Rookies-Only Test Approved For November

The reduction in testing has been a double-edged sword in MotoGP, allowing costs to be cut on the one hand, but punishing the six rookies due to enter the class for the 2010 season. With so many rookies coming, the factories - or at least one of them - have been keen to bend the rules to help the incomers adapt to MotoGP. The request for more testing for the rookies faced a lot of opposition, and up until this morning, it looked like it would be denied.

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2010 MotoGP Calendar To Be Reshuffled After Valencia

Putting together a season of international motorcycle racing is difficult enough at the best of times. But the 2010 calendar has proven to be a particularly tough nut to crack, as the FIFA Soccer World Cup and a reshuffle of the Formula One calendar has wreaked havoc and caused a number of high-profile clashes. Le Mans is scheduled for the same weekend as the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix, and the Misano MotoGP round is due to clash with the Monza Formula One race. Add the fact that several World Cup soccer matches are likely to be played at the same time as some of the MotoGP races, and the complexity of the calendar is complete.

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MotoGP Riders Using Extra Engine To Be Sent To Back Of Grid

Since the introduction of the new engine durability rules, aimed at cutting costs in the series, much debate has centered on the punishment to be meted out to anyone using an extra engine. In the original rules introduced earlier this year, punishment for any rider forced to use an extra engine outside of their allocation of 5 for the last 7 races of the season would be to have 10 points deducted. This has met with much resistance from the riders, who were all in favor of being put to the back of the grid, rather than having points deducted, as they felt it would at least give them a chance to compete.

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Severely Curtailed 2010 MotoGP Winter Test Schedule - Valencia, Sepang, Losail

In the pursuit of radical cost-cutting measures, testing has been one of the main targets of all parties involved in the MotoGP series. Post-race testing has already been cut back to what many perceive to be the bare minimum, with one-day tests after the Barcelona and Brno MotoGP rounds, but the cuts to winter testing have been nothing short of radical. Instead of six or seven multi-day tests, as was the case in 2007 and 2008, winter tests have been cut back to just three true winter tests, plus testing after the final race of the season at Valencia.

The testing season kicks off on the Tuesday and Wednesday after Valencia - traditionally the time at which riders switching teams get their first shot at their new bikes. There will then be a three-month layoff during which no testing will be done at all, before the teams head out to Malaysia for a couple of two-day sessions, starting on the 4th and 21st of February. Three weeks later, the teams return to Qatar for another two-day test from March 14th, in preparation for the season opener four weeks later.

The new test schedule sees a break with tradition and the end of a pre-season aperitif: Apart from the traditional post-race tests at Valencia, no testing will be done in Europe during the off-season. What this also means is an end to the official IRTA tests in Spain, which had turned into something of a crowd pleaser over the past few years, with upwards of 35,000 fans turning up to watch the single one-hour qualifying session shootout for a BMW M coupe, referred to by the fans as "Grand Prix Zero". As yet, it is unclear whether the shootout for the BMW will take place at the final test at Qatar or not, but all the signs are that this, too, has been consigned to history.

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MSMA: Engines To Be Leased From 2011, More Details To Follow At Estoril

MotoGP's biggest problem right now is the number of bikes on the grid. The withdrawal of Kawasaki, leaving just a single bike in the Hayate team cut the grid down to 18 bikes, and once Sete Gibernau's Grupo Francisco Hernando team pulled out, the field was cut just to 17. With Kawasaki almost certain to withdraw the last remaining bike from the Hayate team next year and the return of the extra Ducati for the Aspar team, the grid is likely to stay at 17, though it could increase to 18 if Honda does add an extra bike, as HRC has hinted it might.

To deal with this problem, and drastically reduce the costs of participation, Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta suggested that the rules be altered to allow production-based 1000cc engines in prototype chassis to run against the existing 800cc full prototypes. As a serious suggestion, it was almost certainly doomed from the start, but as a bargaining gambit, it has been a stroke of genius. The suggestion immediately jolted MSMA into action, and at the Sachsenring, the manufacturers organization offered a counter proposal to lease just 800cc prototype engines on their own, rather than entire bikes. They asked the Grand Prix Commission, MotoGP's rulemaking body, for some time to come up with a more detailed proposal, which they promised to present at the meeting scheduled for this weekend at Indianapolis.

That proposal was presented this morning to the Grand Prix Commission - sort of. After the Grand Prix Commission met, the press release issued contained only a few minor detail changes to the 2009 tire regulations, so tracked down Herve Poncharal, boss of the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team and IRTA's representative inside the Grand Prix Commission and asked him just what the MSMA's proposal had consisted of. The answer, it appears, is a little more complicated than just a straight proposal. 

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Honda Against MotoGP Engine Leasing Proposal

The press conference given by HRC President Tetsuo Suzuki was remarkable in many more ways than one. The announcement that Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso had been signed to new contracts, subsequently denied by Alberto Puig, then clarified as a "basic agreement" was the most striking news to come out of that press conference, but the press conference contained more than just the rider announcement.

