MotoGP

Peter Clifford Interview Part 2 - "The Privateers Are At The Whim Of Politics"

We continue today with the second half of our interview with Peter Clifford, the manager of the former WCM team, who we asked to get his take on the new rules for MotoGP, which are scheduled to come into force in 2012. In yesterday's episode, Clifford expressed his opinion that privateer teams running production-based engines would find it impossible to be competitive without spending equivalent amounts to the factories. Today, Clifford talks about the problems presented by ever-shifting rule changes, the political risks of the new rules in MotoGP and Moto2, and how long Moto2 is going to remain an affordable class.

PC: The other thing is, we were talking about the Flammini reaction, and it is interesting that he's not saying "I'm going to take everybody to court," and all this sort of stuff. Of course, we still don't know what his contract with the FIM says, that's still secret. He may just feel that what he was relying on in the old days was the way the contract was read, not the words in it. And he had his people at the FIM who read the contract the "right" way, and went in to bat for him and took us off the grid and carried on like that. What he may be waiting for, of course, is another election at the FIM, make sure that he gets the right people in, and they will read the contract in the way that he would like it to be read and this idea would be kicked out, and maybe even the Moto2 rules as well.

MM: Right, and of course that's a huge risk, because if we get a new FIM president who interprets the contracts a different way to Vito Ippolito, because Ippolito has a Grand Prix background, and whenever I've spoken to him, he's said again and again, "what we need are the TZs, the production racers."

PC: Well, that's how Venemoto [the team founded by Ippolito's father, brief history here] won Grand Prix and world championships, with TZs.

Peter Clifford Interview Part 1 - "There's No Commercial Reality In MotoGP"

Ever since Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta started talking about using production engines in MotoGP bikes, one name has come up again and again in any discussion of this subject. That name is WCM, and the team manager of the time, Peter Clifford. MotoMatters.com had already spoken to Clifford at the IRTA test in Jerez, where he gave us a potted history of the WCM project, but after the Grand Prix Commission announced that MotoGP would be returning to 1000cc, with no restrictions on engine provenance and a bore limit of 81mm, we went back to Clifford to get his opinion of the changes. After all, if there's anyone who knows the real cost of turning a production bike into a MotoGP bike, it's Peter Clifford and his team. The discussion was long and very interesting, and so we have split the interview into two parts. Part one is below, while the second part will be published tomorrow. 

MM: When Carmelo Ezpeleta first came up with the idea of using production engines, your name and the WCM project was raised by just about everybody, because basically what they're talking about is allowing you to do what you could have done back in 2003. How do you feel about that?

PC: Well, it's just very humorous isn't it? It was so obvious that that is what needed to happen, but at the time, there was enough machinery at the sharp end and the factories were all keen to have a go at it, so the few people that were left out of that loop, no one cared very much about them. That's just the way it goes, though isn't it.

Last Call For Christmas 2010 Calendar Orders

Only a few more days to the holidays, and time is running out if you want your MotoMatters.com 2010 Motorcycle Racing Calendar delivered to a friend or loved one in time to slip under the tree. Realistically, orders will have to be in by Saturday morning if they are to be delivered in the US or Europe, and the chances are not good for receiving a calendar in time if you are outside of the US, Canada or Europe. So you had better hurry if you want a calendar before Friday!

Fortunately, 2010 is still 13 days away, and so you still have plenty of time to order the MotoMatters.com calendar, and get the maximum value out of the  14 beautiful photographs by Scott Jones the calendar features. If you need a stocking filler or New Year's gift for friends or family you won't be seeing until after the holiday season, this is still the ideal gift.

Full details of the calendar are available on the MotoMatters.com calendar ordering page, but the highlights of the large 12"x18.5" calendar are one of Scott Jones' fantastic photos every month, as well as a monthly grid with the race weekends for that month clear marked, showing all three days of on-track action for the MotoGP and World Superbike series, as well as birthdays for most of the world's top motorcycle racers. An example page is shown below, while the calendar ordering page has the lowdown on the calendar. Best of all, 10% of the calendar's purchase price goes towards Riders for Health, helping provide health care in remote regions of the world.

