MotoGP's Claiming Rule To Be Dropped From 2014

MotoGP's Claiming Rule is set to be consigned to the history books. At the next meeting of the Grand Prix Commission at Barcelona, a proposal will be put forward to abandon the claiming rule altogether. With the advent of the new distinction, between MSMA entries and non-MSMA entries, the need to claim an engine ceased to exist. The demise of the claiming rule opens the way towards the leasing of Yamaha engines to private teams without fear of those engines being claimed by other factories.

The claiming rule had been instigated at the start of 2012, to allow the grid to expand. At the end of 2011, with the departure of Suzuki, and both Honda and Ducati cutting back the number of satellite bikes they were prepared to provide, numbers on the MotoGP grid looked like falling to as low as 13 or 14 bikes. The switch back to 1000cc engines meant a rich spectrum of engines was available to custom chassis builders, to produce affordable race bikes. To allow such teams to compete with the full factory efforts, such teams were allowed extra fuel (24 liters instead of 21), and double the factory engine allowance, 12 instead of 6. To prevent new factories from taking advantage of the loophole, the MSMA members - the factories involved in MotoGP - retained the right to claim the engine of such teams. Hence the name, Claiming Rule Team or CRT.

The new rules proposed for 2014 make the claiming rule obsolete. With the introduction of spec ECU hardware, the teams now have the choice of either running their own ECU software, and accepting the limitation of just 20 liters of fuel and an allocation of 5 engines, or running the spec software supplied by Dorna, and written by Magneti Marelli for their spec ECU, and being granted 24 liters of fuel and 12 engines. That choice dictates whether they are regarded as an MSMA entry - i.e. a factory or satellite entry - or a non-MSMA entry, allowing them more fuel. All entries are assessed by both IRTA and the Grand Prix Commission, with the GPC having the final say on whether to allow an entry as either MSMA or non-MSMA.

With these new rules already in place, a proposal is to be made to the next meeting of the Grand Prix Commission at the Catalunya round of MotoGP in Barcelona to scrap the claiming rule altogether, has learned. All of the parties in the GPC are believed to be behind the proposal, and it is expected to be adopted without opposition.

The dropping of the claiming rule will come as a special relief to Yamaha. Their proposal to help expand the grid - leasing satellite-spec engines to private teams, to be fitted into chassis designed by builders such as FTR or Kalex - left them theoretically open to having their engines claimed by an other factory. With Suzuki entering  MotoGP in 2014 with a big-bang firing order inline four, being able to examine a Yamaha engine, built to the same engine layout and design principles, would provide some interesting lessons. The gentleman's agreement among the existing factories meant that none of them have ever intended to actually claim the engine, and Suzuki would have honored that same agreement. But with the claiming rule removed, that possibility also disappears, should Suzuki, or another manufacturer, ever change their mind about such a code of honor.

It will of course also prevent the other factories from claiming engines from Honda's production racer, to be supplied to teams in 2014. Though that engine is of a lower spec than the factory RC213V machines - it will lack both pneumatic valves and HRC's seamless gearbox - there would still have been enough to learn for an interested factory.

The demise of the claiming rules does not mean the end of the CRTs, however. The name may no longer be accurate, but the machines and teams will continue, some continuing much as before. It looks like at least two FTR Kawasakis will continue to be raced in 2014, while Aspar looks set to keep racing Aprilia's ART machines. Those teams will cease to officially be called CRTs, and become instead non-MSMA entries. Teams opting to use Honda's production racer, or a leased Yamaha M1 engine in an FTR chassis, will also be non-MSMA entries, the same as the former CRTs. The existing factory and satellite teams will then become MSMA entries.

In summary, there will continue to be two classes of entries in MotoGP: MSMA and non-MSMA. The deciding factor between the two types of entry will be the choice of whether to run Dorna's spec software, or to continue to write their own custom software. That decision will then affect how much fuel they are allowed and how many engines they can use all year. Given the central role of software in modern MotoGP racing, it is a far more rational and logical separation than the former criteria. 

