The 2015 MotoGP Rules Primer: Engines, Fuel, Tires, Testing And More For The Five Factories

Once upon a time, Grand Prix racing rules were fairly simple: bikes had to have two wheels, weigh 130kg, have a maximum capacity of 500cc and a maximum of four cylinders. The switch to four strokes in 2002 added a lot of complexity to the rules, and things have been getting slowly worse since then. MotoGP now has two different categories with three different rule sets covering a single class, depending on entry type and results in recent years. With Suzuki and Aprilia entering the series in 2015, and another rule change on the horizon for 2016, it's time to take a quick look at the rules for this season, and see what has changed since last year.

The Basics

The basic formula for MotoGP is unchanged. A MotoGP bike is limited to a maximum of 4 cylinders, a maximum capacity of 1000cc, and a maximum bore of 81mm.

For 2015, the minimum weight has been reduced by 2kg to 158kg. That limit is likely to be reduced again for 2016. Bikes are weighed in race trim, including coolant, onboard cameras and electronics, but with an empty fuel tank.

Factory vs Open

As in 2014, MotoGP is divided into two categories: Factory Option and Open class. Factory Option is meant for motorcycle manufacturers, the Open class for private entries and smaller teams. However, just as in 2014, the threat of Ducati's defection to the Open class means that the concessions they were granted in 2014 stay in place, and will be extended to the new factories entering the class, Suzuki and Aprilia.

This means that although there are officially only two categories, Factory Option and Open class, the Factory Option class retains two subdivisions: factories who have won a dry race since the start of the 2013 season, and those who have not, or are new to the class. That means that only Honda and Yamaha are subject to the full force of the Factory Option rules, while Ducati, Suzuki and Aprilia are all granted extra concessions to help them with performance.

To help keep the various categories straight, it is easier to refer to three classes: Factory Option, Factory Option with concessions, and Open class. Here are the basic rules for the three categories.

Factory Option (Yamaha and Honda)

Although all entries must use the official Magneti Marelli ECU hardware (the computer that sits at the heart of a racing motorcycle, or any modern vehicle), they are free to run their own software on it. That means they can develop their own electronic strategies for traction control, launch control, wheelie control, engine braking, and other aspects of vehicle dynamics.

To counter the potential advantage of using their own software, and to try to keep costs down, Factory Option entries are not allowed to develop their engines during the season, and are limited in the amount of testing they can do (see table below). They can only use 20 liters of fuel a race, and a maximum of five engines a season. That is the same as last season.

Factory Option with concessions (Ducati, Suzuki, Aprilia)

Though nominally this group runs in the same class as the Factory Option entries, and is allowed to use their own ECU software, they have special concessions granted to help make them more competitive. The concessions are the same as those granted to Ducati last year: they get 24 liters of fuel, 12 engines a season, which they are free to develop during the year, and are allowed unlimited testing. They also get a softer tire than the Factory Option riders, allocated the soft and medium option rear tires, rather than the medium and hard allotted to Yamaha and Honda.

The extra fuel and different tire allocation are subject to results obtained in dry conditions. If one of the factories succeeds in scoring either three podiums, two second place finishes, or a single win, then the fuel allowance will be cut from 24 liters to just 22 liters for that factory. If that factory scores three wins in the dry, then they lose the softer rear tire, and will have the hard and medium at each race, rather than the medium and soft.

The loss of the extra fuel is unlikely to make much of a difference. Ducati staff told us last year that they never used more than 22 liters per race during 2014 anyway. The loss of the soft tire will be a bigger blow, taking away the advantage they have especially during qualifying.

At the moment, Ducati have one dry podium, Andrea Dovizioso's third place finish at Austin in 2014. If Ducati score two more dry podiums, or one more win, they will lose the extra fuel.

The concessions on engine development, the number of engines and the freedom to test are not affected by the results a factory might score.

Open class

The Open class remains exactly as it was last year: they have 24 liters of fuel, 12 engines per season, the medium and soft tire, and unlimited testing. Those rules are not subject to results. In the unlikely event of an Open Honda scoring three wins in 2015, they will keep the softer tire, the extra engines and the extra fuel.

