In fact if you go back far enough in history, Speedway was only bettered by Football in popularity in England

...but aren't CRT engines a free palette for engine tuners?
It's NOT a "production engine"'s only a rough piece of iron from where the most powerful engine possible will be carved, isn't it? I figure since 81 mm will take care of the revs(by physics) then pneumatic this and electronic that, it won't be such a distant horizon to chase a 220-240 bhp from a highly tuned specialty engine, and more than 21 lt. fuel can only help.

As far as I understand, WSBK engines do have limitations on what can be done, CRT engines not so the future might not be as bad as we tend to think, but of course I can be wrong.

I have never accused Dorna or Carmelo Ezpeleta of bringing down MotoGP with the rules and regulations, I blame Dorna for being total failures of marketing!

F1 is absolutely the most ridiculously expensive racing series on earth and it is still boring but attracts huge audiences because it is marketed brilliantly.

About five months ago I started searching on twitter for 'F1 and boring' - thousands of tweets would be displayed, when doing the same search for 'MotoGP and boring' a few tweets would appear, often with a comparison to F1 being so boring in comparison to MotoGP, but recently MotoGP journalists have constantly been telling us how boring MotoGP is and strangely enough suddenly everyone is on the bandwagon.

Whatever the combined genius of Dorna, the MSMA and factories etc decide to do, I will watch MotoGP; if I find it becoming another slipping, sliding mistake driven series, that relies totally on who has the most sponsorship dollars to make their bike the best, with real skill being undermined by supply of inferior parts to team-mates etc (for example Max Biaggi & Leon Camier) then I will decide if it is worth staying up late and getting up early to watch.

but recently MotoGP journalists have constantly been telling us how boring MotoGP is and strangely enough suddenly everyone is on the bandwagon.

or maybe it IS boring...

I don't need any journalist to close my eyes and sleep in front of EVERY races (or almost every races)

The last unforgivable motogp race ? Damn, 2009 ...

This f1 season, despite the fact that Vettel killed all the suspense very soon, provided some very very good races ... f1 is still often boring ... but less boring thant motogp for sure

Prototypes are meant to be abstract works of engineering. The CRT changes are needed to increase grid numbers but they could also try the following;

Add capacity limited two strokes (500cc)
Allow an extra litre of fuel for each 100cc less than 1000cc
Ignore what suits Honda, Yamaha, etc and Vale

The only thing I would standardise is the electronics package, as this seems to be invisible to fans, and does not allow us to judge the skill of the rider. I dont want to see 'passengers' I want them showing me how much they learned as kids at that queensland grass track.

Love the website (and article).


In the same interview, Ezpeleta said he wants entire grids to be CRT from 2014. No surprise if Suzuki is gone. It is like wasting money to invest on 1000cc knowing that the regulation will be changed to favor CRT sooner or later.

I think the events of Malaysia will have major ramifications for the sport, especially the MotoGP class. Simoncelli was a star in the making. He showed that he was capable of competing for wins and podiums with the best of them, except maybe Stoner, but no one on the same bike has ever competed with Stoner successfully over a season. Simoncelli was about to join the exclusive club of aliens, and was probably the best talent that the Gresini Team ever had, possibly with the exception of Daijiro Kato, who suffered the same terrible fate, both riding full-factory bikes, with factory support from Honda. I feel so sorry for Fausto Gresini that this has happened to him again. He know has to go through the painful process of finding a new rider for his team, one that could possibly ride a full-factory bike. The only people that I think could fill that seat are Valentino Rossi or Alvaro Bautista.

No matter how I rearrange the points made, twist, turn and adjust my rose coloured glasses, I'm still reading the same old replies from the same old eternal optimists, who are struggling to accept that they are more likely than not, destined to witness another mediocre year from their favorite rider!
Suggestions ranging from making motoGP slower than a production based superbike by dulling the technology, to providing continually evolving rules for the CRT's that will end up costing them more than they care to afford, will not overcome the fact that the skill levels and commitment of the current class leaders are at a level they have never been before, just as the next generation will likely improve upon. Mix this idea with a bunch of inexperience and a handful of unknown backyard engineered motorcycles and the hope of a panacea for the perceived woes of a decade long of narrow focused marketing (much of which IS the responsibility of Ezpeleta!) is as far away as ever.
Apart from the heart wrenchingly obvious, I've thought this year has been quite interesting, entertaining and somewhat gratifying, but then, I am a fan of motorcycling!

