The Factories Win a Reprieve: MotoGP Rev Limits Delayed Until 2014

Jerez saw another round in the game of bluff poker being played between Dorna and the manufacturers over the future of MotoGP's rules, and both sides took another step closer to an agreement. Reports emanating from the discussions suggest that Dorna has made a concession to the MSMA over the rev limits, while the factories are pushing through a single-bike rule, and an agreement should be ready by the middle of the year.

Ever since the MSMA lost their monopoly over the rules at the end of 2011, when the contract between the MSMA and Dorna lapsed, Dorna has had the stronger hand, and Carmelo Ezpeleta has been pushing the factories hard for changes. The pressure is starting to pay off Ezpeleta, as by a combination of cajoling, threats and promises, he has also reached an agreement over the future shape of the sport. MotoGP is to undergo a radical transformation from the pure technology exercise that the 800 era became to a sport focused on entertainment where costs are kept in check.

The introduction of a rev limit has now been more or less agreed with the factories, after Ezpeleta agreed to put the limit back for a year. The limit will now be introduced from the 2014 season onwards, rather than from 2013 as Ezpeleta had at first intended. Based on advice received from his technical team, including Dorna technical chief Corrado Cecchinelli and (now) Race Director Mike Webb, Ezpeleta is still pushing for 14,500rpm, but he may be willing to accept 15,000rpm, if the factories are willing to make further far-reaching concessions. Sources indicate that the factories were willing to accept the rev limit on condition that they got 2 years out of their current engines, having just undergone major spending program for the switch to the 1000cc bikes. The factories also wanted a  lead time of 18 months to make the necessary changes to the 1000cc bikes: though the change is much smaller than the switch from 800cc to 1000cc, the engine characteristics will be rather different. With Suzuki currently working on a return to MotoGP with a 1000cc bike slated to be introduced in 2014, bringing in a rev limit then will also make it easier for Suzuki to participate.

More change will come in 2015, when a single ECU is likely to be introduced for the CRT bikes at least, though some people inside Dorna are pushing for an ECU for all the bikes. Discussions are currently underway with Aprilia over the ECU, as the Italian factory is preparing to supply a string of ART bikes based on the RSV4 as production racers, much in the long tradition of Yamaha's TZ and Suzuki's RG series. BMW may be willing to accept this as they will be in a position to use their CRT program to help develop the WSBK program, where the electronics have always been the S1000RR's weakest point. A spec ECU for all of the MotoGP bikes, including the prototypes, is still under consideration, but at the moment, this would be a bridge too far for the factories. The hope is that a much lower revving engine which is much easier to manage without electronics will persuade the factories that limits on the electronics are a sensible option. 

There will still be some changes from 2013, though these proposals have been put forward by the factories. In response to Dorna's request for a 1 million euro lease price for a prototype machine, the factories have suggested that the way to make this possible is to switch to a single bike per rider. The cost of supplying spares and support for a single bike instead of two per rider is sufficiently reduced that the factories feel it their losses will be sufficiently limited that they can afford to supply satellite teams at a cost of a million euros per rider. This is unlikely to lead to a defection of CRT teams, however, as a rule specifying that each factory will supply bikes for just two factory and two satellite riders is also likely to be adopted. With Honda, Yamaha and Ducati the only factories currently supplying prototypes, and no new factories likely to join next year, that will leave 12 factory prototypes on the grid.

With Moto2 favorite Marc Marquez looking set to switch to MotoGP in 2013, there have been question marks over the continuation of the so-called Rookie Rule, which prevents a MotoGP rookie from going straight to a factory team. However, there is huge pressure from within IRTA to keep it in place, with IRTA President and Tech 3 boss Herve Poncharal telling at Jerez that he was committed to keeping it as it is. "This rule has been good for the private teams, and we really want to keep it," he said. "It has also been good for the riders; they can go to a private team and learn to race in MotoGP without too much pressure, it is a better situation for them. If Honda wants to support Marquez, they could do it perfectly well at Gresini or LCR." The only complication in this argument is the power of Repsol: if the Spanish oil giant threatened to pull out at the end of this year over the Rookie Rule, Dorna's stance on the matter could be compromised. But so far, Poncharal told, Ezpeleta had said he had no intention of changing the rules.