At A Glance

The table below shows what rules apply to which entries in simplified form:

  Factory Option Factory Option, with concessions Open class
Fuel 20 liters 24 liters (22 liters)* 24 liters
Engines 5 per season 12 per season 12 per season
Engine development Frozen Unlimited Unlimited
Testing Official tests, plus 5 test days Unlimited Unlimited
ECU Official Magneti Marelli Official Magneti Marelli Official Magneti Marelli
ECU Software Proprietary, free development until 30/06/2015 Proprietary, free development until 30/06/2015 Official Magneti Marelli
Tires** Hard and medium Medium and soft (Hard and medium**) Medium and soft

* If a factory scores three podiums, two second places or a win, fuel will be reduced to 22 liters
** If a factory scores three wins, they will have to use the official Factory Option tire allowance of hard and medium, currently used by Yamaha and Honda
Only results from dry races count towards having concessions removed. Results from any rider on the same manufacturer count.

 

Software Freeze

Although both the Factory Option and Factory Option with concessions entries are allowed to use their own proprietary ECU software for 2015, that is due to come to an end in 2016. To that end, a freeze on software development has been instituted from mid-season.

At stake is the development of the ECU software for 2016. That process is due to be led by Magneti Marelli, with all factories free to contribute ideas and algorithms to the 2016 software. In effect, this means that as of 1st July 2015, the factories will switch their software development focus from their own proprietary software, to the common spec software being developed for all of the teams for next year.

However, if a factory wants to continue developing its software past the deadline of 30th June 2015, they can. But if they do, they forfeit their right to contribute to software development for 2016. In effect, they will be stuck with the software ideas put forward by their rivals. Once they cease development of their own software, and submit an ECU to Dorna for verification, they can start work on the common software.

In effect, this makes the software freeze voluntary. No one is forced to quit development of their own software, but doing so has a price. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that if the race for the championship is very tight, then Honda and Yamaha could choose to ignore the software freeze and keep developing their own software. If just a few points separate Marc Márquez, Jorge Lorenzo, Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa, some brinkmanship could come into play. One of the factories may judge that it is worth skipping the first month or two of development for 2016, if they can gain an advantage in 2015. After all, the 2016 season will still be eight months away at the start of September, but Honda or Yamaha could gain another four races and one test worth of development in July and August.

The Tire Situation

Working out who got what tires was already complicated enough in 2014, with the concessions allowing Ducati to use the same tires as the Open class bikes. Things are even more complex in 2015, with Bridgestone adding an extra rear tire compound, and Aprilia and Suzuki given the same allocation as Ducati.

The front tire allocation remains unchanged from 2014. Bridgestone will bring either two or three specifications to each track, and Factory Option and Open class entries will all have the same allocation. They will be allowed to use a maximum of either 9 front tires if there are only two different specifications available, or 10 front tires if Bridgestone has brought a third specification. Each rider may only choose a maximum of 6 of either specification.

As for the rear tires, Bridgestone will be bringing an extra compound for 2015, an extra hard rear tire to be used at Argentina, and probably at Indianapolis as well. There is a difference in the rear tires allocated to the Factory Option entries (Honda and Yamaha), and the Factory concession (Ducati, Suzuki, Aprilia) and Open class entries.

Bridgestone will bring three specifications of rear tire to each race. Depending on the track, those combinations will be one of the following: extra hard, hard, medium; hard, medium, soft; medium, soft, extra soft.

To keep things simple, we will refer to the options as hard, medium and soft. The Factory Option (Honda and Yamaha) riders will have the hard and medium available, the rest will have the medium and the soft available. All riders will have a maximum of 11 rear tires. Factory Option entries will have up to 7 medium and 5 hard; the rest will have up to 7 soft and 5 medium.

Ducati, Aprilia and Suzuki all currently have the softer tire. Should they rack up three wins this season, they will lose the softer tire. Their allocation will revert to being the same as that of Honda and Yamaha.

A Brake On Costs

The other major rule change for 2015 is the introduction of price capping for brake components. Brake component manufacturers (Brembo and Nissin) must submit a price list of components for homologation at the start of the season, with the prices fixed for three years. They must undertake to supply a complete package to the teams at a maximum price of either €60,000 without brake calipers, or €70,000 with three sets of calipers. The package includes 3 master cylinders, 10 brake discs and 28 brake pads. Teams are free to buy extra components at the homologated prices, as they see fit. But the brake package is regarded as being the minimum necessary to complete a season.