I think "making motoGP slower than production based superbikes" is a bit of a stretch. Also, Suter, Kalex, et al are hardly backyard engineering. There's some serious experience with chassis building as can be witnessed first hand in Moto2. I think Moto2 is where the "naysayers" need to look for the future of MotoGP. Close racing, full grids, talented riders and lack of meddlesome manufactures is a recipe for great racing if you ask least for now.

Kalex are no slouches. If you look into them you'll see they have a history as a subcontractor for F1 and other racing concerns. I could be wrong but they may do some aviation as well. Bikes might be newer to them (maybe not). I remember before moto2 they had some very intriguing custom motorcycle designs. They had a real nice Rotax Vtwin superbike they were working on before they jumped into Moto2.

Even with 3 (or 5 in 2013?) additional litre of fuel, the production base valve spring engines that CRT bikes use won't stand a chance to pneumatic/desmo valve engines in 15 of the 17 tracks (except Laguna Seca, Valencia as Sachsenring is no more) that the all the current factory bikes run.

Remember how Ducati's desmo valve engines distory everyone else's valve spring engines in 2007? It was not until both Honda/Yamaha started using pneumatic engines then the game were even.

Pneumatic/Desmo valve engines are so much more energy efficient than the valve spring engines at high rpm. In 2008 Yamaha engineers said they could build valve spring engines to rev 20000rpm, it was just that it would require super stiff valve springs which robbed too much fuel.

Ducati can dominate the CRT category if they build a desmo valve V4 for their production bikes.

Valves work fairly well up to engine speeds of around 16,000 RPM. After that, Desmodromic and pneumatic valves are really needed. However, one of the reasons that the 2012 rules limit the maximum bore to 81mm is to place a cap on revs. With a 1000cc engine and an 81mm bore, the most an engine can safely rev to is about 16,500 RPM, maybe a little more. Above those engine speeds, parts start disintegrating as the stresses on pistons and conrods become too great. So what is true for 2007 may not be true for 2012, as the Grand Prix Commission has found a way of limiting revs without imposing an official rev limit. Carmelo Ezpeleta referred to the 81mm bore as "a silver bullet" and he was right, to an extent.

I might be wrong but the desmodromics should be somewhat "open technology". The first motorcycle engine with desmodromic valvetrain was made by Peugeot and Mercedes used desmodromics in F1 long before Doctor T. designed the first Ducati desmodromic L-twin...

If I am right, then desmo valvetrains are free to use for anyone who considers them necessary (having also the advantage of being a 100% mechanical system, more reliable and maybe cheaper than pneumatic/hydraulic valvetrains) ... although with top rpm lower than 17,000 I can't see them to be a significant advantage.

... about springs. I made the same mistake of thinking CRT mandates production engines. It doesn't, it permits them.

Nothing to stop someone building a pneumatic valve head for a production engine, or a whole new engine. It's just the risk of losing your secrets. Neither desmo nor pneumatic valves are secret 4 million euro technology.

I'm suspecting that what is secret and expensive is a combination of special injector designs and ceramic coated parts able to operate at very high temperatures during part-throttle lean-burn. If you've got spare fuel, just dump some in there to cool the piston crown.

PS Ducati already do, that'd be the D16.


First, as always, great research/analysis and write up. This site is priceless.

Second...I agree with most of what you wrote. There is a long list of things that make racing expensive.

But let me give an economic theory and real world example to illustrate a very stubborn problem.

As you describe the factories race because it helps them sell bikes. Not directly, but it is part of their marketing mix along with TV, print, web, and so on. And each of those mediums have a target, a message a strategy and an ROI (return on investment). If you look at racing as an ad campaign, they are buying a certain number of impressions for the cost of racing, less any outside sponsorship. Oh, and less any other benefits they recognize, like R&D for street bikes, partnerships, etc. Its never purely scientific, and racing is notoriously hard to quantify, but at the end of the day it is worth something to Honda, Ducati, and Suzuki. For argument's sake, let's say its worth $10 million/yr for Suzuki to be IN MotoGP and be competitive. Let's call that the NVR - Net Value of Racing MotoGP. So logically, they should run the team as well as they can for less than 10m a year. If they are spending more with no clear path to win, responsible bosses will take a hard look at the program and cut it back or kill it and spend the money on the next most promising way to get benefits for shareholders, one with a positive ROI.

