MotoGP Rule Changes As Expected: Rookie Rule, Single-Bike Scrapped, But Restrictions On Factory Bikes Introduced

Much was expected of this Friday's meeting of the Grand Prix Commission, but in the end, the decisions taken were relatively minor. Dorna, IRTA, the FIM and the MSMA agreed on a number of proposals which had widely been expected, but made no real progress on the major rule changes expected for the 2014 or 2015 season. 

The rule change with the biggest immediate impact was the dropping of the Rookie Rule, as we reported during the Silverstone round of MotoGP. The dropping of the Rookie Rule, which prevents new entries into the MotoGP class from going straight to a factory team, opens the way for Marc Marquez to join the factory Repsol Honda team next season. Contrary to popular opinion, however, the rule was not dropped at the request of HRC, but rather of the Honda satellite teams themselves, both Lucio Cecchinello and Fausto Gresini fearing the disruption that Marquez would bring for just a single year.

While the Rookie Rule was scrapped, a couple of other proposals which had been feared were also dropped. The MSMA proposal to go to a single bike - as is the case in Moto2, Moto3 and WSBK - was dropped after opposition from the teams. A proposal to ban the use of carbon brakes was also dropped, especially after pressure on Brembo and Nissin elicited promises to examine the price structure of their products. 

One rule that did get accepted was the limit on the number of bikes that each factory can supply. From 2013, each manufacturer will be limited to two factory entries and two satellite entries, though the wording is such that the spec of the machines is not specified. The two factory riders would naturally have factory bikes, but the satellite teams could also field a fully factory-backed bike, such as they did for Marco Simoncelli in 2011. 

The most interesting rule change was the freezing of the bore and stroke of all MotoGP entries to the bore and stroke they are currently using. If Ducati are not using the full 1000cc, as many both inside and outside the paddock suspect, they would be stuck with the lower capacity until the end of the 2014 season. This could be the first step towards a freeze on engine development, an idea that is popular with some manufacturers and with the CRT machines. Whether an engine development freeze would be imposed on the CRT bikes is unclear, but if they escaped that freeze, it would give them a chance to close the gap to the factory bikes a little.

The restriction on the number of gear ratios is also in line with this idea. Restrictions already exist in Moto3, and the greater torque and wider powerband of the 1000s already makes the use of a lot of different ratios unnecessary. The teams barely touch the inside of the gearbox, so introducing a limit on the number of ratios allowed has little impact on the setup of the bike. Even though they don't use the extra gearing currently allowed, they still carry it around the world just in case, adding expense to both the lease price of the bikes, and to the transport costs, the box or two of extra gear cogs a heavy item to transport.

Talks on the rev limit and a spec ECU were pushed forward once again. A decision on this will probably only be taken much later in the year; whether that means the change will be made later or the restrictions more radical remains to be seen.

Below is the press release from the FIM containing the full details of the decisions made at today's meeting of the Grand Prix Commission:

FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix
Decision of the Grand Prix Commission

The Grand Prix Commission, composed of Messrs. Carmelo Ezpeleta (Dorna, Chairman), Ignacio Verneda (FIM Executive Director, Sport), Herve Poncharal (IRTA) and Takanao Tsubouchi (MSMA) in the presence of Javier Alonso (Dorna) and Mike Trimby (IRTA, Secretary of the meeting), in a meeting held on 28 June in Assen, decided the following:

Sporting Regulations

Effective immediately:

The same penalty that exists in the MotoGP class for exceeding the permitted number of engines used will also apply in the Moto3 class. The rider will start the race 10 seconds after the green light is on at the pit lane exit.

Effective 01 January 2013:

“Rookie” riders will be permitted to be entered by a factory team.

In the MotoGP class manufacturers are restricted to two direct entries per manufacturer and may provide material for a maximum of two entries per manufacturer operated by Independent teams.

Technical Regulations

Effective Immediately:

Machines entered in the MotoGP class are restricted to using unchanged bore and stroke dimensions throughout 2012-2014. Current dimensions must be notified to the Technical Director.

Minor changes to the regulations concerning Moto3 parts supply were approved. The effect is to ensure that upgrades are available to all entries at the same time.

Effective 01 January 2013:

In the MotoGP class machines may use a maximum of 24 possible gear ratios and four possible ratios for the primary gear.

Other Proposals

A proposal to restrict riders in the MotoGP class to the use of one machine was rejected.

A proposal to ban the use of non ferrous materials for MotoGP class brake discs was rejected.

A proposal to mandate the use of wheels with a standard specification for strength and durability, applicable to all classes, was postponed pending further discussions between factories and wheel suppliers.

A regularly updated version of the FIM Grand Prix Regulations which contains the detailed text of the changes may be viewed on:

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Danis seat isn't set in stone and the golden boy(Marquez) has spoke out about how he wants Rossi as a team mate.

Also massively disappointed with the max 4 bikes, don't get it , sure have a minimum but riders like ka who could afford a competitive bike simply can't have one. Is it really a Honda, less competitive, copy or no ride at all??
If you're on the cusp of an average motogp ride will it be a better bet than a top wsbk??

That at a time when they're to put more bikes on the grid, that they're going to limit the number of bikes each team can field?

This to me makes no sense...

I don't understand this rule limiting the number of bikes. How does it help keep costs down? and how those it help the main problem of having few bikes on the grid? If it comes to Ducati not having satellite team next year then there will only be 10 non-CRT bikes.
Also since Ducati accepted this without much complain then that means that the engine that's expected at Laguna Seca has the same capacity that the current one, and the same 90°s, so basically it's just a minor update instead of the destiny changing tool that was expected.
Actually maybe this means that they are already using 1000cc. The Rev limit is expected to happen sooner or later if they have a small engine that can't rev high then that would make them loose a lot of power so if they were okay with this then maybe that's not something that scares them.

