The Battle For MotoGP's Future: New Rules To Be Decided At Assen

It seems ironic - ironic at best, downright insane at worst - that at the 7th Grand Prix of the first season after a major capacity change in MotoGP, the Grand Prix Commission will be deciding on another major change in MotoGP regulations. With just one third of the races run of one season after such a change, why are the GP Commission even contemplating more changes?

The reason is simple: money, or rather the lack of it. A raft of technical rule changes introduced at the behest of the manufacturers has left the series struggling to fill the grid with the prototypes being built by the few manufacturers still racing, the others forced out either by a lack of success or the high costs of racing, or more usually a combination of both. The technical regulations drawn up by the MSMA have prevented new manufacturers from entering: even BMW, probably the biggest spenders in the World Superbike series, are saying that they cannot afford to go racing in MotoGP under the current rules, with BMW's head of motorcycle racing Bernhard Gobmeier pointing the finger of blame at Honda and Yamaha for making the series unsustainably expensive.

With costs too high, Dorna, the FIM and IRTA are casting around for a set of rules to make the racing more financially sustainable. That was not achievable with the rules that MotoGP had prior to 2012, and this year's rule package is only a little better. The combination of high horsepower, high revs and limited fuel means that millions are being poured into the development of electronics to keep the bikes rideable and make the fuel last. MotoGP needs cheaper racing, but, as they say, you can't get there from here.

And so on Thursday*, the Grand Prix Commission will meet to discuss a set of rules aimed at cutting costs for the long term. Though the MSMA has lost its monopoly over the technical regulations after the previous contract lapsed at the end of last year, the manufacturers still have an important say in defining the rules of the series. And that's where it all gets very difficult.

For the MSMA and the other parties at the table have conflicting interests, and finding a compromise which will allow everyone to cut costs while retaining a rationale for racing is a very delicate balance. The manufacturers justify their participation in MotoGP on two grounds: as a marketing exercise and as a platform for research and development, gathering data which will be useful in developing their roadgoing machinery. For the marketing argument to carry weight when presented to company boards at the annual budget meeting, the manufacturers have to be in with a chance of winning, both races and titles. Having large numbers of manufacturers vying for wins makes this goal harder to achieve and therefore harder to sell this argument to executives financing race departments.

The R&D argument is an easier sell, but requires that electronics, especially, be completely unrestricted, as this is the area which has the most direct application for manufacturers. Ride-by-wire, traction control, fuel economy, engine response at part throttle; all these are technologies that make their way quickly from race bike to road bike. The problem is that the race track is not the only place factories can do R&D; arguably, laboratory testing, computer simulation and test track testing is far, far cheaper than racing, so if a factory decides that their return on investment from racing is not enough, they can simply walk away, as Suzuki and Kawasaki have already proved.

The R&D argument carries no weight with Dorna and IRTA. The teams are there to race, and Dorna is there to sell the racing spectacle to TV companies and sponsors around the world. If Honda, Yamaha and Ducati dominate racing and ramp up costs, driving out other manufacturers, and keeping satellite teams in their place by carefully controlling the level of performance of the satellite machinery, then the spectacle suffers, as was the case towards the end of the 800 era. Dorna does not have an attractive product to sell, and sponsors are only interested in being associated with the winners - those very same factory teams. The technology should only serve to enhance the spectacle, with just enough being admitted to retain the sheen of prestige bestowed by the Grand Prix tag. What Dorna wants is great racing, and what the teams want is sufficient income to allow them to race, or else a massive cut in the costs of racing, to allow them to continue.

These two conflicting interests will meet head to head at Assen. On the table are a number of proposals, though only a few will survive. The bargaining will be on two fronts: the technical limits wanted by Dorna to cut costs and make the CRT entries more competitive, and the timing of their introduction, with the factories wanting to maximize the return on investment from their current bikes, and Dorna wanting to help the CRT entries as soon as possible.

The proposals include:

  • A rev limit, set at either 14,500 or 15,000 RPM. Dorna want the lower of the two limits, but would settle for 15,000 RPM, while the factories are grudgingly willing to accept the higher of those two numbers. Ducati is the exception here: the Borgo Panigale factory have always based their MotoGP race machines around the concept of maximizing power output by revving hard, and exploiting the advantage that desmosdromic valve systems offer in terms of valve timing and valve control.
  • A spec ECU. This is a massive stumbling block for the factories, and one of Dorna's main demands. Dorna believes that a spec ECU would allow them to manage the spectacle more effectively, limiting electronic control directly, instead of through other channels. They also believe that a spec ECU would be a major step forward in limiting costs, with the importance of software engineers diminished. The factories argue that this is where most of their R&D gains from the series are to be had, and that rather than limiting costs, it would raise them. Last year, HRC boss Shuhei Nakamoto pointed out to me the amount that Honda spent in Formula 1 after the introduction of the spec ECU, trying to work their way around the limitations that ECU imposed. A spec ECU would be a sure-fire way of imposing a rev limit, though a rev limit could just as easily be enforced by having a spec, secure datalogger, as is the case currently in Moto2.
  • A single bike per rider, as is the case in Moto2, Moto3, and now the World Superbike and World Supersport classes. This was a counter proposal from the factories, to help reduce the cost of leasing bikes for the satellite teams. Though it would do little to cut costs for factory teams, the satellite teams would have less hardware to manage, and less available. Dorna was prepared to consider the proposal, but this looks like being rejected as it makes flag-to-flag racing too complicated. A compulsory 2-minute pit stop to change tires was considered and rejected, as was a ban on carbon brakes (see below). In the end, the factories have found other ways of reducing lease prices - including just swallowing their losses and cutting the price to below what it costs them to supply a satellite team. This looks certain to be dropped.
  • A ban on carbon brakes. This request came mainly from IRTA, as the virtual monopoly which Brembo have in the MotoGP paddock - they supply everyone except for Gresini - means that the Italian brake manufacturer can charge more or less what they want. Constant development sees braking performance improve year-on-year, and costs continue to spiral. With the cost of producing carbon disks so high, and with little transfer of technology - carbon brake disks don't work in the wet, so they will never be used on road motorcycles - a request was made to ban them. The ban may not take place, however: paddock rumor suggests that when Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta broached the subject of the cost of carbon brakes with Brembo representatives, they immediately offered to drastically cut the price. Some limit may be imposed - a spec braking system is one possible solution - but the carbon brakes will probably stay.
  • The Rookie Rule. This is dead, as we reported during Silverstone. Though Honda made it clear that they would really like to see the rule, which prevented newcomers to the MotoGP class from going straight to a factory team, dropped, the complications which Marc Marquez created for the satellite Honda teams showed up the weak point of the rule: a successful young rider is likely to have the support of his own sponsors and team, forcing any satellite team to destroy long-standing relationships of their own for a rider who would only be with them for a year. The dropping of the rule caused a lot of muttering about Spanish favoritism and Marquez having "the right passport." Ironically, some of those complaints came from Ben Spies and Colin Edwards, two riders whose position in the Yamaha factory team was down to a very large extent to the backing they received from Yamaha USA, who wanted American riders - riders with "the right passport" - on the factory team.
  • Reducing the engine allocation and freezing engine development. This suggestion has also come from the MSMA - or rather, from Honda, which in many respects is the same thing - and cutting the engine allocation from 6 engines a season to 5 is most likely to be adopted. An engine development freeze creates other problems: Ducati, for example, is in real trouble with the engine they currently have, with Valentino Rossi demanding major changes to the power delivery. An engine freeze would condemn a factory which got their sums wrong before the start of the season to a lost year, and make it impossible for new factories to enter the series.

