2013 Barcelona Post-Race Test Round Up: Analyzing The New Suzuki

Pity poor Jorge Lorenzo. Once again he comes to a test and tops the timesheets, and everyone is talking about someone else. This time, though, he will probably not mind, as he was not really out for glory at the test, just to work on settings before heading to the next test at Aragon on Wednesday. If it isn't rained off that is.

Lorenzo chose to skip the morning session, preferring to rest after an impressive win on Sunday, but once underway he was quickly up to speed hitting the top three after just a couple of laps, and ending the day on top. The Factory Yamaha man had been working on set up, but had also tested a new fuel tank. The new tank does not change the weight balance from the current version used by the factory riders, but it does have a slightly different shape to fit under the seat more comfortably and allow Lorenzo to position himself better on the bike.

On the other side of the garage, Valentino Rossi was once again pursuing weight distribution changes to improve his feel with the bike, especially to help him in braking. A more radical change was planned for the afternoon, but a fast crash at Turn 3 left the bike damaged, meaning that plan had to be abandoned. Rossi returned to the track at the end of the day to test the new rear tire Bridgestone had brought, and was positive about the feel of the tire. The new construction hard rear tire was a clear improvement, Rossi said, and it was good for the hard rear to once again be an option. So far this year, the only tire that has worked at most tracks has been the softer option, leaving the riders with a de facto rear allocation of just seven rears for a weekend.

In the Tech 3 garage, the focus was on riding with a full tank. Both Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith had spent their time on track riding with a full tank, and both had found improvements for the start of the race. The first seven to eight laps, when the fuel is in the top section of the tank, is where they struggle most, and this is where the Tech 3 men had focused their efforts. Smith's test was cut short as he had to leave the track early to prepare for surgery. The English rookie was scheduled for surgery in the evening, to have a skin graft on the finger he injured at Mugello, as well as a screw fitted in his cracked scaphoid.

Cal Crutchlow also spent some time on the newest version of the 2013 chassis, the frame which had been tested and rejected by Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, though Lorenzo raced the frame at Qatar. Crutchlow's comments on the frame were the same as the factory riders, he told reporters. The chassis was better in braking stability, but less good everywhere else. Once back on his chassis - the one used by Lorenzo from Aragon onwards in 2012 - he was much more comfortable, Crutchlow said.

At Ducati, there were few, if any, signs of progress. Both Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso had tried the new lab bike chassis, but neither were particularly impressed. Dovizioso felt it gave a small improvement on corner entry, but it also created more pumping on corner exit. It gave no improvement in lap time, so there was not much point in using it. Hayden said he actually felt less comfortable on the new frame, finding some set up improvements on his standard GP13 that helped him a lot. Both men were clear: if Ducati is to make real progress, bigger changes are needed, and changes which address the fundamental problems of the bike: understeer, pumping on corner exit, and a general lack of feel.

But all eyes were fixed on Suzuki, and how the bike would do on its first public outing. Given that Randy de Puniet managed to get the new XRH1 (as the Suzuki prototype is currently called) within eight tenths of the time of Lorenzo. Even more impressive was the fact that De Puniet was capable of running those times consistently. His fastest lap was set during a string of three consecutive 1'42s, and prior to that run, he had been setting 1'43s and another 1'42. "I like the position, I feel very comfortable on the bike. It is easy to do many laps and be consistent. The base of the bike is already at a high level, so we just need to improve," the Frenchman said afterwards.

The biggest problem for the Frenchman was that he had no problems, and so very little to actually improve. The bike was reliable, and made good power - I watched as De Puniet followed Lorenzo along the main straight, visibly maintaining pace with the Yamaha M1. By the time they returned to cross the main straight, the gap was appreciably bigger, though, and this is clearly where Suzuki have to work. "I like the feeling from the front but we need to work on it to get the corner speed," De Puniet said.

What is the bike like? Well it looks and sounds an awful lot like a Yamaha M1. The sound is very similar - a flat, booming drone - though the pitch appears a little higher, and the bike is a little quieter. The engine layout looks similar, with the gearbox configuration almost a carbon copy. The clutch, located on the input shaft, is up high, just as it is on the Yamaha, to allow for a longer swingarm.

Peeking through the fairing side vent, you can just see the camshaft cover, which hints at a very forward sloping engine. This is also similar to the Yamaha, though if I had to guess - and it is no more than that - it appears to be a little further from the vertical than the Yamaha.

The chassis seems rather frail by modern MotoGP standards, though that may merely be an illusion. The chassis beams on the Yamaha and Honda are taller, but Suzuki may have found a different way to manage stiffness.

The big question is, of course, if De Puniet was so fast on the bike, why are Suzuki waiting until 2015 to make a return to the series? The challenge is twofold, and was explained by Suzuki's MotoGP project leader, Satoru Terada. First, there are the electronics, with Suzuki so far using the Mitsubishi system from the previous V4 GSVR 800. From 2014, all MotoGP bikes, whether factory or non-factory, will have to use the Magneti Marelli standard ECU. MSMA entries will be free to develop their own software, in exchange for being limited to 20 liters of fuel. Suzuki, who wish to come in as an MSMA entry, and will therefore have 20 liters of fuel and 5 engines, have not yet started on porting their software to the Magneti Marelli system, and were not due to start until the autumn, Terada explained.

The bigger challenge could prove to be the fuel consumption, however. Just 20 liters of fuel to last for a 120 kilometer race is very little indeed, with Yamaha already struggling at some tracks with the current 21 liters. "This is very hard for us," Terada told reporters. "Especially fuel consumption is very hard for us, so we have to develop the fuel consumption." So difficult will it be to maintain performance while consuming so little fuel that Suzuki require another year of development to before they believe they can hit their target.

