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MotoGP Rules Set … For Now

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File this under “if you can’t compete on an equal playing field, we’ll just tilt the field for you.” After much ado, including consideration of yet a third class called Factory 2, the MotoGP gods have set rules that effectively give Ducati great advantages as the only Factory to go winless for more than a year. Ducati gets all the advantages accorded the Open category teams, plus it gets to develop and run its own software! Pretty sweet, but those advantages start to go away as Ducati gains wins and podiums, as described in the press release below. Oh, and every participant in MotoGP must run the spec ECU and software beginning in the 2016 series. The 2014 series opens in Qatar this weekend, and it will be interesting. Here is the rule announcement from Dorna:

1. The Championship ECU and software will be mandatory for all entries with effect from 2016.

All current and prospective participants in the MotoGP class will collaborate to assist with the design and development of the Championship ECU software.

During the development of the software a closed user web site will be set up to enable participants to monitor software development and to input their suggested modifications.

2. With immediate effect, a Manufacturer with entries under the factory option who has not achieved a win in dry conditions in the previous year, or new Manufacturer entering the Championship, is entitled to use 12 engines per rider per season (no design freezing), 24 litres of fuel and the same tyres allocation and testing opportunities as the Open category. This concession is valid until the start of the 2016 season.

3. The above concessions will be reduced under the following circumstances:

Should any rider, or combination of riders nominated by the same Manufacturer, participating under the conditions of described in clause 2 above, achieve a race win, two second places or three podium places in dry conditions during the 2014 season then for that Manufacturer the fuel tank capacity will be reduced to 22 litres. Furthermore, should the same Manufacturer achieve three race wins in the 2014 season the manufacturer would also lose the right to use the soft tyres available to Open category entries.

In each case the reduced concessions will apply to the remaining events of the 2014 season and the whole of the 2015 season.

60 Comments

  1. Guylr says:

    Blah blah blah, the rules are unfair. Blah blah blah, it’s the end of MotoGP’ Not! That was the tightest qualifying and one of the most competitive and exciting MotoGP races I’ve seen in a decade. Yes, it was a crash fest but the outcome was in doubt until the last lap. This is shaping up to be an interest year.

  2. mickey says:

    Well it looked more competitive for awhile. Don’t think Ducati is going to have to worry about getting penalized any time soon lol.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Don’t think Ducati is going to have to worry about getting penalized any time soon”

      cautiously optimistic, the OC wipe their collective brows… at least until gigi gathers that data he spoke of.

  3. Uffe says:

    I wonder how long the manufacturers will continue to fund the farce that MotoGP has become. Just like F1 it has become a mess of confusing rule changes.

    And the winner is…… Wait a minute, hold your breath while we consult the lawyers! Confused?! Don’t worry! By the time we figure all this out ourselves, we should be down to the double-points races so that you can forget about the early season races!!

  4. DaveA says:

    To say that Ducati has had the rules tilted just for them is to misrepresent the situation to some extent. Honda could be enjoying the same ‘advantages’ by also fielding bikes in the Open class that take advantage of the rules, but chose not to. Honda in particular is adamant that not being able to develop proprietary ECU hardware _and_ software is contrary to their purpose in MotoGP. The Yamahas are mostly there, and are competitive. Yes, it’s true that Ducati has an advantage with the factory software, but they were fast before they ran that way in early season testing.

    More to the point, Honda could have supplied the Open class bikes with un-neutered motors, and we’d all be talking about how amazing it is that Nicky is on the front row right next to the Factory Honda. But this isn’t what happened. So instead, the Ducatis are running front-row fast, and Nicky was more than 20Kph slower on top speed than the Ducatis in practice and qualifying these last days. In MotoGP, that might as well be 100Kph. In fact, Honda didn’t even build a fuel tank that holds the allowed 24 liters of fuel, meaning that even if the Open Honda guys managed to find the missing 30hp or so, they don’t have enough fuel to actually run the bike in that trim.