Will it really help to reduce costs? Firstly, only the cost of front brake components is included, leaving a potential loophole of selling a combined package of front and rear brakes at a vastly inflated price. Secondly, the cost of service and advice is not included: rich teams and factories will be able to afford much more advice than the poorer teams, and will consequently get the best service. No cap has been imposed on the amount the brake manufacturers can charge for their service.

Teams are now free to use either 320mm or 340mm brake discs at their discretion. The only place this is limited is at Motegi, where the use of 340mm brake discs is mandatory.

The price cap on brake components will serve as a test bed. A similar system is under consideration for suspension components from next year. The example of Moto3 is not promising. Though the cost of almost every component is capped, the factories still manage to charge getting on for €500,000 for a single season. There is always some nebulous invoice item where factories can hide their true costs.

Sporting Rules

There have also been a couple of minor tweaks to the sporting regulations, but nothing particularly major. Minor movements on the grid are now tolerated, with Race Direction having the authority to judge whether an advantage was gained or not. Major movements will still receive an automatic penalty.

The remaining restriction on tires for flag-to-flag races was phased out previously. Riders can now come in to swap to a bike on the same tires, instead of having to change at least one tire from either slick to wet, or wet to slick. This is better for safety, allowing riders to come in and fit another set of wets in half-wet, half-dry conditions.

Total votes: 104
Total votes: 277

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Comments

"Nebulous invoice item..", brings to mind a scene where at the end of the season team member sit round a table writing each other receipts on pilfered receipt books, in the manner of contractors claiming expenses the world over...

Total votes: 194

Thanks a lot David for doing this. I was hoping you would do something like this as it's starting to get complicated nowadays.

I well remember the 500cc days of Sheene, Roberts etc when it was indeed much simpler.

In recent years I used to watch F1 (I know, I know) if there was no 2-wheel action on TV but I had to give it up. It got that there were so many rules about tyres, engines and chassis that it seemed like there was always a reason that qualifying and race positions were not real.

Anyway I'm very much looking to this weekend as I'm sure everyone here is. Thanks again.

Max

Total votes: 193

I can totally relate to this. I stopped watching F1 when they introduced mandatory pitstops, therefore regarding the race positions and even overtakes potentially temporary.

I like to know that if a racer overtake another, he gets the others position fair and square.

Total votes: 178

Could ducati opt to go with factory option sans concessions if they find they are unable to make the mediums go the race distance. I know they would lose their super soft for qualies but after Sepang and their times on their harder tire I was wondering if they could opt to go with the factory option.

Total votes: 190

How is it fair that there is no way to lose the concessions on engine development, number of engines, and testing? Why wouldn't Honda and Yamaha just become factories with concessions so they can get these benefits, just so they can keep them later when they lose the fuel and tire benefits from winning races? Seems like unlimited engine development and testing would be pretty valuable.

Total votes: 191

Yamaha and Honda have won races recently so they are not eligible to choose to take concessions. I would guess that ducati could very well opt to give up the concessions, but that would be a huge sacrifice to make just to get a harder tire. With engine development and a few tests, surely they could sort that out, although it would be costly.

There will certainly be an uproar from Yamahonda if the Ducs become championship contenders this season even after giving up the tires and fuel, but continue developing the engine and testing...seems nobody contemplated that as a potential outcome while they were massaging the "set" rules LOL!

This may all be moot, the performance of the Duc in Malaysia may have been a flash in the pan...but wouldn't it be exciting if they indeed are right there fighting for wins straight away! :) Personally, I'd love to see Iannone leading the way...Dovi has already had his chance against the best and has demonstrated that he is not quite at that level. He is a fantastic rider, but I don't want to see him win just because he has a superior bike (like Jenson Button's championship).