The difficulties faced by Suzuki point to the madness of the rules imposed by the MSMA on the series. Remaining competitive at this level with just 20 liters of fuel is a Herculean task, and one which requires vast amounts of time and effort to achieve. The fuel rules demanded by the current MotoGP factories are effectively functioning as a barrier to entry to any new manufacturers interested in the class, and preventing new factories from coming in. As a way of limiting competition in MotoGP, fuel limits are an excellent tool. It is much easier to win championships when your rivals simply cannot afford to compete, but this also debases the nature of competition. It effectively allows factories to buy MotoGP titles, by pricing everyone else out of the sport.

Give bikes more fuel, and it is still possible to compete, however, as Aleix Espargaro's stunning time on his Aprilia ART machine demonstrated at the test. Espargaro spent the day testing frames, and found a new frame good enough to get him within two thirds of a second of Jorge Lorenzo, on a bike which has a good 30 horsepower less than the factory Yamaha. That time wasn't even set on the full-power Aprilia RSV4 engine. Espargaro has two of the high-power spec Aprilia engines, which he is saving for use in the race. Instead, he used the lower power engine to set what is a deeply respectable time.

If the ART is so down on power, where is the lap time coming from? Quite simply from handling, the bike gets through corners well and is very easy to ride. The bike is especially good in braking, Espargaro explained. It's weakest point - apart from horsepower, naturally - is in corner exit.

That a small workshop can produce a sound chassis was proved by the PBM team and Michael Laverty. Laverty said that the chassis had come on in leaps and bounds, and he had found some further improvements during the test. He had recently suffered a spate of front end crashes, with the front wheel letting go while leaned over if the bike encountered bumps. Laverty was delighted to have found a solution in the set up of the bike which prevented the front from folding in those conditions. It hadn't prevented a crash in the morning, but by the afternoon, Laverty was ahead of one ART machine, and under a tenth behind another. Solid progress for a bike which only got its first run out on track in Malaysia, less than five months ago.

The test complete, the factory Yamaha team and Suzuki head to Aragon, where they will join the Honda teams for a test. At least that is the plan: judging by the weather forecast for Aragon, they will head to the circuit to spend two days sitting in the garage watching the rain fall. Honda may come to regret their decision to skip the Barcelona test.

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So the subtext from this is that Suzuki think the spec software for the spec ECU will be a greater hinderance to performance than taking the hit on fuel allowance & writing their own software. Aprilias attitude seems to be the inverse. Interesting.

I have to agree with David’s analysis of the fuel limits. It is far too difficult for a new manufacturer to enter the series. No manufacture will enter just to be humiliated. Why bother?

I know everyone hates the thought of performance balancing, but allowing new manufacturers to use more fuel until they start winning consistently seems like an obvious solution. Some reasonable formula to gradually reduce the fuel allotment based on performance should be easy to devise.

Better yet the same formula should apply to any team who hasn’t won a race in two years. Tech 3, LCR, Ducati, etc.

While we are blue-sky dreaming here; why not limit the number of ECU modifications. The concept of the spec ECU has been accepted, so now seal the ECUs to prevent any changes. No more track specific turn-by-turn programming. Each unit would have a set number of general purpose performance maps, just like a road bike. The manufacturers should be able to justify that to their accountants.

There should also be a limit to the number of ECUs used each season to prevent teams from using 100s of specially programmed units a season. Something like the following:

Teams that have won at least 6 races in the previous 2 seasons 4 ECUs per rider per year.

Teams that have won less than 6 races in the previous 2 seasons 8 ECUs per rider per year.

Teams that have not won a race in the previous 2 seasons 12 ECUs per rider per year.

Each rider can only have 2 active ECUs at a time. When a new unit is installed on a bike one of the old units has to be permanently taken out of service. The ECU would be the only micro-processor based device on the bike and the various sensors and actuators could only be changed/upgraded when a new ECU was installed.

The benefit of the limited ECU modifications is that the bikes would not be so damn perfect and the racing might be a little more interesting. An army of software guys would not be required at each race, so there would be some cost savings. Also, after a season or two the less well funded teams might have a chance of catching up.

I’m sure these are all really bad ideas, but so far the people in charge of the rule making seem to be having even worse ones.

I want to remind that FIM STK1000 bike - fully legal fith rules for this club class made for youngsters to enter WSBK World - HAS possibility to program strategies turn by turn thanks to APX /black one/ ECU and transponder-like sensor... Retail cost of this ECU is 1700 eur. Costs of manufacturing is less than 200 eur.

Ecu made in 2004 /that I still work with/ - is still too powerful to use all possibilities. Possibilities the same ECU can be doubled, tripled... in 1 firmware upgrade.

I don't understand your point. ECU that Yamaha MotoGP is using - exist on the market at least 5 years on the market without single modyfication....

Electronics are THE CHEAPEST way to make our life better, safer and more interesting...

Why motorcycle racing is so retarded and most of spectators /none of people involved in/ - wants this sport to be even more retarded? More blood? More broken bones? More fatalities?

Freedom for electronics!!! :)

Electronics are cheap? OK, so on one hand we have Honda, Yamaha, Ducati saying that what they spend most on in GP is electronics, Suzuki is delaying their entry to GP for a full year to work on electronics, and on the other hand we have you saying electronics are cheap. It's not often I agree with the MSMA members, but in this case I'll go with them.

All kinds of things are possible with electronics; just because they're possible doesn't mean that they'll make the racing better. Which is the goal, right? You'd see a lot less inch-perfect laps if the rider had to manage full power in every corner. That means more room for slight error, which means just maybe a chance for other riders to catch up to the guy.

>>Suzuki is delaying their entry to GP for a full year to work on electronics

No, Suzuki is delaying their entry to GP for a full year to change the electronics from a unit that they have been working with for years to the one that they are being forced to use by the organizer. That has been said by Suzuki guys. They turned very respectable lap times for a first official test but have no idea what the bike will do when running a yet to be finalized spec ECU package. This porting exercise will also likely have a huge impact on their fuel management strageties.

