Vito Ippolito Interview: On Costs In MotoGP, WSBK vs MotoGP, Moto2 And Electric Vehicles

When learned that FIM President Vito Ippolito would be visiting Utrecht, just a few miles from MM HQ, we seized on the opportunity to corner the Venezuelan and ask some of the burning questions surrounding motorcycle racing. Questions such as: How will the new MotoGP rules help to cut costs? Exactly what definition of "production bike" is used in the contract between the FIM and Infront Motor Sports for World Superbikes? How will Moto2 affect rider development? And what about electric vehicles and the TTXGP?

Ippolito was extremely forthcoming on all these subjects, and answered the questions with patience and clarity, helping to clear up some of the biggest mysteries in motorcycle racing. For a man who had just arrived after an international air journey, the FIM President was helpful, patient and graceful, and went out of his way to answer our questions. The man's passion for the sport and for motorcycling in general shone through, making Vito Ippolito one of the most interesting interviews we have had to date.

As the interview took place on February 17th, shortly after the Grand Prix Commission had issued a statement with the new 2012 MotoGP regulations, allowing 1000cc and 800cc bikes to run together in the same class, and introducing the concept of the Claiming Rule Teams, basically privateer teams allowed to run production engines, that's where we started our questioning:

MotoMatters: Have you seen the new rules issued by the Grand Prix Commission from today at Barcelona?

Vito Ippolito: I didn't read it all, because I was flying during the meeting.

MM: They announced that 800cc and 1000cc would be racing together, plus a new category, the so-called Claiming Rule Teams.

VI: Yes, the question is, you know, in principle, we have to follow what the manufacturers think. And last year we talked about the possibility to go back to the 1000s. They say it's better because for us it's less expensive, and so on. There may be other possibilities they could make more engines. Now, it seems that there are some factories that want to continue with the 800 and others with 1000s. Both of these would be prototype bikes.

OK, if they think they can do that causing no problem between them, because one is 800 and one is 1000, that is OK. Of course, some specifications will be different, there will be a difference in kilos [the 1000cc bikes will have to carry 3kg more - MM], fuel, there will be a different specification. Now we will wait to know if they continue to think about the future.

The request of the FIM is to have a valid class valid for several years, and not so expensive. It's difficult when you say "not expensive" in prototype racing, because everything is expensive. But the impression we have is that the past was too – the economic situation until a few years ago was so good that nobody worried about the costs. But this is our request: They must be prototype motorcycles; but we have to think to reduce costs; also to give the possibilities to other teams – not just two or three teams or two or three riders – to have a grid with maybe 21, 22 riders. This would be enough, because in any case there are not that many riders who can ride such kind of bikes. We don't want to have 30 riders and 10 being lapped.

This is a long discussion. We are trying, we are following, they hear what we are saying, and what Dorna, the promoter is saying because we try to share the responsibility but this is the request from the FIM and the goal that we want for the next coming years.

MM: You said that before there was lots of money. Do you think that tobacco sponsorship made it difficult because tobacco could only go into motorsports, they could only go into Formula 1 and MotoGP, they couldn't spend their money anywhere else. Do you think that complicated the situation and made the teams think they had more money than they really did?

VI: That's true, but you know when you are fat, and you still breathe and you still walk, you say it's OK, but when you come to a hill, you say Oh! I'm fat, I can't get up it! This is the question. I remember in 2006, 2007, several teams told me that Oh! Everything's so expensive! We need more sponsors, we don't have enough money! And they spent a lot of money back then. Now we have the crisis, but they had a crisis four years before, when there was no crisis in the world. That means that you can cut a lot of costs, in the management of the team, but also in some technical parts of the bikes.

MM: The rules are set for five years at a time, and now we've had the 990s for five years, the 800s for five years, now we will get a new formula. Would it help if the formula was set for longer than five years?

VI: This formula for more than five years?

MM: Any formula, just longer than five years.

