The Engine Rule Claims Its First Victim: Valentino Rossi To Start From Pit Lane On Sunday

The engine allocation rules have claimed their very first victim since their introduction during 2009 at Brno. Valentino Rossi today told the media that he and the team had decided that he would be using his 7th engine here at Aragon tomorrow, and will take the accompanying penalty by starting from pit lane, 10 seconds after the rest of the field.

The decision was forced on Rossi and his crew because the new aluminium chassis which Rossi debuted here at Aragon has an extra mounting point on the rear of the cylinder head, to accommodate the longer rear spars from the chassis. The 6th engine Rossi used at Misano already had the new mounting points fitted, but the two other GP11.1 engines Rossi had did not have them, making it impossible to use with the new chassis. After practice on Friday, Rossi and his crew had decided that the new aluminium chassis was the right direction to proceed in, and that therefore, they would decide to use the 7th engine and suffer the penalty.

Aragon was a good track to start from pit lane, Rossi and his crew believed, because the exit of pit lane joins the track in the middle of Turn 2, minimizing the damage from starting 10 seconds after the rest. The decision was made easier by Valentino Rossi's poor qualifying, a mistake while on his soft tire meaning that he only qualified in 13th. Starting from pit lane was not that much worse than starting from 13th, and so the decision was made to use the new engine during warm up, and accept the penalty at Aragon.

"I think that for tomorrow, we can use the 7th engine, and start from pit lane, because unfortunately to have two bikes in aluminium, it is not possible with the older engine," Rossi said. "Also to understand the new chassis and also for next year, it is better to have two bikes the same, and I think that for tomorrow, we will start from pit lane with the 7th engine." The new aluminium chassis was not a revolution, but it was a step forward, Rossi said. "For me, I think we are on the good way, I feel better on the bike," Rossi explained. "This track [Motorland Aragon] is a bit different, because the rear is very important, and you don't use the front a lot like in other race tracks, so is not the best track to understand the new chassis. But we have to work, we have to develop," Rossi told the media. "I feel a bit better on the bike, for sure not fantastic but it is a small improvement," Rossi continued. "So we have to continue like this, because it is also the first step for the future."

The rules surrounding the engines are clear: each rider has an allocation of 6 engines for the season. Once the rider takes a bike out on track (defined as once the engine leaves pit lane during free practice, qualifying, warm up or a race), the rider is subject to a penalty. If they use the engine for the first time during practice, then the rider is forced to start the next race from pit lane. If they use the engine for the first time during a race (either at the start or when switching bikes during a flag-to-flag race) the rider is given a ride-through penalty.

The penalty is only imposed the first time the extra engine is used. Once the penalty has been completed, the engine becomes a normal part of the rider's allocation. If the rider takes another new engine, they will be subjected to a penalty once again.

In Valentino Rossi's case, the Italian will have to start the Aragon race from pit lane once he takes the second bike with the 7th engine out of pit lane, which will almost certainly happen during warm up on Sunday. He will then be able to race and start normally, unless one of the two engines (in this case, numbers 6 and 7) should develop a fault and have to be withdrawn from the allocation. If Rossi should decide to use an 8th engine for whatever reason, he will have to start from the pit lane at the race where the 8th engine is used. This, however, is very unlikely to happen.

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.......... think it really matters that VR will start from the pit lane.

Its been clear for a long time now that 2011 is a development year for the GP12 machine.

Yes VR will always try his best in the races & I'm sure in his heart he wants to win races , get on the podium, set fastest laps etc, but his goal is now 2012.

With such small testing times now in GP's this is the best way of getting the 2012 machine (what ever code name they call it & what ever CC it really is ) up to speed.

I hear from Messrs Moody & Ryder that there might be rain for the race tomorrow, if so, that should add some spice to the race!
Pit lane starts, ride through's, bike swops, no doubt a few low sides ( injury free I hope ). Brilliant!

..... still wont be as fun to watch as Moto2 though.

Yes rain could spice up MotoGP a little bit. Still for Moto2 a dry race would do the job since last rounds were quite exciting.

So Rossi has to start from pit lane for the rest of the season, or is it just one race?

I've added an extra couple of paragraphs explaining the engine rules to the story. The short answer is it is just one race for each extra engine taken. Rossi starts from pit lane at Aragon, and is back to normal after that.

Since rain is possible Sunday, what if he starts with bike#1 and engine #7, then pulls in under white flag rules and takes out bike#2 with engine #8? Does he have to do the ride through penalty as well. If so, does engine #8 now enter his normal allocation?