Of the proposals on offer, the rev limit looks almost certain to be adopted, while a spec ECU may only be acceptable to the factories if the ECU picked as the spec unit has extensive capabilities. A compulsory datalogger looks certain to be adopted to enforce the rev limit, leaving the option of dropping a spec ECU open. Other suggestions, such as lifting the fuel limits, or (Jorge Lorenzo's crew chief) Ramon Forcada's suggestion to make the primary butterfly mechanically operated by a cable connecting the throttle to the throttle body, or a ban on using sensors such as accelerometers and gyroscopes, could all be considered as alternatives to a spec ECU, but face similar objections.

The technical limits being imposed are not the real problem, though, these are all negotiable, by and large. The major stumbling block is the timing, with the two sides' agendas irreconcilable in this respect. The factories have just spent a lot of money developing a 1000cc engine and the chassis to house it in, and do not want to do it all again for 2014. Dorna and IRTA need to save money now, and need to keep MotoGP attractive for the teams who either cannot afford or have not been offered a satellite machine, and are racing with CRT machinery. Those teams cannot wait until 2015 for the gap to close beyond the natural progression which any early class must make. A CRT bike has to be a reasonable alternative for a satellite machine, which means that a good rider on a CRT bike should be able to regularly dice with the satellite bikes. Comparing the progress that the Moto2 bikes made between 2010 and 2011 - generally, they cut around three quarters of a second from their lap times in a year - still leaves the CRT bikes just off the back of the satellite bikes, and at the mercy of their much greater horsepower. Another year of that deficit would be tolerable; another two years would make it hard to find sponsorship to continue.

The outcome of this argument - to introduce a rev limit and electronic restrictions in either 2014 or 2015 - will show the true balance of power in the MotoGP paddock. If Dorna pushes through the changes for 2014, they will have demonstrated that they are not willing to let the factories run the show, but they run the risk of having the factories walk away from the series. If the MSMA win, and the changes are delayed until 2015, MotoGP could be back to the days of 16 or 17 bikes on the grid again, but the factories would have shown that without them, there can be no Grand Prix racing. This is as much a battle of wills and a power struggle as it is a question of the efficacy of technical regulations as a means to cut costs.

The other possible outcome - more delay, as changes are considered - is a realistic, if undesirable option. The discussions could continue for a few more races, before a decision is finally made. The delay plays into the hands of the factories, however, as the longer we have to wait for a new set of rules, the easier it is for the factories to argue that they have too little time to design and build new bikes for 2014.

The factories - or rather Honda - have another ace up their sleeve, however. The news that Honda is to build a production racer based on their RC213V MotoGP machine opened up a whole new range of possibilities, offering teams currently running as CRT entries a way to be competitive without breaking the bank. If the bike is sold at a price of 1 million euros, and no limits are placed on supply, in theory, there could be 12 or 13 of them on the grid in 2014, filling the gap between Dorna and IRTA's position and that of the MSMA. The danger is, of course, that with Honda supplying such a massive portion of the grid, the dependency of the series on Honda would be worryingly large. As Suzuki and Kawasaki have demonstrated in the past, the factories have proved to be an unreliable partner in MotoGP, pulling out and breaking promises and contracts when economic conditions oblige them, or when it suits their business objectives.

In an ideal world, MotoGP would not be so reliant on the factories, and be capable of raising sponsorship and selling the series to sponsors around the world. Here is where Dorna has failed, focusing on the short-term goal of maximizing income from existing TV contracts rather than trying to grow the sport to increase exposure, and hence interest and revenue from potential sponsors. Instead of hunting down Youtube users who post 1 minute clips of exciting action from the races and share it with their friends, Dorna should be making more material freely available and allowing it to be shared through social networking sites and motorcycle forums. Instead of trying to sell video subscriptions, Dorna should be encouraging sharing, and boasting of its numbers to outside investors and sponsors, selling the excitement of the series to the people with real money to fund it. Until Dorna manage that, they have to focus on cost-cutting, however, and the need to make the grids more competitive as soon as possible.

Whenever the changes are introduced, there will still be much wailing and gnashing of teeth among the purists that the MotoGP machines, with all of the technical limitations imposed, are no longer "pure Grand Prix prototypes". The fact that pure prototype racing died once two-strokes and oval pistons were banned is not something that will comfort them. For those that really love prototype racing, they can always turn to electric bike racing, the only racing series which is currently pushing the limits of technology, with advances often being made from race to race.

* Editor's note: This originally said Friday, I have since learned that the GPC is to meet on Thursday.

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Yeah, Spies/Edwards were helped by their passports with Yamaha. But that's a lot different from Dorna changing the rules or carving out exceptions for certain riders... both of whom just happen to be Spanish (Bautista going straight to the factory Suzuki and now Marquez).

Anyways, hate to nit-pick such a small detail on such a good article which has a lot more interesting information in it, but that side comment kinda rubbed me the wrong way.

No Guru,No Method,No Teacher. Everytime the GPC take 2 steps forward they end up having to take 3 back. 800 was just fine at the end of its tenure. Then the GPC had to F*** it all up as they did back then with 990. 3 steps backward CRT. No doubt, Suzuki and Kawa and maybe BMW/Aprilia would have engaged in MGP had the 800 rule been cast in stone for a decade as it stood back at the end of 2006.
Mind you,the tyre rubbish is as dire a changing rule.
Economics and MGP ? I'm not too sure I for one will bother with it next year.

As usual, very well explained and commented on all the issues and potential outcomes. As a huge motorcycle enthusiast and amature racer, leaving in the US I'm constantly amazed how the MotoGP and motorcycle racing is not popular enough, not to say harsher, minimized to limited amount of motorcycle purists, which makes it sad considering the exciting nature of this sport. What even more sad is that, despite that, there still quite a large of fans and enthusiast as myself who have relatively limited exposure to the sport via media and have to find own online resources to follow the sport and news. While one can find almost every little detail of every Baseball, Bascketball. Americal football stars and including their family in every sport channel venue, while motorcyle news are never or barely mentioned. Its so bad that even when during the tragic accident of Marco Simoncelli has happened, ther were not publications on any of main online news sites. Nothing, even big news, ever mentioned like its not an important sport. I'm discussing this in this article in relation to the comment in this article to how MotoGP organizers really need to do a better job exposing the sport, its protagonists and every detail of the MotoGP activities and live on more and frequent details and find a way to deliver it to a larger crowds. Though and their behind scenes has improved over few last years, even as a subscrivbed memeber I find it realtively limited and short, while many news can even be found on other sites before its posted on the MotoGP site. If a sport like NASCAR racing can generate sucha huge support and revenues, I dont understand how a great action sport like motorcycle racing is not publicized and promoted more, particularly in the US. Though its popular enough in Europe and Asia, they missing on a lot of funds and sponsors from this continent. Let me assure you, that Americans love and will spend on what they like and whats popular and on TV, despite any economic situation.
Once again, great article.

nail on the head ELoria...............the problem is Dorna .

The same cause of ALL Moto GP's troubles. The manufacturers should refuse all contact with that bunch of corrupt, xenophobic morons and should be supported all the way by IRTA.

A breakaway is the ONLY solution.

A breakaway would die on its arse, exactly as the mooted MIC series in the US did. The manufacturers have no interest in racing, it is a hobby. The teams and Dorna are the only parties with a dog in this fight, without MotoGP, they have no jobs. Without MotoGP, the manufacturers can concentrate on what they should be doing, i.e. building and selling motorcycles. The manufacturers have dug the very deep hole that MotoGP finds itself in, the only thing that Dorna did wrong was allow them to dig the hole.

The truth is, there is no alternative. Nobody has the contacts or experience to run the series. Dorna is the best we have. They get an awful lot wrong - though only about a tenth of a percent of what is ascribed to them is actually their fault - but they run the series surprisingly well. If only they could promote it better.

They should concentrate on that, instead of making ( or rather, continuously screwing ) with the rules.

No middle size manufacturer is going to commit to a development program, either factory or production racer, when there's a good chance that Carmen Expletive will wake one morning from a sangria induced fog and decree that Moto GP will now be a spec Geo Tech built Fireblade engine in a third party frame, Dunlop tires, steel brakes, a la Moto 2.