VI: OK, any formula, you are right. When we ask the manufacturer to have a kind of bike with reduced costs, it's because we want to stay calm during ten years, and give the possibility to the teams to know, OK this is the cost, this is the probable cost, I can have a sponsor for this amount. We said also that we need a kind of series prototype, like in the past, in the '70s and '80s, you remember, they were prototypes like the TZ 750, the Suzuki RG 500. But they have to study how to do this. I understand that the manufacturers have to study how to get this lower.

I don't know if it is possible, but we need a message. When I say if it is possible or not, it's because of the market circumstances for the factories. In the past we had in Japan the prototype NATIONAL championship, NATIONAL championship. In Europe some racing with 500s and so on.

But I think we have to reduce costs, in practically all the motorcycle disciplines. In MotoGP, in Superbike, this is very important, because, maybe to reduce half a second, you need three million dollars. And you say, OK, I understand technology is important, but do we really need to spend millions to reduce just half a second in a race? You know there are many people who want to have the best bike, in every factory, and the engineers love to have any kind of technical challenge, it's a challenge for them. I understand that. But there are limits to this. Sometimes the sport doesn't need all of the special devices that are used.

MM: How do you prevent engineers from picking up the challenge?

VI: OK, how do you prevent this? The prevention is for the top management of the manufacturers to prevent the engineers, because we understand that they need every year to develop some new technologies, because after that they put this technologies into their production bikes. This is important of course, because it's also good for the normal rider because every year you will have a better motorcycle, especially with good safety devices. Every year the motorcycle is much better, we don't want to stop that. But sometimes it's not necessary. For example last year, we decided together to eliminate the special brake disks, made from special materials, because never will such materials be used in a street bike. But OK, it's very good for the rider, but it's so expensive and the difference is so small, that it doesn't matter. This is the kind of thing we have to work on.

MM: Whenever people talk about the need to cut costs, they always point at Formula One, and the way that Formula one has tried to cut costs. Do you think F1 is a good example for cutting costs?

VI: I don't think so. Of course they have some big costs, but the technology they use in the cars is different. They have big investments in aerodynamics, 50% of the investments is in aerodynamics in Formula 1. Then, electronics, and at the end the engine. It's different, we don't have a problem of aerodynamics, we don't need them because of the nature of the vehicle. But the message is: Reduce costs. In Formula 1 they have to decide how to cut costs, but they have a different technological problem.

At the end, I think, when you are a spectator and you go to the circuit, first of all you want to see the riders, and you want to see what the rider can do. And your passion for the sport starts with the person, not the vehicle. Of course, the vehicle is important, because they have to be competitive, you can say this year the Yamaha is better, other years Ducati, Honda, Suzuki, whatever, and it's interesting for the fans to know which kind of technology they use, and so on. And how good each rider is to really set up the bike. But at the end the sport is what a person can do on a bike.

MM: Turning to World Superbikes, you're one of the few people in the world who know the contents of the contract between the FIM and Infront Motor Sports about the use of production engines and production bikes. Whenever there's talk of MotoGP using production engines, the Flammini brothers get very worried. What can you tell us about what the contract says? Do the Flamminis have an exclusive right to race production motorcycles?

VI: Okay. The key word in this case is "homologation." The contract with the Flamminis is that they have to use production series bikes. The FIM homologates these bikes - every year or when it's necessary to do that - this bike must be from a production run, you can buy this bike in a shop. This is the first condition to homologate the bike. Then, of course every year we can change some rules, some technical rules to permit to change some pieces on this bike. But this bike must be homologated, needs to be homologated. In this case [MotoGP bikes with production engines and Moto2 bikes - MM], the bikes cannot be homologated, because it's not a production series bike.

MM: OK, that's very clear. So in the case of FTR, the British Moto2 manufacturer, they're selling 10 of their Moto2 bikes for use as a track bike, only for use on a circuit, but selling it to private individuals. Because that bike could never be homologated, it's a prototype?