The racing is boring becuse of the spec tires. With one tire there is one way to make it work and when you force engineers to all work with the same equipment they naturally evolve to a similar solution. The elimination of the Q tire means the grid is be arranged in essentially the order of best race setup so when the flag drops the bikes largely hold position and the gaps slowly increase. When there were real Q tires the grid was a hodgepodge of guys with a bad race setup but good flying Q lap (Nicky was great at this) and guys with a good setup and bad flying Q lap so when the flag drops the bikes had to shuffle around (passing) for at least a few laps. Having a tire choice also allowed riders to try different strageties: fast start, conserving end, or the opposite. With the current choice of 2 compounds with usually only one practical for the race everyone is forced to play by the same tire management stragety, again making the races very ordered and boring.

As far as expensive electronics go, ask Ducati how much they are spending to fix a problem that they have said Bridgestone can correct in the tires in 2 weeks.


Great comment Chris, as usual. Nice to read such a succinct and reasoned explanation of the GP woes. Very easy to understand.
Thanks, Mike

Dani took pole at Catalunya by .6 seconds, but he struggled to finish second. Marquez finished 6th in QP, nearly one second down on Pedrosa, yet he had better pace over race distance. In Jerez, Lorenzo took pole comfortably, yet Pedrosa dominated the race. In Mugello, Dani took pole, and Lorenzo owned the race.

Qualifying is still a different contest from the race b/c racing is fuel-limited and qualifying is not. In QP the competitors must decide how hard they want to push the bike, and how aggressively they want to tune the power. Some riders will get it right and break lap records. Other riders will go backwards by upsetting stability and losing confidence.

Pedrosa and Lorenzo trading places from the front row is not exactly a mixed up grid. Marquez is still learning the techniques of riding a MotoGP bike on various tracks so gets a pass on not being on the front yet finishing on the podium. In the Q days the grid was much more mixed up than a couple of riders in the front 2 rows moving ahead a position or 3 in the race. The Q tires were significantly different than the race tires so a race bike setup did not gaurantee a good Q setup. Now the setups are pretty similar and the tires not that different. The Q laps also gave info to the bike and tire manufacturers on how to translate a one lap tire-destroying pace to a race long tire-friendly setup for the next season.

>>Qualifying is still a different contest from the race b/c racing is fuel-limited and qualifying is not.

Yes but the removal of the fuel restriction does not produce enough differences in the variance of race pace vs. qualifying pace for the various riders to really mix the grid up.

Look at F1 to see how tire degradation affects passing, although for them it usually happens in the pits. I think an ideal would be to make tires that last 75% of the race at full tilt so riders have a choice to burn early, conserve late and hope it goves a good enough lead; conserve early, burn late; or be Mr. Consistent and run at the same pace throughout. That's 2 more choices than they have now but it would lead to some tires looking crappy and not reflecting well on BS, which is a major concern for them. Yet another reason the spec tire deals stink. Let the equipment makers worry about winning, not about providing a product that does not make them look bad.


You mean the same ECU that the CRT teams were given at the beginning of the year and told to make it work? The same guys that aren't a factory and yet here we are 6 months later and they're racing respectably well with them? The same ECU that was announced about a year ago? The same ECU that's virtually identical hardware-wise to the Magneti Marelli unit Yamaha's been using all along? It's going to take Suzuki until December before they'll be able to even run laps with the spec ECU? Don't cry for me, Argentina. Or Suzuki, or whatever. To me it seems like BS posturing to try and get Dorna to allow them their own hardware to come on in 2014. Suzuki is always asking for special favors - relax the rookie rule, only run one bike, etc. This is just one more thing.

You're spot-on with the spec tire thing. I agree completely. I never understood why you'd want to shift the development dollars to adapt the bike to the tire instead of vice versa. It was supposed to level the field. It's had no effect other than to make the bikes more and more homogenous. One of the things that appealed to me with prototype racing was the ability to design out of the bos and see what happened. That's one of the things I loved about the 990 era - minimal regulation and we had 3,4, and 5 cylinder bikes in all shapes and sizes. Some worked, some didn't. But it was at least interesting to watch and see what panned out and what didn't. All the new rules added to GP have killed this aspect of the sport. Which added another level of interest, even if the results at the front were similar.

>>You mean the same ECU that the CRT teams were given at the beginning of the year and told to make it work?

The CRTs were given an ECU with locked software which is like being given an Excel spreadsheet and told to fill out the available boxes. The MSMA ECU does not have any software (at their demand) which is like giving someone a computer and a C++ programming guide and telling them to write their own Excel program and then fill in the resulting boxes. Its just a bit more work. And they also have to deal with 20l of fuel (again at the MSMA's behest) so fuel management, anti-spin, engine braking, etc. all become much more crucial to get right.

>>racing respectably well with them?

Remember that the ART teams are not using the spec ECU. I think only 5 teams are and they only have just been breaking into the top 15.

>>I never understood why you'd want to shift the development dollars to adapt the bike to the tire instead of vice versa.

I agree completely, its letting BS dictate where bike R&D is directed. As a street rider, tires are the equipment that is easiest to change and evaluate so always wondered when the racers and organizers said there are no fans of tire brands. I think it is the opposite, tires are actually the motorcycle product that rider buy most frequently and can change brands at will so manufacturers need to create brand loyalty through quality. Most riders I know have a strong opinion as to what is the best tire brand.


>> Remember that the ART teams are not using the spec ECU. I think only 5 teams are and they only have just been breaking into the top 15.

True, but my point is that the hardware has been available for at the minimum 6 months and Suzuki have known about the spec ECU since about this time last year. They've had plenty of time to get started with the spec ECU hardware, but are still running with their own hardware. Why? Why even bother with a public appearance of the bike 1 and 2/3 seasons before they'll compete in a configuration they know they can't race?