"They get an awful lot wrong - though only about a tenth of a percent of what is ascribed to them is actually their fault - but they run the series surprisingly well."

Yes, a divided paddock is a real good way to attract new sponsors................ A scenario, Moto 2 or 3 team owner brings prospective sponsor to race................" Oh , we can't go in there, we aren't allowed in the Moto GP paddock....."

Stoner is so pi$$ed off with the circus, he's retiring.....

Class eligibility is determined by rider nationality.....

It would be interesting to see the distribution of revenue by Dorna, but I'd say hell will freeze over before that happens. However, all this may well be a mute point, as if the Spanish economy continues to implode, Dorna may well " disappear ", probably owing the teams mucho €€€€.

But no doubt, Dorna's elite would not suffer personally.

....was exactly my point. Perhaps I was wrong about the popularity in Asia as another member from India pointed out, and thats excatly my point. I use US as an example since its the place I know best and witness lack of knowledge and understanding of the series and bikes in general. Figuring out promotion is exactly what I wanted to point out David. Dorna is defiantely best we got and finding anyone else to do their job I do think is even an option. I just feel that they should definately work as much on ways to expose the sport and the series more and make it more approchable on their website as well as look into how to deliver the excitement of this sport that we all here love to more screens, as the following on foot will also follow, especially with new, big tracks like Texas (Southern and Mid of US crowd accesability), Argentina (S.America) and ofcourse India(new Asia crowds) coming. Plus, if the WSBK race will go successful in Moscow, Russia in August, thats whole other sector that will give their money to the sport. being born originally in Russia, I know how crazy my people about motorsports and technology (at least to watch/follow it, not building it :)...), since more things are now available to them now and with a lot of wealth sitting there, wich could eventually also play a huge role in sponsorship.

a little correction about your statement that the sport is popular enough in asia - well except japan (obviously), and to some extent indonesia and malaysia in the recent times, the sport is not popular at all in any other asian countries. interestingly enough, not even here in india, contrary to what you might have expected. infact even in indonesia and malaysia, it's still probably even less popular at the moment than, as you say, in the US.

I haven't been to southeast Asia but I'm beginning to think motorcycle racing is only popular in Europe. It's definitely not popular in Japan anymore, not like it was ten years ago.

Being an American and a longtime follower of motorcycle racing it is still hard for me to believe that motorcycle racing is not more popular here. I think it comes down to a few things; lack of understanding of classes, lack of understanding of skill and speed, lack of spectacle, and stupidity of people who prefer NASCAR.

When people do catch a race like when I watch with family and friends, they want to know what kind of bikes they are and when I explain either prototype motoGP machines or superbikes they don't really get the significance of them. People would rather see a superstock style race where its bikes basically off the showroom floor, they can understand that better.

Those same outsiders always ask the same questions too, how fast are the going and why do they put their knee down? They just dont understand how it works. Even those who have ridden bikes don't know the physics behind high speed knee dragging. And any Harley riders certainly won't understand it. 200mph doesn't sound so impressive because NASCARs and INDY cars do that the whole race. They just don't appreciate coming out of a slow turn at 60 and accelerating to near 200 before breaking for a 120mph sweeping turn. It's just lost on them on the tv.

The spectacle argument centers around Americans lack of intereat in racing as a whole. That is why things like freestyle MOTO x and bmx biking are so popular. People would rather see tricks than races. NASCAR gets around this by manufacturing close races at the end by throwing out cautions all the time to restart behind the pace car. And of course lots of people only watch it for the crashes. Not something that we want to transfer to motorcycle racing.

Motorcycle racing fans are a niche here and I see mass appeal as being very unlikely, plus the subscription is way too expensive even for a fan like myself.

Suzuki were allowed to bring Bautista straight through because there were no Suzuki satellite teams for him to go to, so the rookie rule didn't apply to them.

I don't see Dorna as the villans here.

Where are all the works Kawasakis, Suzukis, the hordes of satellite Yamahas, Hondas and Ducatis? Not present.

MotoGP rules were written by MSMA, Dorna and the FIM collectively. Dorna's function is to promote a race series - the MSMA were supposed to be providing Dorna with the bikes and they have signally failed to do so.

Dorna made a smart move in creating the CRT option thus enabling themselves to be freed, to some degree, from the MSMA. A MotoGP series could be run and promoted quite successfully without any factory involvement in my opinion. Don't get me wrong, I love the works bikes - the Repsol Hondas sounded sublime at Woodcote on full chat, but the factories have not got the balance between numbers and pricing right yet because there simply aren't enough bikes on the grid to make a Moto2 type spectacle which MotoGP should be emulating.

Nor do I see HRC as villains either but in acting out their self interests they've beggared the series. All the factories acted in like manner but in the cold war of 4 stroke, software dominated GP bikes only Honda could out last, out spend, and out tech the rest. It is competition after all. I will give Honda the benefit of the doubt that while they have the power to run the competition out of the game they also have had the power to come to the rescue when no others would be able to. Hard path for Dorna to navigate but the suicidal path would be to take the easy option of Honda's help that would make MotoGP almost wholly dependent on Honda. I also would hate to see the full factory techno wonder bikes disappear but I'd rather see a vibrant grid and paddock of multiple manufacturers and/or teams developing the aggregate bike technology rather than it all coming from one or two Japanese toymakers.

But I still wonder what Dorna's long term plan for the sport is. If it is anything without wholesale manufacturer support than the sport will dwindle and die.

There's a lot of talk about reducing costs but nobody says where the costs are and where the money comes from. That is surely a topic where some accurate figures could shed much light on the situation. Is there a points fund that pays riders for results? Is there start money? Does Dorna have a form of profit sharing? Are the teams' only source of income from sponsorship? Is it just that MotoGP getting too big for its britches? It is a niche market sport but is trying to emulate F1, in my mind that is not a good strategy. Nobody has ever managed to make F1's business model work besides F1 and even they are having trouble these days.

>>A CRT bike has to be a reasonable alternative for a satellite machine, which
>>means that a good rider on a CRT bike should be able to regularly dice with
>>the satellite bikes.

The gap in satellite/CRT performance is due to the nature of the engine and will only be reduced by slowing down the prototypes. The ART is a prime example. They are the best of the CRTs due to the fact that they were made by a motorcycle manufacturer with lots of resources and a huge knowledge base. They are not as fast as a satellite bike only because they are built around a production engine, which is a little bit bigger, heavier, and less powerful than a prototype engine. Giving something away in all 3 of those categories is too much to overcome in this age of such highly developed machines.

Honda know this and saw how well the current crop of CRTs was doing and was like 'we could build a much better bike for 1M.' A RC213 V4 replica that is 5-10% down on power is a lot cheaper to make and will still perform better than a production engine based bike. I foresee Suter and ART sales about to decrease significantly! I think they will only be able to challenge a satellite bike (if they will still exist) in certain conditions but will be a lot closer than 1 min back!

>>The technology should only serve to enhance the spectacle, with just enough being admitted to retain the sheen of prestige bestowed by the Grand Prix tag.

Sorry David, I have to disagree here. You're basically saying let's try to keep the historical aspect of the series (because without its history its nothing) but change it completely only keeping a surface sheen to fool the spectators into not realizing that they are watching not Grand Prix racing, but reality TV. Its wrong on all levels.

This is where I find Dorna's strategy completely wrong. They want to make a lot of money from broadcasting races to the extent of changing the nature of what is being raced. If that is want they want to do then fine, give GP back to the FIM and go start their own series where they can tweak the rules as much as they want in the name of the show.


While it's very cool to watch a series with the highest tech bikes costing millions, and I admit they are very fast indeed, it's not very exiting to watch Honda vs. Yamaha or Stoner vs. Lorenzo every race. Basically this is what we've been watching so far this season. The chances of somebody else winning a race this year are very small.
I really like watching moto2 now, I know they are slow and a lot of the bikes are pretty much identical, but you have to admit it's exiting racing.