VI: Yes. You can't buy these bikes in a shop, and these bikes can't be homologated. The chassis is completely free, there are seven or eight different manufacturers. This is good, I think, that you give such a chance to many small manufacturers to produce these chassis. And it's not possible to homologate this type of bike. Also, the engine has several special parts fitted, it produces more power than the normal Honda bike, it's not possible to homologate this kind of bike.

MM: Are you looking forward to Moto2? You have a history in 250cc racing, you ran the Venemoto team with Carlos Lavado and Roberto Pietri, now Roberto's son Robertino is competing...

VI: Yes! Again a Venezuelan rider comes back to the World Championship, it's a new start. Sometimes, especially in some countries where you know these countries depend a lot on the economic situation in the world, it's hard to have a rider good enough to go to the world championship. But Carlos has worked looking for some young riders in the last years. In the case of Venezuela, there are a few good riders, but they have to come back and start again, and we will have to see what happens.

MM: Do you hope that Moto2 will become a national championship?

VI: Yes. I think this is very important. It's important to have national championships, because one of the reasons that the 250cc class is disappearing is because many national championships have been disappearing for many years. The price increased incredibly, there were no more national championships, then you had to lease a bike and at the end of the year, give it back and maybe you spent half a million dollars or one million dollars - not for nothing, but it's difficult to sustain this policy.

For this reason, it's important that in Moto2 we have very low costs in comparison to 250. This is one of the reasons I think that the Moto2 will be such a success. And it's important that we expand Moto2 into the national championships, this is the lifeblood of this kind of championship.

MM: Right now, you start in 125s, move up through 250s and then onto MotoGP. Whenever riders come in from World Superbikes and World Supersport, they seem to find it very difficult. Do you think that Moto2 will be a good middle class where you can also come if you have been racing World Supersport or European Supersport or national supersport and also go to Moto2, and become a MotoGP rider that way?

VI: I think it depends on the national situation that way. Every federation, every country has different situation. They can have Superbike, Supersport and 125, or they can have Moto2, 125 and Superbike. It depends on the national situation. I think it would be a good class, also from Moto2 you could go either to MotoGP or World Superbikes. This is the natural way.

But I'm anxious to see the start of this class this year. Everybody wants to know what will happen. But I think we will have good results in Moto2.

MM: You mentioned Venezuela and the fact we have a rider coming from there. If you look at the Google Trends feature, you can see that the country where internet users search most for MotoGP is Indonesia, and Asia is really important to the manufacturers, it's where they're selling their bikes. [Dorna CEO] Carmelo Ezpeleta is trying to get a Grand Prix at Singapore, what do you think the FIM can do to get more races in Asia? Do you think it's important to have more races in Asia?

VI: I think it's important and it's possible. We have countries with millions of motorcycle riders, but the passion for the sport is not the same in all these countries. In the case of China, they have some problems to develop the sport, so we have to wait to return to China. But there are other countries like Indonesia, Thailand where there are a lot of fans who love motorcycle racing. Now we have races in Japan and Malaysia in Asia and that's all. Yes, we have space for one or two more Grand Prix in Asia. I think it's possible, it's also where the global economy is going to is Asia, one third of the population is in Asia.

MM: Is there anything the FIM can do to help? Obviously the problem is track safety and the track homologation process. Can the FIM help here, or is it just a question of someone in Asia finding the money to make the tracks safe enough.

VI: We work all the time for safety, and we talk with the federations. One important thing here: We support that we have to develop more international races. But for example, you can have in one country a round of the world championship, that's very good, but maybe after that we don't have any other kind of important races.

From our point of view, we have to develop more levels of international racing. By which I mean we need more continental championships, so if you are a country that wants to have a continental championship for example, you need a high level of safety in the circuit. Then you can reach the world championship later. But you are right, if you say OK, you have a big company, a big investor with a lot of money, you have a fantastic circuit, very good, fantastic, but in the FIM we think at the same time to have a base behind the world championship round.