So, if MotoGP is "worth" $10m to Suzuki (the NVR) and so that is what they will spend, regardless of the rules. Even if the 2015 rules say that teams should race spec pit scooters with MotoGP fairings, costs will rise to match the NVR. In the pit scooter championship it might turn out that cryogenically freezing your spec $11 tire makes them last a lap longer, the teams will all do that to find an edge...and when everyone does they will move on toward nano wax for the fairings. You might think I am being facetious but this in fact what happens in NASCAR. They have a spec carburetor which should cost $100 at the parts store but they assign a full time engineer to each of five of them and they spend all of their time polishing and tuning their carb to see whose makes the most power on the dyno before each race. So it's a $100 carb with a $500,000 payroll, so to speak.

It's like a water balloon - squeeze in the middle and the ends swell. if you make tuning the carb illegal, the next variable will get the investment - perhaps the bearing grease. It takes more money to run a NASCAR than an IndyCar even tho an IndyCar is much higher tech. Why? Because NASCAR is worth more to a sponsor than IndyCar; it's NVR is higher.

(In economics, this is often illustrated in with restaurants; some think fancy restaurants have high prices because their rent is so high. But in fact, their rent is so high because they can charge high prices.)

Of course, its a bit more complicated - winning is more valuable than losing. TV ratings go up and down. That's what makes keeping sponsors happy such a challenge.

The final problem is that the NVR varies a lot with the economy; in good times its easier to sell motorcycles so the spending can creep up each year...right up until the economy sours and the board of directors looks at the MotoGP budget and says: let's cut that in half. Cue the rulebook rewrite and a scramble to downsize. Make a list of what costs too much - electronics, pneumatic valves, qualifying tires, testing - and make them illegal. But give the series and the teams a few years, a stronger economy and the costs will creep back toward the NVR...

Rule changes can make the racing safer and the show better. It's just hard to make it cheaper. I still applaud the changes that are coming. The 1000's should be a better bike and a better spectacle. Creating the CRT class will give Dorna the leverage to make sure no teams spend too much - if the factories do, they will give more fuel to the CRT. If the CRTs do, Dorna will take their CRT status away. At least in theory, because the teams ultimately have the final say: they can just leave the series.

Keep up the good work, Dave. Thanks for all your hard work.


Agree completely with that analysis. I had the boss of Ilmor tell me that basically, the teams or factories will spend whatever they can wheedle out of their boards and sponsors. It's been interesting to see the stock of crew chiefs and electronics engineers rise as other areas have been cut back.

The point is to make the marginal gains as small as possible above a given limit. If spending a million dollars gains you half a second, you spend it. If it gains you two tenths, you think long and hard before spending it. If it gains you a couple of hundredths, you probably don't spend it, and look elsewhere.

That's exactly it. If it comes down to factory teams spending 10 million on special grease, the advantage will be so small that a team which can't afford the grease will still be competitive. So that's what the rules need to achieve... but first, Dorna has to get back control of the rule book. So far as I can see, CRT are simply a temporary lever to do that.

Once Dorna is writing the rules, there may no longer be a need for the CRT category... factory prototypes will be welcome, provided they adhere to rules that limit the benefits of big spending.

Of course one thing the rules will never be able to change: the best riders will be faster, and they will soak up any spare NVR...

So the current testing rules that limit current riders to a couple of days a year is very effective, because the return you get from running slow test riders is very low. This allows satellite teams with less money to not be too disadvantaged against factory teams.

By allowing unlimited testing with current riders all you will do is favour the teams and riders that have a lot of money. They will be able to do as much testing as they want, and testing with your main rider is a very effective way to make your bike go faster. This will only make the racing worse as the gap between rich and poor will open up further.

This seems like a strange move from Dorna, unless they want a particular bike brand or rider with a lot of money to go faster.

Agree. And what do non-factory teams test, even if they have fast riders? Will their inputs take precedence over the factory riders? There was so much discussion about the "feel" of the bike, something that is rather subjective, difficult to quantify. Will they be inline for the same newly developed parts that the factory team gets or hand-me-downs 6 races after their release? Dorna should add that all bikes supplied by the same factory must be of the same specs, regardless of it being to the factory team or non-factory teams. That will reduce the handicap non-factory teams suffer from the get go. Imagine Ben Spies on factory-spec M1 for the full season during his Tech 3 days or Randy on the RCV while with LCR.

I thought Honda has always been first and foremost a racing company. Even though they've spat the dummy before (two strokes) they did swallow corporate pride and made some pretty handy NS & NSR's.