    The point is that Honda in particular are making the situation appear to be much more slanted than it actually is, by wholly failing to take advantage of the rules as they are written. Congratulations to Ducati for chiseling out a small but meaningful edge for themselves. Maybe this year’s MotoGP season will actually be interesting. Just imagine if Honda comes with a mid-season seamless gearbox/pneumatic valve motor for the Open bikes. I know, not likely…but it’s possible!

    • DaveA says:

      …and just look at that massive Ducati advantage! It’s a travesty…

    • PatrickD says:

      Nicky will need an even bigger advantage than a pneumatic-valve motor and seamless gearbox. You flag wavers are still under some illusion that he could be a contender again? Deluded patriotism.

  5. mickey says:

    Well it looks like despite not riding for a month Marquez grabbed pole for Qatar sharing front row with Bautista and Smith. Lorenzo and Pedrosa and Dovisioso on second row. Rossi on 4 th row. Not sure where Hayden is or Edwards.

    • Guylr says:

      This is the tightest qualifying I can remember with the top 6 riders covered by less than 0.2 of a second and the top 12 by only 0.645 second! Hayden 13th and Edwards in 14th. Hayden came really close to making it to QP2.

    • Norm G. says:

      RE: “Not sure where Hayden is or Edwards.”

      A: left field.

      • Guylr says:

        Well that’s probably true for Hayden but the Tornado seems to be just a gentle zephyr of his former self when seeing that he’s on the same equipment as Espargaro.

  6. Hot Dog says:

    The beatings will continue until morale improves.

  7. hasty says:

    …someone shows an advantage and dorna gives someone else a different advantage, as if to say here forget your opponent has an excellent knife, here is a cheap revolver and after a while it makes no sense in terms of sport..it is just spectacle..electronics vs fuel consumption vs tyres vs CCs vs preparation time etc WTF happened to the riders in all of this. dump it all and go electric soon with simulated noise distinctive for each bike. some will sound like hummingbirds and others like hurdygurdies…and racing does not sell bikes anymore, brand promotion yes, but marketing no..look what sells, BMW GS is not sold by their racing record!

  8. stinkywheels says:

    The racings been pretty poor for a lotta years. I’d like to see some more manufacturers be able to compete and still see some development that will filter down to us. I’m wondering who would even wanna try and compete with Honda, Yamaha. Even if you get a great rider and a rental Honda it’s not gonna win without a leveler. Where you’re making an interesting playing field and penalizing success is more than my feeble mind could legislate. I’m hoping it brings in some racing.

  9. Silver says:

    And all they really had to do to provide good racing was let the teams do what they want. Cap the cc’s, rider aids, yearly expenditures and let em’ race.

  10. Brian says:

    I’m all for seeing a crowd in the front, but I don’t know… I think in the end the talent will win. Soft tires will chew up and slow down at the end and we’ll still see the same in the front fighting for the win. 10-15 laps in a practice versus a full race are 2 different things.
    The revolving rules changes and likely black flags we saw in Phillip Island last year are going to show their ugly heads.
    I’ll still be watching it like the rest either way…

  11. Daytona James says:

    Marquez should be penalized for hanging off, Jorge should have the American National Anthem piped into his helmet, Dani should have to ride with club shoes, Vale should ride backwards and Nicki can only pass while travelling into the sun. That should even things up.
    OMG… what have we become? Dorna’s unrelenting pursuit of an entertaining series is choking the life out of the sport. Unfortunately, the best riders in the world are whose livelihoods are being trampled on. I’ll watch but loosen the bun a bit Wilma… er’ Dorna.

  12. Dargo says:

    ducati still won’t win

  13. MJD says:

    What will be interesting is if Ducati win a race. How will they be able to face the press and take pride in the result when everyone knows the advantage they were given?

  14. Chaz says:

    For those of us who were asking why Suzuki would want to come back, this seems to be the answer. I wonder how many podiums are reserved for them.

  15. Vrooom says:

    There’s lot’s of outrage about the new rules, and when it comes to being able to develop their own ECU software, that’s probably fair. But the rest is simply acknowledging that the open class has several advantages, and if a manufacturer is winning too often, they shouldn’t have advantages. Seems reasonable, aside from the ECU development. They risked having only 2 factories involved in the series, Honda and Yamaha, and that wouldn’t have worked.

