Guy Coulon Not Worried By New Engine Limits

Since Mika Kallio crashed Casey Stoner's Ducati GP9 twice at the last race at Brno, one of the things that we at have been interested in is how the crashes will affect the way the teams view the new rules limiting engine numbers. Now that we are here at Indianapolis, we have an opportunity to ask the people who should know, the crew chiefs and engineers.

The first person we buttonholed was Colin Edwards' Monster Tech 3 Yamaha crew chief Guy Coulon. How has the engine rule worked out so far, we wanted to know. "It's too early to say," Coulon said. "We have only had one race. When we have had three races, then we will know more." Coulon emphasized that he was not particularly worried, and that the work on engine durability was being done at Yamaha, and was not something that the Tech 3 satellite team had much input on.

As for crashes, they were unlikely to be a problem. "Crashes are not a problem for us," he said. During practice, the engines are fitted with a special cutoff, which kills the engine immediately in the event of a crash, and even then, for the Yamaha at least, the design and layout of the air intake means that getting any gravel or dirt in the engine is extremely unlikely. The airbox has an air filter fitted, and the airbox itself is located in such a place that it is very unlikely to be ripped off in the event of a crash.

Crash damage to the engine casings is also unlikely. "It has never been a problem before," Coulon said, and indicated that they had so far not had an engine lost to crash damage. The layout of the inline 4 is so narrow that all of the engine casings fall inside the frame, and are unlikely to sustain damage when taking a tumble through the gravel. This ingenious design makes the use of crash protection unnecessary, the only protection being a strong carbon fiber piece which protects the engine mount, which could conceivably snap off in the event of a crash.

Though Coulon was not concerned about the engine restrictions, during the pre-race press conference, Colin Edwards and Valentino Rossi complained about it bitterly. "We are a little bit down on top speed," Rossi said, and Colin Edwards was far more forthright: "The guy that came up with this five engines for seven races, I need to have a talk with him," he said. "I think next year is going to be really difficult, I think, for everybody, six engines for 18 races. That's a hint to everybody out there. We're not in economic slowdown any more, I think we're coming out of it, so let's change that rule quick."

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While some MotoGP enthusiasts are against the new engine rule, I'm firmly in the for group. It may initially cut power but I think it will eventually allow the manufacturers to put more bikes, either in satellite or full factory form, on the grid. In addition I'd also like to hope that the new rules for next year will bring the satellite bikes, at least in terms of engines, closer to factory spec.

I'm gonna hafta go with Kropotkin/David on this one.

Higher longevity is going to increase cost. The materials are just that much more expensive, as is the R&D for making them last longer.

It also leads, ultimately, to the possibility that riders will have brilliant rides nullified by engine failures. Massa at Valencia, 2008, springs readily to mind.

It'll be nerve-wracking. But it'll be the sport I love.

I think *any* change to the technical regulations will increase costs because there will always be the initial R&D investment needed to meet the specifications, whether it be bringing the displacement back up to liter bike status, bringing it down to 750cc, or making it so that you can have an unlimited amount of engines for the entire weekend.

That being said, after all the initial development costs, I cannot see how having an engine lasting 3 races will be more expensive than an engine that gets replaced/rebuilt every race weekend. Over the course of 18 races next year, the cost of using 6 engines, even if they cost twice as much compared to the costs of 18 engines would grant a significant savings.

In regards to engine failures, they will happen regardless of the rules. Look up 'motogp engine failure' and I'm sure that you will find many instances where there were no rules regarding engine longevity.

Once the initial R&D costs are taken away, I think it would allow the manufacturers a significant cost reduction over the course of the next several years; a savings that would hopefully allow them to field more bikes.

Good points. I guess that I am not looking at the new engine rules with ANY type of RULE-LONGEVITY in mind. I think that I'm automatically assuming that any rule change is gonna be fleeting, at best. Over time, I suppose that the rule changes could conceivably mean some budget-cutting, but the cost of exotic materials used would work against that, along with one other possible factor.

That factor is whether or not the engines are submitted--sealed--at the beginning of the year, one fourth of the way through, halfway through, or when.

If all the engines had to be sealed at the beginning of the season, it would be MUCH more likely to have a shot at cutting costs, but part of the way through the season, one team would find a way to extend the life of their engine, and they'd go and retrofit all their engines under some "rider safety" clause/loophole in the sporting regulations, and that would send costs up and up once again. I believe that it works something like that in F1, and it seems that Ezpeleta sometimes has starry-eyed views of F1-style rules.

I am HUGELY in the camp of "leave it ALONE!", and I still find myself pining like some old codger for the charming, pleasant, peaceful, and exciting days of the good ol' 990s. Ah, the days where satellites could win, there was more horsepower than could be used, and where a man held his destiny--AND his throttle cable--in his own hands...

(I mean, after all, back in those days, the 990s were (according to the teams) de-tuned (Honda once said by 20%), and therefore theoretically capable of impressive longevity.)

At least, that's what seems logical to me. I don't know. Maybe I'm just resistant to change.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I gotta go program my VCR to record Gilligan's Island...

anybody out there know of a motogp app for blackberry? the one on the motogp website wont work w my fone. yea yea shoulda got an i phone.....

I'm firmly against! actually with all their stupid s%!% rules as far as limited testing,fuel capacity,mini motors (800) and such I see moto gp falling behind WSB as far as viewers in a few years.

What I expect in a first class motorcycle roadracing orginization is 1000cc, unlimited fuel, hardly limited off season testing, and the best riders $$$$ can buy!

I find myself far more interested in WSB this year than moto gp.

Maybe they should call this their latest "safety measure".  This could bring speeds down to WSBK (on the same tracks) and create further questions about distinction.

If the day arrives that they get slower than WSBK, what then?

... but the Prototypes are currently faster than the Superbikes at the same tracks, and it's highly unlikely that is going to change.

If they were on the track together, a superbike would be out-braked going into the corner, left even further behind with the far superior corner speed of a prototype, and any advantage in grunt the superbike has is not going to be enough to make up the difference (even if they were the same weight, which they're not) coming out of a corner or down the straight.

Fear not exotica weenies.

Based on Guy Coulon's comments about the narrow I4 layout and therefore the lack of need for crash protection for the layout, I ask if ANY of the other teams use crash protection? I have not yet checked my Neil Spalding text, but I would guess that the V5 and V4 layouts are narrower than the I4 layout. That would lead one to suspect that they too do not use any crash protection.

P.S. My recent absence from posting has been due to extensive H-D engineering layoffs (which caught me among many others). My interest in motorcycles and motorsports remain as strong as ever.

Glad to see you back. Hope you find a better opportunity soon. I think I still owe you an email.

Anyway, I had the same thought. A quick look through the Spaulding tome revealed nothing that stood out as a concern for crash protection.

Sorry, I don't see the logic in thinking that, because the manufacturers now must build engines that last longer, they would then somehow be able to, or even want to put more bikes on the grid. The manufacturers are supposedly going to be saving money—at least that was the idea behind this gambit—so to imagine they would then turn around and build more race bikes seems like wishful thinking at best.

If I'm missing something here, please square me up. I'd like to know.