MSMA Proposes Introducing Concession Points Early, Removing Ducati Concessions For 2016

Ducati could have their concessions removed a year early. The manufacturers' association, MSMA, are proposing to introduce the concession point system, which was due to start in 2016, to apply from this year. That would mean that Ducati would be forced to race in 2016 against Honda and Yamaha under the same regulations, including frozen engines, seven engines a year instead of nine, and testing limited to official tests.

The success of the Ducati Desmosedici GP15 has shown up a gap in the regulations. The system of concessions allowed to manufacturers without a recent win has universally been hailed as a success, allowing Ducati to catch up with Yamaha and Honda, and Suzuki to already close the gap. However, as the rules are due to change in 2016, the system of concessions will also change. Under the system which applies this year, a factory which has not had a dry win in the last three years gets extra fuel, a soft rear, 12 engines instead of 5, freedom from the engine freeze, and freedom to test with factory riders. From 2016, all of the teams will have 22 liters of fuel and will be using the same tires, and so there will be fewer concessions. Factories will get 9 engines instead of 7, not be subject to an engine freeze, and be allowed to test with factory riders.

The system for calculating when a factory loses concessions will also change. A new system of concession points will be introduced for 2016, awarding 3 points to a win, 2 points for a second and 1 point for a third. If a factory with concessions racks up 6 concession points, in whatever combination, they will lose concessions. The unlimited testing will stop immediately, and for the following season, they will have only 7 engines and be subject to the engine freeze.

However, that leaves a gap which would allow Ducati to continue with concessions for 2016, despite having booked an awful lot of success with the GP15 this year. If Ducati do not win in the dry this year, then they would start 2016 still with more engines, free testing and the ability to develop the engine through next season, until they scored a total of 6 concession points. With Andrea Dovizioso's three second places in the first three races, and Andrea Iannone's third place at Qatar, Ducati would already have scored 7 concession points had the 2016 system already been in effect. 

At the MSMA meeting at Jerez, the manufacturers discussed applying the points system in 2015, to affect concessions for the 2016 season. This would mean that Ducati would lose their concessions for 2016, having already scored more than 6 points this season.

Speaking to, Repsol Honda team principal Livio Suppo explained the situation. "There is some confusion, because we are overlapping two different sets of rules. What is clear is that as the MSMA, we said we start these concessions last year, basically. But at the end it is something we think we should keep, because there is much interest for KTM, Aprilia, Suzuki, and it is good for the sport, so we all agree that we should try to keep this kind of advantage for the manufacturers which are rookies, and which are not competitive."

The overlap between the two sets of rules is what was causing the problem, Suppo said. "This is clear, if you do six concession points in 2016, in 2017, you will be without concessions. Then we didn't think for 2016! Our opinion is that if this will work for 2016 to 2017, it should be the same for 2015 to 2016. That's a normal understanding because the spirit of the rule is, we help manufacturers who are struggling." 

Unsurprisingly, Ducati were not in favor of the change, pointing to the fact that there is already a system in place, and the FIM had already clarified the rules. "The problem is that Ducati start to say, we need to win three dry races this year, because to lose the tire, we need to win races. But this is another story!" Suppo said. "Then they say, we need to win one race, because there is an FIM press release which speaks about one win, before we were speaking about podiums. Then suddenly, Mike Trimby (of IRTA) proposed the concession points. Probably it's better, because it's more clear. We agreed that it works, everybody agreed that from next year, it will be like that. Honestly, why not from this year?"

Suppo pointed out that the intention of the rule was to help manufacturers who are struggling to be competitive catch up with the more successful factories. Applying those rules to Ducati, who are clearly competitive, seems to go against the spirit of the rules. "If the spirit of the rule is to help people who are struggling, sorry, when I talk with Gigi (Dall'Igna) at the meeting and told him Gigi, you have done a very good job, but don't pretend you are not competitive and need help next year! Because in theory, they can win this championship." Suppo told us.

It wasn't just a question of being fair to the other factory teams, Suppo said, allowing Ducati another year of concessions would be unfair on the satellite Honda and Yamaha teams. "It's also in my opinion not fair for the other manufacturers, and also for satellite teams that pay a lot of money for our bikes and for Yamaha's bikes, and then they have many Ducatis in front of them. Forget about the factory team, but also for Lucio [Cecchinello of LCR Honda], for Marc VDS, they have a factory bike, why should they fight against another factory bike which has some advantage? It's difficult for them to survive. So it's not just difficult for other manufacturers. And the fact that even Suzuki says that if you get six concession points this year, then we lose the concession."

