Ezpeleta: "The Bike Makes A Prototype, Not The Engine"

If anyone had any doubts about the importance of the meeting of the Grand Prix Commission at Geneva on December 11th, Carmelo Ezpeleta's charm offensive in the media should remove them completely. Ezpeleta spoke to Motoworld.es on Friday about the new regulations due to come into force in 2012, and today, the Dorna CEO gave an extended interview to the Spanish sports daily AS.com, in which he expanded on the changes.

Ezpeleta's main purpose with the interview was to make clear that the switch back to 1000cc will not in any way impinge on the World Superbikes series' territory. The bikes, Ezpeleta emphasized are prototypes, and will have nothing to do with production bikes. "There will not be a word in these regulations about production engines," Ezpeleta told AS.com. The bikes are prototypes, and which engine was used was entirely up to the builder of the bike, not something set out in regulations.

When pressed by AS.com's Mela Chercoles on the question of exactly what a prototype is, the Dorna boss was completely clear. "We have always raced prototypes," Ezpeleta said, "but that's because it is the bike which is a prototype, not the engine." Ezpeleta dismissed the discussion about using production engines as irrelevant. The Flamminis objections that the rules should state that no part of a production bike may be used in MotoGP held no water, according to the Dorna boss. "Taking that argument to the absurd, you could say that we cannot use a chain drive, as the chains we use are production parts," Ezpeleta argued.

The argument came down to one simple point, according to Ezpeleta: "Was the bike built for racing, or is it a bike you can buy for the street, then adapted for racing?" The bike is the deciding factor, not the brakes or the engines or any constituent part.

Ezpeleta then went on to discuss the reasoning behind the switch. It was all about costs, he explained, and making racing affordable again. "Now, [the 800cc bikes], at the price they are, cannot be sustained and the satellite teams cannot afford to race." Deciding to move to 1000cc would be significantly cheaper, Ezpeleta said, it would be cheaper for factories to build new bikes or for teams to build a new bike around any existing engine they liked.

This latter point is key, for as Ezpelete explained, currently, satellite teams can only race by the grace of the factories. Their only option under the current system is to request to lease a bike from the factories. Allowing 1000cc engine menas that either building a bike around an existing engine or building an engine itself will be considerably cheaper.

The problem that many people have raised is that although horsepower may be cheaper to produce from a 1000cc engine than from an 800, there is nothing to stop costs from spiralling out of control if the factories are building 1000cc prototypes. According to Ezpeleta, the Grand Prix Commission have come up with a solution. He would not be drawn on the precise nature of that solution, but said it was simple and effective. "There is one parameter which I cannot talk about before Friday, but it's the key to everything" he told AS.com. "It looks like being a silver bullet solution, and with this, everything else changes. It is a single parameter and it changes everything. It's a technical area, very simple."

Ezpeleta's reference is intriguing. Previously, it seemed as if restriction the bore and stroke ratio would be the way to limit piston speed, and therefore costs. The risk is that extremely expensive lightweight materials could be used to try and get round these limits, as the problem of piston speed is one of momentum, and reducing piston mass would allow increases in piston speed. If limiting piston speed is the aim, then perhaps the "silver bullet" put forward by Ezpeleta is a straightforward rev limit. It had previously seemed impossible that the factories would agree to such a step, but the financial crisis has seen the factories stances radically revised.

That is just speculation, however. The details will, hopefully, be revealed on Friday. It looks like being a momentous day for the future of MotoGP.

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I'm with you. Even though Ezpeleta said nothing explicit, his allusion to a "simple" "silver bullet" solution makes a rev limits seem more likely than bore-stroke.

Honestly, I will be relieved if they decide on a rev limit. If MotoGP is going to be a 4 cylinder series, rev limits make the most sense from a practical standpoint. Limiting the number of explosions per minute gives the GPC more accurate control of peak power output. Bore-stroke rules were only going to raise piston velocities and make lightweight materials even more important.

I still have two questions if they rev limit. What do they plan to do with fuel? Will they be able to control revs without a spec ECU?

I'm looking forward to Friday.

Like some North American sports, MotoGp should instill a budget cap for each season. And if for some reason teams want to spend more than its allowable, just like the NBA, Dorna should collect penalties fees. With these fees Dorna could help troubling teams stay afloat or help teams interested in joining the premier class.. Just a thought...

