It was both expected and inevitable. After Carmelo Ezpeleta introduced a proposal to run prototype bikes powered by 1000cc production engines to the Grand Prix Commission meeting held at the Sachsenring last weekend, in an attempt to cut the astronomical costs in MotoGP, a response was sure to come from InFront Motor Sports, the body that owns the rights to World Superbikes.
It took just a week, but today, at the Brno round of World Superbikes, the Flammini brothers issued a statement to the effect that they would fight any such move with all the legal means at their disposal. The statement issued reads:
With reference to several declarations published recently by daily newspapers and weekly magazines, according to which the organizer of the Grand Prix World Championship is reported to be evaluating the possible participation of bikes equipped with production based 1000 cc engines in the MotoGP class, Infront Motor Sports wishes to make the following statement.
Infront Motor Sports does not consider a similar idea either to be realistic or feasible in view of the existing contracts between the FIM and Infront Motor Sports itself and in view of the specific characteristics of the World Superbike and MotoGP championships.
We believe therefore that such a project will not have any follow-up. Nevertheless, wherever future developments should render necessary any action of defense of the rights of Infront Motor Sports, as well as those of all the teams, manufacturers, riders, sponsors and media who have invested in the Superbike and Supersport World Championships, such action will be immediately set in motion at all levels.
The problem revolves around contracts between InFront, the organizers of World Superbikes, and the FIM, the sanctioning body. InFront believes it has a monopoly on racing production-based motorcycles, while Dorna, IRTA and the FIM want to reduce costs by using heavily modified production engines in prototype chassis. Their stance is that a prototype is anything that the manufacturers declare a prototype, whether based on a production model or not.
We spoke to Herve Poncharal, boss of IRTA, on Thursday, and asked him about just this problem. Poncharal was clear: The problem, if it exists, is between the FIM and InFront, and Poncharal expected the FIM to know what was within the bounds of its own contracts. "The FIM knows what it can support and what it can't support," Poncharal said.
The threat of action by InFront increases the likelihood of the MSMA's counterproposal being adopted, to supply just engines to the teams at a greatly reduced cost. A detailed proposal on that is expected at the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix at the end of August.