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Curious if there was any language about still having a top MSMA qualifier and finisher?

Excellent article David; I think I just about follow this, in my mind's eye I've seen the bikes as prototypes or CRTs (err.. not quite a prototype). Have to find another 'short term' for each next year...

All in all, I just hope that whatever this does, it helps the spectacle and entertainment quality.

It's quite clear that limitation of just 20 liters of fuel and an allocation of 5 engines hurts Yamaha more then Honda, so let's image that Yamaha factory team accepts spec ECU in order to be allowed to use 12 engines per season and 24 liters of fuel per race.

I think that decision would be enough to bypass two major weaknesses of M1 - lack of power and concerning engine durability. But what is on the flip side? How much their current ECU means to them? And most importantly - would Yamaha be overall faster and more competitive package or not?

Please, comment and explain your opinions. Thanks.

Why do you say the fuel limit hurts Yamaha more than Honda? Don't think for a minute Yamaha would agree to a rule they cannot cope with. M1 engines have enough power. I don't know where exactly, perhaps the gearbox, but the problem lies somewhere else.

Last year Crutchlow ran out of fuel at Motegi. This year Rossi ran out of fuel on cool-down lap at opening race in Qatar. On the other hand, I really can't remember when such thing happened to a Honda rider.
Also, check engine usage analyses in past few years and compare Honda with Yamaha... Honda is simply better in terms of fuel consumption and engine durability.

M1 engine has enough power? Well, Jorge Lorenzo disagrees with you. Feel free to check his statements since 2011 if you don't trust me.

At a certain level power does not necessarely translate to more top speed or even acceleration. I don't think any of us is privy to the data to explain why the M1 has been consistently one of the "slowest" bike for the past several years; it's been that way before the fuel and engine limit.

Considering the perceived requirement that riders of the M1 must deliver smoothe power and finesse, i'd say that it indicates a very sophisticated ECU. Certainly, Yamaha would not have balked at the Spec ECU if it gave them an edge over Honda.

With the CRT rule now gone, one hopes that they don't come up with daft moniker's like "MSMA" & "Non-MSMA" bike just like they called the factory bikes "Prototypes" and the rest as "CRT's"

Yes -rather than a mouthful of letters why not just call them "Factory" and "Privateer"!

Just wondering - I have read somewhere that the cost of leasing one of Yamaha's engines is about one million Euros(?) per year, but if a team chose the 24 litres of fuel and the 12 engine option - would that be a cost of 12 million? IE 1 million X 12 engines?

The Yamaha engine lease customers will use the spec ECU and software so will get to use 24l of fuel and could use up to 12 engines.

Yamaha has said their 1M standard lease package will be 3 actual engines with 2 of them being rebuilt once by the factory for a total of 5 engines. If any are damaged during the season the team can buy more rebuilds. The leasees can theoretically use 12 engines per year but this is Yamaha's way of keeping costs down for a pneumatic valve head prototype engine.


pretty simple really... call them Privateers, then you will have factory bikes, satellite, and privateers...

btw during this whole CRT experiment did anyone even claim ie. buy any of these engines?

A few points about claiming engines. First of all, only factories were entitled to claim the engines from a CRT, no other teams were allowed to. Secondly, even when the claiming rule was drawn up, the factories explicitly said they had no intention of claiming an engine. It was there as a kind of Mutually Assured Destruction threat: not something anyone wanted to do, but there as an option to use against other factories trying to sneak in.

If the new division is done by using Dorna ECU or not, how about ART bikes that use the Aprilia ECU?

If I'm not mistaken, all current CRTs but Aspar ART bikes and Yonny's bike, use the Dorna supplied Magneti ECUs.

The spec ECU will be compulsory for everyone from 2014. The division is by the software used, either the Dorna software, or a factory's own software. If Aprilia port their software for the spec ECU, then the ART bikes will have to race as MSMA entries. If they use the Dorna software, they will race as non-MSMA entries.

Just what MotoGP needs, another rule change. Cause all of the previous rule changes in the last 10 years have done an excellent job of improving grid sizes, racing, competition and cost reduction.