Waiting for ppls opinions... :)
link to Wikipedias Salary Cap


But it would be far to difficult to manage. It was considered in F1 within the last few years as well. There's no way to manage what a factory spends on research and how they can subsidize their efforts in the name of general business. In sports with a salary cap, they aren't running a retail sports equipment business on the other side of the front office.

Possibly more significant is that other sports leagues aren't really a group of competing businesses but one large business that have internal franchises that compete against each other.

Brookespeed is correct. The difference between, say, the NFL and MotoGP is that an NFL team is just that, a team. They make their money from a share of the TV revenues, ticket sales and merchandising, nothing else. Honda makes money from motorcycles, scooters, cars, lawnmowers, power generators. And they race motorcycles.

Honda corporation would never allow Dorna's forensic accountants to go through their entire books to see whether, say, part of the Repsol Honda team's travel budget has been paid through the distribution arm of the power generation business. Instead, they would pull out of the sport.

A budget cap would only affect the private teams. Tech3, LCR, Gresini, Aspar have no other income other than racing. Racing is their reason to exist, and so they have nowhere they can hide R&D, transport, marketing costs. A budget cap is one of those ideas that looks good in theory, but is worse than useless in practice.

Budget caps are cool by me. The thing I like most is they kill the power of the sponsors. The sponsors have way to much say in who gets hired from what country. If they had a budget cap it would bring the sport into play for a lot more sponsors, and the manufacturers could tell intrusive sponsors to hit the road.

Even better:

Set it up so the teams get revenue from the ticket sales like they do in stick-and-ball sports. If the manufacturers are paid directly based upon the show, they will do things that improve the racing and the competitiveness of the series instead of focusing on killing the competition with obscene budgets. They will allow new manufacturers to improve the show and avoid competition from alternative leagues.

I'm sure the manufacturers are paid based upon how well they destroy the competition. Those types of commercial rights arrangements don't work as proven by the Concorde.

Without a say in the proceedings, sponsors simply won't front the money. Say what you like about Gabor Talmacsi's miserable stint in MotoGP, but without MOL coming in to front the money for Talmacsi, the Scot Honda MotoGP effort is dead, and would have pulled out at Barcelona.

Sponsors invest in a sport because they want to showcase their product, and to do that, they need teams and riders who they can use in their marketing campaigns. If they have no say in the matter, they simply won't invest, and the series collapses.

I agree with the sentiment behind your point - rider sponsorship tends to favor one rider over another, just because they happen to come from the right country - but the riders who get into the top level of racing don't do so if they don't have the talent. It is not in the sponsor's interest to have a rider running at the back of the field either. Gabor Talmacsi is a case in point: MOL could have fronted the money to have him in a team of his own, but they did not believe that that investment was worth it. Maybe later, after a couple of years in Moto2.

I didn't mean to suggest that the sponsors would have absolutely no say in the team's operations. I would prefer for the teams to have options, though. Major sponsors like Repsol or Marlboro have a lot of say in team operations b/c they bring massive sponsorship money that can't be matched by other sponsors.

For instance, let's say Honda invest 25M every season and they get another 20M in sponsorship 15M of which comes from Repsol. If the governing body place a budget cap at 25-30M Honda would have the ability to be more selective with the sponsorship they accept and the terms of the deal.

I know the sponsors will always have some demands, but a budget cap would limit their power. Imagine two sponsors want the same team. It is unlikely a bidding war will solve the matter; instead, the team will be looking for a long term deal or a deal that allows them the most autonomy.

All theoretical, I know budget caps are effectively impossible to control without paying millions upon millions to independent third party auditors.

could be a spec/sealed "RPM monitor" that's separate to the ECU -- it would monitor/record RPMs at all times the engine is in operation but be separate to the ECU and sealed. maybe even have a green/red light showing if the RPM limit has been violated for a visual indication in parc ferme! if there's ever an RPM violation, a placing penalty could be assessed after the race. that would be simple enough.

it could go the next level and be an active "in-line" device, requiring spark power to flow to (or from) this RPM monitor, in addition to recording RPMs it could cut spark completely whenever the max-RPM is breached. again, a separate and sealed SPEC unit.