Total votes: 195

Hi David and thanks for the nice explanation. I'm sure this page will serve as a reference for the rest of the year, especially if Ducati can race as good as it practices ;)

I have a question I've been meaning to ask for a while and although this is not the perfect topic I think it's closer than any other article you've recently written. My question regards the companies that provide fuel to the various motogp teams. I have found this link
http://www.motogp.com/en/MotoGP+Basics/fuel
which even names a series of fuel providers so apparently not every team gets the same stuff. Obviously there are also some regulations defining quality standards for it.

My question is how come we never hear about it? To give an example, we naturally know and discuss the riders running different suspensions or brakes, or even their leathers but I've never heard anybody talking about what fuel brand Yamaha runs, for example, or how Tech 3 switched in 2012 (I'm just making this up as I go along) from brand A to brand B. The names of the oil companies are there, the marketing is there (Repsol obviously the most dominant name being the title sponsor of the Honda factory team), but there rarely/never is a discussion about it despite the fact that there seems to be competition in motogp between different fuel providers. I find this mildly odd.

Sorry for the slightly out-of-topic comment. Better to ask these kind of things before the season starts. Speaking of which... FINALLY!!!

Total votes: 180

We never hear about that I too would like to know. FUEL has specific regs for chemistry and octane but they can get it from who they want. OIL has absolutely zero regs and is a big factor in fuel economy. A couple years ago yahmaha switched from pertronas to eneos and all we cared about was how it would affect their paint scheme. That year the had a horid time with fuel consumption but have since turned it around and are potentially benefiting from some closer to home tech relationship.

I would like to know what kind of oil they have but I bet such info is hard to come by and closely guarded.

Total votes: 189

... it's really not that closely guarded if at all. If you have a paddock pass or better media pass you can pretty much see (at least from the exterior of the filled drums) what exact type of fuel and oil the teams are using.

-jim

Total votes: 191

There's going to be some time in the season when the Factory Option teams need the hard option tyre to do race distance, but the Factory concession teams are denied it. If it's Philip Island, that could be dangerous. Now the Open and Factory Concession teams have essentially the same horsepower and chassis, it's hard to see what the point of the *race* differences is. So can we please just drop this aspect of the rules and make it the same for everyone with Michelin in 2016.

The testing restrictions on Factory teams are for the team's main riders. Presumably it doesn't apply to the test riders like Nakasuga or Takahashi. But they're still restricted on access to official Bridgestone tyres.

Total votes: 180

The rule should be the weight as they propose to start a race. That'd get rid of the silly buggers with refrigerating the fuel to squeeze as much petrol into the litres-of-fuel limit as possible (which just adds another expense to things).

Weighing the machines sans fuel is an artefact of there once not being a fuel limit. With a fuel limit, it makes little sense to have separate volumetric fuel limits and mass limits for the rest of the system.

Total votes: 177

For MotoGP, fuel must not be more than 15 degrees C below the ambient temperature as measured one hour before the race start time. In Moto2 and Moto3, however, fuel must not be below the prevailing ambient temperature.

Total votes: 186

Seems apt to expect two podiums coming for Ducati.

I have more acceptance and patience with our 2014 and 2015 rules in considering them as a "good enough" transition from CRT to Unified in 2016.

Engine limits all the way down to 5 seems draconian and counter productive. Hope 2016 rules come in on the higher end. On software, my understanding just isn't where I wish it was. My thoughts are changing. Zero turn by turn is about all I have for a preference. Whatever torque at the crank sensor Honda has is surely gone.

The tire changes are likely to be most substantial. Less front end overall grip. With the 17" wheel we will see less grip at lean since there is a smaller patch. Does anyone else see this as likely to hinder the Yamaha most? The bike is designed to not move around, and get mid corner edge grip. The Honda not so much. Under braking though, the Honda has been aggressively "smashing" that firm construction Bstone front effectively...will this bias lead to problems with turn in with the sweeter and more pliable Michelin? At exit the Honda sure grabs good tail wagging drive out with their electronics package and a very durable Bstone rear. With a bit less edge grip on a smaller rear Michelin it is hard to see how that will play out.

Ducati and tire management is coming to mind. Eager to see if they can get good at making a softer tire make it race distance this year, and if this facilitates a transition to getting power down with the Michelin.