MM: So you can't just put a building there, you have to have a foundation?

VI: Yes, this is our objective. But we have to develop the sport, the sport is not just to have a round of the world championship in one country. If in this country after that there is nothing, this is no good. Maybe this is very good for the population of this country because they can watch a world championship race in their own country, but from the point of view of the sport, we need to have races, people practising motorcycle racing at the ordinary level.

MM: One last subject. Electric bikes. Last year we had the TTXGP, the first electric race, that went surprisingly well, I think it surprised a lot of people. This year it looked like we were going to have one international championship but instead we have I think three championships, with the FIM having a championship and the TTXGP organizers running a championship, and the TT also organizing a race. Where did it all go wrong between the FIM and TTXGP?

VI: I thank you for asking this question! The objective of the FIM is to promote and support all kinds of alternative energies, all kinds. And also not only alternative engines but also the kind of energy. The kind of fuels, etc, all in the direction of low emissions etc. This is the policy of the FIM.

Last year on the Isle of Man, a guy with a lot of ability organized the first race, and we supported it. We know that there are a few bikes in the world, a few manufacturers, really small manufacturers. But I think it's a good manner to show that we can have new kinds of vehicles, electric vehicles in this case. We tried to have a deal with the promotor Azhar Hussein, but after a lot of discussions, we could not get a deal. Then he continued, which is good, and the FIM will continue to promote of course, because, for the FIM what's really happened is that we spend money to promote this, we are not trying to have, "this is the gold and we will make a lot of money".

Our policy is to show that we are very interested, which is true because we have an environmental commission, we have an alternative energy working group which we have had for many years. We are working, because in the future we don't know if the factories will say "OK, guys, now this is the bike: No oil, no gasoline, now we use water." Water? "Yes, it's true, now no more gasoline." Oh. Then we have a big problem at the circuit, you understand? Then we have to prepare our people and ourselves for the future. We don't know if we will use hydrogen fuel cells or lithium ion batteries or any kind of new technology.

The idea of the FIM is to promote, because we are interested too, because it's part of our social responsibility, it's the sport and society. And we are concerned like many people around the world about the environment, it's part of our responsibility. Then we support this type of new use of technologies with low emissions. We couldn't get a deal with Azhar Hussain, but then we continue and say, OK we can have a series.

Because one of the problems is not only to have five or six races, the question is we need to show this technology. And the FIM has the world championship in MotoGP and World Superbike and World Endurance. Then we have this opportunity to show in these places where thousands of spectators and also the media, to show what is happening in the world with the new technologies with these kind of motorcycles.

MM: So part of the FIM's job is to make sure that these races happen in front of large crowds, and you do that by having them as support races? If you have a separate series, then maybe only a few people turn up to watch?

VI: Yes! Then we can have the race here [waves at the car park outside] and afterwards we say OK, we support that kind of event, but that is not serious. It will be easier in the future when there are more national championships, because now there are very few bikes and riders. There are some industries in enduro and motocross with small but very real production, the numbers are very small, but they are production runs. There is one in Switzerland, in the US, they are small scale, but they are producing bikes for motocross and enduro.

MM: All over the world, people who ride off-road in natural settings, through forests and parks, petrol engine bikes have been banned from many such places. Here in Holland, it's almost impossible to find somewhere to ride off road. Do you think that electric bikes could create new opportunities for off road riders?

VI: Yes! Yes! In case of off road, it is very important to have this kind of bike, because countries like Holland, of course there are motocross circuits, but the specifics of this country don't permit to have bikes off road. So it's a good opportunity to have people practicing the sport on this kind of bikes.

