The 1000cc MotoGP Proposal As It Stands

There has been a good deal of talk in recent weeks about the proposed changes to the MotoGP class, but confusion still exists about exactly what those changes entail. When even our good friends, the normally extremely well-informed Jules Cisek and Jim Race over at the MotoGPOD podcast get the proposals wrong, then it's time for some clarification. And so we have set out below the state of the proposed rule changes, as they stand now, prior to the Grand Prix Commission meeting scheduled for December 11th, 2009.


The agreement governing the current rules package (i.e. 800cc prototypes) is due to expire at the end of 2011, and so the new rules will come into effect for the 2012 MotoGP season. Under the proposals currently being studied, the class will consist of the following machine types:

  • 1000cc factory prototypes. These will be prototypes much as they are today, but with some kind of rule package in place to limit engine speeds and keep down costs. Various sources inside the paddock suggest that only four cylinder prototypes will be allowed, and a fixed bore and stroke ratio will be put in place. By limiting bore size, the piston speeds generated by a relatively long stroke engine will ensure that engine speeds will be also be kept down to a reasonable maximum. The hope is also that the extra capacity will negate the need for higher engine speeds, with extra horsepower available at lower revs.
    Fuel will be kept at its current level, and a maximum number of engines for the year (probably 6 engines for 18 races) will also stay in place, as the manufacturers have been very happy with the R&D they have gained from this restriction, and they have learned a great deal about extending engine life which they can apply directly to their road bikes.
    These factory bikes may also be available to satellite teams to lease, just as they are in the current situation, but factories may choose to cut back the number of prototypes on the grid to save the costs of maintenance and production.
  • Modified 1000cc production engines in prototype chassis. The idea here is similar to the Moto2 class, but without the spec engine. Private teams could use the engine from a road bike as a basis, modifying it extensively to produce their own power plants. There are unlikely to be very many limits on the permitted modifications, and the end result is likely to bear very little resemblance to the engine it was based on, with new crankshafts, pistons, cylinder heads, beefed up crankcases, cassette gearboxes and a host of other changes. The FIM is likely to put limits on the bore and stroke, and these may be the only dimensions which remain unchanged from the original donor engines.
    These engines will be fitted into prototype chassis to be built by the teams or custom chassis builders, very much in the mould of Moto2. To avert the wrath of Infront Motor Sports and the World Superbike seriers, production chassis are likely to be strictly forbidden. However, the rumors that Aprilia could produce a prototype chassis to house a modified version of its RSV4 engine to sell to privateers could test the legal boundaries of this rule.


Under the terms of the current agreement, the rules could only change in 2011 if there is unanimous agreement between all of the manufacturers joined together in the MSMA. The manufacturers have a large investment in the current 800cc class, and they are unlikely to want to abandon this a year early. However, they may decide to allow the modified production engines in a year early, especially if that allows them to cut costs by reducing the number of bikes they lease to satellite teams. So, if the MSMA unanimously agree to allow it, in 2011 we could see the following bikes on track:

  • 800cc factory prototypes, basically, the bikes we see on track today.
  • Modified 1000cc production engines in prototype chassis. This would allow privateer teams to get a year's head start on the factories in developing their chassis, and give them a shot at being, if not competitive, then at least capable of staying close to the factories once they switch to 1000cc a year later.

For those readers interested in an exhaustive discussion of the background to these articles, we can highly recommend Dennis Noyes' exhaustive treatise on the state of the proposals so far, and the many obstacles and factors which may come into play before the proposals turn into regulations. Noyes' article is in three parts over on Speed TV, part 1, part 2 and part 3.

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How will privateer teams get a 1000cc bike to finish a race on just 21 liters of fuel?

The problem with the 800s is that they run full throttle a much greater percentage of the time that the 990s ever did. Upping the engine capacity to 1000cc may actually make it easier for the teams to manage on the available fuel. Where the 800s have regularly ended up without fuel at the end of a race, the 990s rarely, if ever, did. 

The 990s also had 22 litres of fuel. From my understanding a fair percentage of the electrickery going on in the 800s is there purely because 21 litres is insufficient. Surely allowing teams to run as much fuel as they want - it is in itself a weight handicap at the start of a race - would reduce costs for the proposed 1000cc engines. Besides, what advantage does limiting the fuel allowed, provide to a race series?

I definitely agree with the principles behind maintaining the current fuel capacity, but I can't see it accomplishing any good. At best, the 1000s might be able to finish more easily, at worst it will lead to more complicated electronics for traction control and engine braking and the rest. I'm not particularly keen on technical regulations that continue to expose MotoGP to things it cannot sustain.

Out of interest, phoenix, which principle(s) do you believe are behind the fuel limit?
I always thought it was a sop to climate change, which is crazy if true, given the fuel costs of transporting the GP circus around the world.
BTW, the electrickery which fuel limits lead to are not related to TC. Removing the limit would not affect the development of TC, launch control, wheelie control etc., but it would reduce the electronics required overall.

I was referencing the technological principles not moral principles. Longer stroke engines should extract more mechanical energy from a given quantity of fuel, and 1000cc engines should not spend as much time a peak throttle as an 800cc engine.

TC is related to fuel economy according to information recently brought to light on this website. I believe it was Preziosi who said Ducati changed their firing order so they could increase tractability and decrease fuel losses that result from traction control.

I'm not advocating the 21L fuel restrictions, I'm only saying that I understand the reasoning behind maintaining 21L. Even so, 21L of fuel can't possibly do any good, it will only expose the sport to the possibility that even more complicated electronics will be required in the future.