Flammini: "Production-Based Bikes Won't Be Competitive In MotoGP"

The two parties on either side of the argument over the 2012 rules in MotoGP - 1000cc, a maximum bore size of 81mm and the freedom to enter production-based engines - are circling slowly, sizing each other up. And from time to time, one party or another fires a broadside, in the hope of exposing weaknesses in the other side's arguments.

Today is no exception. In an interview in the German-language magazine Speedweek, Paolo Flammini took another potshot at the MotoGP series over the proposal to allow production-based engines to be used. This time, though, the man who runs the World Superbike championship together with his brother Maurizio tried another tack, by claiming that the production-based bikes just would not be competitive.

"I can't see any way that someone with [a production-based bike] can be competitive," Flammini told Speedweek. "Production-based bikes will lower the level of the World Championship." Flammini did say that he was sympathetic to MotoGP returning to a larger capacity. "I can see that the future for MotoGP will be 1000cc, but everything should be a prototype: Engine AND chassis!" Flammini said.

Fiat Yamaha Video Interviews - Behind The Scenes with Davide Brivio, Gigi Soldano, Laura Motta

Yesterday, we brought you video interviews with Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, provided by the Fiat on the Web project. Today we have three more videos for you, courtesy of the same Fiat on the Web team. And today's videos actually provide an insight into a side of MotoGP that doesn't get so much coverage, what goes on off the track.

First up is an interview with team manager Davide Brivio, in which he talks about his background and how he first started working with Valentino Rossi. Brivio talks about Rossi's strengths and lack of weaknesses, and about his emotions at winning the world championship with Rossi again.

Fiat Video Interviews With Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo

One of the more interesting developments in the world of motorcycle roadracing this year has been the explosion of internet coverage of the sport, and especially of MotoGP. That development has been going on outside the paddock for a long time now (both with conventional news sites such as GPOne.com and Superbikeplanet.com, and with blogs and podcasts such as Motoblog.it and MotoGPOD), but the same development is starting to creep into the paddock, the updating (and vast improvement) of the official MotoGP.com website being perhaps the prime example.

But pressure is coming especially from sponsors. The Fiat Yamaha team is a prime example, with Fiat's own Fiat On The Web website hooking into the new wave of social networking websites, use of which has skyrocketed this year. The website's team have made optimum use of websites such as Youtube, Facebook and Twitter to get their message across, and engage fans and sell their brand. Two examples of how to do this are below: At the end of the season, the Fiat On The Web team interviewed some of the key - and colorful - figures inside the Fiat Yamaha team, and posted the results up on Youtube. You can watch the first two of those interviews - with riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo - below:

MotoCzysz To Enter MotoGP In 2012?

From the moment it was first suggested by Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta, the aims of the proposed switch of the MotoGP class to 1000cc were crystal clear: To reduce costs and to increase the number of bikes on the grid. The official announcement of the basic rules for the 2012 MotoGP season reinforced that objective. The idea behind the move is that the larger engine capacity allows power to be produced more cheaply, and by limiting the engine bore to 81mm, revs can be capped, keeping maintenance costs down. The bore limitation, together with a more relaxed attitude towards the interpretation of the word "prototype" will make it possible for privateer teams to modify production engines for use in prototype chassis, making participation in MotoGP significantly cheaper, in theory at least.

It was also hoped that the switch to 1000cc would attract new entrants to the series. The reduced cost of horsepower and, more importantly, the reduced role of sophisticated electronics - which the current crop of horrifically peaky 800cc four-strokes require to make them rideable - should put competing MotoGP within reach of smaller manufacturers. The hope is that the new rules will mean that designing and building a MotoGP bike can be done for a couple of million dollars, rather than many tens of millions the current bikes cost to build.

It looks like the Grand Prix Commission may have already scored their first success in this area. Over on the MotoCzysz company website, Michael Czysz has posted a blog entry suggesting that the Portland, Oregon-based company could be considering breathing new life into their shelved MotoGP project, the MotoCzysz C1. "I believe based on the rules that MotoCzysz could have an extremely competitive 81mm 4 cylinder motorcycle ready for the grid by 2012," Czysz wrote.