MM: You also talked about alternative engines, one of the things you see in boats for example, they use marine two strokes, because modern two-stroke engines are very clean. Do you see an opportunity for those kind of two stroke-engines to come back into racing somehow? Because right now, we've only got one two-stroke class left.

VI: Maybe, because I think that is possible, but the problem for the FIM is what the industry decides to do. Because we have to follow the manufacturers, we don't produce the bikes, they produce the bikes. In my opinion, the two strokes, they have a new technology in two strokes that can produce very low emissions, I think the two stroke in principle is a good engine for the young because it's less expensive, especially the maintenance is less expensive. The power-to-weight ratio is very good, there are some very good advantages, but …

MM: But your hands are tied by the manufacturers?

VI: Yes. We don't have the technology! We don't produce bikes.

MM: OK, you've answered all of my questions, thank you very much indeed.

VI: Thank you.

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Each passing decade provides companies with an excuse to maintain status quo business operations even when they are failing. The MSMA have noticed that the current national series, the national riders, and the national production markets are basically stagnant or in rapid retraction, but instead of examining their products and business procedures, they have decided to listen to the sirens' song from Asia and the Pacific Rim. I remember once upon a time when American telecommunications companies followed the sirens' song to Asia. They buried tens of billions of dollars of fiber optic line and setup thousands of 3g wireless communications equipment in India and Indonesia b/c they were sure the developing world would provide them with an endless supply of revenues/profits. Needless to say, they drowned. Are the MSMA really planning to sell massive quantities of high-margin 4-stroke bikes in economies that are designed to maximize exports? Maybe in 50 years. What's going to sustain high-displacement four strokes in the meantime?

The prohibition of 2-stroke development is also unconscionable. Millions upon millions of blue-smokes in the developed world, and the only people attempting to retrofit them with direct-injection are not-for-profit ecological groups and universities. The manufacturers are blocking any attempts to clean things up until the people can afford 4-strokes b/c the MSMA is worried they may never want 4-strokes.

I guess there is only one thing to do--buy stock (one share is enough) in the evil empire (Honda) and then exercise my right as a shareholder to object to their irrational business plan and their jinogistic abandonment of the Western economies that built their company. I would encourage everyone to join me.

That was an excellent and entertaining read...thank you! I'm curious...whether on or off the record, was your idea of what MotoGP should be ever brought up or mentioned during your discussion with Mr. Ippolito?!

Sadly not. I already went over my allotted time, which Ippolito was very good about. Maybe I'll bring it up next time I see him.

I understand. Just curious what someone at the top of the FIM such as Ippolito thinks of the idea for MotoGP, or one similar to it.

Personally, I'm still a huge fan of your How to Save MotoGP idea...brilliant and forward-thinking stuff... :-)

I would have been very interested to hear his comments regarding a potential push for world superbikes to go down the Superstock route.
I for one think that this is the only natural future for MotoGP and SBK.
One is prototype, one is shop brought (and barely fettled).

The kit the superbikes are running compared to their shop brought cousins, especially in the case of the Japanese, is incredible.

I read a while ago that the BMW boss wanted to run in Superbikes as opposed to MotoGP as superbikes are about the bikes and MotoGP is about the rider. (Which is probably only a very small part of the decision $$)
Surely this would push the manufactures to use WSBK's as an advert for currently available machinery and GP's for tech advances.

It seems bizarre to have two series of racing where one is sold as the ultimate in speed, tech, riders etc...but the production series are lapping just over a second off at various tracks.

Even more bizarre is that GP has engine life rules and bore limits, while WSBK (the production class) has no such rules. It seems like it would be more important to build a reliable bike in the production market (Aprilia).

All they need to do is use the WSS format, imo. Basically all stock internals, but high compression is achieved by machining the gasket-side of the cylinder head. First, it is easier for private teams to machine the top end than it is for them to beg the factory for prototype internals and electronics so WSS rules should allow more competitive equipment. Second, they already open the top end for porting and polishing so it's probably more efficient than swapping out the bottom end pieces.