Hang on, they are thinking of restricting bore and stroke ratio as a means of limiting engine speed, to reduce cost. I would expect the result of that would be that the factories will spend masses on developing new alloys or manufacturing processes to allow thier pistons to run faster than the other guys, and not save anything.

Why don't they just fix a rev limit - I am sure it is not impossible to police, and this would definitely have the desired effect. I guess there would be little in the way of new development (that might ultimatley filter down to road bikes) but if the objective is to save money a bore and stroke limit will not work - IMO.

Getting the Cases and internals to live for three races would be the tough part. Proddy engine case castings and internals are designed to last a given time at a given work level. You may be able to get 250hp from a proddy engine for a short period of time but if they are expected to last three full races including qualifying??? Maybe this makes for even more robust street bikes, which could have the undesirable effect of further narrowing the gap between Superbike and MotoGP lap times. All this is a slippery slope. On the one hand you have to maintain on track superiority to WSBK. On the other hand you have to at least attempt to control costs.

In that case they should be no limit of engines thru out the season if ur using production derived engines.

I think its all too early still...I personally can't wait for this..

I'm worried the prevailing wisdom within GP is: 1000cc>8000cc regardless of the technical regulations. If GPC has given in to an oversimplified absolutist ethos, they are setting themselves up for further failure.

F1 has demonstrated that fixed cylinder counts and bore stroke ratios give way to rev limits and fixed engine configurations. The FIM need to do themselves a favor and impose a rev limit now. Let the manufacturers play with bore-stroke so they can manipulate engine life and tune the engines for a specific torque output. Impose a min bore so teams can't use stock production blocks.

Also garnish the sport with some common sense. Use production versions of aluminum and titanium to build the engines--get rid of any space shuttle stuff unless they are using it as a counterweight. Mandate desmo or spring vavles. Unlimited fuel. Let them race and make minor adjustments to the rev limits as time goes on until a reduction in capacity is required.

Go racing!

It's hard to complain about more bikes, but i'll give it a light hearted go :)

What chance does a hopped up gsx-r stand against a factory prototype of the same size? - none at all.

Who wants to see back markers being lapped, potentially affecting the outcome of races? - well, it would add some interest to those run away wins Dani and Casey are known for.

Who wants to ride around in last on a 3rd string bike? - talmasci excluded.

What is the point of filler in the grid? Quantity over quality? - Super Big Gulp!

Wouldn't this thin out the limited sponsorship base that teams are crying about?

In my fantasy world each factory would run 4 bikes. 2 for the A-team and 2 for the up and coming team and anyone about to be lapped would be yanked off the track by a giant crane.

Excuse my rambling and don't take it too serious.

Phoenix1 and les bring up some most important points. I think Poncheral saying that nothing has been mentioned about production bikes is something to pay attention to. But if the rules are made to fill the grid it won't really help anything.

I wish I could just be a fan of World Endurance. You'd think that would be the real proving ground for teams, tires and factories. It just makes for crap TV.

I'd tend to agree that exotic materials or practices aren't relevant. But ruling them out leaves the question about how these true advancements will ever become an available reality. If they are never used, no one will work on the process to make carbon fiber or other composite parts more reliable and/or cheaper to manufacture.

And a great challenge I'd like to see met is for the Japanese to out-Desmo Ducati and make their own versions of mechanically closed valves.

I think they should ban exotic materials that will most likely never be cheap. For instance, exotic metallic alloys will likely never be cheap b/c they contain rare materials and the manufacturing costs are very high. Carbon fiber, on the other hand, is expensive primarily b/c of the costs of synthesis.

My ulterior motive is to see oval pistons be allowed once again. Trade metals and materials that will never make it to the production market, and allow engine configurations and designs that may be production relevant someday as manufacturing costs decrease.

I may be wrong, as I believe Triumph made a single cylinder oval piston engine many years ago, but I thought the oval piston engine was just a way to get around the maximum cylinder regulations? Basically, build a V8, with 8 con rods, 32 valves, 8 spark plugs etc, then file away the metal between each paid of cylinders and fit a single oval piston on to each pair of con rods. Tadaaah - a 4 cylinder engine!

Surely engineering oval cylinders (and piston rings) is more expensive than rounds ones? And not as effective as a true V8?

Methinks (direct injecton) 2 stokes are the way to go as far as cost is concerned .... :-)

This 4-cylinder limit seems specifically targeted at preventing HRC from dusting off the ingenious V-5 990 motor...  and that is a shame.

That would be embarrassing for them. Plus, I think it was pretty clear that Rossi and Yamaha made the RC211V look not all that special.

What would be interesting is a KTM-like capacitive KERS and the Peter Clifford plan of fewer gears. The recurring theme of changing energy models suggests they are going for something 'green' in this plan. Light weight systems seem like a better idea for bikes than batteries and maybe they could help bridge the gap between powerband peaks and wider gears. Electronics can save money!

Speaking of Clifford's idea of using gearboxes with fewer gears, what would be a few good reasons why manufacturers would be against going with such an idea?

in a nutshell the 990s put on a better show that both the fans and riders prefeered over the current format . adding the 1000production based engines is icing on the cake . This proposal is getting thumbs up by the manufactures for cheaper costs and balance ut the moto2 format . All I can see is plusses and no llong run downside . Enough talk . Sign the customary paperwork and get the ball rolling