At the moment, this is still in the discussion stage, and has not been accepted into the rules. For that to happen, it must first be put forward by the MSMA, and then put to a vote by the members of the Grand Prix Commission. Obviously, the proposal will not have the unanimous backing of all of the MSMA members, as Ducati are still clearly against it. That will not matter, however, if the proposal is accepted by a simple majority in the GPC. 

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As we've seen from the past few races, the soft rear tire is a relatively inconsequential boost for qualifying, and provides no advantage over race distance. No one has been able to make the soft tire work during a race, so it is mostly a (slight) qualifying booster, and that's only if the team is wiling to waste precious setup time in making it work. Conversely, the Extra-hard allowed Valentino to win the Argentina race, so it could be argued that Yam/Honda have the upper hand here.

However, the big issue in 2015 is the fuel limit. In 2016, everyone will be on 22L of fuel. But in 2015, the factories without concessions are on 20, and Ducati is on 22L for the rest of the season after being bumped down from 24L. Does the 2016 point system, if implemented in 2015, specify if Ducati will have to go down to 20L?

If not, even assuming Ducati lose all the concessions per the new rules, they'd be running 7 sealed engines, and 22L of fuel, in comparison to 5 engines and 20L for Yam/Honda. As such, even if the points are implemented immediately, Ducati will STILL be at a significant advantage for the rest of the year.

Will Yam/Honda be OK with this, or will they try to push for 5 engines/ 20L?

A better solution would be to give Honda and Yamaha 22L of fuel right now since that is what everyone will get next year anyway. The other way around, Ducati would likely run out of gas because it was not developed to use only 20L.

I think Suppo is right.

If you change the rule for 2016 and divide the field into those who are competitive and those factories who are "rookies", as Suppo says, you have to clearly define who is who and justify why.

After all, nobody is questioning whether Yamaha or HRC are competitive enough to not fall under the Concession Rules. And why is that? Because they've been there since forever? Ducati's been there since 2003.

The question is, how do you define the status quo at the beginning of 2016. Who is an "uncompetitive rookie" and who is not and based on what? Where do you draw the line between competitive and not competitive?

Top 5 in the WC? Top three in the manufacturer standings? And should anybody who starts lacking behind in the future also fall under the concession rules? Because what if Honda or Yamaha suddenly start to drop to the back of the field? Unlikely, but still.

That's it! Everybody starts each year with the same set of concessions. Once a manufacturer accumulates six (or some other amount of) points, it loses its concessions.

Also, if a manufacturer racing without concessions goes X number of races without accumulating more than Y points, it gets its concessions back.

Concessions can in fact be granted, per David's previous article:

"Two interesting twists have been added to the new concession points system. The first is that concessions can be granted as well as lost. Any manufacturer not scoring a single podium (and therefore no concession points) during a season will have the full set of concessions granted for the following season."

Even though I agree with him, Ducati is going to fight to keep the advantage on General Principle. Why would they give up this advantage. Their bike is competitive. It is a bike that can be consistant enough to take the title, and win some dry races. The only problem may be the talent of the riders at this point. Honda and Yamaha racers are saying what they are seeing with the Ducati while racing it.

Next year they should have no concessions. As a Ducati fan I believe they no longer need it in Motogp. NOW, if there are complaints about the restrictors being put back in place in WSBK, THEN I have a problem with that! But as far as Motogp goes, Ducati are now on the level.

These changes makes sense. If they applied the new concession points system to 2015. Ducati already would have 6 factory concession points, and would have to compete under the same rules as Honda and Yamaha. The concessions that Ducati is running with this year are clearly giving them an advantage.

The situation within the GPC and MSMA is somewhat amusing. They slowly move towards modern functional motorsport, dragging their feet and blaming one another for its inevitable creation. Like watching a bunch of monarchs blame one another for the creation of constitutional democracy and negative human rights.

The concessions system is the closest they've ever been to meaningful competition. Whether or not the leverage it properly is anyone's guess, but it sounds like they're just using it as bait for new manufacturers.

The concession points system is also a way to allow factories to catch up. Any factory not scoring a single concession point (i.e. at least one podium) automatically gets the concessions for the following season. So if Honda or Yamaha have a bad year, they get the concessions the next year to allow them to catch up. It is actually the nearest thing we have had to a performance balancing system for a while. 

Thanks for the info, David. Nice to know the MSMA have thought about the possibility of manufacturers sliding into obscurity.