While a rev limit will surely create bikes which are significantly less peaky and much easier to ride, the one additional change needed to reduce the reliance on electronics would be the addition of more fuel. So far, the factories have been opposed to raising the fuel limits, but if an engine redesign is going to be needed to cope with the imposition of rev limits in 2014, then that would also be the ideal moment to raise the fuel limits. Even with 24 liters of gas, the Aprilia CRT bikes are struggling to reach their target, and so more fuel would also bring more relief for the Claiming Rule Teams.

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Controlled ECU's are the way forwards in my opinion, the electronics on Moto GP machines is by far and away the most expensive part of the package (unless you have one of the "aliens" riding your bike. I simply cannot understand why the teams have not been told to just get on with it. I don't think the one bike rule will help THAT much with the prices

I do think controlled ECU's will.

Oh wait, they didn't.

The engines are by far the most expensive part of the package. That was shown when factories offered engine only lease packages that were 2/3 the cost of a full bike lease package.

If a spec ECU is mandated it will just mean that the big teams hire more techs to try to eke every last bit of performance out of the spec ECU. It will only make the gap between those successful and those not-so-successful even bigger.

If Ducati had the ability to have BS make tires to their spec they would be running in the front. So how much is Ducati saving on tires when they are spending tens of millions trying to make a bike work with the spec tire. The same spending path will be followed with a spec ECU.


The development path has been moving away from "prototyping" in its purest form and the technologies are clearly moving into convergent paths. Tires were for sure the camel's nose in the tent! At this point do we know what things will be available for modification within the realm of a spec ECU? In other words, could the ECU still be used to allow certain engine technologies to make their way forward or would we then see a mad dash toward the "single and best" engine configuration that accommodates what the spec ECU dictates? I can almost taste the entropy...

Ducati on their own spec tires would likely be more competitive, but I doubt they'd be front runners. In that scenario the other factories would also have their own spec tires, so they'd all be faster.

In WSBK, hasn't this simply translated into the works teams having the spare bike in the trailer, disassembled as far as the rules require to make it not a "bike?" Has there been any real cost savings with this rule?

Allegedly, the single bike rule stops them from having two bikes and a full set of spares. Instead, the teams have one bike, and one full set of spares.

As far as I can tell, the single bike rule really only reduces the rate at which a rider can crash his machine, and it penalizes the rider heavily, with lost session time, for totaling a bike. This supposedly makes things more equal between rich teams and poor teams. Poor teams can afford to field better kit with fewer spares. Rich teams can't smash millions of dollars in equipment to find the missing 2/10ths.

I get what you're saying. But it seems that the well-off teams have one "bike," one "non-bike" in the trailer that's disassembled just enough to meet the one-bike rule, and then a sh**load of spares anyway. Really, no factory team is going to show up to a race with only a single frame for Checa, Haslam or Biaggi. So really what the one-bike rule really is dictating is how many parts are bolted onto one of the backup frames back in the transporter.

It definitely slows the recovery from a crash. But is that good for the show? And it definitely limits a rider and team's ability to set up the machine - see Jonathan Rea's comments after Assen, where he said the improvements to his machine came from a private test at the track where he was able to use two bikes back-to-back and work on setup. Unfortunately, that avenue of progress won't be available to smaller teams ...

I dunno. This seems like one of those rules that makes sense in the beginning, but its intent is quickly circumvented ...

It'll be good if they loosen up on the fuel limit stuff, the factories have become really good at it, but it'd be more fun not have running lean be a limiting factor anymore. Let the riders go all out. Meanwhile the CRT guys are having trouble because their engines simply aren't good enough to be tuned that high for two races in a row, maybe the fuel will close the horsepower gap a bit?

Spec ECU for all bike's on the grid, including the factory prototypes.
Limit TC as part of this.

Up the fuel regs to 24 liters for prototypes and give CRT 3 more liters.

I agree that the electronics are the most costly. They are exactly why Suzuki and Kawasaki left.

If they really wanted to solve this without mucking up everything like they have for the last 5 years, just ban TC and up the fuel 3 liters and be done with it. The bikes would slide again and the racing would get much better. No rev limits needed.

If you haven't seen Simon Crafar's GSXR1000's vid, watch it.

Such nonsense. The only thing removing TC will do is neuter MotoGP just like F1 has been neutered by Pirelli. Riders not being able to use the bikes to their full potential is not what anyone wants to see. Least of all the riders themselves.


World Superbike could benefit from a spec ECU.

