The 2012 MotoGP Revolution: Part 2 - MotoGP vs WSBK

For the third year running, MotoGP is down to just 17 bikes on the grid. And for the second time in three years, a manufacturer is showing an alarming lack of commitment to the series, Suzuki fielding just one rider for the 2011 season. Sponsors are pulling out and teams are constantly complaining about a lack of money. Something has to be done.

Throughout 2009, MotoGP's rule-making body, the Grand Prix Commission, debated ways of changing the class to make the series cheaper, thereby increasing the number of bikes on the grid. The solution, announced in December 2009, was the return to 1000cc machines under specific restrictions aimed at capping costs: a maximum of four cylinders, and an 81mm maximum bore.

But that in itself was not enough. Throughout the entire process, it was also broadly hinted that the requirement that engines must be prototypes would be dropped for privateer teams, with these so-called Claiming Rule Teams being allowed to run heavily modified production engines in a prototype chassis. To ensure the teams would not be forced to spend on electronics what they saved on engines, the CRT machines would also be allowed an extra 3 liters of fuel above the allowance for the factory machines (for our detailed explanation of exactly what the CRT rules entail, see The 2012 MotoGP Revolution Part 1.)

We have been here before, of course. Back in 2003, the WCM team, under the management of Peter Clifford, entered two 990cc Harris WCM MotoGP machines, their engines based on the dimensions of Yamaha's R1, housed in a prototype frame produced by Harris. The WCM bikes turned up at the first race of the year, but were disqualified by scrutineering as not being a fully prototype machine.

The same pressure that eventually killed off the WCM project also threatens the CRT teams, and the arguments that kept the WCM off the grid for the first half of the 2003 season are being brought up again for the CRT bikes.

The problem, at least in the eyes of Infront Motor Sports, the organizers of the World Superbike series, is that they believe they have a monopoly on organizing a world championship for production motorcycles. And to Infront, the plans for the CRT machines are just as flagrant an infringement of that monopoly as the WCM was back in 2003.

At the Brno round of World Superbikes last year, Maurizio Flammini left no room for doubt about Infront's stance. "We heard about all these rumours, about MotoGP against SBK because they are going to use those engines or motorcycles derived from the series," Flammini said. " If, by any chance this will happen […] you should know that we have a very strong contract so we have the possibility to protect the SBK as we did in the past." (See the full text of Flammini's speech here).

As if his statement wasn't clear enough, the very fact that it was Maurizio speaking, rather than his brother Paolo, is significant. Visit a World Superbike round and there's every chance of bumping into Paolo Flammini, as it is Paolo who is in charge of the day-to-day running of the series. Generally, if Infront (or as they used to be called, FGSport) needs to make a statement to the press, IMS' hyper-competent press officer Julian Thomas will call all the assembled media into a room for a press conference with Paolo. Paolo Flammini has his finger on the pulse of World Superbikes.

When Infront has something big to announce, Paolo still runs the press conference, but it is Maurizio who does the talking. Maurizio spends most of his time in IMS' Rome office, and is the political and financial powerhouse behind the series. Maurizio is WSBK's heavy hitter.

So when Maurizio talked to the press about defending WSBK's interests and their monopoly of production-based motorcycle racing, you knew that it was deadly serious. Maurizio's almost casual mention of sending an "official" letter, and of corresponding with the FIM's lawyers, was a sign that IMS was prepared to go to war over this issue, and was marshalling an army of lawyers to take up arms. The last time that happened, it changed the course of MotoGP, and struck a blow at the heart of the WCM team.

So should Dorna have cause to be worried? In the sense of coming under direct attack from Infront, then the answer is absolutely not. Dorna has a contract with the FIM to organize the Grand Prix Road Racing World Championship, and if Dorna decided to race only bog-standard Honda CBR1000RRs, then Infront has no grounds for action against Dorna. That does not mean that Dorna could just go ahead and do that, however: first, the FIM would withdraw World Championship status from MotoGP, and if necessary, forbid its member associations from any involvement with series.

Infront could not take Dorna to court over such a decision, but you can bet your bottom dollar that at 9am on the morning following the announcement, a very thick and severely worded writ would land on the doorstep of the FIM's Geneva headquarters, reminding them of their obligations to Infront Motor Sports, and featuring some mind-bogglingly large numbers as the cost of not observing them. Just as in 2003, the owners of the World Superbike series would put pressure on the FIM to intervene.

