Those MotoGP Rule Changes In Full - GPS Ban Slips Under The Radar

The FIM today sent out a press release containing the full details of the rule changes announced by Carmelo Ezpeleta and Vito Ippolito at Jerez yesterday. Most of these have been discussed yesterday, but a few changes appear to have been missed by Ippolito when he made the announcements, and these are things which are certainly worthy of our attention.

Some of these had already been announced, such as the ban on electronic suspension and ceramic composite materials for brake disks. But others are new, and rather puzzling. Potentially useful technologies such as variable valve timing and variable valve lift is essentially old technology, and available on a number of road vehicles, including Honda's VFR800 sports tourer. But more mysifying is the ban on variable exhaust systems. The question is, will this ban mean that systems like Yamaha's EXUP system - going on for 20 years old - would not be permitted?

Another incomprehensible rule is the ban on electronic steering dampers, available on Honda's CBR1000RR superbike for the past several years, and hardly either expensive or technically complicated.

But the rule which is likely to prove least effective is the ban on GPS systems. The rules state that as of 2010, the only GPS equipment allowed on the bike will be that placed there by Dorna for TV purposes, and that GPS system may not be connected to the bike's ECU or any other control system. While the aim is laudable, the workaround is both simple and expensive: A track map can be recreated in software based on the input of the wheel speed sensors, lean angle sensors, and brake sensors, and the system recalibrated every lap by the transponder as the bike crosses the line. The system won't be quite as accurate as using GPS data, but it will be good enough to continue the work that the teams are doing on variable engine maps for different parts of the track. And it will require a lot more work and a lot more data analysis to get it working properly, rather than the simple input of GPS data. 

All of the changes seem aimed at removing the influence of electronics in MotoGP, with the subsidiary aim to cut costs. Tragically, both of these aims are doomed to failure. The electronics are being removed from the bikes, but they are being shifted into the R&D departments and the garage, where more processing power is needed to recreate the functions being removed. The rules will force manufacturers to try and recreate in hardware the functions currently being provided by software. And hardware, in this case, physical engineering of components such as hydraulic steering dampers rather than electronic dampers, is a lot more expensive to design and produce. The computers may be taken off the bikes, but their influence will remain as great as ever. 

The changes to the regulations are shown in full below: 

FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix

- Changes to the 2009 Regulations -
The Grand Prix Commission, composed of Messrs. Carmelo Ezpeleta (Dorna, Chairman), Claude Danis (FIM), Hervé Poncharal (IRTA) and Takanao Tsubouchi (MSMA), in the presence of Messrs Vito Ippolito (FIM President), Ignacio Verneda (FIM Sport Director), Javier Alonso (Dorna) and M. Paul Butler (Secretary of the meeting), in a meeting held on March 28 in Jerez de la Frontera (Spain), decided to introduce the following amendments to the Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix Regulations.
MotoGP Class
For immediate application
1. Engine restriction from Czech Republic Grand Prix included
a) A rider can use a maximum of 5 engines until the end of the Championship.
b) New engines have to be sealed before use (practices, warm up, race).
c) A new engine will be deemed to have been used when the motorcycle exits the pit lane.
d) All used engines will have the exhaust ports additionally sealed at the end of each event.
e) A sealed engine can be reused at any time.
f) The penalty for using an unauthorized engine will be a deduction of 10 points from the total point of the Championship ranking of the rider concerned.
2. 2009-2010 tests
8 days in total. Venues and days will be announced.
3. Ceramic composite materials shall not be permitted for brake discs and pads.
4. Any pressurized hydraulic powered system is not allowed. Also engine lubricating oil cannot be used for any other purpose.
5. Electronic controlled suspension shall not be permitted.
6. EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) shall not be permitted.
7. Testing with non-contracted riders is allowed at any track, at any time, but it is subject to the following limitations:
a) Only tyres coming from the Tyre Supplier are allowed, and not more than 240pcs. per Manufacturer can be used from the 1st of January to the 31st of December including after-race tests.
b) After the MotoGP season has started, testing before a race included in the MotoGP Championship is limited to 2 tracks, and no later than 14 days prior to the race.
8. Testing for contracted riders:
a) Contracted riders are allowed to 2 after-race tests. The tyres used by the contracted riders will not be counted.
b) The winter test ban will be extended up to January 31st.
For 2010
1. Only one machine can be used during each MotoGP event.
2. A rider can use a maximum of 6 engines for the entire Championship.
3. A new event schedule will be announced.
4. Carbon composite front brake discs must be of one diameter only and two types of mass. The diameter will be 320mm only.
5. The maximum fuel injection pressure is 10 Bar.
6. MMC (Metal Matrix Composite) & FRM (Fiber Matrix Material) shall not be permitted.
7. Temperature sensor for the tyre will not be permitted.
8. From 2010 to 2012, the rim width shall be limited to 2 sizes for front and 1 size for rear for each manufacturer. Wheels diameter shall be limited to 16.5 inches only.
9. Variable exhaust system shall not be permitted.
10. Variable Valve Timing system and Variable Valve Lift system powered by electric and/or liquid, shall not be permitted.
11. Connecting rod shall not be a hollow structure but less than 2mm oil pass tunnel is permitted.
12. Twin clutch system (known as DSG) shall not be permitted.
13. Automatic transmission shall not be permitted. But manual transmission assisted by small force shall be permitted.
14. Consecutive Variable Transmission shall not be permitted.
15. Only DORNA can supply GPS unit just for entertainments such as TV broadcasting, which can’t connect to CPU unit by any kind of system.
16. Electric/electronic steering damper system shall not be permitted.
17. Minimum weight of motorcycle shall be the existing one + 2 kg. (ex: 150 kg for 4 cylinders).
18. Only 5 persons can work on the machine in the pits.
19. Riders who enter the Championship for the first time (Rookies) must be entered by a non factory Team.
Moto2 class
MSMA unanimously proposed “One Make Engine Regulation”. Manufacturers will be consulted to know if they are interested.