>> its letting BS dictate where bike R&D is directed

I hadn't thought about it in those terms, but that is true. It's now a competition to see who can build the best Honda.

>> I think it is the opposite, tires are actually the motorcycle product that rider buy most frequently and can change brands at will so manufacturers need to create brand loyalty through quality. Most riders I know have a strong opinion as to what is the best tire brand.

Agreed here as well; I don't like the profile of Bridgestones and prefer Michelins, due to their profile, the traction they provide, and their longevity. I have tried all major brands and chose what I liked based solely on the product's quality. Bridgestone's monopoly as GP tire supplier has zero bearing when I go to plunk down cash for tires.

We need one set if rules. Period. Allowing diffrent rules for diffrent teams is allowing two diffrent classes. Honda and Yamaha will allways chase lower fuel consumption. Why load a bike with 25L when they can load it with 20L?? But don't strangle the satellite and independent teams just because the rich kids can do it. Dorna needs to step up and start controlling thier series. This whole spec ECU is good, but don't limit the guys on fuel. It's the absolute dumbest rule there has ever been in racing.

Don't blame Yamaha. It's Honda, the manufacturer with the most money that comes up with these ideas. The 20 l rule was made by the MMSA ( Honda, Ducati, Yamaha). Honda comes up with a rule and the others basically have to go along. In paraphrasing the always informative Kevin Cameron ( CycleWorld March 2013) : Honda is confident it can finish races on 20 l so it is challenging the others to do so as well. It will cost Honda, Ducati, Yamaha millions of R&D dollars to finish on 20 litres of fuel. Honda can easliy afford it, the others not so much. The 20 l rule is not going to save money. Also the exercise won't really create fuel saving technologies for production bikes. Production bikes already run on a fairly tight stoichiometric (chemically correct) air/fuel ratio to enable the use of catalytic convertors to clean the exhaust to such clean levels. Part throttle, lean burn won't work on a street bike.

From the 800 cc to this it seems Honda is trying to "rule" the series with rule changes. And now it seems like they are going to hinder Suzuki's entry by this asinine fuel limit rule. The only thing I can do to protest is not buy any Honda products. I currently ride an Aprilia and Yamaha...Mr Nakamoto: I'll never buy a Honda!

HRC can do nothing but propose new rules. The other maufactuers have to agree to them. If they do, then they are all at fault. Dorna owns the rights to MotoGP as I read it. So it should be them that impose new rules and take the manufacturers requests as suggestions only.

To say you won't buy a Honda bike because of the rules they requests is silly. You might as well not watch WSBK or MotoGP because Dorna owns both series. Yamaha and Ducati are just as much at fault for agreeing with HRC, and Dorna are at fault for bending over to them. Dorna needs to realize that they run the series and while there needs to be give and take involved with the current factories. Providing an avenue for smaller teams and smaller manufacturers to enter the sport, should be high on the list. Within one set of rules.

"The difficulties faced by Suzuki point to the madness of the rules imposed by the MSMA on the series. Remaining competitive at this level with just 20 liters of fuel is a Herculean task, and one which requires vast amounts of time and effort to achieve. The fuel rules demanded by the current MotoGP factories are effectively functioning as a barrier to entry to any new manufacturers interested in the class, and preventing new factories from coming in. As a way of limiting competition in MotoGP, fuel limits are an excellent tool. It is much easier to win championships when your rivals simply cannot afford to compete, but this also debases the nature of competition. It effectively allows factories to buy MotoGP titles, by pricing everyone else out of the sport."

Best paragraph written by any MotoGP journalist this year. Glad someone has the stones to say this.

The problem is that if Dorna gets huffy and puffy and says "24 l across the board, no exceptions" then Honda, losing their fuel consumption advantage threatens to leave or does in fact leave. The MSMA have a choke hold on the series, and have, during the entire 4 stroke era. Dorna is going to have to push them to quit if anything is to really change. Unless they lay down that hand, then nothing is going to change.

If Lorenzo has to start from pit lane this year due to these ridiculous engine rules, it will help put a light on this. They need 10 engines or more, 24 liters of fuel, and a reduction in electronic nannies and they'll be back on their way to exciting racing. Slot racing is killing the sport. These bikes have little to do with production machinery and Honda and Yamaha own their own test tracks in Japan. Their production development does not have to be done on GP circuits.

"The problem is that if Dorna gets huffy and puffy and says "24 l across the board, no exceptions" then Honda, losing their fuel consumption advantage threatens to leave or does in fact leave."

Problem? What problem? Honda IS the problem. let HRC leave. If four Hondas leave and 24L returns, that leaves room for two Suzukis and two Kalex Yamahas, or Marc VDS whatevers, or Pons whatevers. The grid would fill itself FAST and the racing would be better.

Erm, if Repsol Honda made the rules how do you explain the spec-ECU rule? A Spec-ECU is the last thing they would have brought in as Yamaha and Ducati already work with Magnetti for their ECU's, whereas Honda's ECU is made by them, hardware and software, in house.

The last sentence of your post says it all really, you're biased against Honda for whatever reason, so you don't see clearly.

Honda accepted the spec ECU as having to use the Magneti Marelli hardware is only a minor inconvenience. They threatened to leave over spec software for the ECU, but were willing to accept spec hardware. The hardware is frankly irrelevant, the magic is all in the code.

Honda have also threatened to leave if the fuel limits are raised. They are the driving force behind the fuel limits and engine limits.

OK David, can you please explain me something, if Honda is the driving force behind all the funny rules that are ruining racing and that are on the damage of other manufacturers why those manufacturers support Honda in making those decisions? Are they stupid or what? Why they don't support Carmelo Ezpeleta and his ideas? He will surely support them.

If the Honda is such evil menace to us all good hearted watchers of this beautiful sport, wouldn't be easy to just let Honda go so we can enjoy at peace? Why do all ever try to please this giant, and then talk trash about it? Or the things just isn't what they seem? I'm puzzled here!?

I don't like that you allow demonization of Honda and it's no rare thing that you are involved in this too. OK, this is your site and you can do whatever you pleased, but I don't think that this is professional from your side. If you feel offended, delete my comment, but you can't change my mind!

If the truth is the demonization of Honda as you call it, then let justice be done though the heavens fall.

David is telling the truth, nothing more. Honda is buying it's way to championships. This is money, and who has the most to spend. A true engineering challenge is giving them all the same amount of money to do the same job. Whomever does the best job with the funds available, wins. In MotoGP this is not the case as you won't get a concrete dollar figure on paper from any of them. This series should promote competition not discourage it. Competition comes from multiple folks competing for the same thing, not 2, Honda and Yamaha only. What the series needs is flatlining these rules so the players with the most money can't rig it via R&D excuses such as 5 engines per season and 20 liters of fuel. Give them 10-12 engines and 24 liters across the board. This will let more than 2 compete for wins.

Fans should be why this sport exists, not who can spend the most. Nothing any of these rules have done is good for the fans. The sessions have been shortened, and the riders ride the least amount of KM's they can in those sessions to save the engines due to a stupid engine rule. How is good for some little child in Spain, who Pedrosa, Marquez, or Lorenzo is their hero, how is it good for the fan at the track to see the rider they came to see, less?

None of these rules are to save money. They were suggested for a competitive advantage. They say it's for R&D or whatever, that is just a lie. The only one lying here is Honda. And Yamaha follows Honda. It's a Japanese thing. Ducati is outnumbered at the table.

Yes, demonization of Honda! Hope I will find all those who deserve to be in this boat.

From your post it seems that you think that I like current rules. Well, I don't! I only understand manufacturers and their pardon Honda's quests. It seems that many think that Honda, Yamaha and Ducati are racing for us, that they spend all their money because of us...Wrong, they do this for for themselves. It's always been this way!

Fans should be why this sport exists, yes, I agree, but tell me one popular sport in which money doesn't play important role. Tell me one sport which is all about fans? I just don't know any. You think that Carmelo main goal is to please the fans? I don't think so. He just cares about Dorna and that's OK to me.

I don't think that this rules are here to save the money.

You wrote that Honda is lying. Lying whom? You? David Emmet? Me? You wrote Yamaha follows Honda because this is some weird Japanese thing and that Ducati is outnumbered. OK, why are they doing that? Are they stupid? I don't think so! Why don't they follow Carmelo and his ideas? If Honda always makes demands and threatens to leave, why they do let Honda go? Why do they always agree with Honda?

Yamaha is guilty as Honda for all, and Ducati too, that's my point! If they agree with Honda, they are in the same boat. Carmelo also has his big share in all.

I just think that's unprofessional of David to write and to lead people in one direction, which is - Honda, it's all Honda's fault!

Yours truly,
new Honda fan

Remember last year and how the Repsol bikes suffered chatter?

Remember how vociferous Stoner was in his condemnation of the new weight limit, that he called a last minute penalty?

The truth of the matter is...at a Grand Prix Commission(GPC) meeting where an increase in the weight limit was proposed, the MSMA - Honda, Yamaha, Ducati - supposedly 'unanimously' rejected the idea.

Under a 'veto' system in place then, if the MSMA unanimously rejected ANY proposals brought to the table by the other three members of the GPC - DORNA, FIM, IRTA - for the perceived good of the sport, the factories had the power to Black Ball the idea and kill it dead in the water.

At this GPC meeting in December 2011, The MSMA said they didn't want the increase and it was presumed all three factories had agreed unanimously, therefore triggering the veto system. The proposal was dropped.

As it turned out this was NOT the case. The vote had actually been 2-1 in favour of rejection, but was not unanimous and therefore didn't trigger the power of veto to Black Ball the increase in weight proposal.

When the rest of the GPC and Carmello got to hear about this, they were not very impressed with the lies told by the MSMA, which Nakamoto effectively controls, so they implemented the 4kg increase and rode rough shod over the 2 factories who HAD voted against the proposal - Honda & Yamaha.

The Japs lied to try and stop a proposal they figured would help their rivals.

You show me another sport where the participants make the rules up as they go along?



Yes wosi, you're right! But I think yout title should be changed. It should be "Japs and telling lies...", not "Honda and telling lies..". I remember that situation. You see, this situation is a very good example of what I'm saying. If Yamaha and Ducati don't like what Honda is doing, why do they support Honda? MSMA makes decisions only if they are unanimous, so why are they unanimous?

About lying and other manufacturers, for example, I remember that Yamaha said that they would sell engines to private teams only to later change their minds in favor of leasing and I must say that the price for that leasing is a way to high.

I also remember, a lots of times Carmelo Ezpeleta has promised us something, only to change his mind later, but that is not lying, that is simple change of opinion.

Everybody is lying and everybody is changing their opinions, this is business!

All MSMA members are bad b/c all of them are happy to have a restricted prototype country club as a motorcycle marketing platform, but the degree of evil varies by company.

HRC are the worst, content to win titles with artificially manufactured competition or no competition at all. Soichiro Honda is gone. The bean counters and bureaucrats who run his eponymous company do not share his fascination with speed or competition. They are an occupying force, positioned in MotoGP solely to protect HRC's turf. They produce nothing. They inspire nothing. In this millennium, they lose their most important championship-winning competitors with their lack of commitment.

Somewhere underneath the departments of corporate warlords and bureaucrats are world-class engineers who lack the thrill of a real challenge. That's what drives the madness at HRC, and the company will not find itself, until it has a real challenge from a deep field of manufacturers in MotoGP.