This is exactly the course of action that Infront is following in the run up to the 2012 season. Infront are gambling that what worked in 2003 for FGSport - Infront's legal predecessor - will work in 2012. In 2003, FGSport pressured the then FIM president Francesco Zerbi to ban the WCM machine, and the FIM ruled that the WCM was not a prototype, as it was based on the Yamaha R1, however loosely.

But there are some key differences between 2003 and 2012. The stipulation that MotoGP machines must be prototypes is still in place, but the exact rules for 2012 have not yet been completely finalized. That stipulation could possibly be dropped before the 2012 rulebook is released, or modified such that the word "prototype" could be interpreted more loosely.

A much more significant change is a political one, and a question of personnel. Zerbi - an Italian, former president of the Italian Motorcycle Federation, and someone who had close associations with FGSport - is no longer FIM president, his place taken by the Venezuelan former GP team manager Vito Ippolito. Ippolito has made no secret of his desire to see the cost of racing cut drastically, to ensure a return to healthier sizes of grids. The Venezuelan has repeatedly called for a return to the days of production racers, such as the Yamaha TZ and Suzuki RG series, which dominated grids throughout the 1970s and '80s. Though thoroughbred race machines, the TZs were mass-produced by Yamaha and sold to privateers to modify as they saw fit.

The presidency of the FIM matters, as it is the FIM which Infront will try to pressure into taking action, and it is the FIM who are the only party capable of taking action against Dorna. Though Ippolito has been scrupulously even-handed in his dealings with both Infront and Dorna, his background in Grand Prix leaves him with a natural sympathy for the fate of the MotoGP series. Any request to put a stop to the plans for the CRT teams must go through Ippolito, and it is Ippolito who will decide whether to take action or not.

So even if the stipulation in the MotoGP regulations that MotoGP bikes must be prototypes is left to stand, it is up to the FIM to decide on the exact definition of what a prototype is. If the FIM believes that a bike with a prototype chassis and an engine derived from a production bike should be classified as a prototype, the FIM will do nothing to stop the CRT teams, whatever the feelings of Infront.

But the question of whether a MotoGP bike should be a prototype or not is almost certainly irrelevant. The crux of the matter is actually about what the contract between Infront and the FIM says. And this is where the stories of Infront and the FIM diverge. In his statement to the press at Brno, Maurizio Flammini made it abundantly clear where Infront stood on the issue: "We have a very strong contract, so we have the possibility […] to protect the SBK as we did in the past." Flammini also claimed that Infront had a letter from the FIM's lawyers supporting their position. "It will never happen that engines or motorcycles derived from the series [i.e. production machines - DE] will race in MotoGP."

Vito Ippolito sees it differently, though. When interviewed by MotoMatters.com in March, 2010, Ippolito clarified the FIM's position on the contract. "The key word in this case is 'homologation.' The contract with the Flamminis is that they have to use production series bikes. The FIM homologates these bikes […] But these bikes must be homologated. In this case [MotoGP bikes with production engines and Moto2 bikes - MM], the bikes cannot be homologated, because it's not a production series bike."

In Ippolito's view, the legality of the CRT bikes - production engines in prototype chassis - has nothing to do with the contract between the FIM and Infront. Ippolito's statement was unambiguous: Infront has the right to organize a championship for production motorcycles, but their only monopoly is on the use of the motorcycles as homologated for competition by the FIM. The manufacturers - Japanese, German and Italian - produce sports bikes to sell to the public; the FIM homologates those bikes for racing; and Infront organizes the racing series in which they compete.

Should a Claiming Rule Team build a bike with a completely prototype chassis, using an engine that at some point started life as a BMW S1000RR or a Suzuki GSX-R 1000, the FIM would have no reason to stop them, and Infront would have no reason to complain, as the machine being entered in MotoGP would bear very little resemblance to the machines being raced in World Superbikes by Leon Haslam or Michel Fabrizio, the bikes homologated by the FIM for use in the WSBK championship. The engines may once have started life in the same bike, but once they end up in the Marc VDS Racing Suter 1000, they have nothing more to do with the production bike from whence they once sprung.

Infront surely know this, so why, you may understandably ask, would they risk losing face in a high-stakes game of brinkmanship? Why would they claim to have a monopoly on racing with production engines, when the FIM president clearly begs to differ? Why disrupt the excellent relationship they have with the FIM by threatening to sic the lawyers on them over an issue they surely cannot win? For Maurizio Flammini pulled no punches at all in his threats over the CRT bikes: "We are going to support Superbike until the last Euro," he told the press at Brno. "Now we also have a big company behind us, which is Infront Sports and Media: it is a very strong international company and it will be a difficult exercise to make a fight against them…."