What Motogp needs is huge cost reduction, more manufacturers and more equal performing bikes. Looks like this is what Dorna are trying to get done. I have a lot of gripes about Dorna, but I do think they are at least on the right path.

I find this sentiment very interesting and hard to understand (but I'm not suggesting that you shouldn't feel this way). People complained bitterly that the racing in the US SBK series was boring when it was Spies and Mladin at each other every race. What was actually happening was two of the best motorcycle racers in the world - who were steps above the competition, one at the end and one at the start of their career - were genuinely pushing their own limits to beat the other guy. It was amazing to watch, each of them grew and improved in order to beat the other, every one else was left in their dust. American Suzuki was smart enough to get both riders in their team but the results would have been similar if they'd been on different teams IMO because the bikes would have improved with such amazing riders developing them. The fact that we're getting to watch Stoner battle Lorenzo, that I've been alive to see such amazing racing between two riders who are a couple of steps above everyone else is a true pleasure. The VR46 show isn't any better than that either, if he were racing with Lorenzo and Stoner that'd be even better but not if rules are used to slow those guys down.

That's the problem with changing the rules to increase competition, if, all of a sudden Spies is trashing Lorenzo, or Dovi is, I'm not going to be convinced that it's not some artificial competition based solely on some arbitrary limitation. The best of the best will be limited by technology but the also-rans will not. It evens the field and allows some very talented riders to compete with the big boys which is great but the side affect is that, to me, the competition feels false.

As far as the bikes go, I'm absolutely stoked that Honda has announced their production racer, I want to see Yamaha and Ducati do the same. This is an amazing idea, it gives other teams the option to come into the series without having to develop a bike from the ground up. I'd love to see other manufacturers come into the series with this in mind, then we'd see the prototypes lose focus and the CRT bikes as well because there's a special quality to the production racers that the CRT bikes will never match. The factory prototypes would start to seem odd once the production racers started having exciting racing.

what we have today unless you are on a factory bike. just sayin..

"That's the problem with changing the rules to increase competition, if, all of a sudden Spies is trashing Lorenzo, or Dovi is, I'm not going to be convinced that it's not some artificial competition based solely on some arbitrary limitation. The best of the best will be limited by technology but the also-rans will not. It evens the field and allows some very talented riders to compete with the big boys which is great but the side affect is that, to me, the competition feels false."

For Ducati, Honda and Yamaha to state that they utilize the MotoGP series as an R&D proving ground I have have to wave a flag in the air... Ducati and only just recently Yamaha have road going bikes that possess traction control. Honda have not yet offered it on their bikes. Yamaha made the crossplane format in the new R1. Take a Look at these bike manufacturers that do not race in the series and the technology they have on their consumer motorcycles:

Aprilia - Traction Control, Anti-Wheelie Control, Launch Control, Engine Maps
BMW - ABS, Traction Control, Engine Maps
Kawasaki - Traction Control
MV Agusta - Traction Control, Engine Maps

If Honda and Yamaha truly are racing to develop for street use, then they should be offering more options and on more bikes than just their street liter bikes. Ducati makes most of their options available on a wide range of models, Diavel, 1199, 848, Streetfighter, Multistrada, Monster, Hypermotard, etc. Even the MV Agusta Brutale's are offered with traction control (675).

I'm not saying that they have to make it available on all bikes, just don't use it as an excuse cause they obviously are being taken to school by these other manufacturers that don't race in the series.

I miss the good old days of 990 when we saw Marco Melandri and Sete mixing it up for wins riding for Gresini (not the factory squad) and even saw Tech 3 up there on the podium a few times. It's a sad day when riders of RdP, Edwards, and others that can run at the front when on competitive machinery are just making due with bikes that don't match their riding skill.

You forgot:

Yamaha - Cross plane crank, Yamaha Chip Control Throttle (YCC-T) a.k.a. fly-by-wire, D-Mode Throttle Control Valve Mapping (engine maps)

I'm sure a lot of this came from racing.

Honda - ABS Braking system, Electronic steering damper?

I have no idea if the Honda tech was completely born from MotoGP or not. However all the manufacturers are using the technology from racing on road going machines, just some more than others.

How about a full grid of CRT bikes, no factory teams. We race fans want exciting racing, we want to see the aliens racing on more less equal machinery. A heavily modified production engine with custom frame is "prototype" enough for me. As long as one or two big factories are involved, the series is always in their favor.
The little guys have no chance, it's more or less a parade of factory bikes every race. Moto2 is quickly becoming The Show for MotoGP.

No thanks. We could just go superbike racing and call it even. No need to dumb down GP.

I'd rather just watch lorenzo or stoner ride around alone on the fastest bike in the world then some pretend pageant that they are moving towards.

Who gives a damn about prototype frames.

I'd remove all these fake restrictions and let the best team win. There can only be one winner. It's up to the other teams to catch up, or not. Putting ankle weights on the successful is a sign of our backwards times.

Here is where Dorna has failed, focusing on the short-term goal of maximizing income from existing TV contracts rather than trying to grow the sport to increase exposure, and hence interest and revenue from potential sponsors. Instead of hunting down Youtube users who post 1 minute clips of exciting action from the races and share it with their friends, Dorna should be making more material freely available and allowing it to be shared through social networking sites and motorcycle forums. Instead of trying to sell video subscriptions, Dorna should be encouraging sharing, and boasting of its numbers to outside investors and sponsors, selling the excitement of the series to the people with real money to fund it.

This is exactly what I've been thinking for quite some time. Though, to my shame, I've never brought it up here or anywhere. Then again, who's gonna listen to me anyway? ;-)

Seriously, who do they think they're gonna attract with the outrageous prices they charge? I'm a die hard GP fan, but even I won't shell out that kind of money - though, to be fair, I am a broke college student but that should be changing very soon. You can rest assured, though, that David and will be getting my money long before

Of course, my opinion is colored by having been a Linux/Open Source guy for many years now. I think that "intellectual property" is an oxymoron, that all software patents should be abolished, and that copyright is completely out of control (did you know it's know life plus 70 years?).

Anyway, Dorna would do themselves a huge favor by opening up their content and exposing more people to the sport.

As someone without cable, I'm really happy with's service. That's the main reason it's the only series I follow. I'd love it to be cheaper, and they should make more video available for free so that some of it could go viral, but they're still doing better than any other race series I know of in providing access.

I couldn't agree more with the above!

For years I have been complaining about how Dorna handles the sport on the net. Free and spectacular videos is a great way to spread the word about anything!

But Dorna is greedy and now the will suffer for it.
(So will Honda and Yamaha for destroying the sport...)

Fuel capacity is driving the insanity in MotoGP. It is the reason for almost all of the major problems. Fuel capacity was too high for 800cc engines, thus revs were not accurately controlled as Honda and Yamaha predicted when they unveiled their 2007 spring-valved 800cc engines. As a result, Dorna has forced through the 81mm, four-cylinder, 1000cc rules. Fuel capacity is the reason for the engines regulations. Lean burn is generally very hot. Hot engines break down more rapidly. Fuel capacity is the reason for fuel system homologation and the ban on direct injection (MotoGP is about R&D?). The GPC need to cut the head off of the snake by tackling the fuel capacity issue. No progress will be made until they deal with the elephant in the room.

Personally, I think they need to create some sort of Group C style fuel index to stimulate competition, attract new entrants, and create a more dynamic contest for the major manufacturers. They should assign each team a certain amount of fuel per round. Something like 24L for CRTs and unsuccessful factories. 22L for factories with a GP win. 21.5L for factories with a win in the last 10 seasons, and 21L for factories with a championship in the last 10 seasons. Obviously, the formula would be far more complicated, but the general idea is clear. Limit fuel tank capacity to 24L for all competitors, and use a 15,000rpm rev limit to protect the riders and the 21L factories (from unlimited 24L performance). Close the fuel into a seasonal bank from which the competitors take an alottment at each round. For instance, Honda would be allotted 378L for a 21 round season. They allot 21.5L for Qatar on Saturday after qualifying. The information is only known by technical direction. The race happens on Sunday. After the race, the fuel allotment is made public. Unburned fuel cannot be returned to the allotment. Will it rain on Sunday? How much extra fuel does Suzuki need to win a race? And so on. The possibilities become endless.

