MotoGP is right in the middle of team launch season, and most of these are fairly meaningless events - Yamaha's launch was "virtual" which turned out to mean they posted some stuff up on the website, while Repsol Honda's launch was virtual for Dani Pedrosa, as the injured Spaniard had to attend by satellite link. And if the factory team launches are fatuous, then satellite team launches, tragically, would seem to be almost entirely irrelevant.
Except for the launch of Fausto Gresini's San Carlo Gresini Honda team, that is. For while the rider interviews consisted of the usual platitudes - Toni Elias feeling like he is coming home, Alex de Angelis believing he is stronger than last year - the team had a special guest present at the launch. Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta was also present, and the enquiring minds over at Italian site GPOne.com seized the opportunity to grill the Spanish MotoGP boss.
Their time was well spent, as Ezpeleta once again laid out his view of where MotoGP will be heading in the years to come. For Ezpeleta, the chief issue facing MotoGP was to cut costs. "We have introduced measures to cut costs. The only problem facing MotoGP is one of costs," Ezpeleta said. The Dorna CEO told GPOne that the Grand Prix Commission will be meeting after the IRTA tests at Jerez to discuss more dramatic cost-cutting measures.
These measures will once again drastically cut the amount of time the bikes spend on the track. "In 2010, it's almost certain that the bikes will be on track for only two days," Ezpeleta said. "On Friday, we'll have an open paddock, but the bikes will only hit the track on Saturday and Sunday." The objective is "Maximum spectacle, while reducing costs. In 2008, some engines could only last for 600 km at a Grand Prix. This is a huge cost, and unnecessary. At first we could afford this, but not any more."
But Ezpeleta has the electronics in his sight too. "We agree with the FIM that the technological proposals belong to the constructors. They want to reduce the electronics themselves, above all, they want to halt the increasing role of electronics in the future. But I have to repeat, this is MotoGP, this is the pinnacle of motorcycle racing. We can't go backwards, but we need to find a balance between costs and motorcycle development."
Ezpeleta remains optimistic that the measures taken will have effect. The Spaniard is convinced than in 2010, there will be at least 20 bikes on the grid. Just where the extra bikes would come from is a bit of a mystery, as Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki have all said that they do not intend to field more bikes next year. Which, as GPOne points out, leaves only Ducati ...
For Italian speakers, GPOne.com has an audio file of the interview with Ezpeleta.