Actually, you know what? I just thought of something. Why would Dorna, a marketing company, push for a spec ECU if SBK doesn't have a spec ECU? It would degrade the MotoGP brand. If Ezy is pushing hard for a spec ECU, I'm beginning to think that a spec ECU will be ratified for SBK in 2013, when the new 5-year rules are decided.

I have always wondered why don't they just reduce the # of gears that are allowed. Get rid of top gear and it will reduce the top speed. Or if you want to gear it taller to get more on top, it reduces the acceleration down low.

What do you think?

already limited to a maximum of 6 ratios & have been for a long time. Reducing the number of ratios to 5 or less will shuffle engine tuning priorities & lower lap times but do nothing to contain costs.

I think homologation is better than reducing the number of gears. Gear limits would be more interesting and more challenging for the engineers, but they are the bane of the marketing department, imo. How do they explain that a street bike has 6 gears, while a GP only has 5 gears? The general public and casual fans wouldn't understand the reason.

Gearbox homologation might be a better solution, though. If the GPC allow the manfuacturers to homologate 1 six-speed gearbox, and one primary gear, costs would be reduced, and the manufacturers would have to focus on spread of power. If they really wanted to make the engine builders and transmission people work overtime, the GPC could homologate a limited number of sprocket designs as well.

Unfortunately, homologation requires more enforcement as well, but sprockets and cassette gearboxes are not terribly difficult to check.

Why not Piston & Ring Homologation? My guess is there is where the majority of money is going. I'd say everyone would be happy to run an 81mm bore. The economy of scale of producing more pistons of the same spec would transfer to enormous savings.
Every manufacturer is aiming for the same thing from a piston. Low weight, high strength, and good seals that prevent blowback and allow lubrication.
It still leaves head, rod, and crank design open, allows for different engine configurations, and encourages "newcomers" to the field by giving them a leg-up in catching up to the big boys.

It'll never happen, but a man can dream.

If pistons are homologated, the manufacturers will just shift the budget to combustion chamber design. I tend to think it is cheaper to let them find efficiency with piston design, than to force them to radically alter the combustion chamber and valve train.

Imo, piston design is really important with the reliability rules b/c the manufacturers have got to find a way to maximize valve clearance and static compression, while still maintaining lift and duration for engine breathing. This research is production relevant, imo, assuming the valvetrain layout doesn't get too exotic. Pneumatics are obviously production irrelevant for the time being, but the valve layout could be production relevant.

Why do we have fuel limits to start with? If some guy wants to run w/28L...let 'em. The extra weight and 'feel/balance' of the bike will offset the power benefits. Give 'em all the fuel they want to run, ban TC, rpm limit + a spec ECU.....and it'll be 'hammer & tongs in a phone booth'!

I read the single bike ideas with raising eye brows.

This makes the flag to flag race impossible to my mind. Unless they are going to force them by default to do wheel changes on the fly in pit lane. I have a mechanic like demon jumping around in my head screaming - "watch all awesome fun in pit lane as they get wheel changes down to 4 seconds!"

The racer in me says - I don't call that Motogp I call that endurance racing.

Btw - not saying Endurance racing is not kick arse fun!

The easier the bikes are to ride the closer the racing will be. Everyone hoped there would be closer racing / more passing this. Except for the conditions early in Jerez making the racing exciting the final gaps from front to back have grown.

Remove TC = harder
Limit revs = easier

Not silly, my namesake :)

If you want close racing, give 'em all SV650's.

As Kennedy said, more or less
"We do the thing that is hard, because it is hard..."

Doohan on a screamer with tyres that had more traction but less grey zone, that is what finding out who is best is all about. Which is what a world championship is supposed to be about.

But it's not necessarily what brings in the cash, and everyone has gotten addicted to the cash.

If the fuel limit increases to 24L for everyone, I'll be happy. The racing will improve, and the riders will be back on fire breathing dragons again. But unless the corporate board members transition from branding to exposure (for Honda, that would be like the Pope turning protestant), 24L probably won't happen in GP. Furthermore, WSBK is exposure-based motorsport so WSBK would have to be overhauled before MotoGP encroaches. Otherwise, MotoGP and WSBK would be identical in concept and application.

Rev-limited racing (the result of 24L capacity) is horsepower limited racing, and MotoGP has never had strict horsepower limiting. The "Honda lane" would likely no longer exist. Furthermore, raising the fuel capacity changes everything, imo, b/c the potential power over race distance increases substantially. The bikes would need to be completely redesigned, not just tweaks to the bore-stroke that will probably happen when the 15,000rpm limit is enforced. The riders would probably call for radical revisions to the tires, as well, to move them back towards 24L 990cc paradigms.

