FIM

Donington Park Gets FIM Approval, Settles Claim For Unpaid Rent

After months of difficulty, Donington Park's difficulties appear to be at an end. The circuit killed two birds with one stone today, announcing both that it had passed the FIM inspection ahead of this months World Superbike and next month's MotoGP round, and that the track owners had reached a settlement with DVLL, the company running the track.

The track had been facing scrutiny after a new paddock access tunnel was put in place for the Formula 1 Grand Prix, due to take place in 2010, creating problems with run off. A number of events had been canceled and postponed this year, with some events taking place under a yellow flag at the section around McLeans. But a visit by FIM Safety Officer Claude Danis confirmed that the necessary changes had been made to restore run off between McLeans and Coppice. With the FIM licence now granted, the planned rounds of World Superbikes and MotoGP can go ahead unhindered.

In a press release issued by Donington Ventures Leisure Limited, the circuit CEO Simon Gillett said, "This is great news for everybody at Donington Park and all of the fans. The ticket sales for both of our world class motorcycle racing events have been extremely positive and we'd like to thank the fans who have remained loyal and believed in us for committing to buying tickets. We have already sold 50 per cent more tickets than we had at this time last year for World Superbikes and the sales of our MotoGP tickets have remained at the same level. We've also now opened up the opportunity for the on the day tickets for both events, which should encourage more fans to come and witness safe, enjoyable and exciting two-wheel racing at one of the UK's premier motorsport circuits. I'd like to thank the FIM for the positive working relationship that we have so far enjoyed and look forward to continuing to work with them in the future."

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Friday FIM Inspection At Donington To Determine Fate Of British Grand Prix

The future of the British Grand Prix hangs in the balance on Friday, as the Donington Park circuit faces an inspection from the FIM's safety officer Claude Danis, according to UK weekly Motorcycle News. The circuit has undergone massive work to prepare it for the Formula 1 Grand Prix which is scheduled to be run here in 2010 - if the company that runs the circuit doesn't lose the lease of financial problems beforehand.

The sticking point has been the reduced runoff at McLeans, caused by the building of a new paddock access tunnel between the McLeans and Coppice corners. According to MCN, the FIM has told Donington Ventures Leisure Limited, the company that runs the track, that the amount of runoff at McLeans must be the same as it was last year, and DVLL has given no indication that this is not the case. The circuit has already hosted racing in the British Superbike Championship, but Claude Danis told MCN that as the FIM is not involved in organizing BSB, they have to organize their own safety inspections.

If the track fails the inspection, then Donington will have two more weeks to rectify the situation. They would then face another inspection to verify the changes. If Donington Park were to fail the safety checks, then the MotoGP series could lose its second race of the season. Rumors had emerged that a race could take place at Imola, to replace the scrapped Hungarian round at the Balatonring, but organizers in Italy worry that with two rounds of MotoGP and three rounds of World Superbikes already planned to take place in the country, and in the midst of an economic crisis, Italian fans would simply not have enough money to afford to attend yet another round of international motorcycle racing.

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91 Riders Enter Moto2 In 2010, And Aprilia Offer Free RSA 250s To Compete

The FIM today announced the official number of entries for the Moto2 class, and the numbers are stunning: 47 teams submitted entries, for a total of 91 riders. Any worries about a lack of entries have now been completely discarded, the huge numbers offering Dorna and the FIM an embarrassment of riches.

The press release from the FIM also offered one interesting detail: All of the entries submitted were for Moto2 machines, with the exception of one two-rider team. That team is believed to be Gilera, if reports over at GPOne.com are correct.

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MotoGP Tire Rules Tweaked - Front Tires

When the single tire rule was announced, there were a number of concerns over just how well it would work. So far, those fears have gone largely unrealized, in part due to the weather cutting down on track time, but also because Bridgestone's tires have been working across a wide enough temperature range that almost everyone has been able to use the potential of the tires.

There have been critical voices, of course. Valentino Rossi, in particular, has said that he would like a third compound to choose from, as he believes the overlap between the two compounds available is not great enough. There have also been complaints about the lack of dual compound tires, with softer compounds on the sides of tires and a harder compound in the middle, though these tires are scheduled to make an appearance later this summer. The biggest problem, though, has been the need to conserve the tires which will be used during the race, leaving riders to go out on track on tires they know they won't be using on Sunday, and gathering data which isn't directly useful for finding a race setup.

After the Le Mans round of MotoGP, the Grand Commission met to discuss the tire situation, and decided to make some minor alterations to address this last issue. The allocation of front tires has been modified slightly, so that as of the Dutch TT at Assen, the riders will be able to choose to take either 4 of each of the two available compounds, or 5 of one compound and 3 of the other. The allocation of rear tires - 6 of each of the two available compounds - will remain unnchanged.

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Official: Honda To Be Moto2 Supplier, Practice Back To One Hour

The Grand Prix Commission met today at Jerez, to discuss a number of rule changes. Below is the press release issued by the GP Commission, more reaction to follow:

The Permanent Bureau composed of Messrs. Vito Ippolito (FIM President) and Carmelo Ezpeleta (Dorna CEO) in a meeting held on May 2 in Jerez de la Frontera (Spain), unanimously decided to introduce the following amendment to the Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix Regulations.

Application 2010

Moto2 class:

Amongst various offers received, it has been decided that the single engine supplier will be Honda who offers high level performance engine. The horse power will be over 150.

Next year only this category will also be open to the current 250cc motorcycles.

___________________________________________________________

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Honda To Be Awarded Moto2 Contract?