The WSS format was the original 1000cc proposal, but instead of requiring privateer teams to do cylinder head machining and mild prototyping for parts like cams and valve springs, the manufacturers were going to homologate those parts in a kit. They were also going to use air restrictors to equalize power. I prefer bore limits to air restrictors personally

Excellent interview and comments by all posters so far. Though I'm not really sure how much more development is needed for our streetbikes. I doubt there are many (any?) street riders that can take advantage of the machines full ablity now. Superbikes are about as well behaved and fast as can be experienced for 99.9 percent of the average mortals using them.

>VI: OK, how do you prevent this? The prevention is for the top management of the manufacturers to prevent the engineers....

Sorry Mr. Engineer, you're not allowed to innovate anymore because the FIM wants to reduce costs. Let's be real. Teams race to win and will explore any avenue to do this. That's how we ended up with such capable street bikes with clean emissions and tame powerbands and great suspension.

>>And your passion for the sport starts with the person, not the

I must disagree strongly here. I was a gearhead since before I could hold a wrench and had pics of cars and bikes on my walls as a teen, but never riders or drivers. I did have my favorite pilots, but machine make was always most important. Alonso winning 2 WDCs at Renault was OK but if he wins one at Ferrari half of Europe will go crazy. Not because of Alonso, but because he's in a Ferrari. We all want to grow up rich and buy a Ferrari or Bimota or limited edition Ducati. You can't buy a Rossi. Doesn't 'win on Sunday, sell on Monday?' ring a bell? Please don't nascarify our sport. I don't want personalities, I want racers racing race bikes. If they happen to be a showman like Rossi, fine, if not so what?

And on Moto2- great, so now we are setting up a worldwide network of Honda-based racing series. Isn't there a conflict of interest with the FIM and DORNA/IRTA/MSMA writing rules that benefit it's own rule making members? If the FIM has such an issue making rules with the mfgrs then take a lesson from the Flamminis who told the factories to go blow and then proceeded to successfully grow the series their own way and then watched the mfgrs come back.

>>VI: Maybe, because I think that is possible, but the problem for the FIM is what the industry decides to do.

Is the tail wagging the dog? I thought the whole point of a prototype racing series was that you did not need to depend on the high volume manufacturing capability or marketing plan of other companies. For decades there was simple displacement-based limits to the classes, now in a span of 11 years we will have a 3rd major rule change and ever more intruding regulations and suprise- people are complaining about escalating costs. And when you can't sell last years bike the grid automatically has to shrink- there's no machines available. Now 81mm is the magic number. I guess piston ring sealing technology has advanced to a point where we do not want any more development. But isn't it a major source of friction (loss) in an ICE? Well too bad- rev limits in F1 and sort of in MotoGP so not much innovation going on here.

I always felt that when times are tough you need to push ahead even harder, not backtrack. These rule changes seem to be trying to find a safe comfort zone, but in reality may only dumb the sport down permanently.

(i need to change that one of these days...)

Vito Ippolito has been extremely active in trying to diminish the dominance of the MSMA in the MotoGP rule-making process. In general, the MSMA is in charge of drawing up the precise wording of the technical regulations, and a lot of the new rules come from the factories. The FIM and Dorna get a lot of criticism for their role in the rules, but the blame for most of the rule changes most hated by the fans have come from the factories.

As many other people have pointed out, including myself, the danger of having the factories making the rules is that they will draw them up to favor the existing participants and exclude newcomers. The dwindling grid has convinced Carmelo Ezpeleta and Vito Ippolito of the necessity to change that approach, but diminishing the power of the MSMA is extremely difficult, especially given the fact that the factories fund the sport to such a large extent. Only once MotoGP generates enough money in outside sponsorship to support independent teams and outside manufacturers can the MSMA be ousted.