I think 24L is out of the question, BUT the motorcycle market is in rough condition so paradigm shifts are more likely now than during prosperous times, imo.

Spec ECU, like the one used in BSB, should be kicked into the WSBK paddock. It works well with production bikes.

...but me thinks there should be a BHP "window" so that all the engines stay within the window, say for example "235BHP max", that would allow the factories certain freedom of how to deliver those ponnies but still allow the CRT's to stay whithin touch,as 235 is not unobtainable on a thou' by a good tuner.

All this I say because currently, Moto2 with the spec engine, is providing the best racing of all classes, why not follow the good example?
Just imagine Casey not being able to just dissapear in the distance while Lorenzo, Pedrosa,Crutchlow,Dovi and maybe even Rossi & Spies are all in the same freight train as the "last lap" warning appears on the screen of our TV's?

Forget ECU' and rev limits, max horse power limit however they want to get there. can I go a step further and add to that minimum bike and rider wight limits so every one weighs the same? and give everyone 24L!

A rev limit is effectively a horsepower limit. The bore limit is also effectively a horsepower limit, although less strict b/c manufacturers can pour money into friction fighting technology to achieve higher revs and higher peak hp. However, MotoGP is fuel limited so the bikes can't actually make their full horsepower potential over the entire race.

The manufacturers keep the 21L rule for two reasons. First, they like the performance characteristics it gives to the bikes, mass centralization and cornerspeed. Second, they don't want all bikes to be relatively equal. Honda and Yamaha want to compete with one another, and they want to make chop liver out of everyone else on the grid. The degree to which they should be able to exploit their technological and financial advantage is debatable.

There are very few races that end up in a final lap battle between 2 or 3 riders. Usually someone is 5 seconds ahead or more, and some times less. the point is; it doesn't matter what rules are in place, the talented riders will always gap the less talented. if you ride at this level you are dam good, just not as good as the guy at the front. hence why their are legends and just other guys with careers, this is true for any sport. We all want close racing but even in leagues that only allow one manufacturer of bike (say a Honda 125cc) have the same outcomes. Manufacturers will find ways around rule changes to go faster then their competition and give their riders an edge. Whether it is a control ECU or a rev limit etc, they will find a way to go faster.

People will hate me for saying this but I love the introduction or the CRT's! and I understand the rule changes to bring them more into the mix. but can we please call them privateers instead? is this not the point of racing? to have a weekend warrior go out and compete with the big boys? there are currently only 3 manufactures, and that would only fill 12 spots on a grid. This has been accomplished though rule changes that have forced out several factory's for multiple reasons (mainly $$$). Suzuki, Aprilia, Kawasaki, Cagiva to name a few. so what makes a MotoGP bike? dose it have to come from a factory that sells road bikes? or can it be any prototype? yes CRT uses a stock engine, but everything else on the bike would be the same as a MotoGP machine. the frames are purpose built to the requirements of the teams, the electronics are also similar and adjustable but maybe not to the extent of a full factory ECU. And everything else with regards to suspension, breaks, tires, wheels, chains, handle bars, LCD screens, steering dampers are all out sourced to other companies. so in reality the only big difference in CRT vs. MotoGP is the engine.

Big development dollars go into engines, they are continuously tweaked to produce more power and longevity. Now how modified are the CRT engines? are they simply a WSBK spec engine, or something more? are they completely rebuilt from the inside out including the drive train? I would guess yes, stock drive trains would not have the infinite adjustibility in ratios that a race bike would require. so is it safe to say that the majority of the engine that arrives to the team is replaced? only leaving the engine block. I am only speculating of course because I have no clue what they do with these engines and how they are built compared to WSBK spec's.

if fans don't want street engines on the grid then another option that would never happen is for Factories to lease only the MotoGP engine to a privater team. Im sure though that this would cause all sorts of issues and would never ever happen. too bad it could maybe save on cost and produce close racing.

As a fan for motorcycle racing in general I welcome any changes that will produce exciting racing. because in the end I'm at the water cooler on Monday talking about that amazing pass that Stoner made on Lorenzo at Laguna last year, Not how well Honda had really dialed in that traction control to allow just enough wheel spin at a perfect 56 degree angle. just Honda perfection, I just cant wait for them dial out the chatter this year so I can see that silky smooth tire in slow mo replay!!! so excited about that tech!!