  16. GuyLR says:

    I say we watch the race before deciding that MotoGP is done and dusted. It was heading for a 12 bike grid where only two or three guys ever had a chance of winning. Now we might just see some fresh faces on the podiums. We should be hopeful just for MotoGP backing away from the cliff of terminal boredom.

    • mickey says:

      Well preseason testing didn’t bear that out. Only Pol showed a flash of brilliance on one lap, other than that top times at all tracks were turned in by Pedrosa, Lorenzo and Rossi, just what most of us would expect, except we would expect Marquez in there but he was absent due to the broken leg.

    • Vrooom says:

      Aleix is looking pretty good so far in pre-season testing and in FP1 (the only results posted so far for Qatar). Also there’s a Ducati in 4th so far, which is surprising. Not that FP1 means much, times will come down in FP2 and the we’ll get closer to the normal order of things; but I think we’ll see more variety on the podium this year compared to last, which isn’t saying much, but is an improvement.

      • mickey says:

        All the open class riders already tested there and worked on bike set up a couple weeks ago so they have the edge. The factory riders are getting their first shots at the track. Expect the factory teams will figure it out and start turning in some better times.

  17. endoman38 says:

    Did DMG take over MotoGP when nobody was looking? I agree with Mickey, though. I’ll still watch it.

  18. Gary says:

    Seems to me when Ducati was unbeatable, everybody else just had to bear it and improve, now that Ducati can’t win anything, they hold everyone else back until they might win something. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

    • Dave says:

      It is necessary that all factories have a real chance to win. Otherwise you have a series that none of them want to participate in (Suzuki? KTM? Aprilia? Kawasaki?). What incentive does anyone else have to join MotoGP?

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “What incentive does anyone else have to join MotoGP?”

        Ezpelata’s resignation…? just spitballin’.

      • Gary says:

        When Ducati was winning just about everything, they did not change the rules to hold them back so the other factories could catch up. The idea of racing is to showcase those who have the best bike/best rider combination. Just because one falls out of grace is no reason to hold back the others. That will discourage progress for the factories to improve if they know if they fail, everyone else will be held back to give their now uncompetitive bike or rider a unfair chance to win.

        • EZ Mark says:

          Well said Gary.

        • Dave says:

          e: “When Ducati was winning just about everything, they did not change the rules to hold them back so the other factories could catch up.”

          Sure they did. It’s why Ducati aren’t winning everything and aside from Checca’s year, haven’t dominated WSBK for years now.

    • Vrooom says:

      I wouldn’t say they are holding anyone else back, but are getting a leg up on the rest of the open class.

      • Gary says:

        When you allow one factory to do one thing, but not the rest, that is holding somebody back-period.

        • Dave says:

          Re: “The idea of racing is to showcase those who have the best bike/best rider combination. Just because one falls out of grace is no reason to hold back the others.”

          The purpose of racing is to entertain. When there are 3 people who can possibly win, it is not entertaining.

          If one falls out of grace, it is fully 1/3rd of the participating factories. If nobody shows up to race, nobody will show up to watch. Changing the rules to level the playing field is absolutely necessary. Is there any successful motor racing series that doesn’t do this?

          • Gary says:

            Factories don’t race to entertain, they race to bring their brand a higher view of the public, distinguish themselves as making the better product, and to sell more of their machines. If the factories are not racing or there are too few racing, then there is a reason for this as they feel it is not worth their while and won’t participate. This suggests then that there are other problems that should be addressed, not rigging it so someone might have a chance that doesn’t deserve it. This sounds like the case where some believe it is best to not have winners or losers so the losers don’t feel bad. But by doing this does not encourage the losers to get better, and the competition won’t be there, so most won’t be interested.

          • Dave says:

            I’ll say it more simply: When only 3 participants have the chance to win and the cost of being competitive is too great, incentive to participate drops with viewership. Before CRT there were 12-14 bikes on the grid.

            The ideal of unrestricted spending by the factory was the sole thing killing MotoGp. People want to see the rider win, not the factory’s wallet. It has to change.