MotoMatters 2010 Motorcycle Racing Calendar Special Offer Page

The Motomatters.com 2010 Motorcycle Racing Calendar features one of Scott Jones' fantastic photos above every month, with the month grid below containing birthdays for most of the leading riders in the MotoGP, World Superbike, Moto2, World Supersport and 125cc classes, as well as every MotoGP and World Superbike round highlighted for easy reference. The center pages are a double-page close-up spread of the 2009 MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi.

This year's calendar is larger than last year (12" x 9.25", or 30.5cm x 23.5cm), and the production quality is better too, with an additional high gloss finish to make Scott Jones' pictures shine. Full details of the calendar are shown below. Best of all, the calendar has been produced in partnership with Riders for Health, and 10% of the proceeds will go towards helping provide health care in remote regions of the world. Riders for Health was set up by former 500cc star Randy Mamola together with Barry and Andrea Coleman, and has been a cause that Motomatters.com has supported for a number of years now. We are proud to be able to help Riders through our calendar. 

Special Discount Price

Order Now If You Want Your MotoMatters 2010 Motorcycle Racing Calendar Before Christmas!

The Holiday season is nearly upon us, and anyone looking for the perfect gift for a loved one, friend or family member who is crazy about bikes need look no further than our very own 2010 Motorcycle racing calendar, allowing the motorcycle racing fan in your life to organize their year around the most exciting sport in the world. Of course, at this time of year, the world's post offices are slowly starting to clog up with gifts and cards, making deliveries later and later. So if you want to order the most beautiful motorcycle racing calendar on the market, the time is now. If you don't order the calendar within the next couple of days, the chances of the calendar arriving in time to be gift-wrapped and placed under the tree will start to diminish. So better to be safe than sorry, and order your copy today.

Full details of the calendar are available on the MotoMatters.com calendar ordering page, but the highlights of the large 12"x18.5" calendar are one of Scott Jones' fantastic photos every month, as well as a monthly grid with the race weekends for that month clear marked, showing all three days of on-track action for the MotoGP and World Superbike series, as well as birthdays for most of the world's top motorcycle racers. An example page is shown below, while the calendar ordering page has the lowdown on the calendar. Best of all, 10% of the calendar's purchase price goes towards Riders for Health, helping provide health care in remote regions of the world.

The "Ben Spies" Rule - Limited Engines For Wildcards

Yamaha's announcement that they would be fielding Ben Spies as a wildcard rider in the final MotoGP round at Valencia saw fans and journalists rushing to their rule books. The MotoGP regulars were mostly on the last of the 5 engines they had been permitted to use in the last 7 races, but how did the engine limit rule affect Ben Spies? Just how many engines did a wildcard rider have? The answer, it turned out, was as many as Yamaha wanted to give him, for the rule book made no mention of wildcards, and therefore wildcard riders could use as many as they liked. In Ben Spies' case, this was basically two - one in each of the two Yamaha M1's he was using, but in theory, he could have popped a fresh engine in every time he went out.

Members of the Grand Prix Commission admitted at the time that it was an anomaly, while pointing out at the same time that it was mostly irrelevant. MotoGP rarely - and tragically - sees wildcard riders take part in races, and so the lack of a rule would have no real effect on the outcome of the championship.

More On The MotoGP Rule Changes - 6 Engines For 2010, Ride-Throughs For Infractions, Tire Sensors Banned

Friday's meeting of the Grand Prix Commission in Geneva had been keenly awaited by fans and followers of MotoGP, primarily because of the expected announcement of the class' return to 1000cc from 2012 onwards. So naturally, after the press release was issued, almost all the press coverage focused on the details of the 1000cc proposal which had been accepted by the Commission, that from 2012 MotoGP bikes will be allowed a maximum capacity of 1000cc, a maximum of 4 cylinders, and a maximum bore of 81mm.

As important as the changes to be made from the 2012 season onwards are, there were just 4 lines in a document comprising some 15 pages (read the entire document for yourself in PDF format here). And amidst those 15 pages are some fairly fascinating details which, although for direct application next season, highlight the direction that MotoGP will be headed in 2012, and how they will deal with some of the issues the series faces.