The reason must surely be to discourage factories currently in the World Superbike series but not in MotoGP from making the jump to MotoGP through CRT teams. Infront's main fear is that BMW and Aprilia - both of whom have shown an interest in entering MotoGP - might use the CRT rules to dip a toe into the MotoGP waters, and potentially abandon World Superbikes in the process. In this scenario, Infront's threats of legal action are aimed not so much at Dorna and the FIM, but more at the manufacturers in World Superbike, as a demonstration of how far they will go to defend WSBK and keep everybody on board.

WSBK's reliance on factory support has become painfully clear this season, with just 21 full time entries in the World Superbike class. Of those 21, fully 14 - or two-thirds - of those are either factory or factory-supported teams, the manufacturers bearing a sizable portion of the costs of competing. Aprilia and BMW both run full factory squads, as well as supporting privateer efforts, and Infront could not afford to lose either of them to MotoGP. Fortunately for World Superbikes, Aprilia is the last factory that Dorna want back in MotoGP, the Italian factory having left a lot of bad blood in the MotoGP paddock over the way the company dominated and controlled the 250cc class, and in part the 125s, driving the cost of an RSA 250 up to the region of a million Euros, making it impossible for the poorer teams to compete.

To an extent, we have already seen a prelude of the coming battle over Claiming Rule Team machinery in Infront's tactics over the Moto2 class. When Moto2 was announced - the original idea being that production 600cc four-stroke engines would be used in prototype chassis - Infront went through the exact same ritual of making serious threats of action against any attempt to run production engines outside of the World Supersport class. Nothing - other than that Infront was "monitoring the situation closely" and "studying their options" - ever came of those threats, and the issue was dropped when the Grand Prix Commission announced that the Moto2 class would use a spec engine, supplied by Honda and to be prepared by Geo Tech Engineering.

In his speech at Brno, Maurizio Flammini broached this subject, and offered an explanation for Infront's acceptance of what they had previously condemned as violating their contract with the FIM. "Carmelo came to us and said what we can do because we want maybe to use some engines that comes from the series, and we said you know we want to help," Flammini told the press. "We said if it is a one brand, mono-brand engine and unbranded, (if it is not a Honda or a Ducati engine but it is just an engine, unbranded), we said OK we can accept it, because it is something that is not a competition between manufacturers and nobody knows what the engine is."

The fact that the Moto2 bikes competing are FTRs, Suters, Moriwakis, Kalexes, Tech 3s, rather than Hondas, Suzukis, Yamahas, Kawasakis was what made Moto2 acceptable - if not exactly palatable - to Infront, particularly as Dorna made scrupulous efforts to turn away World Supersport teams showing an interest in the class. That the spec engine is a Honda is hardly unknown, especially given the Honda stickers that all of the bikes are obliged to carry, but the way the teams and bikes are branded avoids any link to Honda. So it is the Marc VDS Racing Suter, or the Ioda Racing FTR, or the Gresini Moriwaki that line up on the grid, with (strangely) only MZ using Honda in their machine name.

The mention of the solution which paved the way for the Moto2 class is surely no accident. By bringing up the use of non-branded engines, Flammini is leaving the door ajar for a graceful exit, giving Infront room to back down without losing face. The subtext of the message from Infront is that if MotoGP adopts a non-branded, spec engine for the CRT teams, then Infront will drop the expensive litigation.

A spec engine is an extremely unlikely prospect for the MotoGP class, but even that may not be a problem. The CRT bikes are almost certain to make use of engines that started life in production machinery, but the one thing you can be sure of is that they will not have the name of the engine manufacturer plastered all over the tank. The bikes will bear the name of the team and the chassis maker, but not the engine being used in the frame. So you might reasonably expect to see the Marc VDS Racing Suter, or the Kiefer Racing Kalex, or maybe even the Mapfre Aspar FTR. What you won't see is the Marc VDS BMW, or the Mapfre Aspar Aprilia, regardless of whether the bikes are using these engines or not. The idea is to allow the teams to race, not to promote the manufacturers; that's what the factory prototypes are for.

