The Grand Prix Commission, MotoGP's rule-making body, met last week to make a few minor updates to the rules for MotoGP in 2016. The two biggest changes to the rules relate to the two biggest changes to the series for next year: the change of tire suppliers and the switch to spec electronics.
The change that will most please the fans will be the official end of the Open class. All references to both the Open and Factory classes are to be removed from the regulations, as the switch to spec electronics, all teams running both the standard Magneti Marelli hardware and official Dorna unified software, mean there is only one class in MotoGP again. This does not mean that all factories are equal, however. Special concessions remain for factories which have not won a race and have not yet accrued six concession points (based on podium positions). Manufacturers with concessions will be allowed to use nine engines for a season instead of seven engines, they will be allowed unlimited testing with factory riders instead of test riders, and engine development will not be frozen.
Those concessions are likely to stay in place for the foreseeable future. The aim of the concessions is to slow the rate of progress of the successful factories to give newcomers and less successful factories a chance to keep up. The progress Ducati have made in 2015 has confirmed to the series organizers that this is a successful policy, and will be continued.
The one thing which manufacturers with concessions will lose is access to the soft tire. From 2016, Michelin will supply the same two rear tire compounds to all teams at every race. The extra soft tire was originally intended to help the CRT teams, racing bikes with much less horsepower than the full factory machines. Now that the CRT class has gone, along with the Open class, there is no need of the softer tire.
The tire allocation is to be changed in other ways as well. Teams are to get more tires for every type of conditions. The number of slicks is to be raised from 21 to 22, with teams getting an extra rear tire (now 12). This should benefit the riders at tracks where only one of the tire choices is working well, giving them an extra tire to run. It should also help riders who have to go through Q1 to get to Q2, giving them an extra rear tire for qualifying.
Riders will also get more rain tires, a total of seven fronts and seven rears. This should give them at least one set of wet tires for every session of the weekend, should it rain all weekend. Each rider will also receive three sets of intermediate tires, for when conditions are neither wet nor dry.
Other changes were also agreed, some more significant than others. One item with a possible long-term effect is the approval of new regulations for safety equipment, such as helmets, leathers, gloves and boots. With the advances made by Dainese with their D-Air system, and Alpinestars with their Tech Air system, it is clear that rider equipment is the next area where safety gains will come from. Imposing standards on rider equipment is a simple, effective way of improving the safety of the sport.
The last change worth touching upon is the change to homologated engines. With Ducati supplying three satellite teams as well as their own factory team, the maximum number of three different homologated engine specifications was more difficult to manage. This has been altered, to allow each factory to supply a maximum of five different homologated engine specifications, depending on the number of satellite teams being supplied.
Though relatively insignificant in itself, it may possibly be a pointer to more changes in the future. Before 2015, there was a general agreement that each factory would supply two factory riders, plus a maximum of four satellite riders. The change to engine allocations implies that this limit is to be dropped, and that manufacturers will be allowed to supply more satellite teams. Dorna has long wanted factories such as Suzuki to supply satellite teams as well as their factory teams, hence the stipulation being added that each factory must agree to supply at least two satellite riders as well as the factory riders. If Ducati continues to supply eight bikes, then the need for Suzuki to supply bikes to a satellite team would disappear. However, if the 2016 Suzuki GSX-RR is as big a step forward as many hope, then it may yet be an attractive option. With factories currently required to supply satellite bikes at a maximum cost of €2.2 million per rider from 2017 onwards, that situation is one to keep an eye on for the future.
Below is the press release from the FIM with the complete list of rule changes:
FIM Grand Prix World Championship
Decision of the Grand Prix Commission
The Grand Prix Commission, composed of Messrs. Carmelo Ezpeleta (Dorna, Chairman), Ignacio Verneda (FIM CEO), Herve Poncharal (IRTA) and Takanao Tsubouchi (MSMA) in the presence of Javier Alonso (Dorna) and Mike Trimby (IRTA, Secretary of the meeting), in a meeting held on 10th of December 2015 in Madrid, made the following decisions:
Re-Starting Interrupted Races
In order to minimise the time taken to restart an interrupted race a new procedure has been approved for all classes. This will involve a shorter time spent in the pit lane before the new sighting lap and a significantly shorter countdown on the grid prior to the warm up lap. (Engines will not be stopped and only one mechanic per rider will be permitted onto the grid).
In the Moto3 and Moto2 classes when there is more than one race interruption the length of the restarted race will always be 2/3 of the previous race, with a minimum of five laps. So, for example, if the first restarted race was 2/3 of the original race distance then the distance of the second restarted race would be 2/3 of that distance – always with a minimum of five laps. In situations where a restarted race has been interrupted after less than five laps then the distance for the next race will be determined by Race Direction with a minimum of five laps.
For all classes the regulations have been amended to ensure that when a rider uses a machine of the same capacity as the relevant MotoGP class, this can only be a standard production road homologated machine.
Penalties for Using Engines over Allocation
In the Moto3 and MotoGP classes, where more than one extra engine is taken at a single event then penalties for the second and any subsequent extra engines will be carried forward to the next event(s).
Rider’s Safety Equipment
Following consultation with all major suppliers of helmets, leathers, boots, etc., new regulations have been approved covering the specifications of equipment used by riders. Procedures for control and testing were also approved.
MotoGP Class Tyres
In line with the appointment of Michelin as the Official Tyre Supplier, the allocations of slick tyres have been modified. Riders will now be permitted to use a maximum of 22 tyres (10 front and 12 rear).
For wet tyres the allocation is a maximum of 7 front and 7 rear.
Riders will now also have the option of an intermediate tyre with a maximum allocation of 3 front and 3 rear.
Engine Allocations – MotoGP Class
It has already been agreed that manufacturers can homologate three different engine specifications which may be used by different riders during the season. It has now been agreed that manufacturers who lose “concessions” may homologate additional engine specifications for the first season after losing those concessions. However, the maximum number of different specifications is related to the number of Satellite teams being supplied. The formula to be used to calculate this number is:
- One Factory team + 2 Satellite teams = 3 different specifications
- One Factory team + 3 Satellite teams = 4 different specifications
- One Factory team + 4 Satellite teams = 5 different specifications
MotoGP Class – Effective Immediately
Previous regulations made frequent reference to “Open” and “Factory” classes and machine types. All such references will now be removed.
Moto2 Class Regulations
Teams will be able to refer to the FIM website to check a list of approved dataloggers and sensors.
The regulation concerning throttle control has been clarified to specify that the control valve must be exclusively controlled by mechanical means, i.e. twistgrip and cable.
Moto3 Class Regulations
Regulations already exist which define which certain chassis parts are “performance parts” and need homologation. The regulations have been modified to state that only homologated parts can be used at events.
Only the oil provided by the official supplier may be used in all parts of the engine including crankcase, gearbox and clutch.
Official Fuel Supplier for Moto3 and Moto2
The appointment of the Total/Elf company as the official, exclusive supplier of fuel was approved.
Grand Prix Medical Code
An updated and revised Medical Code, produced by the FIM in consultation with other MotoGP medical staff, was approved.
A regularly updated version of the FIM Grand Prix World Championship Regulations which contains the detailed text of the regulation changes may be viewed shortly on: