The 2014 MotoGP Rules: A Minor Modification Redefines The Foundation Of The Rules

At the same time the World Superbike rules for 2014 were announced, the revised version of the MotoGP rules, including updates for next season were also published. But unlike the WSBK rules, no press release was sent out to announce the new rulebook, as the minor rule changes had already been announced previously.

Yet this rulebook marks a sea change in the way MotoGP is defined. For 2013, MotoGP is still defined as prototypes competing with 21 liters of fuel, and an additional class of machines running under the claiming rule banner. From 2014, however, the roles are reversed. All bikes are classed as MotoGP entries, but an exception is made for teams entered under the 'Factory Option'. MotoGP bikes are allowed 12 engines and 24 liters of fuel, but must run the official ECU hardware and software. Manufacturers can choose to enter four riders as 'Factory Option' entries, who must run the official ECU hardware, but are free to write their own software for the standard ECU. Factory Option entries are allowed only five engines per season, and 20 liters of fuel per race.

It is a remarkable and shrewd rewriting of the rulebook. Although on the face of it, nothing concrete has changed, in effect, the MSMA entries have become the exception, rather than the rule. The concept of a single class has been reinstated, with a special allowance made for factories who wish to submit to the discipline of making do with 20 liters of fuel, in return for the freedom to write their own software. Having the class redefined in this way is the first step on the way to the removal of that freedom. After all, it is easier to remove an exception than it is to change the rules. The next major rule change is expected to come in 2017, with the removal of the factory option the first priority, closely followed by the imposition of a rev limit.

The introduction of the Factory Option also slips another change under the radar. Where previously, a manufacturer was defined as a motorcycle manufacturer and member of the MSMA, now the link to the MSMA has been dropped. In its place comes an explicit reference to a manufacturer as being either a motorcycle manufacturer or a chassis manufacturer. This recognition had been demanded by the chassis manufacturers in the series since shortly after the introduction of the Moto2 class. The MSMA was still making the rules, while the chassis manufacturers had no say in the rulemaking process.

The introduction of the Factory Option has another useful side effect. For a while, everyone involved in the sport had been wondering how to refer to the CRT teams now that the claiming rule was to be dropped. By redefining everyone as MotoGP entries, and manufacturer entries as Factory Option, there are once again two clearly defined and easily explained classes: MotoGP, and Factory MotoGP.

While the main change to the rules came in the form of the redefining of the entries to the class, a recently opened loophole was once again closed. When the minutes of the Grand Prix Commission from the Sachsenring were announced, it looked as if it cleared the way to allow a four-rider factory team. That was never the intention of the rule, though a miscommunication meant that the minutes were so worded as to make it an option. At Indianapolis, that option was closed again, with each manufacturer allowed a total of four entries as a Factory Option, but only two in the factory team.

The full rules for both this season and next are available on the FIM website. For details of the 2014 rules - including full details of the spec ECU - search in the PDF file for "2014".

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Of course all might change again well before 2017, but it's a good start to getting the rulebook away from the factories.
Now if they can just make the software open-source... :)

... why do we need the "Factory" option.

Oh and for those that enjoy irony, Aprilia has for quite a while called its up spec carbon fibre & Ohlins encrusted versions of its sports bikes "Factory". The laugh comes from the likely-hood of Aprilia entering as a non-factory MotoGP bike in 2014.

I'm afraid you are mixing up two of the most important voices in MotoGP (who are not related). I also don't think it's much in the way of irony regarding the use of "Factory" in the name of a bike. Aprilia has been doing this at least since 2002 with their Tuono and RSV 1000 bikes (in fact swamping the meaning of the R vs Factory at one point), but they are not unique in their nomenclature. Even less so now with the new MotoGP rules.