Bring on the rules!

Dorna only introduced CRT's because they were gonna fall outside the FIM's minimum numbers for world championship status, period. If they could have gotten away with 13 bikes on the grid they would have done it. They've literally failed to run the series correctly. I don't buy this whole bad economy BS either, for while Dorna was pointing a finger at the economic downturn for causing them to mismanage the series other forms of Motorsport continued to do just fine. Why is it that a form of racing twice as exciting as F1 attracts twice as little sponsors?! It's because those sponsors don't see a viable marketing tool in a mismanaged series.

The spec ECU changes nothing. The hardware is almost universal, but the software is where the real value lies. So who cares if Honda needs to run a ECU by the same manufacture they are currently running?!? Dorna is making it out like this will finally level the playing field, which is laughable at best. We saw from pre-season testing that those spec ECU's don't come with software engineers built in. You just get hardware in a box, and ummm... Good luck.

The premier class in MotoGP has a two tier division; though called Moto2 the class can be called "World Chassis Championship" and Moto3 can also have designations of KTM, Honda, KTM+chassis maker, Honda+chassis maker. But this particular situation in which the framing of seemingly difficult to comprehend rules and the constant changes that they are bringing into those very rules perhaps is inevitable because of the situation of the global economy and the fact that prosperous factories (read that as Honda) not willing to scale back technology because that could lead to them losing their halo. And no one wants to lose their halo. To say grid size is a problem only for MotoGP is inaccurate, since that is something that has been affecting WSBK as well. The last race saw only 17 riders on the starting grid. Though Formula 1 puts up a more brave front, the situation there is also not too dissimilar. At one time Max Mosley proposed that all cars run with a stock engine made by Cosworth and rebadge them as Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault, Honda, BMW etc. Though why he stopped with engines only I am not sure. He could have suggested that Dallara become the chassis supplier and the FIA would put the chassis and engine together and give the car to teams to brand them as Ferrari etc. The thing that this shows is the egos of factories and a bad economy is a lethal combination for motorsport. In this mess, really there is no alternative but to take recourse to rule gymnastics. So let it be, since the only other alternative seems to be losing motor racing all together.

while SBK may have smaller grid sizes this year it is offset by the great competition in the races. 6 riders can easily win in any race and there are much fewer "parades" than MotoGP. The support classes are also extremely competitive and have full grids.

Grid size doesn't really matter as evidenced by MotoGP. The CRT filers did nothing for completion. It's really pointless for anyone expect Lorenzo, Marquez, Pedrosa and (maybe) Rossi to show up. The only way any one else has a shot is if there is some catastrophic accident at the front.

MotoGP has "ruled" themselves into extinction. The premier class shtick is losing it's luster

There is no doubt that about six riders in WSBK can win races despite the small grid. MotoGP has become a parade thanks to Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo not promoting serious overtaking in the name of safety. But I would like to know if WSBK will be watched if there are only six bikes and riders fighting for victory or will there be an audience for MotoGP even if the factory teams (12 bikes) have riders that can fight with each other and bring overtaking back? I would think that psychologically people feel better if there are more number of bikes posing as competitors even though the competition is restricted only to 5 or 6 people realistically. Formula 1 is a good example. Marussia, Caterham, the now defunct HRT did not yet score points. Toro Rosso, Sauber and Force India are only going to be in the midfield and on a day if some of the competitive cars have crashed out may look better than they are. But if you were to take all these cars out the psychological satisfaction that this is a competition involving decent numbers is gone and no one will want to watch the spectacle even if it gets better without these teams. Minardi, Simtek, the later iteration of Tyrell, were all teams that had no hope of victory. Yet they were on the grid for years and years despite everyone's knowledge that they were not going to do anything spectacularly. But Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso came from Minardi after someone noticed that they were doing things that were way beyond the capabilities of the car. Same thing with CRT. Maybe someone will notice that Aleix Espargaro and think that he deserves a chance on a better motorcycle. Even otherwise I would rather watch a starting grid of 24 motorcycles than 12.