Buried among the big news of the basic agreement with Dovizioso and Pedrosa and the statement that HRC would not be signing Jorge Lorenzo was some potentially more significant news on the future of MotoGP. At the press conference, Mr Suzuki also discussed the proposal put forward by the MSMA a month ago at the Sachsenring to lease just engines to teams, in an echo of the Moto2 class and Kenny Roberts' Team KR effort. According to Michael Scott in the excellent online magazine GPWeek, Honda is opposed to the idea. "We prefer to lease entire machines," the HRC boss told the press conference, though he stressed he was speaking on behalf of Honda, and not for the MSMA.

The proposal to lease engines was put forward by the MSMA in response to the suggestion put forward by Dorna of using highly modified 1000cc production engines in the bikes, alongside the existing 800cc full prototype equipment. Both of these proposals are aimed at drastically cutting the cost of participating in MotoGP,  something that all parties acknowledge is a problem.

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2010 MotoGP Provisional Calendar Announced

The FIM today announced the provisional calendar for the 2010 MotoGP season. The provisional calendar looks broadly similar to this year, but there are a few key changes. Firstly, the British Grand Prix, now moved to Silverstone, is much earlier than its counterpart at Donington, moved up over a month to early June. This disrupts the traditional pairing of the Italian and Catalunya Grand Prix, with the Barcelona round being put back to early July, instead of the first or second weekend after the Mugello round. 

One interesting point to note is the inclusion of a "reserve circuit". After the effects of the financial crisis, together with permit problems, meant that Balatonring circuit was not completed in time for the planned race in the middle of September this year, the FIM and Dorna have wisely elected to have a backup plan, in case the situation repeats itself. That is an entirely realistic prospect, as the Balatonring circuit continues to be dogged by problems.

Should the series need to switch to the reserve circuit, then it would mean that Spain would see four Grand Prix run on its soil. The Motorland Aragon Circuit is a brand new track which has been built near Alcañiz, Aragon, Spain, a couple of hundred kilometers inland from Barcelona. The circuit is trying to attract both Formula One and MotoGP, though whether the Spanish economy is strong enough to sustain four MotoGP rounds has to be in doubt.

Provisional 2010 MotoGP Calendar 

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FIM Clarifies "Rookie Rule" - Less Than 9 Races Make A Rookie

Words are tricky things. Immediately after the announcement of the so-called rookie rule, debate immediately broke out over the meaning of the words "rookie" and "factory team." The response of Dorna and the FIM has been a little too akin to that of Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Carroll's Through The Looking Glass, insisting that when they use a word, it means exactly what they choose it to mean, neither more nor less.

Of course, this was not going to be a tenable situation for long. Speculation was rife in the press that factory teams could consider signing promising young stars such as Marco Simoncelli, Alvaro Bautista or Ben Spies for the last few races once they'd secured (or failed to secure) their current championships, then claim that because they'd been under contract in 2009, they should no longer be regarded as "rookies" and could go straight to factory teams for 2010.

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FIM Announces Electric Motorcycle Racing Series

We at are very excited about electric motorcycle races, as we wrote just a couple of weeks ago on the subject of the TTXGP. Oil is an incredibly useful resource - almost every object in your home is made using at least some parts made from it - and burning the stuff seems like sacrilege, however satisfying the resulting noise and smell may be. The day is drawing near that oil will become too expensive to burn, and some form of alternative energy supply will have to be found. Racing, in the form of a motorcycle race for electric machines, can help bring that day closer.

Evidently, the FIM agrees. For today, the International Motorcycling Federation announced that they will sanction a race series for electric motorcycles in 2010. The move has been prompted by the success of the TTXGP race which took place during the week of the TT on the Isle of Man, where the winning entry lapped the historic Mountain course at an average of over 87 miles per hour, and three other entries lapped at over 70 miles per hour. 

The advent of a series for electric motorcycles was inevitable, as prototypes are only a few years away from hitting mass production. Once that happens, and if they manage to sell enough units, the subject of homolgation for the World Superbike series would have been raised, and the FIM would have been faced with the problem of working out how to compare them with the existing four-stroke Superbikes. By creating a separate series for electric bikes, that problem is neatly sidestepped. And if the rules are similar to those for the TTXGP, this could be the most open motorcycle racing class currently running, and a real hotbed of innovation.

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27 Teams And 41 Riders Accepted For Moto2 Class In 2010

The Moto2 class received a veritable avalance of entries, as the announcement by the FIM that 47 teams had submitted entries for 91 riders made clear. The grid was never going to be big enough for all of those entries, with only 34 starting places planned for the series, and at Barcelona, the Selection Committee (comprised of Dorna, the FIM and IRTA) met to whittle down the entries to something more manageable.

But the parties involved clearly wanted to keep hold of the enthusiasm for the class, and so at the meeting in Barcelona, they decided to expand the field to allow 27 teams and 41 riders. A further 10 teams were placed on the reserve list, while 10 teams had their requests rejected. The teams now have until the Portuguese Grand Prix in early October to confirm their entries, including details of the team structure, the bikes and the riders. The teams will then face a further round of vetting based on these entries.

No details are yet available as to which teams have been accepted, and which turned down, but we shall bring you that news when we find out more. But given the size of the entries, it is likely that all of the MotoGP satellite teams, all of the current 250cc class teams, as well as a select few other teams are likely to be among the chosen few - or rather, the chosen many. The Moto2 grid will be one of the largest in international road racing, and much larger than the 250cc class has been for a long time.


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