My light-hearted comment was that "Factory" is an established part of the model designation/marketing culture at Aprilia (which other manufacturer uses it?), that their MotoGP bike is based (to an extent well beyond any other manufacturer) on their premium road bike (RSV4 Factory) with no stated intention to race the bike in the "Factory MotoGP" class. Seems ironic to me, but as I raise more laughs by mis-naming our host I'll just stick to that for this week at least.

If they had rammed through standard software, Honda might have acted on their threat to leave. And Carmelo has to look after the share price.

Dorna is clearly trying to up the 'entertainment' aspect of MotoGP with all the rule changes. Is it possible that in the near future Dorna will remove the 'Factory' involvement all together? Will the entire grid be made up of some form of 'production racers' and/or CRT type machinery? No more satellite bikes either. It would be more competitive (like Moto-2) if the factories just supplied engines, chassis, swingarms etc. Yamaha has already started by supplying their engines/chassis/swingarms to private teams. More manufactures would invest in MotoGP. There would be more than just 4 (Factory) bikes capable of winning each race weekend.

David "Gavin" Emmett stated that in his article:

"The next major rule change is expected to come in 2017, with the removal of the factory option the first priority, closely followed by the imposition of a rev limit."

So that's the idea. It's been the idea for a while, but it's taking forever to get in place. If in fact it ever does end up in place. That will depend upon whether the factories will ever be happy providing proddy race bikes to whomever wants them. For years the factories have used "R&D" as the reason to be in MotoGP. For that to go by the boards, they'll have to be able to make money selling the production racers.

Sounds good to me. I'd rather have the factories just supply x bikes, all equal and be done with it. But, they are too much of control freaks for that to happen and let the teams do the work. This arm wrestling trying to get the rules out of the MSMA's clutches shouldn't take 5 or 10 years to accomplish.

I don't think production racers will take over if the rules are changed to 24L w/ rev limit. The rev limit will level the playing field by removing the scourge of fuel-efficiency technology, but rev-limited formulas (volumetric efficiency formulas) are not exactly primitive. The front-running prototype technology will be too sensitive to sell, just as the current WSBK factory equipment is too sensitive to sell. Production racers may still exist, but they will not have the same level of sophistication. For instance, the current RC213V has pneumatic valves, but the production racer has spring valves.

The benefit of rev-limited racing is that all WSBK manufacturers have sufficient expertise to participate, as well as a few race technology companies, like Cosworth, Ilmor, GeoTech, and Oral Engineering. If Honda and Yamaha hang around, they will probably continue to win, especially if their brand names give them a rider recruitment advantage, but the difference between the teams will be very small and the rider will play a bigger role. The drawback of rev-limited racing is that volumetric efficiency tech is basically useless in the production market. The engine reliability rules will create some semblance of production relevance, imo.

So still only 12 actual MotoGP bikes allowed? Madness. Let the factories supply as many bikes as they want. Nothing wrong with a three-man factory team a la Repsol Honda 2011.

So long as they use the standard software. And the better that software becomes, the less inconvenience that will entail relative to the 4 litres of extra fuel. So it is a subtle way of progressively killing the stupid, expensive and anti-competitive fuel restriction.

The revenue split is often tied to the performance of a team or constructor in the championship rankings. Flooding the grid with extra bikes threatens the effectiveness of the revenue-sharing agreement. Imo, the "factory bike" designation was only supposed to refer to the teams who would be using the frozen factory engine.