With assurances from Dorna - which they will surely receive - that the CRT teams will not promote the manufacturers or bike designations of the production bikes the engines are taken from, Infront will be forced to live with the CRT rules as they stand. Legally - as far as anyone who has not seen the contracts can tell - they do not have a leg to stand on, but that would not be the point of legal action against the FIM to try to prevent the CRT rules from being implemented. Infront may enter litigation not expecting to win, but they can certainly create a huge drain on the resources of the FIM. The international motorcycling federation may not be exactly destitute, but they certainly cannot match the spending power of the multi-billion Infront Sports & Media - the company that owns the rights to the soccer World Cup - and a protracted legal battle would be both costly and resource-intensive for the FIM.

The CRT rules for MotoGP, allowing production engines in prototype chassis, may yet turn into a battleground between World Superbikes, MotoGP and the FIM. Infront, the people behind World Superbikes, would not necessarily win that war, but they could make it costly enough for both Dorna and the FIM to tread lightly into battle, and be wary of collateral damage. There is still room for two motorcycle racing World Championships, though both need to pay attention to costs.

The real victim of these rules is the WCM Team. Back in 2003, they offered a glimpse into the future of MotoGP, but found themselves crushed by the politics of the day. Those politics have now radically changed, a subject which we shall address in part 3 of this series.

Total votes: 409
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Comments

Brilliant stuff David, thanks a lot (again) !

I just wonder, what would be the point of Aprilia or BMW to actually put some effort into supporting a CRT team if they already know they can't really milk the exposure they get in the case of good results ?

I mean, without _any_ kind of factory support regarding engine tuning , the CRT teams can't realistically be expected to compete with fully-blown factory teams (even when taking into account the restrictions that apply) ?

Total votes: 412

Well written indeed.

The way I understand it (and there will be a line of people to correct me if I am wrong) is that the 3 extra liters of fuel should make up for the tuning. It should, actually, more than make up for it.

So why would Aprillia or BMW join in under a CRT team? Because it is cheap. Though I would suspect at some point, they would be scrutinized enough to be forced into full factoryship (if such a word exists).

On a side-note, the branding by chasis is something I had not comprehended. What a brilliant strategy to side-step that sort of competition.

Total votes: 382

That BMW and Aprillia can't be CRT teams. The rules don't allow it. If the factory is supporting a CRT then they are no longer a CRT and would have to comply with factory rules i.e. less fuel etc.

Personally, I really would be disappointed if there were a bunch of CRT's and I had no idea what engine they were using. MotoGP and SBK can be difficult enough to the untrained eye. The manufacturers really aren't plastered all over the bikes most times you just distinguish them by color (Kawas are always green Ducatis red, etc.). When my dad watches MotoGP he always asks me "How do you know what kind of bike it is?" and its true, even in NASCAR it can be tough to tell who is driving what...

Total votes: 423

Well. The fact that the factories would not be able to put up any branding showing what factory the engine came from, to me sounds like it would put factories in an area that would not encourage them to help those teams. This to me sounds like a good way to get more bikes on the grid.

It could harm World Superbikes, but I personally do not think it will. Hoepfully something gets worked out for all sides.

Total votes: 409

If a bike builder makes a bike, submits it for approval to race in WSBK and are rejected because of the use of a custom chassis, who is InFront to say that the can't race it elsewhere. I understand that they have the right to sanction homologated bike racing, but to deny an opportunity of a competitor seems unfair. And I've been under the impression that arbiters of EU justice don't like it when a big company tells a little company what to do without alternatives. So WSBK should allow prototypes or they should not be allowed to say where some prototypes can't compete. I think it may be useful to present the argument as InFront versus bike builders rather than InFront versus the FIM and Dorna.

Total votes: 399

What a tangled web we weave.

I guess this kind of puts to rest one posters statement of - "Vale IS MotoGP". His name wasn't even mentioned in the controversy.

It's hard for us little people to understand the complexities of a war of millionaires vs millionaires.

And all I want is for this season to finally get started.

Total votes: 401

Thats the whole point Fuzz10, as David pointed out neither the FIM of Infront actually want direct factory involvement in the CRT teams.

But I would not go so far as to say there's NO WAY a CRT team can be competitive. The extra fuel is a very big concession as are the extra engine allowances, and with unlimited tuning a BMW engine would be massively quick. Building a chassis that could be competitive would be a major issue but perhaps Suter or Moriwaki might be up to the task with the lessons learnt from Moto2.