MotoGP is moving towards a system of sustainable competition, but they still have a few more hurdles to leap. Still, the current system is encouraging. We'll see how far they are willing to evolve in the years ahead.

They're obviously making progress, but going a whole season without a single podium seems like an overly demanding standard for the granting of concessions.

Imagine Honda and/or Yamaha clearly bungle the transition to Michelin tires and spec electronics next year. Most observers agree that they're "uncompetitive," but somehow they manage to eke out a single podium over the course of 18 races. They'd then be locked in to rules that they can't effectively compete under until 2018 at the earliest. There would also be a lot of temptation for teams to avoid podiums later in the season to secure concessions.

I think they should either stick with the zero points standard, but shorten the timeline and grant concessions immediately: zero points in 6 (or 8, or 9) races and you instantly switch to concessions, for example. Or, my preferred solution, just make 6 concession points in a season the universal standard for "competitiveness." Score below 6 points in a season and you start the next year with concessions.

As I read it, the concessions are: (a) 9 engines instead of 7; (b) not be subject to an engine freeze; and (c) be allowed to test with factory riders. Only (c) would have any impact on a manufacturer having Michelin teething problems, and it's significance is debatable.

Perfection is impossible with a system of concessions, balancing, indexing or whatever you want to call it. Plus, worrying about imperfections in the system is a bit premature. They're still clinging to a tier-based system, evidenced by the uniform, awkward compromises the top teams impose upon one another, like 7 engines and 22L of fuel. If the concessions still support the concept of tiers, it will be impossible to improve competition beyond a tier-based rules system.

Honestly, it's a minor miracle the manufacturers have come this far. Sports entertainment has evolved rapidly in the last few decades, but racing has been stuck in a devolutionary tail spin. The MSMA deserve credit for taking this baby-step towards the 21st century, and MotoGP deserves some credit for blazing their own trail.

Long way to go, but at least they've started up the mountain. the moment isn't its riders, as somebody suggested above. Ducati's problem is its tires. That's the price Ducati must pay to get the rest of the concessions--most specifically, those that allow engine development--that will someday allow it to win races. In other words, in order to test and refine its engine, Ducati must use tires that won't let it win races.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, Ducati has done surprisingly (or not, depending on your opinion of Dall'Igna in 2013) well enough at a couple of tracks so far this year, but nothing on a consistent basis. It still needs looser rules regarding development. On the other hand, a harder tire might help Iannone, especially.

The most convincing argument for yet another midseason MotoGP rule change is the plight of the Honda and Yamaha satellite teams. Although Espargaro and Crutchlow seem to be doing nicely. And the Ducati satellite teams are using last year's bikes, right? So, if Redding and Smith are finishing behind Hernandez and Petrillo, isn't that pretty much down to Redding and Smith?

IMHO, the rules are working exactly as they should. No need for changes. Certainly no need for changes this year.

Nakamoto, the Dark Lord of HRC, and his apprentice, Darth Suppo.
While I agree that the Ducati is much improved, I'm not convinced it's worth six concession points already, this year.

Look, if Darth Marquez and Darth Dani hadn't had their problems, Ducati might not be anywhere near the podium. Let's see how the Ducs fare when Pedrosa, Marquez and Lorenzo are at full force. Then maybe Honda can start their crying. If Ducati continue like they just did in Jerez, they still need their concessions.

Changing the rules after the season has begun is always to someone's advantage and penalizes another and is therefore a manipulation of the competition and a bad idea. Honda agreed to the rules before the season started and should have the integrity to stand by that decision. I would imagine that Suzuki and Aprilia would back Ducati in this as this type of manipulation could well affect them when they become more competitive. Supo's wordplay just makes Honda sound afraid of Ducati. Yamaha is smart to let Supo and Honda appear to be the sole whingers here. I might ask how the MSMA can even put this proposal forward with Ducati's protest against it?

It's not about this year's rules. It's about next year's and about who is then going to run under the concession rules and who is not? And what else would you base that decision on than the teams' 2015 performance?

It's not even important if you base that decision on a points system or another set of criteria. Even though the points system does seem to be a fairly balanced approach to me.

But if Dovi, Iannone or even Aleix were to finish 2nd or 3rd in the WC standings because Ducati and Suzuki magically improve their bikes throughout the season, would they still run under Concession rules in 2016? I don't think so.
I don't know if six concession points is where the limit should be. But I think Ducati have shown that they are reasonably competitive in the first three races. And Jerez is really no indicator on how much they're still struggling. Iannone messed up his mappings and Dovi had technical problems with engine braking, which was causing him to run wide. It happens. I think they'll be right there at the sharp(er) end in the coming races.