I agree with you, all are to blame. Not just Honda and that's my point.

I don't agree with Honda part of your post phoenix1. I don't see any change. Honda was always equally ruthless against opposition. I certainly won't blame them because of hunger for succes. Mr. Honda is dead, yes, but this company is much, much bigger now, and I don't agree that their corporate warlords and bureaucrats doesn't know what their doing. You say they lack the thrill of a real challenge, how do you know this, and does this mean that Yamaha's or Ducati's corporate warlords and bureaucrats for example have the true thrill of a real challenge? With all due respect to you, I don't think so!

..is full.

They are not considering new members, unless they are Japanese.

You said it yourself Pal..Honda is ruthless, hungry for success and their corporate warlords know EXACTLY how to play the game to achieve this.

Over the last 10 years, Honda have managed to manouevre themselves into an unequalled position of power.

Half the bikes in Moto3. All the engines in Moto2. A stranglehold on the rules in MotoGP.

Sometimes you have to take a step back to go two forward.

Cut the bastards loose I say..sack them off.
Rip it up and start again.

Ditch GP and concentrate on SBK..globalising a set of rules, so we can get back to homeboy wildcards and transaltlantic trophy racing close season.

Throw the laptops in the bin and let's get back to good old fashioned sideways action without silly fuel and engine limits..and without factories like Honda who have way to much say so, in a sport they wrongly view as their own turf.

I agree with you wosi, let Honda go!!! Simple as that! But, we will have another problem, who will step up to fill Honda's place? I don't see anyone! You?

Yamaha - they don't want to give Cal proper back up because their policy for MotoGP is - 4 bikes, 2 factory and 2 satelite machines. Why don't they step up for Moto2 or Moto3?

Ducati - they are doing best they can already. If you look at their effort you'll see that Yamaha is not supporting as much as they can. Maybe this is also Honda's fault?

KTM - Moto3 is OK, but we are still waiting SBK contender. It's hard to believe that they will go to MotoGP class.

BMW - Like in F1, you can't count on them. Look at their effort in WSBK now. I don't see them in MotoGP.

Kawasaki - ?

Suzuki - 2015, but they don't have the money for bigger things.

I just can't blame Honda for investing so much in MotoGP series! We should be grateful. I know that I am!

HRC admit openly that they are bored with MotoGP and they need new challenges. In the 990cc era, HRC said they built a new V5 b/c they needed a challenge, and they noticed 4-cylinder and 5-cylinder weight regs were the same. They've said similar things about the fuel capacity regulations.

They keep looking for challenges by changing the regs, but they end up with a weaker sport that annoys fans, media companies, and sponsors. They need competition, not engineering directives from Honda Japan, handed down in the form of MotoGP tech regs. It's boring everyone.

As I wrote before, HRC isn't the only one to blame! Other manufacturers always support Honda, so it's not only Honda's fault. We also have Carmelo Ezpeleta as the man who has failed to raise sponsorship, time and again, and doesn't do a good job in promoting the series. I think this is very important! So, I know that the Honda is the universal villain, but you can't blame Honda for everything.

Honda is the strongest driver of technical regulations. They steer the MSMA in the direction they want. Yamaha's biggest failing is in passively giving in to Honda's requests. There are cultural reasons why Japanese manufacturers tend to behave as a block. As for Ducati, they have plenty of other issues on their hands, their real objection was to the rejection of the weight increase, and that was why that came out.

Dorna is to blame for not promoting and selling the series. They take small money now instead of big money later, and are too focused on income for Dorna, rather than income for MotoGP.

But Dorna are constrained to an extent by HRC. Shuhei Nakamoto said that he was not in the entertainment business, when asked by Dennis Noyes about relaxing the rules to help the show. What Nakamoto-san does not realize is that he is in the entertainment business. Without the show, there are no viewers, without viewers, there is no sponsorship, without sponsorship, Honda's MotoGP program comes entirely out of their R&D program (it doesn't now, apart from sponsors, a good deal comes from their marketing department). Any sensible company executive board would cut the MotoGP program immediately, and just send test riders lapping Motegi and Suzuka to get the same level of technical data on throttle control and fuel consumption.

Nice summary containing the gist of many articles you have written on this subject recently. But I'm not sure I buy the HRC hard line. I'm just a fan and don't know that much, but Nakamoto doesn't come across as a man who doesn't understand what the entertainment business is about and that MotoGP is part of it (after all, if you know it, he knows as well that his salary also comes from the marketing department). He comes across as a brilliant man who plays hard ball. I've read and seen many interviews of him the last few years and, as you have also noted in the past, it's clear that Honda want to impress on the rest of the world that they do not care about the spectacle, they just want to crush the opposition. And I believe that it is true to some extent, but part of this hard line, like threatening to withdraw for reasons like spec ECU, should be really a "bluff", mainly for the marketing reason that you quote (the more predictable and boring MotoGP becomes, the less the marketing value it has, and therefore the investment it attracts becomes smaller). And at some point Honda's bluffs should be called, otherwise wacky regulations like 20 l of fuel and 5 engines per season, will continue plaguing the sport and everybody loses from that.

By the way, if MotoGP as we know it dies, Honda and anybody else that decides to do their R&D in privacy as you suggest, automatically miss a great benefit, which is knowing (at least something about) what your competition is up to and being offered the ultimate comparison measure, racing. Isn't that something very important for the boards of these companies?

I think it would help if people stopped referring to it as "the show" or "entertainment". "Show" invokes rules standards like FIA GT3 or NASCAR, where everything is spec or performance-balanced. "Dumb" racing series are about as consequential as reality TV, and the success of the platform relies upon a endless supply of ratings prospectors who con manufacturers and sponsors into backing their sanctioning/marketing models. Hundreds fail. A few succeed to create the appearance of plentiful profits.

