Ezpeleta: "We Will Not Define What A Production Engine Is"

Ever since the announcement that MotoGP will return to 1000cc in 2012, a war has been brewing between Infront Motor Sports, the commercial rights holders for the World Superbike series, and the FIM and Dorna. IMS, in the person of Paolo Flammini, has threatened on several occasions to defend what they believe to be their exclusive right to organize production-based motorcycle racing against any move by the FIM - or rather, the Grand Prix Commission, in which the FIM, Dorna, the manufacturers' association MSMA and the teams' assocation IRTA all have a seat - to allow the use of production engines in the MotoGP class.

The FIM has come out clearly on the side of MotoGP, with Vito Ippolito stating clearly that the World Superbike contract does not pose an obstacle to the use of production engines in MotoGP. Ippolito's argument is that IMS' contract grants them the exclusive right to organize races for production motorcycles, not motorcycles using production engines.

Despite the fact that the proposal to return to a 1000cc capacity was made by Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta, Dorna have kept very quiet on the whole affair. Yesterday, however, in an interview with the Spanish website Motoworld.es, Ezpeleta spoke out to clarify Dorna's position, though he did so very carefully. He emphasized that he did not want to get into a war of words with IMS over the definition of a production engine. "Nowhere will we say anything about using production engines, nothing, nowhere." Ezpeleta told Motoworld.es. "Nor will we draw up a definition of whether an engine is a production engine or not."

It would be up to the manufacturers to decide what engine to use, Ezpeleta said. "Many of the manufacturers will use new engines, completely different engines, and others will race with engines which they produce and therefore belong to them, and which may or may not be based on a production engine." The only thing which had been decided was that the engines would be 1000cc and have four cylinders. "This was approved in Valencia," Ezpeleta told Motoworld. "The rest we still have to decide; what to do about the electronics, how many liters of fuel, how many engines per season, all of that."

By refusing to define production engines, Ezpeleta cleverly sidesteps any head-on attack by IMS. He is saying, in effect, that the manufacturers decide what production engines are, and leaving Infront to face the manufacturers, rather than the FIM and Dorna. IMS needs the manufacturers to continue, just as Dorna does, and so the Flamminis are unlikely to take on the MSMA.

There is a risk here, however. Ezpeleta says that the manufacturers can decide to use engines based on production units they make themselves. This would seem to prevent the satellite and privateer teams from doing what WCM did, which is take a standard street bike engine, and modify it (very heavily) to make it suitable for MotoGP. If the idea is to allow privateer teams to build their own engines cheaply, this will be very difficult without the support of the factories, if only in terms of obtaining their blessing to use a particular engine.

Ezpeleta was adamant about one thing: Even if MotoGP did allow the use of production engines, the series would never become like Moto2, with a spec engine. "Never, no way," Ezpeleta told Motoworld. But there was less good news for fans who blame electronics for the processional racing which MotoGP has seen in recent years. The electronics will not be limited, Ezpeleta said, because the manufacturers wanted to keep using them. The use of electronic rider aids is one area which is finding its way rapidly into street bikes, and the lessons learned are proving valuable for the manufacturers. However, Ezpeleta did express the expectation that electronics and rider aids would become less dominant, as the 1000cc bikes should not be as dependent upon them as the highly-strung 800s.

Whether Carmelo Ezpeleta's words are enough to placate Infront Motor Sports and the World Superbike series remains to be seen. The Grand Prix Commission is due to meet in Geneva on December 11th, where they will discuss the details of the proposals further. Ezpeleta promised that the technical regulations for the 2012 season would be published before the 2010 season started. That gives the Grand Prix Commission just 4 months to iron out the details.

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Well, at least they're gettin' their butts in gear in getting out a published set of rules for 2 years from now, unlike a certain other racing series.
This should allow a nice competitive field for 2012 I would imagine!

what constitutes a "Production Engine"is, it would seem to leave things wide open from a teams perspective. What if Dorna chose only to specify which castings needed to be retained, or which specific components would be mandated? It is all a slippery slope. What happens when a factory (for the sake of conversation lets call them Suzuki) squad suddenly realizes that the production based bike winds up being more competitive than the full on factory bike? Will they have the option to abandon one in favor of the other?

I do believe that Paolo Flammini has a very legitimate cause for concern. What becomes of WSBK if the factories realize they can run a Superbike spec (engine wise) Motogp bike for not much (relatively speaking) more than a WSBK squad cost? The potential for WSBK to lose competitors to MotoGP then becomes a very real concern.

We haven't heard the last of this one!

Why do you believe that a team would spend a few million euro to finish nowhere in Motogp, when the same amount would allow them to run competitively at the front in World SBK?

A well spec'd World SBK engine will make around 200-210hp, the last 990's were in the order of 240hp. If you're a satellite team and you want to be fast with your production based engine and you want to be competitive with the factory prototype engine, you will need to invest a huge amount of money to do so. The custom parts and specialised electronics to control them will ensure that is so. Alternatively, you run in World SBK with a clearly defined set of rules that identify what you can and can't do, established tuning houses that can make your bike competitive and everyone is running to the same rules. Why would you spend more money than in World SBK to race in a 2 tiered class, with some people using production engines, some people using heavily modified production engines and others using totally prototype units of equivalent capacity that make stupid amounts of horsepower?

I really don't understand and haven't had anyone break down the costs to explain why this proposition is the magic bullet that will cure all Dorna's perceived ills. It seems that everyone has put their rose tinted spec's on, remembered the glory days of the 990's when the electronics were immature and the tyres incapable of handling the power and assume that adding 200cc's will magically transform the racing.

And what is there to fix? I am a Rossi fan, but you have to admit, since 2006, Rossi has had to work extremely hard to do what he was able to do at a whim before. For the majority of the 990 era, Rossi was the master at making the bike do what he wanted and the racing was exciting because HE was exciting. But he still won the first 4 990cc championships back to back and you always felt that he was merely playing with the others. Since then, he has had consistent challengers who have made him and Yamaha improve their game beyond all measure. Dorna's issue is one of bike supply and supplementing the grid with bikes that stand next to no chance of competing with the prototypes isn't I believe what is needed.

Then we have the development costs of the 1000cc bikes. That's a huge investment, re-tooling, designing, new ideas, concepts, they all cost a fortune. The reason why there were bikes aplenty in the 500cc days was that the formula was steady, the development largely stagnated and the investment from the years before was now being reaped by all teams with designs that were iterations of the previous years bike. Hence the engines were not as expensive to make, the satellite teams could afford to lease them and it was possible for a well run satellite team to finish on the rostrum in any of the steps.

I think for World SBK to remain stable, all they need to do is keep their costs under control, ensure that the teams know that a certain budget will allow you to be competitive and resist the temptation to tinker to enhance their offering. Motogp will always be the 'premier' class, but that doesn't mean that it is the best, however you define it.

They won't do a cost breakdown b/c Dorna and the MSMA are basically trying to ditch the satellite bike program. When Suzuki and Kawasaki are routinely beaten by satellite Yamahas and Hondas, they have no reason to stay. Under the satellite bike arrangement Dorna is basically paying to eliminate the smaller teams.

We already know that Yamaha and Ducati are amenable to the idea of leasing engines so maybe they will lease in the 1000cc era?

Leased motors are a dead end. The cost for them has made it a better option just to lease the whole bike since the motor will cost over 60%+ of the whole bike.

The cost of WSBK is lower than MotoGP but so is the benefit. MotoGP is far and away the most popular motorcycle series and the benefit of running in the series, even running mid-pack exceeds that of WSBK.

I'm curious....are the "manufacturers" who are or will be involved in helping in designing the new 1,000cc MotoGP rules package just Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki and Ducati? And even if that is the case, are Dorna or some other entity involved in the series consulting other potential manufacturers as well?? Aprilia, Kawasaki, BMW, MV Agusta, Inmotec, even Ilmor or MotoCzysz....any manufacturer who has interest or have shown interest in the past in competing in MotoGP, and especially those with experience in building a 4-cylinder engine. Even if the eventual new rules are aimed at getting more private teams on the grid, having more manufacturers involved in some form or another will also help to buiild up grid numbers and make the series even more interesting.

If WSBK were to eventually move to Superstock-type engine rules as I'd heard in the past they were considering doing, that I'd think would eliminate much, if not all, potential conflict between MotoGP and WSBK regarding engines.

As much as it pains me to say this, I'm happy to see Ezpeleta put the MSMA in the drivers seat. They've got to get their house in order b/c racing makes no sense these days.

Race bikes are not the least bit practical for road use, but WSBK still has no engine life rules, no explicit bore stroke rules, no rev limits, and no spec ECU (to cut costs and prohibit prototype electronics). What use do I have for a torqueless 600 that makes all of its power above 10,000rpm? Am I supposed to break the engine as quickly as possible? Should 200hp per liter be a prerequisite to building a production sportsbike? or should they be required to prove that an engine can be run hard without needing to be serviced every race weekend?

Why are prototypes made of space shuttle materials? Why use pneumatic valves when they are a superfluous system for production use?