Not really sounds ridiculousness doesn't it? ;)

It was HRC VP Nakamoto. Actually the point has been made many times by many people: where there is a budget to be spent, it will be spent. The classic example being the spec $100 carbs used in NASCAR: each tuned by a squad of engineers, so effectively $200K invested in the spec part by the end of the year.

The trick is to make the return on investment small, so the difference between what can be achieved with €1 million vs €10 million is not so great that it couldn't be made up by a better rider. The engine longevity and fuel restriction rules have done exactly the opposite. Other suggestions above, like reducing the number of gears, would have the same effect.

Limit the number of sensor inputs by requiring everything to be routed through a common interface. Let the manufacturer build whatever, at whatever cost, to control the engine but blind it to what the wheels and suspension are doing. Let them have have all the fuel they want, it's cheaper than exotic high-temp lean burn technology. And bring the engines down to 500cc without a minimum weight : 'cos titanium is cheaper than electronic engineers.

"The trick is to make the return on investment small, so the difference between what can be achieved with €1 million vs €10 million is not so great that it couldn't be made up by a better rider. The engine longevity and fuel restriction rules have done exactly the opposite. Other suggestions above, like reducing the number of gears, would have the same effect."

I agree about steeply diminishing marginal returns. Without steeply diminishing marginal returns, the sport will never be stable. But the returns must be so steep that companies opt to build what they want, rather than irrelevant unobtanium. If steeply diminishing marginal returns are not naturally present in an open rules system, I think they should be artificially imposed with ballasting, fuel-metering or whatever means necessary.

However, gear limits were not about diminishing marginal returns. In the 990cc era, when top speeds were deemed to be excess, some parties within the GPC thought it would be prudent to reduce the number of gears or place limits on transmissions. Transmission limits were supposed to emphasize engine building without reducing displacement and fuel capacity. Unfortunately, the idea fell on deaf ears.

Regarding sensor limits, it probably won't work. They banned wheel sensors in AMA to ban TC. As a result, Yosh Suzuki built a TC system that functioned without wheel sensors, and when they also hired Ben Spies, the AMA basically never recovered from the Yosh Suzuki domination of AMA SBK. The series collapsed, and was sold.

Yep, it's easy enough to have TC without a wheel sensor, the touring car boys here in Australia were doing it twenty years ago by simply controlling the rate of engine acceleration in the gears via the engine ECU.

IIRC Motec had it as an option in their ECU, and if it was happening here in the late eighties/early nineties, you could guarantee the Europeans were doing it earlier.

FWIW F1 has been been running a spec ECU for a few years now.

Why not put a blanket spending budget of teams for a year? Excluding riders salaries. Because it's the one thing that cannot be controlled in my opinion. You get X million euros at the close of the season then you spend it over testing and the year how you see fit...

"a sport focused on entertainment" doesn't mean to turn the sport into the crap that F1 has become.

Moto 2. Yes,the highly competitive and entertaining controlled 600 class is the odd man out. Clearly GP should be opened up to all manufacturers complying to a very basic set of rules. 250 singles,500 twins and 1000 4'S all governed by 81mm bore,thus suggesting 48.4mm stroke. Rev limit ?
14000rpm renders desmo advantage useless. Back to valve springs and carbs.
What next ? Control ECU, post race combined mass rubbish,DNA testing to determine the race winner is actually who the pilot was ?
Lowest common denominator.
How about this one. Post your 30th birthday you have to clear the bottleneck and make way for younger and faster hopefulls.
Rules,rules and damn rules. Stats and lies.
Money makes the world go around.
Configurate that in transverse 4, L4 or V4 and add a big bang for convenience.
Ah,the chassis material is the problem and composites are the issue.
Bollocks !

"...MotoGP is to undergo a radical transformation from the pure technology exercise that the 800 era became.."

1) Technology
So when wasn't MotoGP all about pure technology?
Going backwards in time, Corner by Corner Control, Pneumatic Valves, Low Friction Materials, Firing order, Exhaust Valves/Tuning, Revs, Gears.....

All that happened with the 800s was a greater rate of change of the constant wheel of technology. Made worse by the rules, especially the fuel limit.

2)Single Bikes
So how do we have flag to flag races with single bikes? Pit stops?
What to do when someone crashes and wants to rejoin? We'll have the BSB Brands Hatch race situation or the Bradley Smith Jerez Qualifying situation.