When MotoGP is competitive, both the show and the technology aspects are satisfied. Obviously, every MotoGP race cannot be a barn-burner and every season cannot be decided by the final round (2006), but technical regulations can promote both competition and technological development.

If the GPC employed its competence in expanding both technological advancement and on-track competitiveness, everyone would be better off. As it stands now, they've imposed some kind of spec ECU regulations that are so onerous, the MSMA feel at liberty to reduce fuel capacity to 20L. Doesn't bode well for the future, imo, but maybe we will get lucky, and good competition will show up arbitrarily.

Performance balancing is easy. Lots of series do it. You just keep adding weight to the winner of the races until they start to lose. Interestingly enough, while lots of series have tried it, they all tend to fail.

Because, in the end, performance balancing is the antithesis of racing.

Balancing is not the antithesis of racing. Even if all of the machines had identical performance (theoretical), the riders would still be battling fiercely to go faster. Balancing is the antithesis of competitive prototyping, which is why they use balancing in production series like SBK.

But balancing is a complex subject. Formula libre is basically the highest state of prototype racing, but formula libre equals mass extermination of participants and NASA-like technology budgets. Formula libre competition is similar to anarchy--an idealistic impossibility. On the opposite end of the spectrum is spec racing, a sanctioning style that turns all vehicles into disposable scrap to be smashed and crashed for the amusement of the fans. As NASCAR and IndyCar have discovered that spec is also an impossibility. Decent racing series exist somewhere in the middle, and sanctioning bodies have created dozens of regulatory concepts to create sustainable series with unique attributes.

The antithesis of racing is lack of competition or anti-competition, a situation where one competitor or an entrenched group of competitors always win by controlling the regulations or by spending the competition into bankruptcy. If practical success penalties were introduced, the MSMA would actually be better off, working harder than ever to find new ways to go quickly.

We don't use success penalties in human sport b/c humans deteriorate. Their dominance is short-lived and competitive succession is a profitable narrative. Corporations are not like humans. They do not grow weak and weary from winning over time. Quite the opposite, corporations get stronger from winning, and they eliminate their competitors, which is why we have anti-trust and anti-monopoly regulations. Dorna can't break HRC into 4 new companies so they have to find a way to keep competition fresh for the benefit of everyone.

I'm not saying success penalties are necessary, since many other options are available, but thinking of success penalties or balancing as the antithesis of racing is problematic and unhealthy.

They are going into MotoGP and getting paid to do so. I know what they get for the bikes probably doesn't cover all the costs, but it's a clever way of being involved. When I saw how close Espargaro was to the top I thought he was already using the pneumatic valve actuation cylinderhead. Imagine what he will do with that plus 24 litres of fuel and 7 extra engines. If Suzuki were to offer that bike to a top team like Aspar they could showcase their technology, use more fuel and engines than the MSMA guys, save a lot of money in the process and make the grids a lot more interesting.

Is it Kinbaku where wealthy and/or powerful Japanese pay huge money to get their rocks off by being tied up, restricted & restrained?

Methinks some kinky backroom corporate bigwigs in Japan have let their private fetishes invade their work life, MotoGP has descended into an 18 round engineering Kinbaku session.

To see Suzuki with what seems a competitive bike sitting out a whole year in order to save a litre of fuel, and perhaps be more confident of making it through the season on 5 sealed engines... madness!

One of the best solutions I ever saw on the forums here suggesting a fuel handicapping on championship winning bikes.

However, I've learned that the more you try to control things, the more devious the participants become and the more money they spend. Those with the most money stay at the front.

If fuel management is the main reason Suzuki is not enter next year, then MotoGP is in serious long term path to processional racing.

Like Ben Spies suggested, if they detuned the tires by about 10% to make it so that everyone could use the tires at 100%, then the electronics become less and less of a factor. What's even more obvious is that simply changing the rubber is by far the cheapest solution to implement real change in the series.

Thanks for shedding light on how the fuel (and spare engine) limits, adversely affect the sport, particularly for new or returning mfgs. Both the 21 liter and 5 engine limits are absurd in the context of; trying to breath life into the series, while simultaneously raising the bar of entry into the heavens. I completely understand imposing some limits for cost reasons, but the fuel limit is an engineering excercise gone awry.

A far easier "performance control" method (which all the current factories in MotoGP would instantly reject) would be simply having a rev limit of say 17,000 rpm (very easy to police) and allowing unlimited fuel, BUT a minimum bike weight at the end of the race.

This way the factories with all their fuel saving technology, can start the race a few kilos lighter than a lower budget team. Obviously as the race goes on the fuel weight starts to even out as all teams aim to finish with empty tanks.

It would allow the lower budget teams to develope their fuel saving technology at their own pace, and only sacrifice perhaps 3 - 4 kilos of weight at the start of the race.

David, its obvious that Cal already knew of the 2015 Suzuki plan hence the 'chat' with Yamaha management. But how likely is it that he will get a identical factory bike (at Tech-3) like Jlo99 and Rossi? Will he get a contract extension for 1 year with a true factory Yamaha ride for 2015 when Rossi leaves MotoGP?

Yes, rules to keep out competition, exactly. If you can't innovate (4 cylinders, max bore, high min weight), then advantage comes from maximum refinement. And refinement is just a question of basic engineering competence, time, and money. Given that Honda have the most money and have been at it for a long time, it is going to be very tough for anyone to come in and be competitive.

Otoh, maybe Ezpeleta has a strategy: let the MSMA regulate themselves into irrelevance, while encouraging more and more CRTs. They'll be a little slower, but not so much now. And I doubt the spectacle would be any less if everyone was on them. Suzuki could easily come in next year... by selling their new bike, as a CRT.