Cos, I definitely agree that the bikes should be important. Even though I think they should always try to keep things 80/20, if the bikes aren't important why not race stock production mules, right?

However, I think VI's remarks about unimportant bikes were directed at the MSMA. Though VI cannot force the MSMA to pursue technical initiatives like direct-injection two-strokes, he will not allow the MSMA continue racing expensive, small-displacement GP bikes that are fuel-limited and laden with electronics.

Kropotkin points out that the MSMA have control of the technical initiatives, but the fans, the media, and the riders have been almost unanimously opposed to technical initiatives in the 800cc era. I think VI wanted to speak out against the MSMA in an indirect fashion on behalf of the people who are angry about the boring races and the tiny grids.

The controversial remarks, imo, are about the size of the grid. I think Bridgestone is limiting the number of teams they will supply, I don't think it has anything to do with lap traffic.

>>Though VI cannot force the MSMA to pursue technical
>>initiatives like direct-injection two-strokes

He can't force the MSMA to pursue those avenues, but he doesn't have to allow them to be explicitly banned so that nobody else can.

>>He will not allow the MSMA continue racing expensive, small-
>>displacement GP bikes that are fuel-limited and laden with

But he will. The new rules for 2012 (or maybe 2011 depending on how badly Honda does this year) allow the 800s to run as-is and even gives them weight benefits. Then muddles the field even more by having 2 tiers of equipment rules, a lower spec and back of the grid for those poor privateers who have suffered so under the current rules, and a higher spec and all the front of the grid TV time for the factories who made those rules.

>>I think VI wanted to speak out against the MSMA in an
>>indirect fashion on behalf of the people who are angry
>>about the boring races and the tiny grids.

If the president of the FIM can't speak directly and plainly about this then who can?

>>I think Bridgestone is limiting the number of teams they
>>will supply, I don't think it has anything to do with lap traffic.

Is this a theory or based on evidence/scuttlebutt? BS is getting paid for the limited selection of tires they provide and it's likely pretty easy for them to make a few more of the same. Don't they make all the tires at the beginning of the season now and just bring some to each race? No rush shipping, custom sizes, etc. 2 sizes fits all.

I know it is easy to sit back and critique when everything seems to be going to hell in a handbasket, but there are many experienced industry veterans who have been giving proposals for revised rule changes that make sense but are being ignored in favor of proposals that are easily debunked. It is not a huge deductive leap to know that letting the inmates write the rules is doomed to fail yet the only excuse we get for these faulty rules is that the inmates write them. Talk about stuck in a vicious circle.

Closer to home for me, his decisions on Moto2 blatantly refute his statements. If he wants less involvement from the MSMA then why choose Honda to provide a spec engine for the 2nd level class? We finally hear the secret contract details that make an engine a prototype- is it able to be homogolated? Honda puts some Ti conrods, a port and polish job and a Suter clutch in their mass production CBR600RR engine and all of a sudden it is a prototype. Any decent tuner can do the same so why aren't they allowed to do so? Instead of allowing a open engine specification with a reasonable claim rule to help contain costs, which just happened to be their initial Moto2 rules, they tie the global series and any national feeder series that happen to spring up, to Honda, the company that is widely acknowledged to be the prime mover behind the current regulations nobody is happy with. Is anyone else about to be overwhelmed by the irony?

And cost reduction for the teams? The only reason teams are spending less this year is because they don't have as much. The teams with more money will always find ways to spend it to get a potential advantage. Big money will be at the front, as it always is. But for the little guy: if you think your engine is a bit down on power, well its a 20k euro bet to see. if it is, sorry- here's a new engine, if not, well that dyno run just cost you 20 big ones. I'm sure many teams can build a modified production 600cc engine for less than 20k.

