MotoGP

No third MotoGP class after all

But that doesn’t mean it will be simple

FOR the last couple of weeks it’s looked like this year’s MotoGP championship would effectively run three classes – ‘Factory,’ Factory 2’ and ‘Open.’

Now that’s not happening and there will be just two classes out there; Factory, with free ECU software development allowed, and Open with less sophisticated, standard software. But it’s not quite as simple as it sounds.

Ducati, which had opted to run in the Open class to get the benefit of more fuel (24 litres instead of 20 per race), unlimited testing, more engines per year (12 instead of 5), no engine development freeze and a softer rear tyre option, will now run in the Factory class instead. But it still gets all those Open benefits. Oh, and Ducati will also be able to run its high-end, Factory ECU software.

Confused? Bear with us.

New rules revealed on Tuesday will allow a Factory team that hasn’t had a win in a dry race during the previous year (so, just Ducati at the moment) to race with all the Open class benefits when it comes to testing, engines and tyres. Once they get a win in the dry, or two second place finishes, or three thirds, they’ll lose half the extra fuel, dropping to  22 litres for the rest of the season. That will apply to all the Ducati bikes racing in the Factory class, regardless of who gets the podiums. Should they score three dry-race wins, they’ll also lose the soft rear tyre.

In 2015 they’ll race under the same restrictions as they’re under when they finished 2014, and in 2016 the whole thing will be simplified with all bikes being forced to run the ‘spec’ ECU software – a year earlier than planned. That comes regardless of Honda’s threats to leave the championship if spec software is enforced, so it will be interesting to see if the biggest entrant in the field decides to go ahead and leave the series by 2016.

When Suzuki re-enters MotoGP in 2015, with perhaps some wild card appearances this year, it will also be likely to be under the same Factory regulations as Ducati, with Open class benefits to help the firm develop its engines and get up to speed.

Complex though the rules are, the hope is that they’ll open the door to more teams – Ducati at least – being able to challenge for race wins instead of the situation over the last few years when there have been only four bikes on the grid – the works Hondas and Yamahas – with a realistic chance of topping the podium.

Clear?

Here’s the official announcement:

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 an electronic meeting held on 18 March 2014 in Qatar, unanimously approved the following matters concerning the MotoGP class.

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.'

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