I love the concept as it stands hope it doesn't get bastardised to a spec engine.

Total votes: 401

Well sure, I get the main idea.

The point I do not get is how CRT teams are being expected to be competitive without any "direct" manufacturer involvement. I think that is quite naive on Dorna's part, but hey , I hope I'm completely wrong. Getting the chassis right already proves to be quite the challenge , let alone keeping a 240 HP S1000RR engine rideable. I doubt 3 liters of fuel will be enough to close the gap between the factories and CRT-teams.

Total votes: 423

The best laugh for me is Infront claiming exclusivity to "production" racing. I recently saw Max Biaggi's Aprilia up close and that is just a MotoGP bike with ballast.

Australian Superbike is closer to production and their lap times at round one of the WSBK event (as support category) was 2-3 secs off the pace. That's production racing pace.

So for Infront to get antsy about Dorna's push to use prod based engine blocks is laughable. If WSBK was more production based, then I think they's have an argument. But this is just ludicrous.

Total votes: 413

Imo, WSBK modifications have gotten out of hand b/c the manufacturers are no longer required to sell the parts on the open market. If you look back at the 750s, some of those bike featured exotic mechanical components not found on modern machines. The RC45 had gear-driven cams and two banks of fuel injectors. The Yamaha R7 OW-02 featured 5 valves per cylinder!! Though the 750cc homologation specials were quite mechanically sophisticated, they were available on the open market. The teams purchased the bikes and made modern WSS mods for compression and bolt-ons like brakes, triple trees, and suspension. In the 1000cc era, factory parts are kept under lock-and-key.

I'm not so much worried about the performance of WSBK unless we are talking about the tires. As crazy as it sounds, the move to a control tire in WSBK was probably designed to eliminate the production tire rules and lower lap times.

Total votes: 384

With motogp moving to 1000cc some thing needs to be done as the two rival series are far to similar. I agree with thomasrdotorg, currently WSBK spec bikes are far from production bikes, they should be more of a superstock spec. So you going to have Full factory (1000cc) prototypes vs CRT teams plus there's still talk off some teams going to use there 800's next year in motogp. Way to go dorna,what a mess. .

Total votes: 453

I agree with what has been said about SBK. The bikes they use are closer MotoGP than road bikes.

Regarding CRT's, I am wondering what is the danger that the extra cc's and fuel will not be anywhere near enough to make up for the lack of electronics spending? After all, it seems to be changes to the electronics which make the bikes faster, rather than more power. Don't the bikes already have an excess of power? How will having more available make them faster?

Total votes: 408

is for the FIM to create a clear distinction between the prototype MotoGP series and the production based WSBK series - and they only way they can do this is neutering the technical urges currently left unchecked in the WSBK paddock.

Up until 2002 there wasn't a need to do so as the two-stroke 500GP bikes - though they did at times during the 80's spawn some road going offspring - were so far removed from road bikes there was no potential for overlap between the two series.

But with the rampant development of the WSBK series in recent years and MotoGP switching to four-stroke engines, both championships have been on a collision course for some time now and it is little wonder teams are struggling to secure corporate sponsorship!

FIM should help infront move towards scrapping the superstock series, have Superbike embrace superstock/bsb evo regulations (as has been already discussed around the web) to drive costs down, attract the interest of new teams and ensure we have a production-based championship for years to come. As much as I love WSBK, I think its current course is untenable.

As for MotoGP - personally, I think production-based engines have no place in a prototype class but I can see the FIM struggling to find a way to attract new teams without going down the CRT path.

Direct-injection two-strokes for MotoGP? Yes please! ;)

Total votes: 424

Great article David. and some great comments.
I still think its possible the 800s will prove to be the better option and make the whole thing irrelevent.
its all going to come down to the fuel limit in the end, if the CRTs become too quick they will restrict their allowance to the 21 liters and make them too thirsty. as it is now, the 800s just make it home.
thats just my view on it.

Still a great article and well worth reading. Thanks David.

Total votes: 369

Surely this issue should be resloved by the MSMA.At the end of the day Dorna, IRTA and the FIM are all middle men in their various spheres of influence.
A 'behind closed doors' meeting and a vote between the major manufacturers as to what is a proddy bike and what is a prototype should be defined by them.
The major racing manufacturer's should by concensus define what is a duck and what is a golden duck.
The whole CRT thing is too gray and blurred.
As for SBK,Superstock should be the name of the game.
A World Championship for what you and I can purchase.GP prototypes,I suggest remain just that.A mass limit,a capacity limit,a fuel limit and a race length limit.
A 175kg fueled and lubricated 1000cc bike,including 25kgs of fuel and 150 km to go on two wheels.
Not likely,but surely efficient. The cream within manufacturer's and riders will rise to the top as per usual.
No doubt the GPC are not that comfortable with the potential outfall of going head to head within manufacturer ranks,hence the 'good old boys' mindset.
A slice of the pie for all.