VI wants national series to have 125s Moto2, and Superbikes. Great, let's give Honda 1/3 of the entire racing grid with a noncompetitive bid. How does this allow current non-Honda teams to participate in a national series? Do they have to run banners for both? I'm sure Yamaha would love that. The alternative is to not participate in the middleweight class. Great. What we need is rules encouraging more participation, not less. What about creating distinctions between teams to help draw sponsors? Nope, one engine fits all, supplied by the paddock's big bad Honda.

Ah, now I feel a little better.


Like David said, the FIA don't really have control over the rulebook. VI and CE are basically trying to find a compromise or a middle ground to move things towards a financially sound arrangement that the fans like.

The two-tier rules are a good example of the battles that are being fought, imo. Dorna and the FIA want 1000cc engines that encourage participation, but they've got to keep top speeds down and find a performance control that allows the 800s, hence the 81mm bore. I think Dorna and the FIA are probably also pushing to increase fuel capacity as well, but any changes to the fuel capacity would require the MSMA to redesign their engines completely so they are on the 81mm limit. The CRT rules look like they are putting pressure on the 21L 800cc holdouts.

It's a mess, and I'm just guessing about what's going on, but the CRT rules look like posturing, and the MSMA's whining about the costs of redesigning look like they are asking Dorna for more money.

I like what you are saying Cos...about how the MSMA are a major part of MotoGP's problem, and how their rules tend to strengthen their position while keeping newcomers out or at a disadvantage.

Here is one of my takes on the whole "letting the MSMA call the shots" thing, and the idea of if MotoGP went to a more "open prototype" type of racing series...something I'd love to see. Let's just say that instead of the 2-3 tier, 800cc vs. 1,000cc vs. 1,000cc CRT MotoGP rules that will go into effect in 2012, that instead it was announced that MotoGP was going to something similar to Krop's "How to Save MotoGP" idea, where displacements and the types of engines that could be run are more or less unlimited; 4-strokes vs. 2-strokes vs. rotaries vs. electric (once they are ready for prime-time) vs. whatever else. Let's say there are only a few limits set....minimum weight, spec tires, a fuel or energy limit and an emissions cap of sorts....something like that.

If the MSMA threw a fit because of this and decided to walk away from MotoGP, does that mean there would be no manufacturers to fill the void? My honest belief...hell no! With such open rules allowing pretty much any type of engine, I believe there would likely be plenty of manufacturers and teams jumping to give this a shot (provided enough time was given between the announcement of the rules and the beginning of the first season under such rules). Anerexic grids would no longer be a problem. And I'd be willing to bet that, were this scenario ever to happen...that even if the MSMA walked away, they'd come back. And sooner rather than later....

This is a great piece of journalism that gives me hope..

It seems clear from this that the ideals of many fans are shared by Ippolito, and Ezpeleta..MotoGP is run by certain manufacturers, who have let the geeks run riot with race specific technology that is irrelevant to street bikes..Carbon discs, GPS mapping, etc...

Barry Sheene got me hooked on racing, not his RG500, although my technical appreciation has grown, and been updated as my interest's deepened. For me, GP racing should be about the rider, racing the fastest bikes on the planet...not the other way round.

Prototype? No! Factory type. I have said it before I will say it again. Naturally aspirated engines are inefficient and expensive. Here is my two cents worth. Use Moto2 type rules but drop the Honda supplied engine and permit blowers or turbos. Now that I would like to watch. You would have small tuning shops producing engines just like Judd do for car racing. It becomes viable for them and affordable for teams. But of course it will never happen, it won't even be discussed on forums like these. Why is that? At least the issue of fuel injected two strokes was raised but it will never happen either for the same reason. It is cheap power and the vested interests do not want any of that.
Ooops I am wrong. The Larry Miller Superbike Challenge GTO class as follows. "Forced induction (e.g., turbo- or super-charging) is allowed for bikes under 750cc displacement only." Hooray for some sanity on the planet. Even if it is only one race it is better than nothing. I wish I was in a position to put an entry in there. I hope that someone can put it together to show how slow the trillion dollar factory bikes are.