Dorna really havent a clue about what makes racing attractive-their only care is the share price-the marketing and television growth of the last few years has disguised the morphing of a once great sport into a Spanish procession pretending to be a World Championship.
What is the point of a restrictive fuel limit? Is racing supposed to produce "green" credentials for the sport? This is rubbish-like asking boxers to somehow improve human health by hitting each other with ecologically sound cabbages instead of gloves.
American drag racing is where we need to look for rules-2 wheels and away we go-stick what you fancy in the tank and fire her up-let the engineers loose-may the best machine win.
Letting corporate interests such as Honda dictate what they wish to race is rank stupidity-125cc 2 strokes produced both great racers and great racing with a very simple formula which incidentally allowed a small company like Aprilia to grow into the sport.
Grand Prix has been through many hands over the decades, most of whom sadly have tarnished the sport so it has declined in strength and relevance to its current wobbly state, as long as it remains in the grip of a TV company it will struggle-along with the fact that only so many people wish to hear the Spanish national anthem 3 times every other Sunday.
Nothing against the Spanish, they have managed to grow their national sport into a cash cow and good luck to them, the ACU and others have been asleep at the wheel for many years, whatever happened the Belgian Grand Prix , the Swedish Grand Prix, et al?
I realise I am dreaming here, both the present and future of Grand Prix motorcycle looks terrible with no light at the end of the tunnel.
The Emperor has no clothes.

I agree with your approach to reducing the restrictions on the 'prototype class'. Less restrictions will see a rise in innovation by small budget teams trying to compete with large budget factory teams. The R&D claim by factories to 'reduce cost' simply made innovation within a tightly controlled set of design principles simply impossible. When tenths of seconds are found by armies of software engineers then you know a small outfit in an industrial estate will never win. Giving a broader base to the design principles will lead to real R&D driving real innovation, at that point a truly great mind with a small but dedicated team may come up a game changing technology or approach - and Oh, how we love an underdog!

The Spanish domination is probably the result of a truly effective grass roots campaign, using a strategy that can be communicated easily and quickly amongst peers, I do not see their current domination as a result of 'hijacking', but rather one of 15 to 20 years of hard work, probably starting with a really effective junior development process that allows children to compete safely, once this gets a hold, then you have family commitment, full race tracks and television follows. Good planning, well executed (I think David Emmett has mentioned that he noticed the seeds of their current dominance being planted some 20 years early (Portugal 1995 (??) or somewhere was the first time it became obvious to him, and why I love reading his stuff, he connects dots).

For motogp to achieve the audience dominance that these, the bravest of atheletes so richly deserve, two major activities are required (in my opinion and it is simply my opinion):

1. The same rules world wide applied to all junior race programs, with standard race bikes at an affordable price made available (so Mum and Dad can afford them, like MX bikes). Soccer is a global game, and it strangely users the same rules globally - who would've thought it?

2. If you're racing prototypes then make them PROTOTYPEs, this seems counter intuitive to the 'same rules globally', but young rider development comes first, and then for those that standout, the reward is 'prototype racing with the world's (or country's) best, be they riders, designers, engineers, and tuners'.

In 20 years time you could end up with Chinese kids, Indian kids, European kids etc racing everything from electric powered through to nitrous oxide. May the best team win. What a Sunday night spectacle!

I agree completely with your first para. However I think it's naive to suppose that "audience dominance" is possible. People don't watch sport on some completely objective evaluation of bravery and skill... they watch what they can identify with. Case in point: golf. Spectacle, danger, bravery, action are all close to zero. Audience is huge and the players are paid a fortune... because golf is the sport of lots of wealthy middle & upper class men in rich countries.

Motorcycling is the interest, like it or not, of mainly lower to middle class men in 2nd string economies... ie those who ride sport-oriented motorcycles.

So growth will not happen through aesthetic purity of the rules, it will happen by spreading to a wider range of countries. Now at that point your vision of global rules looks great, but there is a lowest common denominator effect: will Australians or Italians be happy to make 150cc scooters their main class, to follow what is happening in Malaysia?


In 20 years time you could end up with Chinese kids, Indian kids,


Indian motorcycle racers? Maybe. But Chinese? I don't think so. Motorbikes are banned in cities. Most of the "scooter" you see in China roads nowadays are, in fact, electric-powered bicycles.

Powered bicycles? I think a firm called Ducati had some roots there after never know. A wave of electric bikes is going to emerge from China and if the yoof don't end up 'improving' them I would be very surprised.
Ducati took 20 years, whereas China tends to achieve similar results in 5 in todays world.