Total votes: 395

Agree with the prototype 1000cc 4 cylinder, make Moto2 500cc twin & Moto3 250cc single. The cylinder size is the same for all 3 so the cost of designing & building the motors is spread over every class so manufacturers can enter as many or as few classes as they want. I do not like the current Moto2 formula. Having no motorcycle manufacturers in a world championship for motorcycles is ludicrous.

Total votes: 417

It's all about homologation. The manufacturers write the homologation papers.

The MSMA already have control over the definition of production bike, including how much horsepower a production bike should make. The homologation papers have changed since 2003, and Dorna are apparently ready to push the limit.

The last thing this world needs is for the manufacturers to define the definition of prototype as well. Prototyping does not belong to major companies hence the ban on mass-produced parts.

Total votes: 399

Without actually attending the GP and SBK commission meetings, it is nearly impossible to figure out what is going on.

We know that Dorna will not renew its contract with the MSMA; instead, Dorna will sign commercial contracts with each individual manufacturer. You'd think that would give them the power they need to get customer engines and to pack the MSMA to get the rules changes Dorna wants. I suspect the CRT rules exist so that MotoGP could theoretically continue without the MSMA.

Total votes: 412

Did the 2003 rules have a definition of what a "prototype" was that prevented the FIM from playing the homologation card in support of WCM in the way Ippolito is seemingly willing to for the CRT's? Or was that just purely a case of Zerbi not willing to go up against his old friends?

Total votes: 403

Here's what the 2003 rules stated: 
"A four-stroke prototype motorcycle must have an engine of original design and must not use castings of the crankcase, cylinder or cylinder head derived from the industrial production.  The moving parts (crankshaft, pistons, connecting rods, gearbox etc.) are not taken into consideration."

The WCM used all of their own castings, but the castings used the same dimensions as the Yamaha R1. This was a practical consideration, to allow Harris to build a chassis for them. Peter Clifford described the similarities thus: "the only thing that was identical was the holes where the engine mounting bolts went." So what WCM used was the same empty space as the R1.

Despite this, the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled against WCM on exactly this point. You can read the full judgement for yourself here (PDF document).

What is interesting is that the rules have now been changed. The rules covering the same subject now read:
"Motorcycles participating in the MotoGP class must be prototypes. Those that are not entered by a member of MSMA must be approved for participation by the Grand Prix Commission."

In other words, the FIM would have even less cause to object. A simple majority in the GPC - or a tie, with Dorna having a casting vote - would suffice to make it possible.

Total votes: 395

your explanation reminds me specifically why I remember thinking Peter Clifford & the WCM Team got totally jobbed. Because they did!

Also, from an interview you did with Clifford when these rules changes were being kicked around, he has no interest in returning to MotoGP, correct?

Total votes: 399

Clifford would be prepared to come back to MotoGP if he thought he could make money there. That's a tough row to hoe right now.

Total votes: 412

Make money in MotoGP? There's a novel idea!

Anyway, thanks for responding with all the info....

Total votes: 367

Why are people are so intent on destroying whats left of the already decimated motorcycle market? Making SBK a superstock class will do NOTHING but see which manufacturer can get away with selling the most expensive bike to the public at large. It will be a race to the top so to speak. How much technology can we pack into the machines we sell because we have to in order to race them and be competitive. Has anyone seen the ridiculous price increases in the 600 class in the past 7 years? My 2003 CBR600RR retailed for like $8499 brand new. Now its $11,119 for the BASE model!!! $12,119 for an ABS model. RIDICULOUS!