If they really want to be nuts, they can set up a fuel trading system. Teams like Honda and Yamaha can buy a couple liters of fuel from the poorer teams for a few million bucks. Poor teams get funded as Honda and Yamaha vie for each other's scalp.

The options available are limitless. It is terrible to see the MSMA and Dorna quibble over ways to solve MotoGP's symptoms.

Hmm, sort of sounds like Norton 850 speak of the 1970s, its the best bike ever made! Oh, those Japanese built a what? A 750 four cylinder? Why!?


Tic tic tic, Asia is rising.... Spain is debt ridden... who is buying bikes, the manufacturers WILL follow the money.

Am I the only one who's concerned about this emphasis on "The Show?" Close racing is nice, but not the only thing that matters. The best of GP racing in the past few decades really came down to two riders at a time; Stoner/Rossi, Lorenzo/Stoner, Rainey/Schwantz, etc.

Couldn't agree more with a rev limit. The other stuff is hit-and-miss in regards to whether it actually would cut costs. And ... this sounds nuts, but is it really about costs for other manufacturers? As noted, BMW spends a ton in WSBK. Sounds like they're more worried about getting their asses kicked by Honda and Yamaha on a world stage in GPs than they are about spending.

Anyway, careful what you wish for with "The Show." NASCAR tinkers with the rules endlessly over here to make sure the 'show' is 'good.' Auto-race in Japan is a good show. MMA is a good show, I guess, according to TV ratings here.

But it's not GP racing.

And Honda and Yamaha want to go GP racing. They've got plenty of opportunities to race WSBK and National superbike series, where the 'show' is 'better.'

Maybe there's a question to ask Yamaha, Honda and Ducati: What about GP racing attracts you?

On a personal level, I don't need to see a fleet of racers ramming each other to consider it a 'good' show.

couldn't agree more (except that i'd also add rossi/lorenzo pair as well). i am so tired of so many people wanting a "show" like moto2, moto3 and the various SBK series. dont they get to watch enough shows in those races ?

i love the fact that GP races are so not showy like all those other races. when i am watching a GP race, i want some exceptional rider(s) to dominate the championship. GP racing is all about holier-than-thou domination and about showing the ultra-talent and perfection that some of those top level riders (and their bikes as well, perhaps) have. Battles between 2 (or 3 or 4) topmost level riders with extra-human execution skills at a time is what makes MotoGP different to me from other races where 10 people are randomly battling it out and hardly anyone ever emerges as the most dominant figure (dont get me wrong, thats very exciting to watch as well, but i dont want that in a GP. i have the option to watch 10 different series if and when i wanna watch that). MotoGP races are/can be unpredictable in different, more unconventional ways. It's all about a couple of those top riders and how they are able to be so near-perfect. watching Lorenzo this season has been a treat for my eyes till now, for example.

and yes, good call on BMW's fears haha.

Costcutting has been in the sport for many decades and has been used as a convenient excuse to ban certain technologies whilst others are allowed to develop unhindered. It really does make you wonder about the real motives behind rule changes ...
Streamliner fairings
Multicylinder bikes like the Honda 250-6
13 (I think) ratio gearbox on a Suzuki 125
Tyre wars and single tyre monopolies and now spec tyre changes
Carbon brakes ok but Oval pistons banned?
ABS banned but TC allowed?
Rotary engines and 2 strokes banned in favour of mega expensive 4strokes
Fuel limits
Weight limits
Leasing costs and CRT
(you can stop humming that Billy Joel song now...) there must be hundreds more silly rule changes over the years

David's point about electric bikes being the only pure prototype series is probably true but the shame is that IF Honda for example, could build an electric powered moto gp bike weighing 160 kilos and pushing out thirty laps worth of 250hp they would not be allowed to race it!
And the manufacturers "want" electronics in moto gp for their R&D?
Fine then go the whole hog and build one or leave petrol heads free to exploit high octane noisy tyre smoking sliding squirming awesome machines that need to be tamed by rider skill not fettered and sanitised by a geek with a computer degree and cost millions to lease.
I just want an exciting but prestigious racing series back.
CRT ain't perfect by a long way but it's a start.

You want to get rid of electronics? I think GP bikes should be more advanced than the one in my garage, not less.

There's always vintage racing.

Not to give you too hard a time but I'm not convinced that getting rid of electronics is the silver bullet many seem to think it is, especially in a series that is supposed to be feature state of the art technology.

So you'd rather the launch of the bike be controlled by a computer and riding aid called Launch Control? Compare that to a rider that used to have to feather the clutch and not burn it up from the start. It was a fine art that racers used to have to master. Feathering the clutch, applying throttle and doing their best not to flip the bike by applying too much throttle too quickly. That skill is now neutered and the computer controls it. Personally I'd rather watch a man paid millions to ride do this himself, after all they are the best in the world right?

What about wheelie control? I'd rather watch a rider's right wrist and skill keep the bike from popping a wheelie on corner exit. The computer does that now.

Then there is anti-spin. Some of us remember Gary McCoy take spinning the rear wheel to something majestic and to quote DE "supernatural ability." It was something to watch and reminded all of us track day punters that we were mortals and far from professionals. What about Elias, in Portugal 2006, sliding the bike the entire width of the track both tires slipping and sliding across the track simultaneously promoting Rossi to say that he rode like a "devil" and beating Rossi to the line with a photo finish. Best ride by any rider on any Sunday I've ever seen, master class.

Then there is the dreaded traction control keeping both tires in line upon corner exit, yet another skill the rider used to control. Watching a rider bring a bike crossed up out of a corner was pure skill, you either had it or you didn't. It was beautiful.

Turn by turn mapping? Totally not applicable to a road bike. Not unless you want your bike neutered by posted speed limits and certain tracks that are programmed into the ECU. I wonder how much money that would add to the cost of a bike? TC is making its' way onto every bike and bringing with it more cost with little benefit. There are only 2 wheels and until Honda comes out with training wheels that deploy from the swingarm, it won't save you. The marketed benefits aren't the reality.

I am all for chassis, tire, engine, suspension, braking, air/fuel development but rider aids have no place in this sport. This is supposed to be the best of the best, not who has the best computer.
I like controlling my road bike myself. It's why I ride.

"Riding shouldn't be about electronics. The limit is yours."

At this rate we will have a series that will be one day be considered too dangerous. It will be entirely about who can manufacture a bike where the pilot only need to hang on and lean, the bike will itself apply throttle, brake, etc. There is a reason car mfr's still make manual clutches and a reason why Formula One banned traction control. Have your technology series. The way it's headed there will be few of you watching it.

Another example of bad administration from dorna again, hmmm. MotoGP for incredible for believe was fine some years when the administration didnt changed the rules soo much times for compensate for other things. the problem is aggraviated by the economical downturn we are suffering.

Dorna having the power now in his hands and still cannot exercise sufficient pressure on the manufacturers and trying to make more cheaper and accesible satellites or convince the manufacturers to proportionate prototype engines on lease to the teams, the concept of CRT have the wrong approach.

¿Why? because a team build a chassis, frame, but the engine is from a street bike. everyone knows than a normal engine dont have nothing to do with a prototype engine but dorna continues with these SBK in disguise, what dorna should do is enforce the manufacturers to lease proto engines to the teams, as thecosman says the only way at this moment for make the level equal is downing the power of the prototypes but doing it will cause the manufacturers to scream about it, well already are screaming it.