Could it be that they are talking about a spec ECU package with limited electronic rider aids, almost everyone uses Magnetti Marelli anyway. Wouldn't that be a way to increase parity without restricting any engine technology or design elements? Maybe that's just wishful thinking on my part.

any time a series promoter starts trying to "level the playing field". {Look no further than the AMA series for an example} Doubly so when they intend to (more or less) reverse a decision made in a vacuum only a short time ago. The 800cc Motogp ruling was ill conceived and poorly executed. Now here we are 4 years later and the intent is to scrap the whole thing and go another direction?

Governing the engine speeds,limiting bore and stroke and getting rid of the exotic materials are but a few of the ways to do it and I don't pretend to have the fabled "Silver Bullet" they are after. But as I have stated before you had better be very careful about how you handle this. Now that you can buy "production" motorcycles loaded to the gills with Titanium, and carbon bits that, with the right tweaking and tuning are getting terrifyingly close to the lap times that the Motogp Bikes are now turning. Foreseeably you could walk into your Ducati, BMW or Aprilia Dealer in the not too distant future and buy a motorcycle gleaming with technology and performance to rival the greatest 2 wheeled engineering marvels the world has ever known?

One possible downside to all this is that the manufacturers might find that it is in their own best interest to slow the dissemination of MotoGP technology to the production bikes to maintain on track superiority. What would current streetbikes be like without Radial brakes, inverted forks, titanium valves and exhaust systems we all know and love to name but a few?

IMO MotoGP ought to be the end all, be all "piece de resistance", Holy grail of motorcycling. Not some emasculated facsimile of same. What is being proposed now is more "show" than "go" and I for one am not a fan of that particular mentality.

The only thing I've read about is a displacement limit and cylinder number designation. Nothing new there. I don't think I read anything about leveling a playing field.

Being able to go and buy a production bike loaded with former exclusively prototype goodies is the whole reason for factory involvement.

Who cares about all this extraneous crap about ECUs and salary caps? I'll tell you what interests me about this; the thought of seeing some ACTUAL RACING AGAIN!!!

either through rev limiters, or through regulating how much fuel is allowed in the tank. both would essentially accomplish the same thing.

Fuel limits dictate the total amount of energy available - efficiency rules the day. Rev limits (without fuel limits) allow for unlimited power delivery when and where you want it. There is of course, limits on the power available at any RPM but increasing power over the entire RPM range as opposed to just peak horsepower creates several interesting opportunities. First of these is the reduction in reliance on electronics. Currently the electronics are needed to make very leaky HP useable by riders whereas having a broader, smoother powerband will allow riders more throttle control and will allow them to tailor their riding styles with their wrist.

The secondary result of the first is that the bikes can develop different strategies for passing because of the increased availability of power.

An over-simplification:
Fuel limit = more electronics
Rev limits= less electronics

I'm looking forward to hear some more info on Friday.. it will be very interesting to see how the "law of unintended consequences" affects this "silver bullet" solution.

... I wonder if we'll be seeing 'CVC' type gearboxes on the bikes soon. Provided there's enough fuel, keeping the engine revving in its happy place, making the gearbox do the bulk of making the bike rise/fall through the speeds.

Having watched Formula 1 and other series go through this, I have a couple of ideas on what they might be talking about, with the benefit of Hindsight.

A Spec ECU would be a silver bullet, and it would have the ancillary benefit of choking off traction control if one wanted to. But If I were a manufacturer, I would not want that because ECU development has a lot of impact on consumer product development. And implementing that in F1 was not all that smooth.

A rev limit would be easy to control without access to the ECU. There are a couple of options: 1) You can monitor RPM using sonic measurements on the bike. If you've watched F1 broadcasts with the on-screen tachometer, you have see this technology in action. You listen for the pulses and do the math. 2) The other option would be to have a lower limit on the mass of the rotating assembly (Pistons, Rods, Crank, etc.) in conjunction with bore/stroke limits. If you cap the weight of the rotating assemblies, you use physics to determine the maximum RPM before the thang blows up.

Another option is a limit on fuel. An extra 200 or 2000 RPM is not going to help a lot if you are going to run out of fuel short of the finish. The problem with this is it would help a lot in qualifying.

I am betting on something simple and easy to police: Controlling the mass of the rotating assembly.