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No variable valve timing? No variable exhaust? No vairable length velocity stacks?

Why would you do that?

"Why would you do that?"

Because they don't know what they're doing.

Let's go and ban some more technology from decades ago.

Disc brakes? Too expensive and too cutting edge - gotta a go.

Radial tires? Makes bike to rideable, and fast - get rid of it.

Swingarms? Simply too much handling. Gotta go.

Back to hardtail bikes with drum brakes and treaded bias-ply tires. Hell, Harley Davidson could get back into racing.

H-D: your future MotoGP champion.

Without tipping my hand, I can tell you that current H-D and Buell production motorcycles are on par with almost anything offered by the big four, BMW, or Ducati. In fact, there is technology content that we INTENTIONALLY do not advertise because it takes away from the heritage and traditional aspects of our motorcycles.

BTW - there are a lot of us who would love to have a harley-Davidson WSBK or MotoGP bike. A lot.

So, that doesn't really change my point. If H-D isn't going to use the technology they have developed for fear of turning off their market (never mind that it is absurd that there is a huge market for outdate, underperforming equipment), the direction that these rule changes are taking us would allow H-D to compete with the bikes they put on the road.

Once again it appears that the powers that be in MotoGP are trying desperately, and foolishly, to save their sinking ship that is already halfway underwater. Too bad these fixes may actually sink the ship even faster. As a disgruntled MotoGP fan, I can't help but feel even more disgusted at the joke this series is slowly turning into. News to the FIM/Dorna/MSMA/whoever: it's time to find a new ship.

As for the Moto2 single engine make rule....I'm no less disappointed. The racing may still turn out to be interesting, but by taking out pretty much all manufacturer competition on an engine level, this series is going to lose potential fans and even participants before it even begins. If the bikes in the series is more or less going to be all I4's, at least let teams decide which one they'd prefer the run. It's not like the four Japanese 600's are all that different anyway.

4. Any pressurized hydraulic powered system is not allowed. Also engine lubricating oil cannot be used for any other purpose.

What the hell does this refer to?

I know I've already said this a couple times, but I just can't help myself...

In contrast to Rats' excellent suggestions to go back in time (by the way, we could also ban poly-cylindric engines; getting the field full of thumpers can obviate that nagging and expensive space-between-pulses problem of whether to go with a regular firing order or irregular), I'll recommend a push for the future.  With my suggestion, there can be a limitless number of manufacturers, an overflowing grid of riders, and more lucrative opportunities for advertisers:  go all virtual.

With an all-virtual (video game) sport, those pesky development costs are centralized and drastically reduced, Dr. Costa and his Clinica Mobile are no longer necessary, and the extreme expenses of travel and maintenance are all but eliminated.

DR Costa will still be required to stay, he needs to be schooled on RSI and similar gaming afflictions.