Ezpeleta Could Lead F1 Breakaway Championship

Those worried by the current state of the MotoGP championship - dwindling grids, rocketing costs and a barrage of rule changes aimed at "fixing" the problem - can be comforted by the state of Formula 1. While overtaking became increasingly rare in F1, the racing in MotoGP got better and better, until the pointless rule change reducing capacity from 990 to 800cc effectively killed off the racing. But as long as F1 remained as processional as it had been for the past 10 years or so, MotoGP had nothing to fear, it was felt.

Then, with the onset of the topsy-turvy 2009 season, the on-track action in Formula 1 took a dramatic turn for the better, with overtaking making a big comeback. Tragically for F1, though fortunately for the MotoGP series, the off-track arguments have been tearing the world's premier motorsport apart just as the on-track antics are making it a sport worth watching again. The teams and bodies that run the sport are engaged in an all-out war for control, with Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley attempting to impose a GBP 40 million budget cap on the teams, after first attempting to instigate a two-tier system of technical rules for capped and uncapped teams.

The dispute has seen FOTA, the fledgling Formula One Teams Association, set up to allow the teams to form a common front against Max Mosely of the FIA and Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Management, threaten to pull out of the 2010 Formula 1 championship, and set up a championship of their own.

What does this have to do with motorcycle racing, you ask? Well, according to the Spanish sports daily AS, the name at the top of the list of candidates to run this new breakaway championship is none other than Carmelo Ezpeleta. As CEO of Dorna, Ezpeleta is currently charged with running the MotoGP series, and has been instrumental behind both the series phenomenal growth, and the plethora of rules which have bogged it down over the past few seasons. According to AS, Ezpeleta has already had discussions about the new series, and feels inclined to take the reins of any breakaway F1 series.

Ezpeleta is already familiar with F1 and the F1 paddock, as both Dorna and F1 were owned by private equity company CVC, before the European Commission forced CVC to divest itself of the MotoGP rights over anti-trust concerns, and both F1 and MotoGP meet regularly to avoid scheduling conflicts.

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As much as I have little regard for the meglomania that are Max (Mosely) and Bernie (Ecclestone), there is little to recommend Carmelo to FOTA for anything other than "negative impact demonstrations". 

Aside from the initial problem with this being an obvious target of another anti-trust suit, it has appeared that the group Mr. Ezpeleta inexplicably tries to emulate are exactly the same people FOTA are trying to distance themselves from.  Surely, they must know this.

Additionally, at a time when Dorna should have been capitalizing on the fact that MotoGP could be a bountiful haven for fatigued F1 sponsors, the grid is going the wrong direction (it is smaller than F1) with the comparatively economical opportunities lying fallow.  Naturally, this is a consequence of the rules changes having rigged the sport away from what made it so exciting just five years ago.

If Dorna do manage to swindle FOTA and acquire the remnants of F1, maybe MotoGP will end up somewhere preferrable.

Has Dorna or Ezpeleta made one good change to MotoGP in the last five years? What could they offer FOTA other than more of the same?

"until the pointless rule change reducing capacity from 990 to 800cc effectively killed off the racing"

This is ridiculous statement. The rule change was necessary. The handling of the change was subpar but the reasons behind the change are solid. The 800cc race machine is the finest racing motorcycle on the planet and no 990 would beat it anywhere, or at any time. You fell into the common misunderstanding of the situation.

I've been over this in great detail before, but here's the executive summary. The capacity reduction from 990 to 800cc was done in the name of safety, and put into motion after Daijiro Kato's tragic death at Suzuka. The 800cc bikes started breaking lap records almost immediately, and the place they gained that speed was in the corners, the very place where riders are most likely to crash, increasing the dangers. For a while (until Mugello, 10 days ago) the top speeds had been brought down a little, though I am at a loss to understand how crashing at 300 km/h is any safer than crashing at 310 km/h.

In fact, so unsuccessful has the switch been from 990cc to 800cc that they had to change the tire rules to prevent the bikes from getting any quicker. The official behind the introduction of the single tire rule was as a safety measure, the reasoning being that controlling the tire wars would be a way to limit the increase in corner speeds, and keep track safety affordable.

You are absolutely correct to say that the 800s are the finest racing machines on the planet. However, if you were to take a 2006 990 and race it against an 800, I think the 800 would have a great deal of trouble beating it. Just like the 500 V twins vs the 500 fours, the twins would get through the corners faster, but then get blasted by the raw horsepower down the straight. The 800s would get into the corners quicker and carry more speed, but when the 990 rider opened the throttle, the 800 would be left standing. All the 990 rider would have to do is get past on the straight, then hold the 800 up round the rest of the track. The 800 would set the faster lap time, but the 990 would win the race. And of course, part of the 800s advantage would come from racing a bike which is three years behind the curve in terms of development.

The 800s are the finest racing motorcycles on the planet because they are the MotoGP class. That is the point of the MotoGP class. But they would be the finest racing motorcycles on the planet no matter what capacity they were, 800, 990, 1400, unlimited. They are the finest racing motorcycles on the planet because they are designed from the ground up to be racing motorcycles, with no concessions to anything else, such as user-friendliness, comfort, engine durability, ease of maintenance, etc etc, such as you see on World Superbike machines. The question of capacity is irrelevant, other than the effect it had on costs.


Despite being written in 2005, this article describes the impact of the 800cc regulations perfectly. Not only was the change a mistake, it was known to be so before it even happened.

Even if you believe that the goals of making the changes were met, it is very difficult to argue that it made MotoGP better and it certainly didn't make it safer.

Most of the changes that have occurred in MotoGP are reminiscent of changes made to F1---capacity reduction, proposed elimination of TC, proposed rev limits, engine life rules, testing restrictions, control tire, etc.

Ezpeleta's track record proves he's too conventional to run modern prototype racing in the 21st century. As much as I despise Ecclestone and Mosley (and disapprove of many new changes they've made), they are the only governing personnel who are attempting to ensure the survival of 21st century prototype racing by shifting paradigms. They are also the only governing officials who've realized the problem with modern prototype racing.

Truth be told, direct manufacturer participation in the form of private racing companies is the problem. Everyone, except the manufacturers, participates to earn profits directly from racing operations. Like a government bureaucracy, the manufacturers participate only to spend. The economic decisions made by people who do not operate for-profit often cause serious inefficiencies within the sport that lead to poorly-conceived regulatory remedies.

Ezpeleta is the front runner for the FOTA simply because he is a familiar face with a history of letting manufacturers walk all over him. I doubt they prefer him for his vision or his leadership abilities.

That last para is simply awesome for it's sheer beautiful brutality (I have no idea if it's correct, but it's a gem of a line!).

I am not going to write anymore than has already been said by others. Where is Jean Todt when we need him? I am ready to take up drinking again and will buy everyone a round, at the pub of your choice, if this becomes reality.