Suggestions and dreams only but imagine the idea of having RC, M1, GSVR, Desmo engines in a CRT and becoming complete prototype, with that all people will be happy, SBK people happy and prototype supporters happy.

"with that all people will be happy, SBK people happy and prototype supporters happy."

That was a brilliant idea indeed.
You should ask Kenny Roberts of he's happy about it.
Sadly it won't happen again, simply because if they ever agree to lease you (never for sale!) an engine, it would cost as much as leasing a satellite bike.
Ezpelata proposed this very idea to the manufacturers as an alternative to CRTs but there was no way they would go with it.

If Dorna wants to "make the CRT entries more competitive" then they should have a true claiming race. Right now the factory teams can claim the CRT engines. That's a misnomer. Let the CRT teams claim the factory engines and dump the spec tire rule and you will have competitive racing. Otherwise just call it the Honda/Yamaha Invitational Racing Series.

These rules proposals are insane and will drive UP costs, and drive OUT manufacturers. Think about the stupidity of a rev limit restriction. It'll serve to take away the one saving grace of Ducati - their horsepower advantage - which has already been partially neutered by the equal stupidity of a fuel limit.

The more restrictions are placed on development, the higher costs become - because that extra 1% edge becomes all that much more expensive to secure. The number of solutions are reduced, and only very expensive ones aren't immediately adopted. Therefore, costs rise in spite of a rule change intended to restrict development. The teams will always spend for an edge, and the smaller the available edge grows, the more dollars have to be thrown at it to secure it.

The way to ensure innovation and participation is to formulate a relatively stable set of rules and let people go wild. A more restricted series, by the way, also ensures that the best funded teams MUST win. A wide-open series allows for the possibility of wild, and not always expensive, solutions (desmo valves, for example). As soon as you "spec" the series, you've ruined it.

Very frustrating. The only thing currently done that is semi-reasonable - and even this is open to question - is the spec tire. And I'm not sure that even that makes sense, because it tends to force chassis development in one direction and precludes oddball solutions for weirdo chassis. It's no coincidence that Ducati won a championship only with custom tires AND a big horsepower advantage. Stoner's talented, sure, but when he lost the tire advantage, even with the HP, even Stoner couldn't make that thing win.

And what we've seen since is confirmation of the theory - Ducati has been forced to develop a chassis to match tires. This year, Honda screwed something up.

I love unrestricted prototypes (early '90s F1, GTP, CanAm, 990 and first two years of 800cc MotoGP, old Group B rally racing if I recall correctly) - you get different ideas competing, and wonderful solutions. As soon as you "spec" the series, end up with a boring wasteland.

One man's view. I'd like to see 300HP bikes that weigh 150 pounds with fuel on gumball tires that last 400 laps - but that's me.

Needs to force or compel a "no confidence" vote in Carmelo or the FIM needs to revisit the rights holder relationship with Bridgepoint/Dorna. Perhaps Bernie needs to perform a hostile takeover - he is accustomed to what's involved in reviving a flagging but formally grand series.
Additionally, why be scared of losing Honda/yamaha/ducati? Let the private sector step in and fill the voiid; there are doubtlessly amazing technologies sitting on the sidelines due to being under capitalized. If something is unsustainable it cannot be subsidized forever. If the big boys leave economies of scale will step in and a new and healthier "normal" will occur.

Either Carmelo/Dorna or Bridgepoint are in over their heads but something needs to be done and tinkering around the edges ain't it...

Let them have as big a fuel tank as they want. Too big, and they have physics problem pushing a big heavy bike around the track. Let the teams figure it out for themselves. I don't care about how much fuel a bike carries. That is a team's problem.

I want to see all these divas on a reality TV show. Each week a rider can be eliminated. By the end of the season, only 4 would be left. And then some drama happens and Rossi wins. The fans go home happy.

Dave is right on the money with his insight about how Dorna doesn't know how to work the internetz.

It's easy to blame Honda and Yamaha, as BMW's spokesman has done, for the 'problems' of MotoGP. And the companies aren't perfect, nor are they saints.

But the fact is that Honda has been fielding GP machines every year since 1979, so this is their 33rd straight year of racing in the premier class. Yamaha has done so for even longer, since 1976. Sure, they could leave. But they've been through a lot in GP racing for more than three decades, and stuck with it.

Perhaps another way of looking at this is that MotoGP is the place where these two companies have decided to showcase their wares. Neither is racing "officially" in WSBK (there isn't even a Yamaha on the grid). Honda doesn't have an AMA Superbike team. Their resources seem to be centered at the MotoGP level.

And each, in the past, has dug deep to make sure the sport survived. Each has made customer race bikes and/or customer engines available when the grids seemed too thin. Looks like Honda's about to do that again.

If you look, this sport for the past three decades has been about Honda and Yamaha domination. Maybe that's not an accident. In the old AMA days, when there were four pro classes, it was almost as though each Japanese manufacturer picked a class to dominate and didn't bother much with the others.

If, indeed, Honda and Yamaha have decided that MotoGP is the theatre upon which they choose to stage their battles, perhaps instead of trying to make the series more manufacturer-proof, maybe DORNA ought to be trying to take care of the manufacturers who have made the sport what it is today.

Just another perspective.

p.s. David points out - correctly - that if some riders boycott, others will jump in and take their places. Why wouldn't the same thing happen in MotoGP at the manufacturer level? If Honda and Yamaha go home, what's to prevent BMW or Aprilia from saying, "Holy s**t, I've got a chance to win in MotoGP and spend less than I spend on World Superbike? Where's the next race?"

The factory bikes have a different fuel map for every corner due to the fuel restrictions, using GPS to work out what corner they are on (or the wrong corner, as Nicky Hayden suffered recently). Without the fuel limits they wouldn't need anywhere near as much electrickery. Want the CRT's to be more competitive? Let them use as much fuel, and as many engines as they like. You might think more engines = more expensive but if Biaggi's WSBK team can afford 20 something engines in a season surely a CRT team could too? There has to be a formula to get the CRT's closer in performance to the satellite teams, without making them go broke.

If you compare Aspar MotoGP team and Aprilia WSBK official team they certainly don't have the same budget.
Aprilia being a factory team they have a huge development role and the huge budget that goes with it. Aspar is a customer of Aprilia, they buy the ART and race with it, they don't really have the money to do much else.

That being said, after merely 6 races CRTs can already sustain the comparison with their WSBK counterparts.
Randy fastest race lap at Silverstone on Aspar's ART was 2'05.260 which compares favorably to WSBK 2011 fastest lap of the race of 2'05.525 (by Biaggi), just one thousandth from WSBK lap record (2'05.259) by Crutchlow.

With different tires (and different weather conditions but if anything less favorable for MotoGP) for sure but also a de-tuned engine made to last 1,5 weekends to compare to Biaggi which uses more than 2 engines each weekend.

All I remember from my freshman Economics 101 is you can't interfere with supply and demand curves which is really what the introduction of a bunch of rules to level the playing field is doing. Hate to say it but maybe it should be left to just sort itself out - the new motogp will be where supply meets demand.

Honda vs Yamaha is like a Real Madrid vs Barcelona or Liverpool vs United rivarly, only here the other competitors don't stand a chance to even sneak in a surprise win as Valencia or Spurs could emulate every so now and again. Its so bad now that a satellite machine doesn't stand a wiff of a chance unless something catostrophic happens at the front with the factory 4. The record will even show that. The win at all costs although spectacular from an engineering perspective does nothing for the spectacle which got us all interested in the 1st place. Nobody got hooked by a Fly by wire system, it was the spectacle that got me interested in Bikes. I Agree fully with Vegas Jon, there are other manufacturers with more tech on their production bikes than these 2 Japanese Giants so the R&D reasons don't do it for me. Honda and Yamaha haven't revised their premium bikes, The Fireblade & R1 in 4 years now. Yes there are odd paint scheme and minor engine upgrades but fundamentally, these machines havent changed much. Technology should improve the spectacle and the series shouldn't be held to ransom as a consequence of an age old Japanese rivalry which is the case now.