Is Colin Edwards using the standard software in his FTR-Kawa? The last couple of races he's been right up with Espargaro on the Aprilia-software ART, which may be a good sign that the non-factory bikes will not be badly handicapped.

Perhaps I am cynical, but I took his recent surge in form to be due to the Forward team having a whiff of a decent bike next year and thus Colin has finally extracted the digit which seems to have been so firmly wedged up his posterior the last 18 months. It would be interesting to hear other reasons from those in the know.

Last I heard, Edwards was already using the spec electronics. However, all teams might be using it now b/c the claiming rule has already been dropped for any team that elects to run the spec ECU.

... this actually feels like a step in the right direction? David, this article is brilliantly worded and probably saved many of us from countless moments of confusion through the off season.

While your mention of "... Removal of that freedom" gave me reason to be concerned initially, I was reminded of one thing: This is a show.

A show meant to entertain first, and drive technology forward second. In a series that has hurdled forward for several years with the richest reaching the farthest in their innovations, I don't think any of us could possibly argue that the "show" has been improved as a result. Pneumatic valves, seamless shifting gearboxes, monumentally complex and expensive electronics systems, minuscule amounts of fuel... All of these things have damaged and not improved the entertainment of MotoGP.

Whether by putting technology out of reach from competitors who should be worthy (Suzuki?), or simply taking control away from riders we want to see wrestle a motorbike around a track with their own skills... MotoGP lost its mojo some time ago and needs to reflect and come back to earth.

It doesn't matter what Carmelo calls the CRT bikes, many of them will still be on the grid next year and they will still suck.

There are only 8 decent bikes on the grid this year and next year that number might increase to 12 if the production RCV and semi-M1 are competitive. With a bit of luck Audi might figure out how to make a bike and add another 4 competitive bikes to the total but car manufacturers have a terrible history in MotoGP so I wouldn't hold my breath.

The restriction on the number of bikes a factory may enter baffles me every time I hear it. We need more competititve bikes, not less and a bunch of pigs bringing up the rear. If Honda want to put 6 or 8 full RCVs on the grid let them!

The MSMA could add another 20 factory bikes to the grid, but we wouldn't see 10 bikes battling for the lead. On any given Sunday, only 3-4 riders get everything sorted to compete for a win, just like Moto2. Maybe a half-dozen will be good enough to compete for the podium at each round.

Lack of competitive equipment screws up the process of deciding who is good enough to compete for the win or podium at each round. The factory teams want to keep people like Pedrosa and Rossi on factory bikes, but it generally screws over people like Crutchlow and Bradl.

The worst part about the lack of competitive bikes, though, is that it makes the front runners look better than they really are. If they flub race day setup and fuel strategy, they might run .5 seconds slow per lap, but they can often cruise for a top 5 finish. What is that?! Look at the depth of the talent pool. Nearly every prototype rider in the paddock could get within .5 of the race winner, if they had competitive equipment. Moto2 riders are hoping to salvage a top 10 if they miss the setup.

Does anyone want to hazard a guess how competitive and fast a production RCV or M1 might be with 24L of fuel, 12 engines and the spec ECU/Software with a genuinely good rider on board like say A Espargaro?

Related to that is the question about current factory bikes in qualifying. Do they run a full, optimised fueling strategy in qualifying and is that where most of the ~ 1s a lap improvement comes from over race pace? Perhaps that means that if the ECU+software isn't a complete disaster, the Production racers might be genuinely competitive providing the rider is up to it.

Redding vs Bautista might get very interesting if Redding can get up to speed quickly. They'll both have Showa+Nissin (probably). But note, the Production RCV has a conventional gearbox.

That's why I asked: if as I think, Forward is using the MM software, Edwards recent competitiveness suggests it is not much worse than what Aprilia are supplying to Aspar, which appears to be pretty damn good.