The Moto2 saga is edging to a conclusion, and the well-connected Italian site GPOne.com is reporting the preliminary results. GPOne.com sums the series up in Jeopardy! style: Honda, free, Ten Kate, open, today or tomorrow. Which are the one-word answers to the most important questions surrounding the class.

Put less briefly, the class will look as follows: Honda will be awarded the engine contract for the Moto2 series, and will make the engines available to Dorna. Dorna will make the engines available to the teams at zero cost. The engines will be farmed out to the Ten Kate Racing workshop in the Netherlands for maintenance, as Ten Kate have a lot of experience with Honda's four-stroke racing engines. Tires for the class will be open to competition, so there will not be a spec tire, and the decision is expected to be formally announced today or tomorrow.

With these measures, Dorna hopes to have a grid of 28 bikes competing in the Moto2 class next year, and GPOne.com says that contrary to earlier reports, the 2010 season will not see mixed grids. This means that 2010 will see the middleweight class featuring only the 600cc four strokes, with the 250cc two strokes sent off to an early grave, or more likely dispatched to race in various local series (or grace collectors' front rooms, no doubt).

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Decisions On Moto2 Engine And 1 Hour Practice Expected At Jerez

Ever since the Grand Prix Commission announced that the new Moto2 class would be contested by 600cc four strokes, the new class has been surrounded by controversy and argument. And argument continues to dog the class at Motegi, but this time, the argument is much more positive. A decision was expected from the Grand Prix Commission on who would be awarded the contract to supply the spec engine to the class at the Japanese Grand Prix, but the members of the commission face a problem.

According to Motorcycle News' Matthew Birt, the problem is that while it was expected that there would be only a single tender submitted, it seems that more than one manufacturer is interested in the class. As a consequence, the bids will have to be studied in more detail before the contract can be awarded, and that therefore the decision will have to wait until the next race at Jerez in a week's time.

Rumors had previously emerged that Kawasaki would be awarded the contract, but the news that other parties are interested complicates the situation. No news is available on who those other bidders might be, although several companies, including the US-based Cosentino Engineering had expressed a firm interest in the class. But the most likely party to be awarded the contract will be one of the major Japanese manufacturers, if only because they already have the capacity in place to supply the 100+ engines such a class is likely to require.

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MotoGP Practice Sessions To Be Extended To One Hour Again

One of the biggest changes made to the MotoGP series as a result of the cost-cutting measures introduced over the winter has been the reduction in the length of practice. The Friday morning sessions have been scrapped, and the three remaining sessions have been cut from 1 hour in length to just 45 minutes. The aim was to reduce the number of miles put on the engines, reducing the amount of maintenance the engines would require.

But the reduced practice time came under a lot of criticism at Qatar, the first time this was tried in practice. The short sessions left the riders - especially the rookies - much less track time to get used to the bikes, and put huge pressure on the teams and riders to hurry through changes to settings, without enough time to think them through properly. The Grand Prix Commission was sympathetic to these concerns, and studied proposals to fix the issues.

Now, a compromise has been found, according to Motorcycle News. The Grand Prix Commission is due to meet prior to the Motegi Grand Prix, and will approve the sessions will be extended to one hour again, to give the riders more time to get the bikes sorted out. But to enforce the object of the rules - reduced engine mileage, making the bikes last longer between engine rebuilds - a limit will be placed on the number of laps the riders will be allowed to do, depending on the length of the track, ensuring that more time does not equal more laps.

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Kawasaki To Get Moto2 Spec Engine Deal?

Ever since it was realized that any attempt to field modified road bikes in Moto2 would be scuppered by a nuclear strike from Infront Motor Sports, the organization that runs World Superbikes and has an exclusive contract with the FIM to race production motorcycles, Dorna, the FIM and the teams have been casting about for a solution. What they came up with to avoid the confrontation with the Flammini brothers was for the the engines to be supplied by a single supplier, thus handily sidestepping the "production" problem altogether.

The contract for the spec engine was to open to public tender, and would last for three years. But ever since the proposal emerged at the IRTA Test at Jerez, there have been murmurings that the deal to supply the series had already been stitched up behind closed doors, and the open tender process would be a mere formality.

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Moto2 Confirmed As A Single Class

Just a single throwaway line, yet so full of meaning. The FIM today issued a press release with the outcome of deliberations of the Grand Prix Commission:

"For 2010

The commission unanimously accepted the proposition of the MSMA to have a “One Make Engine Regulation” in the Moto2 class. The name of the manufacturer will be announced later."

What this means is that, as expected, the Moto2 class will use a spec engine. And there are a lot of good reasons to do so, not least the history of conflict between Dorna, the Flamminis and the FIM over the definition of a prototype. By requiring a spec engine from a single supplier, any teams being tempted to use an engine out of a road bike, and thereby incurring the wrath of the Flamminis and Infront Motor Sports, the organization which runs World Superbikes, would have to think again.

Of course the ostensible reason - and a very good one - is that by removing the need to compete on the basis of engine development, the costs of running a Moto2 bike will be drastically reduced. This is a perfectly valid line of reasoning, though the fact remains that teams go racing to win, and will spend whatever money they can rustle up to try and do so. Though the bikes may not end up costing as much as the Aprilia RSA 250s they are meant to replace, they are unlikely to be cheap.

The one question left is who will be awarded the engine contract. MotoGPMatters.com has already been contacted by one engine supplier, desperate to submit a tender for the contract, but unable to find the proper channels to approach the FIM through. Knowing the FIM, the process will be open, transparent and honest. But it would help if they published the guidelines for application somewhere publicly.

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