Bike #1 has engine #6 (taken at Misano, already had the mounts), bike #2 has engine #7. So #8 is only needed if #6 or #7 blow up.

So why don't they set aside engine #6, keep engine #7 in bike 2, then put an 8th engine in bike #1, and make sure to ride both bikes during warmup? They're already taking the one-time penalty for running engine #7, might as well get 2 engines in under that single penalty, right?

Still confused about exactly when and engine is considered "allocated".

If an engine is allocated once it exits the garage and is used on track, then presumably Sunday morning Valentino could use engine #7 and if it looks like rain is at all possible for the race, fit the second bike with #8. If the white flag comes out, come back in, get on engine #8 bike and go out.

The question is whether the second penalty would be a ride through at Aragon, or a pit lane start at Motegi? If the penalty is the ride through, then they'd have nothing to lose by getting two new engines allocated in a throw-away race/season.

The 10s and starting from pit lane penalty for using a 7th engine must be only for this meeting. I say that because on Eurosport they suggested the penalty would last for the rest of the season---but surely not, unless they use a new engine at each meeting?!?!

That's why we are here. You are the best source out there for main streamers like myself.

This whole engine allocation rule makes me sick. Can we please go back to a bunch of simple rules that put the focus on the actual racing and exciting technical developments again?

Im with you on that Prof. I wonder just how many people WOULDN'T have bothered buying race day tickets, or would take a refund now if it was offered, had they known in advance that Ducati would be penalized in such a stupid way for simply trying to improve their chassis.

All the talk has been about Rossi but how many, if any of Hayden's engines has the mounting points for the new frame? I heard him say he plans to complete the rest on the season on his last engine but how practicle is that and what of a wet flag to flag race?

While the engine rule I think has hurt more than it's helped, any Ducati fan that doesn't know they are in a world of hurt right now can't be too much of a fan because they aren't paying attention. It's interesting Ducati have about 6 riders to draw infromation from yet Suzuki has only one and seems to be making a better improvement.

None of Hayden's engines (he is on #6) have the mounting points for the new chassis. He won't get to use it this season, he will stick with the CF chassis. He will get to test the aluminium chassis at Valencia after the last race.

Ducati and Rossi have made the decision to do this.
They have a bunch of perfectly good engines and were party to the rule changes.
If the fans don't like it, it's hardly the fault of the rules.
The one big downside of using the engine as a stressed member of the frame is that it limits your ability to make design changes. The other makes do not have this problem. Though Suzuki did get caught out last year.

"If the fans don't like it, it's hardly the fault of the rules."

The fans are the people who who keep this sport going. With out the fans you don't have MotoGP. Some fans travel thousands of miles and spend thousands of dollars to watch their favorites race. Starting Rossi (Or any other high caliber rider) from pit lane doesn't do anything but piss the fans off. Six engines for Eighteen races including all the practice sessions, qualification, and testing is stupid. If the calander goes to Twenty races in 2013 and the allocation remains the same its even more stupid. The rules need to be change next year because in this case a high profile rider, that fans have paid good money to watch race, now get to watch him leave pit lane and chase instead. The rule was originally put in place for engine durability. This case has nothing to do with durability.

Like Marquez in Moto2, Rossi has had the benefit of special parts for years to gain advantage over the field. One-off tyres, special chassis parts, and fire cracker engines. What Rossi demand he got. With leveling of equipment available there is a new skill required that Rossi and his team haven't mastered to the skill. This is the skill of managing engines and tyres. Not within a race but over a weekend and over a season. Stoner and his team (who deserve more credit than they get) have led the way with this. Coming up through satellite teams and working with limited resources at Ducati have developed their skill in working with what they have rather than just demanding and waiting for changes.
Stoner and his team have led the way with short sharp sessions on the bike, utilizing the "wrong" tires early in FP while saving the good tires for QP and the race. Rossi and his team (and too some extent even Lorenzo) have come from a period of unlimited resources and have been slow to adapt.
I don't have a problem with a limit of 6 engines. I think it is plenty for a season if you have planned for it. If you have an engine that is a stressed member of the chassis and you expect to make changes then cover it with mount points!

The one rule however, that really needs modifying is the limits on testing. Different sessions for 2011 bikes versus 2012 bikes have been pointless when parts have been interchangeable. This is the real issue for Ducati as it has forced them to use races to conduct their testing.

That the rules are hard to accept for the fair-weather fans of a single rider won't bother true fans of the sport.