Moto2

New 2012 MotoGP Regulations - 4 Cylinders, 1000cc, Fixed Bore At 81mm

The Grand Prix Commission, MotoGP's rulemaking body, met today in Geneva to discuss a number of issues, clarifying a number of open points in the rule book concerning Moto2, as well as a few other minor points. But the point that MotoGP fans around the world had been waiting for most fervently was the new rules for MotoGP to take effect from 2012.

In the huge press release with regulation changes just issued by the FIM, the part covering MotoGP's new rule changes were incredibly brief- just four lines:

Basic concept for MotoGP

  • Maximum displacement: 1000cc
  • Maximum number of cylinders: 4
  • Maximum bore: 81 mm

And so as predicted (most prophetically by Dennis Noyes on Speed TV), the "silver bullet" Carmelo Ezpeleta described is limiting the bore. Speaking to MotoGP.com, the Dorna CEO described the decision to limit the bore to 81mm as follows: "It's a very important measurement because with this we can have all the characteristics of the engine."

Ezpeleta: "The Bike Makes A Prototype, Not The Engine"

If anyone had any doubts about the importance of the meeting of the Grand Prix Commission at Geneva on December 11th, Carmelo Ezpeleta's charm offensive in the media should remove them completely. Ezpeleta spoke to Motoworld.es on Friday about the new regulations due to come into force in 2012, and today, the Dorna CEO gave an extended interview to the Spanish sports daily AS.com, in which he expanded on the changes.

Ezpeleta's main purpose with the interview was to make clear that the switch back to 1000cc will not in any way impinge on the World Superbikes series' territory. The bikes, Ezpeleta emphasized are prototypes, and will have nothing to do with production bikes. "There will not be a word in these regulations about production engines," Ezpeleta told AS.com. The bikes are prototypes, and which engine was used was entirely up to the builder of the bike, not something set out in regulations.

Ezpeleta: "We Will Not Define What A Production Engine Is"

Ever since the announcement that MotoGP will return to 1000cc in 2012, a war has been brewing between Infront Motor Sports, the commercial rights holders for the World Superbike series, and the FIM and Dorna. IMS, in the person of Paolo Flammini, has threatened on several occasions to defend what they believe to be their exclusive right to organize production-based motorcycle racing against any move by the FIM - or rather, the Grand Prix Commission, in which the FIM, Dorna, the manufacturers' association MSMA and the teams' assocation IRTA all have a seat - to allow the use of production engines in the MotoGP class.

The FIM has come out clearly on the side of MotoGP, with Vito Ippolito stating clearly that the World Superbike contract does not pose an obstacle to the use of production engines in MotoGP. Ippolito's argument is that IMS' contract grants them the exclusive right to organize races for production motorcycles, not motorcycles using production engines.

Despite the fact that the proposal to return to a 1000cc capacity was made by Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta, Dorna have kept very quiet on the whole affair. Yesterday, however, in an interview with the Spanish website Motoworld.es, Ezpeleta spoke out to clarify Dorna's position, though he did so very carefully. He emphasized that he did not want to get into a war of words with IMS over the definition of a production engine. "Nowhere will we say anything about using production engines, nothing, nowhere." Ezpeleta told Motoworld.es. "Nor will we draw up a definition of whether an engine is a production engine or not."

AMA To Race At Laguna With MotoGP?

There was some confusion after the DMG announced the schedule for the 2010 AMA Pro Racing series. For on the calendar for the US national Superbike series, there was a gaping hole where Laguna Seca should have been. In previous years, the AMA had shared the weekend with the MotoGP series, providing a necessary time filler for the missing support classes. Without the AMA, the Laguna Seca MotoGP weekend would be a pretty quiet weekend.

The problem, it seems, was just temporary. The leading US racing magazine Roadracing World is reporting that the DMG has reached a deal with Laguna Seca after all, and that the teams are being told to start booking hotel rooms in anticipation of the AMA series running at the Laguna Seca MotoGP weekend on July 25th, 2010.

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