Suppo says: We wrote these rules "so other bikes could be competitive."

Suppo forgot to say "competitive" (choke, choke) doesn't mean those "other" bikes should be able to win a race or even get a podium. That's not how Suppo Says is supposed to be played.

So now Suppo Says: The rules should be re-written. Again.

Suppo really likes to write new rules, doesn't he, kids! But I don't think GiGi likes to play Suppo Says. GiGi, tell us why you don't like to play Suppo Says. Honda likes to play Suppo Says. Even Yamaha likes the game. GiGi, why don't you like to play Suppo Says?

So 4 races into the season and Hondamaha has decided that Ducati is as competitive as they want them to be, and looks to change the rules. Yet again. Not even a third of the season is in the books and already they want to change the rules. Because there's a challenge from a small motorcycle company that doesn't know their place. Which is behind the Hondas and Yamahas. And preferably behind the Honda and Yamaha customer bikes as well.

Why should Ducati, and other smaller factories, have advantages to counter Honda and Yamaha's advantages - namely $$$$ and engineering talent (obtained with $$$$)? Why, that just wouldn't be fair, would it?

...a small manufacture, owned by Audi. One of the most successful factories in prototype motor sports racing. Give it another season or two and this partnership will have both Honda and Yamaha wondering what happened. Maybe they are just trying to slow down the inevitable?
I doubt Audi cares about tires or fuel but the free reign on engine development and testing is what should make the other guys worried...

The dark side was indeed strong in HRC's control of the MotoGP Council rulebook. But the force is now strong in Dorna and the championship. Young Suzuki and Aprilia have even crafted their own seamless transmission sabres.

Suppo does NOT say unlimited testing he sees in future with factory riders and Michelin tires on red bikes. Stop this he tries. Too soon he is, not ready is Dorna. No wins have red bikes. Fail he will. Darth Pedrosa new arm he has, not seen him ride yet. Darth Marquez weakness he has shown. The force is very strong with Yamaha now.

Real struggle for Satellite teams, yes. And unhappy they must be. But next year they see, and soft tires want they do not. Suzuki coming from shadows they are, and testing makes training enough for young jedis to master the force it does. And the dark side has much to fear with testing and Michelins. Yamaha and Herve Tech3walker patience they have. Fear and hatred of Ducati they do not.

Once, Honda was the teacher. Now Yamaha is the master. If Honda strikes down 2015 points system all the other Manu's will come back stronger than they can imagine. Remember the dark times we do. Fuel starvation we had! Not enough engines for battle. And STILL, the dark side steals the young jedi apprentices using contracts and money. Succeed they must not.

Ben! Where are you Ben! Elbows Spies Kenobe, you are our only hope! Sabotaged by the dark side was your career. And Master Schwantz, COTA lawyer Siths nearly destroyed you they did. The Degoba Texas system training of young Quartaro we need before HRC contract he has. The Moto2 rebel base has been lost, Moto3 apprentices must not turn to HRC. There is a KTM Droid with a secret message for Suzuki and Aprilia and the plans for the HRC Deathbikes and Red Bull Rookies Sith training. It has a weakness, and this can be exploited. Albert Puig evil was he and turned many young apprentices to HRC. Replicate that we must.


I'm not so sure it is Ducati that are going to suffer. After all they still have the rest of this year with unlimited testing etc. It is the new teams (Suzuki, Aprillia) who will feel it most as they will lose their unlimited testing immediately should they reach the threshold. However they will have to have both vastly improved machines & "alien" level riders to reach that threshold.
I think it is a good system - for doubters, maybe raise the threshold to 9 points. If you can get 9 points in 1 season you have made it buddy.

They have the same testing as the open category. Which must use same 120 tire allocation as factory option. The differnce is factory option get a maximum of 5 days with a contracted rider at just one nominated circuit. Open can pick as many circuits as they'd like using contracted riders but still must stay within the tire allocation.

As you can see from yesterday, ducati prefer to test at one place anyway, even when they have an official test option available, so this helps them not.

It always amused me why we think open teams who lack the budget to travel could benefit from being allowed to travel anywhere to do testing.

You know the only people to me that really seem to get screwed under these new concessions rules that I can see are the current Open and Satellite teams.