This isn't the first year of the six-engine rule and this isn't the first year of the spec tire rule - Rossi and his team have proven quite adept at managing those factors since they came into being in MotoGP. This has noting to do with "resource management" by Rossi's team - it has to do with Ducati choosing to make 1 component integral to two systems on the bike - and the added poor choice of making that shared component one that is available in limited quantity throughout the season. Their design does not allow for the "worst case" scenario that they are experiencing now. Poor design decisions. Rossi having had whatever he wants previously is irrelevant. Not sure what your point is here other than Rossi-bashing.

I agree with you on testing, though. They should be allowed to test as much as they want to help justify their expenditures. If someone wants to win, they should be allowed to spend enough time to do so.

Wasn't intending to be bashing the rider. I don't care for that kind of debate. Just using Rossi to illustrate how times have changed.
You express the Ducati design limitations really well. I recall JB making a comment along the lines that Ducati had spent too much time on what worked and not enough on what didn't work.
They don't seem to have done a full risk/scenario assesment on the design and potential changes.

Has there been any announcement on what the testing rules are for next season?
Let's hope it's somethig better.

Yep I agree with you completely on that. I think the Japanese factories do a better job of covering all the bases and planning for potential outcomes and pitfalls. Or maybe it is just traditional bike design, but it didn't come to be tradition for no reason. I would be very surprised if HRC had not at least evaluated the frameless concept in the past, but decided not to pursue it for at least some of the limitations we see on the Duc.

The engine rules have deliberately been down played by the manufacturers and since they came into being have hardly been discussed at all with very little information released by the manufacturers themselves David is about the only journalist who provides any meaningful information.

Rossi's penalty on Sunday will change that for a lot of casual fans it will be their first exposure to the rules bar the original doomsday scenarios floated when they where first proposed a year or two ago (which where promptly forgotten about) while some people will be total Ducati/Rossi partisans not all criticism will be based on that perspective.

It was a good decision for them. Qualifying didn't go well for them and yesterday's power issues certainly didn't help either. It may make headlines but it is completely irrelevant at this stage of the season. They could take an extra engine at every round and it wouldn't matter.

I don't want to call it "engineering hubris" but Ducati had to have seen this possibility a while ago - I'm surprised they didn't engineer some more mounting options into Rossi's last 2 engines. Never mind the fact that they engineered themselves into a corner to begin with.

TwoStroke, how do you figure Ducati's failure to build a bike that steers and grips is not their fault?
I'm with GhostDog - and Burgess. Hubris in that failing to see that 3 or 4 wins in the last few seasons AND 3 or 4 crashes meant that whilst they had a bike capable of winning, it was balanced on a knife endge handling-wise. They thought that replacing Stoner with Rossi would magically solve the problem.
Guess what! There is no magical silver bullet, not even one named Vali. The bike was a pig, and you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, as the saying goes.

I think Ghostdog6 is referring to Ducati as a whole, which by definition includes Ducati Corse. If Aprilia can build its standard engines ready to accept gear-driven cam upgrades, then surely someone in the race engineering department must have thought about the rear mountings, even if only as a back up plan? Still, what's done is done, now we all get to witness the Duc being developed by some very talented people in a most unforgiving environment - interesting times ahead!

but the Ducati situation doesn't seem to be one that was anticipated when the six engine rule was introduced. The intent was presumably to stop the use of "fire cracker" engines with very short lifespans, requiring constant and expensive rebuilds/part replacement.
Ducati is having to replace engines due to the need to revise frame mounting positions rather than because the internals are tired.
The end result is that the only spectator interest from Rossi's coming race will be seeing how high he can climb during the race after a disadvantage at the start. For me that is not a great outcome, nor an intended one, given that Ducati are probably not gaining any motor performance advantage from the new motor - and maybe not much from the new subframe either!

Quite easily as there are 'unfixed' Ducati's going just as fast as the fixed ones. Noteably Haydens and sometimes Barbera and Abraham.No amount of '80 second fixes' seem to make the slightest difference.So it comes down to how it's ridden.Either adapt and learn how to ride it or find something else to ride. The team should have forseen the probablity of starting from pitlane long ago.

Fixed or unfixed none of the Ducatis are as fast as the Hondas or Yamahas. I find it hard to believe that people still believe the answer is to simply "ride it faster". If they were doing single lap Superpoles that might be possible; a 30-lap race? No way to do it consistently. And that is the problem - the Ducati is not fast consistently, no matter who is on it (yes, I include Stoner in that as well).

Hi everyone only just joined ,can i say what a refreshing change to read interesting and informative blogs or whatever ,than the utter drivel and rider bashing on the site i have just kicked into touch ,keep the good work up cheers all..