I used to work at a bike dealership those 7 years ago. Stop in occasionally to pick up parts and the like. Talked to my boss about business with the economy and all. He says he cant give sportbikes away. Its not that people dont want them, its that they cant afford them. As the new bike prices increase, so does its total dollar value on the used market. A 1 or 2 year old 600 used to be able to be had for about $5,000. Even less if you went a little older. Now those bikes are so packed with technology that they cost 8Gs used. And the people who buy used bikes dont have that extra money to purchase, so they either forgo motorcycle riding or they get something like a cruiser, which is fine. It used to be that for every guy that got tired of riding a sportbike, there were 5 to take his place. Not anymore because its just too much money. Man I remember good times of helping a new rider get his Smokin Joe F3 cleaned up a bit or the look on a guys face when he told me about X problem and Id fix it with a new part that I gave him a deal on and the bike ran great after. He was so happy and I made a customer for life. Now with parts costing more, new and used bikes costing an arm and a leg, the guys I worked with who are still there say that hasnt been the case the past few years.

If you want to see $20,000 race replica models from Japan and $30,000 exotic Italian models as the STANDARD issue, NOT "R" models, then keep wishing for this. I wish that they would go back to the limited and exotic R models or very limited runs like the RC-51(RVT1000 outside the USA).

Me? I like to get a new bike every now and then and dont need titanium valves, or TTX shocks with carbon brakes and the like. Id much prefer that race technology stay at the track where its needed and not on the road where it doesnt make a difference. Well, I shouldnt say that. Im sure some of you are taking advantage on the street. IF these parts ARE making a difference in your street riding, you are screwing it up for the rest of us. The road isnt your personal race track.

Sorry for the rant, Im just tired of this argument that SBK should be Superstock.

Total votes: 415

Four cylinders, sixteen titanium valves, and engines heavily reliant upon valve overlap (perfecting timing and clearance) are not affordable to the average consumer. In defense of the Japanese, they've only increased prices by 4% year on year, but the dollar has been moving away from them so everyone is getting screwed.

They've sold consumers on the idea of trickle down, but no matter how badly consumers clamor for racing trickle down, they can't afford it under the current formula. The MSMA have imploded their own markets, but rather than rebuild them, they are busy developing Asian markets and playing with scooter technology in MotoGP.

These people cannot be trusted; especially in the United States. Bankrupting your customers is bad business even if they demand it.

Total votes: 351

4% a year seems reasonable until you realize that 4% a year turns into about 31% over 6 or 7 years from your starting price. Am I getting 31% more performance? Maybe. Can I take advantage of it? Nope. Mid 2000s bikes are perfect IMO. If you want something exotic, Id look late 90s with the 998 and Mille. But of course thats a personal preference in the area of riding enjoyment for me.

Total votes: 409

It seems to me it's the FIM and Dorna who don't have a leg to stand on..

Whether Ippolito is sympathetic has no bearing..Dorna has a contract, written before the wording was changed, to race prototypes..Infront production.
WCM is case law where the court of Arbitration for Sport ruled exactly that. It is against the spirit of the two series for one to cross the line into the others territory and just because GP is having a hard time filling grid means squat.

I have a feeling back in 2003 when WCM tested the waters, they were encouraged to do so and maybe even received finnancial help to take it to the top. They lost because the motor used was a modified R1 unit, indeed at the first race it used the same cases which were subsequently re-cast, and still they were excluded..Nothing has changed, apart from a weak attempt to alter the emphasis of the wording in rule 2.2, in which the word "prototype" still dominates. It is the fundamental difference between GP and SBK and production based motors are NOT prototypes.

Bleating on how Superbikes are closer nowadays to prototype is a sure sign how desperate the GP commission is. They know, without the blessing of Infront, they are up shit creek without a paddle..and they have only got themselves to blame.

Total votes: 391

If you read the wording of the CAS ruling carefully, you'll find that the word "prototype" isn't the problem. The ruling was based to a great extent on the fact that the engine was not "an original design". If the WCM case was run again in 2011, they would be much, much more likely to have the ruling go their way.

Total votes: 390

Prototype; Definition:
the first example of something, such as a machine or other industrial product, from which all later forms are developed
a prototype for/of a new car
(Definition of prototype noun from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary)

Taken from the CAS/WCM document you kindly supplied a link to:
52. The purpose of article 2.2.1 Regulations is beyond doubt: it is intended to make a clear distinction between the Grand Prix category and the Superbikes and Supersports series.
53. As prototype motorcycles are admitted in the Grand Prix category, the Superbikes and Supersports series allow only production motorcycles.
54. The distinction between prototype and production motorcycles relies on the core of a motorbike, i.e. the crankcase, cylinder or cylinder head. Once those are derived from the industrial production, they cannot be considered as prototypes any longer.