And Ducati. The shining edifice they've built from a company teetering on the edge in the mid eighties has all been on the back of technology proven on the track.

Perhaps not in Hamamatsu and Akashi but there's still a passion component to this racing lark which skews bottom lines.

Emotional or not, that could be taken to say that Ducati have a lot more riding on race success, and so for them the ROI is (proportionally) bigger than it is for Suzuki.

However the 999 taught them that building a technically superior bike which doesn't look right will destroy your sales even if it wins titles. So the 1098 had a lot more marketing / "design" (in the esthetic sense) involvement from the start.

Right now, they must be looking at their Diavel and Monster sales and their MotoGP costs and asking themselves some hard questions...

The value of MotoGP is also dependent upon what Dorna is able to pay the manufacturers and teams. If MotoGP is only worth $10M to Suzuki, but Dorna provide them with $10M in commercial money, will Suzuki ever withdraw? What if MotoGP paid $1B in commercial rights money? Would Suzuki continue building production bikes or would they allocate all of their resources to prototype racing?

What really matters is the proportion of the racing revenues to production sales revenues and brand value. The proportion decides which activities actually drive value and profitability.

The sportbike industry is in shambles. Suppose MotoGP doubles revenues thanks to new rules and new viewership in major developing markets (India and China specifically). Dorna pays $50M to the major manufacturers for the value of their brands. What happens then? What drives value in the motorcycle segment for the major manufacturers? Racing or production bikes? If racing is the value-driving activity, do teams continue their mercantile practices?

A question to think about in this question of CRT bikes is how much of a modern GP bike is really from a respective factory?
Let's see:
Tires=Single maker series spec
Wheels=largely all Marchesini if I'm correct maybe an odd PVM.
Suspension=almost exclusively Ohlins these days.
Brakes=ditto Brembo
Electronics=Magneti Marelli
Then there are all the little named or sponsored contributors (NGK, DID, Rifle, etc) and unnamed parts suppliers (bodywork, radiators, etc). Haven't the factories also tapped concerns like FTR to produce parts for them? If you whittle down what is made by outside suppliers there's not much left to call a bike is there? What's left? Engine, frame, and a smattering of ancillary widgets?
Yes I do realize those suppliers modify and develop their products alongside and in cases specifically for a given factory bike. What do we lose when we push aside that final lump of factory stamped metal? Will specialty firms step in? Will we see the likes of Suter, Kalex, FTR, Harris, and Moriwaki step up in the frame game and will here unknown tuning shops start producing unbelievable derivatives of production engines? Sounds good to me. Then it won't be the factories holding the cards but the top race teams and as stated before race teams are only in it to race. This is a side hobby for factories.

From memory, FTR will sell you a complete moto2 bike minus engine and electrics for £70k.
Presumably the brakes and so on for MotoGP cost a bit more, but doubling the above would surely cover it (that seems to be how Suter has worked out his pricing). For the electronics, lets take the cost of a Motec system and quadruple it, so about €120K

So that leaves €4.2M to buy a brace of Honda engines then... which is why CRT makes sense.

Dorna and Ezpeleta have been innocent victim while factories are merely evil existence to the sports? Well, Motogp used to be a single man's show called Rossi, and when he was winning, everyone was happy. Dorna even kicked out WCM a few years ago because they thought it violates the spirits of prototype then. The Man stopped winning and motogp is suddenly in big big trouble. The trouble started all the way back even when Rossi was winning. The MSMA was controlling the regulation for decades. What did Ezpeleta did? Nothing. When the economy was good, and Rossi was brining in sponsorship money, he was on the side of the MSMA. The tide changed. The circus has no money due to financial and Euro debt crisis. Everything is a fault of the factories. Motogp is a show run by Dorna. They are hardly innocent victim.

I do think CRT is good idea though. The show needs more grids obviously. The bike costs must be cut down for more teams to be able to join. But, kicking out the factories will result in increasing the value of motogp? I do not think so. It is natural for the factories to want to have a control over regulations. It happened in F1 too. They had big fight with the factories which even threatened to break up with them and create alternative series. They can be troublesome sometimes but at the end they know they are mutually dependent.