Honestly, anybody would've done what Suzuki, Kawasaki, Aprilia (& DUCATI would too if it werent for a freak Aussie who made them think they were good) because nobody can afford to compete at that level. With BMW looking to join, why would they honestly consider playing second fiddle to these 2. Makes no sense.

Honda and Yamaha wont leave Motogp no matter what the rule changes are. Too much is at stake but more importantly, there's no other platform like Motogp for these 2 brands to outwit, outsmart & out perform each other.

Why is there hardly any focus on the tires, in this discussion?

Although they limit the number of engines, the amount is tires used is still quite insane. The only limit should be the amount of tires. Let's say 5 per weekend, and make them a harder compound so that they will last. This will make the competition much closer.

The tires should be the great equaliser instead of driving the field apart.

Great report David. I agree with many of the above comments. Let the free-market decide within a loose framework to stop silly extremes and class overlap.
Technology is important and it needs to be encouraged but factories dominating is not healthy. They are probably going to be top of the pack most of the time but we need more than wet weekends to allow other teams and riders to have a chance of winning/getting on the podium every season. Perhaps ban 'updates' unless they are available to all that teams riders. Let them test as much as they wish on non-GP circuits (might help some of those circuits out and give new/retired-champ riders some income/fun).
Fuel limits are a waste of time in my view - it strikes of 'greenwash'. Would they sell bikes that have poor fuel consumption or throttle response? (That's a Yes but MotoGP hasn't helped - blame the Euro/Californicrats). If 3kg worries teams are they going to put +/-8kgs of moveable CofG on board? More usefully, tell the teams to use renewable fuels in their transport and the tracks to use renewables too.Put all that BS in an anaerobic digester.
Carbon brakes - OK if you can make them last a season and run them in the wet. Otherwise irrelevant to R&D and they spoil overtaking so should be excluded until they meet the practical needs for R&D trickle-down(more work for riders and tracks).
ABS and TC - now on the road. Thanks. Ban them.
Tyres - allow each manufacturer or rider to have their own spec.This is a prototype class.It might even get BMW or Tech 3 to try a Hossack front end.
Put all races on free-to-air/internet within a month.That includes Moto 2/3 - I didn't realise what great racing it is until I got Sky.Without more fans and the money they will encourage sponsors to invest we have a huge problem and a risk of the sport dying away - many people just dismiss motorcycles as 'mad and dangerous' without even trying to understand or enjoy it. (I managed to get my mother to enjoy it , which makes the potential audience huge!)
To help understanding and appreciation provide visual technical commentary that is easy to find - waiting for someone to make audio comment during 3 hours of practice etc is not going to create a wide audience.
If BMW do not want to enter MGP we shouldn't be pleased -it says what a problem there is if such a confident, powerful company is put off. Let's hope Audi don't think likewise.....

attitude, in that they do do not allow the Suter/NGM team to use the electronics package that they now use on their WSB .

So Edwards is basically testing at the races.

Great article, here is the most interesting part, read it:

If you Google “Shuhei Nakamoto,” you will find his remarks on this. He points out that in Formula One, aerodynamics rightly receive the major share of development, while chassis and engines are much less important. But in MotoGP, the chassis underlies everything else. If the chassis is right, having a bit less power is little handicap. But if the chassis is not right, no amount of additional power can make a winner of it. Chassis development requires major factory effort, and you can see this on the track. The Hondas and Yamahas have well-established good chassis qualities—no one else does! Those qualities have arisen from continuous development over 10 years’ time.

Ezpeleta sees the regional success of limited series like British Superbike and imagines something similar may work at international level. He therefore proposes a spec ECU. Nakamoto says factories use MotoGP to develop control strategies that will become part of future production bikes. That being so, if MotoGP becomes all-CRT sometime soon, with a spec ECU, mandatory metal brake discs and whatever other “leveling” measures Ezpeleta may from time to time propose, the sport will have lost its attraction for the factories and they will withdraw. That would leave MotoGP as a mish-mash of BSB, SBK and a long list of picky itemized controls on whatever is perceived as being “too expensive.”

I call this process “taking the grand out of Grand Prix.” Others disagree and hope that from the stacks of new rules and restrictions will flow a vital, creative new kind of racing that will attract ever-more teams and spectators.

Evidently, Honda has decided that by offering an affordable, serious alternative to CRTs, the dumbing-down of MotoGP may be averted. The Honda MotoGP “production racer” would come with a baseline, something that no homemade CRT has or can have. It will handle well out of the box, and that good handling will be available equally to all who buy such a machine. Satellite teams unable to afford the high price of present lease bikes will see the production racer, costing less than one-third as much, as a better deal than trying to simultaneously develop and race a Lego-bike.

It's nice to have a satellite rider going into a dry race thinking he might get to stand on a step come champagne time.
It's been a while.

As an American currently in Europe for business. This article really hit a cord with me on a variety of fronts. In my opinion, Europeans welcome and expect more and tighter regulation in all aspects of their lives. With DORNA being a European corp, this is being carried over into the racing series. They perceive the amount of regulations has a direct effect on quality and innovation / improvement.

As an American, I think exactly the opposite. Less regulations or at least simpler rules would be the best way to reduce cost for all the teams. The best example is arbitrary fuel limitations. It costs magnitudes more to extract reliable and predictable power from 1 gallon of fuel than it does from two.

DORNA should instead concentrate more on safety as it affects the entire sport negatively. Deaths and injuries to riders are wholly viewed as negative and widely reported in the general media. The rules for ECUs, tires, frames and RPMs are not well known by the general public or even most race fans. In other words, they should concentrate on minimizing the negative effects and let the positives take care of themselves. Riders, managers and teams will rise to the top if given the chance and latitude to do so.

I think we all would agree that Casey Stoner as an Australian, finds the excessive and bureaucratic atmosphere of DORNA as too much. Australian and American perspectives / cultures / lifestyles do differ significantly from Europe. A similar thing is happening with the EU and the financial crisis. The members refuse to look in the mirror and call it for what it is - only to delay the enivitable.

If DORNA as an organization / corporation can't see driving that the top talent (and potential revenue) away, then they deserve what they get - a declining racing series. It will then take an outsider to fix what's broke.

This is all such a muddle and feels like arguing over the arrangement of deck chairs on the Titanic.

The business of buying and selling road bikes should not be the deciding factor in the management of MotoGP any more than the business of buying and selling balls should govern football. There is a lack of vision and conviction at the top of GP racing, surrounded by a tired old guard.

And we wonder why the best rider is quitting at his peak.

The more technology allowed the more it favours the factories that have the capability to master it, this is a good thing for most bike riders, racing usually improve the bikes the factories sell.

The less technology allowed the more it favours the riders, the best riders will find away to go fast with less 'ride by wire', 'computer programs', 'traction control' and the rest of the "stuff".

I know it will never happen but I'd like to see one round a year where the riders use a 'control bike', all identical, it'd be amazing to see who really is the fastest....

And yes, it will never happen. Too bad. Reminds me of the IROC series. Very good viewing material but ticket sales alone wouldn't pay for bikes-riders and promotion.

If you need your fix tho go back and look at Rossi's last win at Cataluna in 2009 where he absolutely toyed with Lorenzo on identical machines:

it's my feeling/belief (or maybe observation) that the greatness of the best riders doesnt really depend on which era of the GP they are racing in and how much advanced technology is in there in their bikes. today they have so much technology at their disposal, so they are using it (not so much their choice anyway in accepting or rejecting their respective factories' technological developments). had there been not so advanced technology in their bikes today, we'd still be seeing lorenzo, stoner etc at the top. not to forget that most of these top riders have already proved their mettle in less technologically advanced moto2 and moto3 (or the SBK) at some point of their career. thinking from their frame of reference, these guys are there simply to race and win. and they'd do so with any kind of bike with any amount of hi-fi technology (or the lack of it) you give them, as long the bikes you give them are good enough to race and not utter pieces of shit. advanced electronics only helps them a little but it doesnt make it any easier for them to win nor does it do all the difficult job for them. throughout their careers technology of their bikes keeps on changing for good or bad and yet the real quality top riders remain at the top for the most part of their career.