  19. MGNorge says:

    Well, the racing’s about to start. I guess we’ll see.

  20. theguy says:

    ‘the code is more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules’
    - Pirates of the Caribbean

  21. EZ Mark says:

    Maybe they will let the Ducati’s run 1200cc’s. But then it would be SBK wouldn’t it?
    Maybe Harley can get in MotoGP and they could run 2000cc’s. But then it would be AMA racing wouldn’t it?
    It must suck to be Honda and Yamaha and be so good they let everyone else cheat to beat you.

  22. Norm G. says:

    re: “3. The above concessions will be reduced under the following circumstances: Should any rider, or combination of riders nominated by the same Manufacturer, participating under the conditions of described in clause 2 above, achieve a race win, two second places or three podium places in dry conditions during the 2014 season then for that Manufacturer the fuel tank capacity will be reduced to 22 litres. Furthermore, should the same Manufacturer achieve three race wins in the 2014 season the manufacturer would also lose the right to use the soft tyres available to Open category entries.”

    and there it is, a DISINCENTIVE to win. somebody needs to be fired.

    • VLJ says:

      Agreed. There is nothing more stupid.

      Set up a racing series in which the playing field is intentionally uneven to begin with; then, due to the inherent inequities set forth within such needlessly convoluted rules, add a proviso penalizing success.

      Which is the more mind-boggling notion, the fact that someone actually came up with this moronic set of ideas in the first place, or that the Powers That Be went ahead and gave such obvious insanity the green light?

    • Dave says:

      Re. “and there it is, a DISINCENTIVE to win. somebody needs to be fired.”

      Disagree. Nothing trumps the sponsor’s motivation for the team to succeed. What sponsor wants to invest in a team with no chance to win and promote them? I do thing the loss of access to the tires is a big deal. If that win were to come on a cool day (or conditions where soft tires were at their greatest advantage), said team would be way off the next time it was warm.

  23. hasty says:

    samurai vs euro guy, hmm years of practice with a katana but it does not cut thru chain mail, oops problem…hmmm man vs fighter jet, no contest unless man with shoulder launched missile, plane go boom…dorna sells seats and spectacle not motorcycles or sport or racing…development does not need racing or dorna…Moto GP is a wonderful show, do they race motorcycles? well some sort of machines that resemble motorcycles….or was that a video game I was watching, hard to tell anymore…

  24. Jim says:

    Meh, SBK is where it’s at anyway.

  25. MGNorge says:

    This what happens when you adjust anything to even out the field…

    http://www.catsafterme.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/ki4.jpg

    Tight racing, yes, but it stymies innovation!

  26. jonnyblaze says:

    The usual from Ducati, cheat to win.

    • Trojanhorse says:

      Right, because Ducati controls Dorna who sets the rules? Use your head. Ducati made a choice that complied by the rules. Honda whined “no fair” and pressured Dorna to adjust those rules because they were afraid Ducati would have too much of an advantage.

  27. CowboyTutt says:

    Wow, this might be the last straw for me. I’ll follow it on the media, but probably won’t bother attending any races in person. These guys are running Moto GP into the ground!!!! Casey Stoner was right to get out when he could.

  28. Silver says:

    What a joke.

    • Jim says:

      MotoGP has become Europe’s NASCAR.

      • Dave says:

        MotoGP dreams of becoming Europe’s NASCAR. NASCAR is successful.

        I’d be happy if MotoGP at least became Moto2 or WSBK.

        • Jim says:

          Good one Dave, agreed.

        • GKS says:

          Perhaps if Marquez builds up too much of a lead, Moto GP should just throw a caution flag for “debris” and bunch up the field.

          NASCAR manipulates the rules and the race to provide a good show, but is that still racing?

  29. Rocky V says:

    You would think they could just adjust CC’s to bring HP to an even footing

  30. passion says:

    Stupid. Silly. Fair? How is this balanced for all involved? Not able to use the soft compound if you do too good? Stupid.

  31. mickey says:

    Aye carumba… What a joke

    Still I love MotoGP and will continue to watch every race