Seems like the evil corporation is behind the ills of all mankind these days, or that's the popular conclusion to jump to. I don't really see any victims in any of this. I'm sure the manufacturers actually like racing. It's got to be one of the fun sides of the business. Of course they can't just throw money away and be unconcerned with the results or returns on their efforts. The MSMA members want to remain competitive and dominant if they can be. I don't see that as evil. If they pour millions upon millions into their programs they would want to see that the arena they compete in isn't rule tweaked so that someone can beat them at a fraction of the investment. They will remain so as long as they are involved and as two of the big four have shown they would rather pull out than pull back on the formula. Dorna are dancing to a tricky tune. They know the formula has to change but they don't want to drive away the manufacturers entirely.

Carmelo Ezpeleta seems to be taking a brave and reasoned course to renew Grand Prix racing. I read a quote recently from Bernie E. stating that to establish a competitive, healthy race series it's imperative to not let the teams (manufacturers) set the rules, but let a strong independent sanctioning body define and enforce them. Good advice. Recently we see Cosworth and now Renault positioning themselves as engine suppliers to F1 teams, something which has worked well for Honda in the past. Marq Luc's comments about manufacturers "race kits" in regard to CRT rules are interesting in that this new rule set may encourage manufacturers to become defacto engine suppliers in MotoGP and at an affordable cost to teams because of the claiming rules. Rather than manufacturers leaving MotoGP they may be eager to rejoin the series as suppliers rather than teams. It would be a short-sighted strategy for the manufacturers such as Yamaha to discourage the use of their production based engines in CRT teams (reference the Edwards/Forward Racing idea to use R1 engines) as the future adjustment of the rules ,as stated by Ezpeleta to make the CRTs competitve, will probably backfire on them.
For fans of MotoGP next season should be very interesting on a technical level and I believe the riding will feature more competitive action as well.

Whether the riding is more competitive or not next year, it should be interesting and perhaps even exciting. The sport needs something injected back into it, something that's been missing for some time: racecraft. Men and their teams of mechanics mastering the machines the tracks and getting into the psyches of their respective competitors. We've seemed to have lost a lot of that and have gone to system of engineering geeks trying to "out-tech" each other. That's hardly what we remember as racing. I think the CRT rules are an attempt to revive some of that old school skill. Who better to head that up than a wily old goat like CEII. Who knows, if Rossi gets upset enough at Ducati and doesn't get results, he may want to pick up and start his own CRT and race for the pure love of racing again.

where the incentive is for any sponsor to open their wallets for 1 or 2 million euro in order to race for 7th. Likewise, I don't see how a rider gets motivated enough to risk the ultimate penalty while coming in 7th in the points and history books, and number one in the fans' hearts. Posterity will not see it this way.

can you visualize the post race interview? "Colin, you came in 7th today, 25 seconds off the pace behind Nicky..." Colin then interrupts Gavin, "I think you mean number 1 in the race for hearts and minds."

Do you think that Aspar can go to his sponsors and say "We need 3 million euros to help Hector Barbera get regular top 7 finishes"? The best anyone can hope for at the moment is 4th (or 5th, if Ducati get the GP12 fixed), so by that logic, no one would ever sponsor anyone but the factory teams.

Sponsorship is not really about results, it's about exposure and opportunities. Results get you more exposure and opportunities, but there are still plenty of chances to get some good publicity just from racing in MotoGP.

Firstly, your website is what I've been looking for years, great content and articles by you, and clever thought provoking comments by the other readers. Great stuff!

Secondly, can I make a suggestion, I've noticed other websites organising email campaigns and petitions for change, would you consider organsing a 'fan view' of rules, categories and venues etc? Placing pressure on organisers to give us what we want.

For example; An email petition for standardised low assist ECU's on all GP bikes, why? We want to see the rider's talent, learnt as a kiddie around some junior motocross track, not being a passenger using assisted throttle control. It would also let lesser funded teams 'pick a more talented' riders to make up for the difference in bike speed. Suddenly, the rider that brings the 'biggest wallet' to the team is not so important anymore.

The whole problem with the sport is unseen, its electrical.

Thanks again

I believe that 99 times out of 100 if the bikes are on the same page, then the rider will make the difference, and as such any kind of rider assist technology should be banned. Let'em race!

Such as Stoner powersliding thogh T11 at Valencia or drifting both wheels through Lukey heights at PI or Lorenzo at LS (mostly during practice, but it was beautiful).

Fuel limits are the cause for a need of a lot of electronics intervention. Lose the fuel limits and you lose the need for all the expensive mapping. You also lose the data the mfgrs use for production bike development.