In another year or two, when the protos are trying to race on 18L and 4 engines and are being threatened by the CRTs, Honda and Yamaha will probably threaten to leave if the same idiotic rules aren't applied to the CRTs. At which point, their bluff should be called.
If they leave, it would be sad for the sophistication of the sport, but frankly high-tech is almost irrelevant to the Dorna marketing plan. A big bore version of Moto2 would do fine. And frankly, a multi-cylinder (2 or 3 would be fine) version of Moto3 would be a huge step forward.

And if not... I'll go for a ride :)

The cost of 5 Liters of fuel is much cheaper than any part (nut or bolt) of a MotoGP bike. Let them have as much as they want. Their only penalty is the extra weight the bike would carry. Let the laws of physics be the ruling body.

I wouldn't shed a tear. I've been a Motorcycle Grand Prix fan for 35 years, and it's because of the racing, not the engineering prowess. And I'm an engineer. I wholly agree, Dorna should say "these are the rules which will give us a good program. Take It or Leave It." Plenty of builders would take it. Honda would be the losers. I own a Honda (XR650R desert racer) because it's the best of that type ever produced. But I'm no Honda-phile. MotoGP is for racing. Period. You really think Honda owners wouldn't watch or go to the races because HRC decided they don't like the rules??

I'm a Honda fan. Usually pull for anyone riding one. I'm an even bigger fan of motorcycles. Especially racing them. I wouldn't miss a GP just because Honda aren't there. Plus, GP racing has survived without Honda before.

To me, Honda have the biggest ego of all the factories. They want to be number one. Anything less is considered a complete failure. For this reason, HRC will not leave. Sure they can do all the talk they want to but, at the end of the day. This is the main stage. They can go out and win countless SBK championships, yet they still won't have that true "world" crown. Look at Ducati, more SBK championships than anyone, yet they pulled their factory program to put all resources towards GP. This is why Honda won't leave. They need that world stage. They need that number one plate. And they need to be able to say they are the best in the world. And there's only one show at which you can do that. MotoGP.

Dorna could not say this is the series, these are the rules stay or go before now(ish). Admittedly by their own actions but fewer and fewer factory bikes put them in a weak position. Pre-CRT, had any of the three remaining manufacturers departed I suspect the sport would have collapsed. It was understandable Dorna felt they could not demand.

Furthermore, any manufacturer intent on leaving could move to a rival world class series and lose very little in the longer term. Dorna felt they couldn't demand.

Now with CRTs the sport and grid can and will survive and with Dorna controlling both world series, there is nowhere else to go for a manufacturer intent on global racing. So, if Dorna don't use the current favourable for them situation to call the bluff of manufacturers I fear they never will. Shame.

From my limited knowledge of F1, I believe Bridgestone were repeatedly requested to reduce the capabilities of their tyres. They wouldn't and as such the two parted company.

The same pattern seems to be happening in MotoGP so perhaps the same solution could improve the situation. Bridgestone leave and Pirelli, (who have had their own woes in WSBK, though) by intentional design or manufacturing philosophy, create a less able tyre.

Would this not help?

Maybe some of us want to see electronics reduced so we can see SKILLS of MEN demonstrated on the track rather than the skills of electronic wizardry? If the manufacturers continue to get their way, the sport is doomed. Their anti-competitive, short-sighted attitude serves only their selfish interests rather than those of SPORT. Has racing at the top level become more entertaining/interesting than back-in-the-day when Surtees, Ago, KR, Schwantz all thrilled us? How long before the manufacturers can simply stuff a racing suit with crumpled newspaper, stick a helmet on it and run the bike around via radio control while the "riders" rest comfortably and safely in the pits, only trotted out for the trophy presentation?

Not convinced randy, after the last few years would be able to get anywhere near the maximum out of the suzuki except perhaps on the straight..

The two worst things in motogp are leased bikes/engines and strict gas limits. Had teams purchased machines rather than leased them, the field could exercise control over the manufacturers constant rule changes by simply opting to run a previous bike, or as a group simply refuse to go along with the rule changes that one or two teams want. But since the bikes are leased, there is no vested interest in the remainder of the field to stop the crazy cost spiral of rule changes.
The gas limits simply benefit the lightest riders.

Sometimes it seems there are so few MotoGP 'fans' left that actually like MotoGP. And it's not like this is new, look back two years on this very site and the same petty arguments occur, usually between the very same people.

Just ask yourself, while watching the race on sunday afternoon, would you rather be doing something else? If the answer's yes, maybe it's time to let go... Far from me to tell anyone what to do, just a suggestion.

The sport will sort itself out. It always has. Maybe the factories will leave at some point and then come back later. Like they did in 1957. I am almost completely sure that if this site had existed back then, the exact same sort of posts would appear.

are what the sport appears to be lumbered with, and is resulting in a monopoly of performance and technical solutions - the antithesis of a 'prototype' series.

A monopoly is anti-competitive - in commercial as well as sport terms.

I'm not anti-Honda because I agree with the above post - their investment in all levels of motor sport has been a generally positive thing. It seems that outside of MGP that HRC are basically ignoring other series' though. They are like satellite operations and most of them seem to be more evenly matched against their peers - struggling even.

I'm not sure of Suzuki's reasons for trying to get back into MGP. Their satellite WSB programme is also struggling and engine/electronics tech seems to be left to the Yoshi/Crescent guys.

However, I ask myself why is any factory/major sponsor going to want to enter a series where it is so difficult to make a bike competitive and (seemingly) you need a magic rider/bike/crew combination to make it all happen? Look at Ducati.

The other question is at what point do they give up and leave?

More openness about who says/thinks what from the teams and less dictat would make everybody happier, I suspect. A few teams acting like Crutchlow and Edwards would be good entertainment - at the moment Poncheral seems to be the only team manager who is willing to talk openly. Even F1 isn't as tightly wrapped.