The concessions are based on the manufacturers as a whole the way I read it (correct me if I am wrong). This would mean that if Repsol Honda, Movistar Yamaha, or Marlboro Ducati (are they even allowed to be called that anymore or is it just Factory Ducati now) score points to kill off the concessions then none of the Satellite or current "Open" (even though they will not be called Open in 2016) Honda/Yamaha/Ducati teams get any help.

Currently the Open/Non-competitive teams get a concessions to help give them a chance but that will fall away in 2016 and apply to manufacturers. I personally would rather see some kinda concessions based rule for "Teams" rather than "Manufacturers" in order to bring a fight to the "Big Three". It is never going to happen, as the Factory teams are never going to let a Satellite or Customer team get that close but ....... anyways, that is how I see it FWIW.

I think you're right. Satellite teams--privateers on factory-spec machines--are subject to the same rules as their manufacturer. But the current set of concessions kind of obligates that. Sure, you could give Satellites different tires, more fuel and more engines with minimal benefit to the factory. But if a satellite team had unlimited testing and no freeze on engine development, shenanigans would ensue.

Yes, it's inherently illogical that a satellite team would have any significant "engine development" to do, but if you can't imagine Suppo saying, "Oh yes, we were quite impressed with the engine Marc VDS developed, so we thought we might as well adopt their design for the upcoming season," you're more optimistic than I am.

And extracting meaningful gains from any of different tires, more fuel and more engines would necessitate major changes to the electronics. So control over satellite teams' performance would remain firmly within the manufacturers' control.

The April revision to the rules now includes this already.

"2.4.2 Concessions
Various concessions in the Sporting and Technical regulations are granted to new MotoGP manufacturers entering the class for the first time since 2013, and to those manufacturers who have not achieved a race win in dry conditions since the 2013 season.
The granting and removal of concessions is based on the accrual by the manufacturer of Concession Points during races, in dry or wet conditions, as follows:"

Also it was always clear the existing exemptions for winless factories in 2013 onky applied through year end 2015. That has been explicitly stated all along.

But that said, I agree that Honda taking the lead to point these things out makes them seem like the guys who only just gained back 2nd in the Mfgrs Standings by a scant 2 points from Ducati.

See page 61

We get 3 decent races in 5 years and they whine about the rules that they themselves wrote in the first place. It certainly is not Ducatis fault that Bautista and Aleix are faster than the proddy Honda. Just let them race , Honda and Yamaha have won the championship 27 out of the last 30 years. I'm getting bored with the he with the most $$ wins.

You've nailed it. Decent racing at last with Ducati finally back in the mix, partly because of the concessions. But it doesn't mean Ducati are suddenly, magically able to compete on a level playing field as Suppo is arguing. Maintain and improve the spectacle at all costs whatever the mega-corporate teams say. If that means an imperfect concessions system extending into 2016 then let's have it rather than change tack and nobble the most capable rivals to Honda and Yamaha just as they are beginning to spread their wings.

The current concessions rules are the best way to manage performance gap that I've ever heard of for the reason that it doesn't punish the best performing machines but encourages the slower teams to develop. I hope to see it succeed and spread to other motorsport series in the future. Well done to Dorna and the FIM.

Honda, or HRC agreed to the rules for 2015, so deal with it and quit whining like children. You agreed, tough. Changes for 2016, sure, go for it but changing things during the season is a no, a big no. Deal with it and quit crying.

They are not trying to change 2015 though correct? Just base 2016 off of 2015 performance. Ducati have already done well enough in 2015 that if 2016 rules were in effect they would have dropped concessions.

It seems that many of the commenters here either didn't read the article, or failed to comprehend it; they then launched immediately into hateful rants about the Japanese factories.

I hear mention of GPC, MSMA, Honda, Shuhei Nakamoto, Livio Suppo, Dark Lord, Darth Vader and another couple of Honda Darths, Ducati, Gigi Dall'Igna, soft tyres, concessions, engine development freeze, Yamaha, Suzuki, Aprilia, even KTM and surprisingly for the first time no mention of Dorna, fairness, but why doesn't anyone ever talk of FIM? Even David doesn't mention the FIM.

So I assume the bullies set the rules for the game, except that the bullies's strength is being diluted by the increasing number of non-bullies. So it is Honda vs the others and the others seem to be just Ducati. The other others seem to have given up and are following the principle "ours not to reason why".

MotoGP is all about (Un)Natural Selection and the Survival of the strongest. If these principles are stated as the basic guidelines, I suppose we could easily understand the rules that come out of these guidelines.

And my congratulations to Vito Ippolito who despite being the head of a non-existent organisation gets his occasional two nano seconds while giving away some trophy.