Enough annoying questions for one post, I just hope the MSMA sit down and write good rules rather than continuing to write other competitors out of the sport.

This is a fairly cut and dry issue . First off A MotoGP bike using an engine that has say .. GSXR cases ... isnt the same as a GSXR you buy off the showroom then work . Flamminni is acting as if they want to put a WSB motorcycle on the MotoGP grid . Secondly the MSMA isnt sceaming to put WSB out . They are going to built the prototpe bikes for the main teams who will be in the front pack . The MotoGP bikes with production based engines are just a cheaper alternitve to get bikes on the grid for the 3rd tier teams . The big teams will be running at the front as thy always do . And then the camera will pan back to the second group of riders on thier MotoGP bikes . the only differance will be the second group will be riding with production based motors instead of leased prototypes which are not as fast as the first tier bikes anyway .

I don't see the point of adding bikes to the grid that are doomed from the start. Just so they can have 23 bikes on the grid instead of 17? They need to rewrite the rules to showcase and reward the riders ability, not the monster back pockets of the manufacturers. Making it more affordable to enter is nice, but it means nothing without making sure competitiveness is attainable. And I mean real competitiveness. It seems like all GP is looking to do is get good use of those blue flags.

I think the point is to help the smaller manufacturers. Right now Suzuki and Kawasaki are routinely beaten by satellite Yamahas and Hondas. Dorna is actually paying teams like Tech 3, Gresini, and LCR to drive away the struggling manufacturers like Suzuki and Kawasaki. The private teams don't care if they are demoted slightly b/c lease prices are so steep they can't make any money and they don't have any technical involvement.

Dorna is probably the winner if they return to 1000cc. They pocket the money they were shelling out to keep the IRTA teams afloat. The manufacturers will probably get some kickbacks as well. Dorna will probably pay them to okay the use of their production engines.

We may be looking at the wrong engines as well. Everyone is talking about overboring, building new heads, blah blah blah. Why not base a motogp bike on a ZX-14 engine or a GSX-1300R or a Honda VFR1200F? The Kawasaki has an 84 mm bore and the Suzuki and Honda have an 81mm bore. None of them are raced in WSBK. They are certainly large engines that would need lots of modifications but it would probably be easier than overboring and then designing an entirely new valve system to make up for the increased surface area of the pistons.

It will be interesting to see where this 1000cc thing goes.

What is the point of rules that reward rider skill? Who benefits from that? Maybe the fans but the fans aren't writing any of the checks and the rules must benefit those picking up the tab.

It's a lot easier to poach a Valentino Rossi or to find the next Rossi than it is to triple your budget and build a competitive bike.

You're right about the larger teams, though. They don't have any incentive to reduce the importance of expensive high-tech materials.

I don't think this is an effort to get privateers to fill the grid with super-modified production engines in a chassis from Spondon, Harris, Foale or Moriwaki. The reduction in costs aims to just KEEP manufacturers in the game. Maybe the MSMA will come to an agreement that aligns a production base with what they'll field but that's just speculation. And if it brings other manufacturers back in, like Kawasaki, Aprilia or BMW because they can rely more closely on their production design teams and translate their research efforts more easily then all the better. I just think this dream of privateers running a GSXR engined bike is distracting from the plan.

Electronics are hear to stay.

Why risk getting sued or having an injunction slapped on your teams if it isn't a major part of your plan to improve the sport?

Why injure your brand by talking about production equipment if you aren't planning to use it?

I suppose the entire thing could be a big misunderstanding, but why wouldn't the FIM and Dorna be in full backpeddle? As far as I can tell, they are pushing forward with a coordinated effort between all members of the GPC.

They've only decided 1000cc and 4 cylinders. The openness of that near blank canvass will be the basis of negotiations on what is to come. Having a blank slate to work with will bring out the best ideas. I don't think they've created any controversy but people want to read between the lines and insert their own ideas. I don't see how this injures the brand at all. All the quotes and clarifications I've read keep repeating how this has nothing specifically to do with production engines. "They" say they haven't decided anything about that and they won't even consider it an issue to address.

I'm fully confident that they'll come out of the room next weekend with a completely senseless solution.

People seem to be forgeting that the MAIN purpose of all of this is the change from 800cc Prtotype engine to 1000cc prototype engines . The production based engines to swell the ranks are an addendum . The thought that the maufactures would allow a grid of 800cc prototypes with 1000cc production based engines is nieve .
They are NOT going to permit a privateer team with a possible advantage over them. Even if not probable. Lets not forget you know there will be a privateer team that would build a grenade motor ( a high hP motor for just qualifing ) to get 15 minetes of fame at the manufactures expence .