Grand Prix Commission Agrees Lower MotoGP Weight And Software Freeze

The Grand Prix Commission met at Misano to agree a couple of steps on the long road towards creating a single, unified MotoGP class from 2016. The four parties to the GPC agreed that the minimum weight in the MotoGP class would be reduced from 160kg to 158kg, and agreed to freeze development of the software for all Factory Option class bikes from 30th June 2015. From that point on, work will switch to the spec, or unified software, ready for the start of 2016.

The reduction in minimum weights has been under discussion since last year. The weights were originally raised to make it cheaper for manufacturers of CRT machines to reach the minimum weight of a MotoGP machine, with the need to resort to exotic materials. However, with the disappearance of the CRT machines at the beginning of this season, the weight became less of an issue. The Open class bikes which replaced CRTs were much closer to MotoGP prototypes, and as a consequence, were easier to keep light.

The minimum weight is likely to be reduced again in the not too distant future, though the eventual minimum will depend on other regulations to be agreed for 2016. The engine allocation limits also affect the weight of a bike. Long-life engines need to be built more robustly and with greater structural tolerances. That means using more material, and more weight. Discussions are currently underway over the final number of engines which will be available for each rider from 2016. That number will probably be higher than the current five allowed for Factory Option teams, but lower than the twelve allowed for Open teams. Dorna and IRTA are pushing for a higher number of engines, while the factories are in favor of a lower number. Once agreement is reached, then an achievable minimum weight can be agreed. It seems likely that the final weight will be lower than the 158kg agreed for next year, but it is uncertain whether it will go as low as 150kg, which it was with the 800cc MotoGP bikes.

The GPC also agreed to freeze the software of the Factory Option bikes from 30th June 2015. No more development may take place on the factory bikes from that point on, and the factories will then start to focus on the spec software - or Unified Software, as it is now being called - to be used by all entries from 2016 onwards. Work is already started on the system to coordinate the unified software development process, with Dorna's Director of Technology Corrado Cecchinelli starting to test the system already. Cecchinelli spoke to us at Silverstone and gave us a detailed insight into the concept behind the unified software, and the status of the project. That interview will be appearing on the website in the next few days.

The FIM press release from the GPC appears below:

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 13 September 2014 in Misano, made the following decisions:

Technical Regulations

Effective 2015

Minimum Weights of MotoGP Class Machines

The minimum weight of a 1,000 cc machine will be reduced by 2 kg. from 160 kg. to 158 kgm.

It was also agreed that this matter would be reviewed during 2015 to consider the possibility of a further reduction of 2 kg for 2016.

Development of Unified Software for the MotoGP Class

It was confirmed that current manufacturers will be permitted to use and develop their own software up until 30th. June 2015. After that date manufacturers will not be permitted to update their software except for minor bug fixes that might affect safety.

From 1 July 2015 current manufacturers will switch their development programme to the 2016 unified software. It is the intention that this software will be based largely on the current software used by the open category machines.

Manufacturers not currently participating may continue to use and develop their own software throughout 2015 but may also be invited to participate in the development of the unified software.

Detailed technical regulations concerning the use of certified sensors and other devices were also approved.

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

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I thought they were actually trying to reduce the over-all cost of these beasts. To drop an already light machine 9 pounds in 2 years is a big ask. You know that is going to up the price considerably because they sure won't be able to cut the fuel load down any further unless they significantly change the engine spec, which would mean HUGE development costs. As it is to drop the 9 pounds by 2016 more exotic and costly materials will have to be developed and used. Which of course is going to lead to more software development. The net effect is going to be a very big squeeze on already tight budgets, especially for the non-factory teams that are not bristling with sponsorship money. If they are not careful they will eventually kill this great sport for good because no one will be able to afford to go racing any more.

However, if they can gracefully fold in these changes with the new regs for 2016 it might not be so bad. Everyone has to change over to the spec software and build around a new tire anyway, so if you fold those new machine specs into the package early on perhaps the financial blow can be softened. We'll just have to wait and see how it goes. A grid with less than 20 bikes on it is not really worth watching. I hope it doesn't come to that.

The weight decrease comes after a long series of weight increases. From 2007 to 2011, the 800cc MotoGP bikes weighed 150kg. Originally, the 1000cc MotoGP bikes were developed to be 153kg, but the weight was changed at the last minute. In 2012, the bikes were 157kg, in 2013, the weight increased to 160kg. All of the bikes - the Honda, the Yamaha and the Ducati - carry ballast. The cost in removing weight will be in finding the right balance of the machine, but as it is only 2kg, it should not take too much work.

These proposals usually come from the factories, and can only be implemented with the approval of the factories. If they feared the cost, they would not do it.

The manufacturers are always pushing to use the lightest, strongest materials possible. They add ballast to achieve the minimum weight, and to optimize weight distribution.

I think the weight reduction vs cost is a little misleading. For a start if you look at road tyres (I know it isn't the same however the construction materials are the same) Michelin tyres are 1-1.5kg lighter than other makes. Therefore they may only be reducing the weight by 0.5kg however the reduced weight and rotational/unsprung mass may mean they can use smaller brakes meaning less costs in the long run so whilst it might look like a strange move it could be to reduce costs!