Might be interesting to take the top 10 MotoGP riders and let them do a demo sprint race mounted on borrowed Moto2 bikes. Does it really matter what lump is under the hood? My guess is it would be a revelation in producing exciting competition.

Re the brakes, rather than going spec, a better way would to adopt rule that "The same braking system must be used for all weather conditions". Then they'd have to find a good system for both wet & dry. This would make MotoGP braking much more relevant to the real-world, and hence would make it attractive for R&D and competition.

I wish they'd go back to 500cc two strokes:-) At least then it'd be just about the racing! I really don't mean to be negative here but this is getting boring. If I wanted to see diluted bikes, lower revs, stock ECU's (personally, I'd rather see no ECU's) etc. I'd focus on Super Sport, but even though that is great racing, the bikes don't really excite me. CRT's don't excite me and the split field this year is ridiculous! I know they put more bikes on the grid, but in reality there are less riders in the race now.
It's a shame, I've spent more time watching the older seasons on than I have this season. Even though some of the races are not close at all w/ Doohan killing it, it was more exciting to see the bikes, and the stories behind it like the tire wars etc...
Lastly, I really don't understand the marketing behind the series now. After the flag seems to be aimed at what?? The last one had questions from the fans being asked of the riders. One was, if you could become any animal, which would it be. The other was, "are you a good cook", WTF??!! Is that all the fans can think of and worse how Dorna wants the series portrayed? I'd love them to try to ask Formula One drivers those questions. It's all the little things that are now pooling up that will kill the series.
The personalities are getting boring, the racing is getting boring and damn, now the bikes are getting boring.
Again, hate to be so negative, but it's kind of pissing me off that this great sport is getting flushed down the drain.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels this way but this sport, which I've loved and followed for many years, has become boring and hardly worth watching - first thing to go will be the 100 euro's that I spend with Dorna so I can watch the races real time in the US and after that, it will be a "watch if it happens to be on when you're looking at the TV" thing.

It's sad but the whole series seems to be in it's death throws - thanks Dorna for that.

It was the big manufacturers who pushed for the rule changes. First they killed off 500cc two-strokes, on the pretext that 4-strokes were more commercially relevant. Four-strokes are of course more complex, and cost several times more to develop than 2-strokes. Further, a competitive 4-stroke costs many times more to develop. It was the manufacturers, through the MSMA and its sole monopoly on changes to technical rules then, that presided over the switch from 1000cc to 800cc, the introduction of ever more expensive valve control systems, and - to the greatest detriment in the racing - the ever increasing importance of electronics.

Now, Dorna aren't blameless. The success of MotoGP is ultimately their responsibility, of course. They handed control of the rules to the manufacturers, in the guise of MSMA, on a plate (I think this happened when control of the rules was wrested from FIM in the early 90s?). However, it seems no one foresaw what was going to happen: that the big manufacturers would kill the racing by allowing the rules to favour extremely expensive machinery affordable to only a few. Both through active deliberate changes of rules in some areas (capacity) and a failure to make rules in other areas (electronics). It's highly unlikely there was any conscious desire to kill the racing though. More likely down to dumb processes of following paths of least resistance.

To Dornas' credit though, they have in the last few years realised they need to show some balls and stand up to the manufacturers. They've broken the effective Piaggio monopoly in the lower classes. Moto2 has, for many people, been a big success: there's a good supply of competitive prototype racers, at good prices from a variety of suppliers - the racing has been excellent as a result. It looks like Moto3 will similarly be a big success. These new classes have been a good testing ground for potential MotoGP rule changes. Dorna now are trying to use that experience to similarly break the strangle-hold of a few manufacturers over MotoGP. CRT is an early experiment which already seems to be paying off: significantly more bikes in MotoGP, teams choosing CRT over satellite factory bikes, possible Suzuki customer-prototype in the works, and - most amazingly - HRC confirmed to have an over-the-counter RCV near ready.

I'm sure I'll be downvoted terribly for going against the apparent current group-think here in the MotoMatters comments section, that seeks to blame Dorna exclusively for the problems, but I think many of those comments are failing to look at the history and are completely ignoring the culpability of the manufacturers... Blame Dorna for their mistakes, sure. Blaming them for *everything* is just unfair.

One thing Dorna really do deserve a good kicking for is their media strategy, particularly with respect to blocking Youtube clips. Whatever revenue they're protecting from their effort, they're doing many many times more damage to the sport overall in terms of promotion. Worse, the YouTube clips are not even a competitor to their streaming product! It's the most stupid, backward and foot-shooting media policy ever.

Cheers Far Canal. I figured it was just me. I'm one of those sad individuals that has watched MotoGP since the 990cc class started (and before that). Have every race recorded and shelved, used to stay up for the early morning rounds (Philip Island etc). I still pull them out and watch them at random. This year I haven't bothered (last couple of years it was a major effort). Has NOTHING to do with Rossi not winning. I appreciate the genius of Casey Stoner and think Jorge Lorenzo is a great rider. It just isn't exciting any more. The drama is gone. The constant rule changes seem to have made MotoGP results almost a foregone conclusion.

Couple of nights ago I watched Estoril 2006. Elias won. Now THAT was a race! There were many great races that year.

Stoner beating Rossi in 2007 at Catalunya showing he could race with #46. Stoner and Rossi 2008 at Laguna. etc

We need another nail-biter to wake us up. There seem to be fewer and fewer these days. Audiences are dropping and attendences are fewer. It isn't just because of the economic climate. Just doesn't seem as exciting any more.

I'll keep watching though.

If i had the money to buy the series off Bridgepoint then this is what i would do!
Get rid of
4. Any control tyres, control engines, fuel/oils, etc
4. The term MOTOGP
5. The term CRT
6. The term Prototype (a recent nonsensical justification / argument caused by Flaminnis trying to protect his production racing class where everything is “SUPER”.)
Bring Back
1. Prize money paid directly to the riders.
2. Privateers, see above and below.
3. Increase the number of entries allowed by event in addition to the regulars. How boring it is watching the same few people each weekend.
4. Fastest 36 within 107% qualify to race.
5. Maximum size for transporters and hospitality units to increase paddock space for increased entries.
6. One paddock with passes available to purchase by public.
7. Only one round per country.
8. Allow circuits to raise their own sponsorship.

Class rules.
Set a capacity say 500cc, double it to allow four strokes to be competitive. Allow turbos and wankels at the lower cc limit.

1. Introduce set weight limits for each cc limit. 500CC 100kg for 2st twins, 115kg 3cyl, 130kg 4 cyl plus rotary and turbo twins, 1000CC 130kg 4 st twins, 137kg 3 cyl, 145kg 4 cycl, 155kg 5+ cyl and oval pistons.
2. Maximum of 6 gears.
3. No carbon brakes
4. Maximum of 12 tyres for all weekend.
5. No noise limit
6. Legible black race numbers on yellow plates on both front and side fairings.

Nothing else - pretty much go back to the how series of Grand Prix was (dis?)organised prior to 92 before FIM lost control, and adopt class rules similar to 2002 - 03 era, and leave alone..

The funniest thing about this post is the assumption that more than 36 bikes would actually show up. OK, the funniest thing is the idea that such a series would exist at all.

As I started reading this, I thought this was going to be quite a nutty comment. As I got toward the end, I started to think you're not far wrong. ;) Though, I disagree that you can get rid of Dorna (or whatever the rights-holder/promoter is called), MSMA and IRTA. ;)