I'm really surprised Ducati went along with the immediate engine freeze. Since the beginning of 2012, their engines have been routinely hitting 17,500+ RPM. This is ~1200 RPM higher than anything else on the grid. Unless they've found a way to ignore long standing piston-speed limitations, they are almost certainly running a short stroke engine.

When Rossi started moaning about the abrupt power delivery, it seemed likely he was, in essence, complaining about the engine's smaller displacement. A smaller lump producing competitive power would presumably require a harsher state of tune. The Laguna Engine was - at least at one point - expected to be a 'proper' 1000cc effort that would combine sufficient power with softer delivery.

Now all this is in the garbage bin and, somewhat oddly, Duc doesn't seem to give a flip. I don't understand why not.

The rule regarding the "manufacturer will be limited to two factory entries and two satellite entries" isn't much different from what the series has already when you look at it! Yamaha is already doing this anyway. Nobody wants to ride the Ducati really, so it won't hurt too many people's feelings that they can't LEASE a bike from Ducati. And Honda? I think they were already on target for this rule change. Carmelo Ezpeleta may have been secretively asking for additional help from Honda... hence the production racer they are introducing! The Factories may be limited to 4 Top-Shelf 'prototypes' that they can have on the grid but it doesn't stop them from SELLING production racers to private teams along with the technical knowhow(s) that go with it. More money, more R&D, more bikes on the grid. It's a brilliant idea/loophole to be exploited in the future. Aprilia will be next to make a production racer based on the RSV4. This rule will transcend the CRT concept so that eventually everybody will be riding a production racer. (another reason for Stoner's retirement) All the brands will be involved then: Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Aprilia, BMW, and Ducati! Okay? Maybe not Ducati... they will go back to just WSB! The racing will be better and Carmelo will do a better job promoting MOTOGP worldwide. You heard it here first...

Yeah, the limit on Factories' bike entries is a bit confounding. I can only see this as Dorna trying to corral the factories and promote the CRT's. Crazy or crazy like a fox I don't know. Does seem strange that it limits new teams and current teams' options for machinery. First and biggest example of a possible logjam with this rule would be a certain well known rider with lot's of money, sponsors coming out of his ears, and likely looking for factory machinery next year. Rule would limit someone like that to going CRT shopping.

The engine development freeze makes some sense in a strange attempt to help the CRT's catch up. It would however catch struggling factories like Ducati or a reemerging Suzuki from much needed rapid engine development. Then there's the thought that it could scare away other factories from joining as they'd have to get their bore/stroke right on first go.

I can't see the benefit of the 4 bike rule. The only way I can see this helping the series is if Dorna's goal is to have a full CRT championship. Now you'll essentially have 12 seats that will provide a rider with the opportunity to show their worth and work towards a WC. What that does is create a backup of talent. You have young talented guys like Espargaro, Iannone, and Vinales who will now have to be put on a waiting list to get an actual shot at achieving their dreams. These young guys are the future of the sport and if I'm in my prime and I've already proven my worth in moto2 but I'm told I have to wait for Rossi or Pedrosa to retire or I can take a seat in the B league, then I'm going to consider defecting to WSBK. The last thing motogp needs, is to lose the talent that is the heart of the series.

Can anyone say whether Dorna would view any team running a Honda, Ducati or Yamaha as a Satellite team? or is it just any teams which lease from them?

If it's lease only, then this could be a good thing, esp with the rumours of Honda's "Production racer" as it will encourage the Factories (still don't like that definition either, Suter etc are also factories, just smaller) to sell their bikes rather then lease, which should allow the privateer teams to develop their bikes to suit their rider, rather then just adjust the settings, which may result in the privateer bikes not being slower then the official entries.

If it any team, then bye bye MotoGP

The four bike rule might prevent them becoming even more dependent upon any one manufacturer.

Look at how much sway Honda has now and imagine if they were supplying half the bikes on the grid.

I'm perplexed that one of simplest cost saving available, banning carbon discs, was rejected. The cost of these discs is astronomical. Something like 6 months in a curing oven is needed to make a carbon disc.

SBK and Moto2 use steel and run times common with most of the MotoGP grid. MotoGP already use steel in the wet, so there is no transition problem.

Steel discs would also open up the braking distances, improving overtaking opportunities. It would also make it easier for any rider to adapt to MotoGP.

Keeping carbon disc is just pandering a pair of spoiled suppliers.

Over a full racing season it would be slightly more expensive to use stainless steel disks, you'll get through them much much faster.
From Ian Wheeler's twitter account, he got it from a brake specialist.

I'm missing something here. So the sealed engine restrictions still allow a cassette gearbox and gear/clutch changes? But how do they change primary gears without splitting the cases?

Indeed, and I know that. Just curious about where the FIM seals are on the engine then and therefore what can be routinely changed. If they're allowing but now limiting gearbox gears, that suggests the clutch, gearbox can all be removed and changed. But primary gears? One half of the primary is on the crankshaft isn't it?

My understanding is the clutch is usually gear-driven from the crankshaft, driving the primary/input gearbox shaft. So the crankshaft runs parallel to the gearbox shafts. See (the latter page suggesting just how long-standing this arrangement has been in motorcycle engines):

Again, the gear shafts can be removed by sliding them out as a casette, just by removing some covers, the sprocket and (I'm not sure, but guess so - don't have my RGV maintenance manual to hand ;) ) the clutch. The crankcase doesn't have to be split - certainly not on any engine intended for racing.