Now I know the wording has changed slightly but the principle or "spirit" of the rules, remains and the above is on record. If a new case went to court, would the ruling panel be so naive as to disregard the previous, almost identical case?

I'm no lawyer... I accept what you say and If WCM had taken a bit more time and presented their bike with the re-cast casings in the first instance, maybe they would have had a better chance but is that the Idea of CRT for 2012? to get potential teams to re-engineer stock production engines to the degree they are deemed a "prototype" design?

If it is then surely the development costs would outweigh the advantages and is there enough time?
If not and the engines are clearly production based, they will still be skating on thin Ice.

Will a team considering CRT be prepared to invest in building a bike, to have it kicked off the grid the first time it turns up?

Total votes: 362

What I was trying to say in the article is that the only party with the power to take a CRT team off the grid is the FIM. If the FIM decides that a CRT bike with an S1000RR engine with a pipe and Power Commander is a prototype, they will not put pressure on Mike Webb to disqualify such a bike, as they did when WCM turned up.

This is of course the problem. Peter Clifford in an interview with me pointed out that the process is vulnerable to power shifts in the FIM. If a pro-WSBK (for want of a better word) FIM president was elected, the CRT rules could be radically reinterpreted almost overnight. As Vito Ippolito has just won another 5 year term, there's no risk of that.

As for how standard the CRT engines will be, the answer is "barely". As I've said before, the only thing that was standard on the WCM engine was the location of the mounting holes and some of the dimensions. A standard production engine is not built either to withstand running at MotoGP pace for (on average) 1.5 race meetings, and with the engine restrictions in place, various parts will be redesigned to allow the engines to be worked on without breaking the seals. The CRT engines will be to the street engines they came from as the lumps chopper builders put into their creations are to a standard Harley V-twin.

But the engines need not necessarily be derived from production engines, they could also come from engine specialists. The obvious example would be Ilmor, though Ilmor have repeatedly indicated that they have no interest in a return to MotoGP, until they can find a way of making money from it. An Ilmor engine in a Suter or FTR chassis would probably qualify as a CRT bike. There are plenty of other examples of specialist suppliers too.

Total votes: 419

because no one will bankroll a bespoke engine ( or even a properly prepared " production " engine if it can be claimed (effectively for peanuts ) by some scumbag team owner who has entered Moto GP (as a cash skimming exercise ) with a " zero cost dog " engine, knowing that he can reap the benefits of someone else's
blood, sweat and $$$/Euros. It's supposed to be GP Racing, it should reward the brave, the dedicated and the clever. You don't hand over your intellectual property as a reward for being sucessful.

The odds of preparing a competitive, reliable 1000cc engine are quite, favourable, but it will take some considerable time, effort and money to achieve, particularly if a " 107% " rule (or similar % ) is introduced to ensure a competitive ( and safe ) field.

Total votes: 389

The claiming fees are expected to be relatively high, somewhere in the region of 100K euros. Given that the target budget for a CRT team will be in the region of 2.5 to 3 million euros (all in) 100K is a sizable chunk of cash to spend.

I expect engine tuners to prepare engines for multiple teams. The idea is to separate teams from R&D, and let the teams race.

Total votes: 402

is the last sentence in this article;

http://www.racers-republic.com/motogp/news/620/motogp-claiming-rule-team...

If a team has only one " race spec " engine and it gets claimed, they are up the proverbial creek. A private team may be in an ongoing program to improve and develop their engine (even if the base development was done by an outside builder) and not have had time ( or funds ) to build a second engine and will then have to revert to their spare, lower spec, engine(s) and lose any competitive edge. This will cripple any chances of anyone upsetting the status quo by going it alone to build a really competitive engine and effectively create a second tier, forcing the use of what are effectively " spec" engines.

That has no place in GP racing.

Total votes: 406

The CRT teams, like the factories, will be limited in the numbers of engines they can use, though the CRT teams will have twice as many (12) as the factories (6). Once an engine has been readied, it is sealed and cannot be prepared any further. I suspect that the teams will make sure they have more than one "good" engine at each race, especially as the riders will have two bikes each. Swapping engines around - at least, engines of a significantly different spec - will take far too long with the limited practice time available.

Also, remember that the claiming rule allows the team whose engine has been claimed to do the same to the team who has claimed that engine. The most likely scenario (and the idea behind the rules) is a kind of Mexican standoff, where everybody is afraid of the consequences of pulling the trigger first.

Total votes: 406