Very interesting times.
Qatar is here! Goodness returns! We made it. Congrats everybody.
;)

Total votes: 188

2 Ducati on front row could manage the result, 2 wins can become a champion...interesting!

Total votes: 204

As you've described above. I wish it were but it is complicated by Dorna refusing to take suggestions directly from individual manufactures. If they did it would be as you describe.

Instead dorna say only what the manfg group decides internally will then be taken into consideration.

Also for 2016 you may have noticed that gone is the requirement for factory options to use the complete open hardware kit. Specifically CAN / bus external controllers that are now part of being a factory option will continue. Aside from tires change I see less and less a chAnge that 2016 will bring. Dorna have also hinted that concessions would still remain.

Great article. By the way.

Total votes: 178

I am frankly put off by all these categories within categories, rules within rules and all the other wonderful things that Dorna and FIM have thought off for MotoGP racing. Please do not accuse me of being a two stroke nostalgic person caught in a time warp but the simplicity of technology and hence the accompanying simplicity of rules was really nice. But now the complications are so many that God only knows.

Even more mystifying is the WSBK situation. I do not think even the commentators are aware of the changed rules and how they work since they only keep referring to the "changed rules situation" without actually telling us what the change is. I feel like an idiot sitting in front of the telly watching bikes going around on the racing track but without knowing any rule other than that motorcycle and rider who cross the line first are winners.

Total votes: 172

The WSBK rules are basically the same. They've banned some exotic materials for engine internals and eliminated prototype pistons. The heavier reciprocating parts reduce the need for electronics. The guys who are accustomed to mediocre electronics and tepid factory support are running away with the championship.

It's quite straight forward.

Total votes: 186

titanium is not banned and just about anything else goes too.

The difference is it must be sold to the public that way and they are fair game.

The straight fwd way to look at this is as follows.

If Manufactures want to win in WSBK, they must sell bikes to the public which are capable of wining.

Teams are not allowed anymore to add the go fast parts on thier end to upgrade the bikes perversely out of reach of most other competitors.

Total votes: 208

"Fruit & Flowers" is a favorite "nebulous invoice item" in the music industry, needless to say there's no fruit nor flowers involved, some things a little more suspect ;-)
As for all the different classes, are there less categories now in a "Le Mans" race ?

Total votes: 213

Hi, new to MotoGP since 2014. I appreciate this writeup - it helped to clear up some things for me. But I am confused by what it is that makes Yamaha, Honda, and now, apparently, Ducati factory teams so much more competitive than the Open class, even with all of its concessions. I am guessing the factories have more money to throw at the teams, not only for riders but also for the bikes. But, other than the talent that they hire, what is it that the Factory teams are doing with the bikes that makes them so much better than the Open Class bikes? Or are the bike relatively close and it's all about the riders?

Sorry if I am asking a silly question, but I just don;t understand why there appears to be two qualitatively different races going on in one. I see a race between Yamaha, Honda, and now Ducati factory bikes, and then there's the other race for everyone else.

I mean, we were all wowed by Yamaha and Ducati duke it out in Qatar. But I was riveted, and somewhat dismayed to tell the truth, to see Marc Marquez come from last place, slicing through the open class teams like a hot knife through butter. WHY? I get that he's a good rider, but there are some good riders in the Open Class I have to believe. Are they truly of such poor quality that they do not compare to Marquez? Or is his bike just that much better? And if it is that latter (and this is what I am led to believe by what I have read), then why is it that his bike is *that* much better? Is it really just money? And what does that money buy a factory team that the others cannot get?

Sorry for the long winded question - just trying to enjoy the sport more but am failing to grasp what I gather everyone else already knows (as I see no one talking about this anywhere I have looked).

Thanks,
-Neil

Total votes: 187

Not a silly question at all, a good question. And no simple answers. There are a lot of factors that go into it. Answering it fully would take a long time, but the short answer is, well, basically everything. The factory teams have the best riders, and the best bikes. They have the best crew chiefs and the best mechanics. Electronics are a large part, both passive and active. Active, in the sense that the systems used are the best available. But passive too, in that they have the resources and the data engineers to spend a lot of time working out what the best set up is for the bike, and fine tuning and tweaking each aspect of the bike to extract the utmost. When you have four or five guys each extracting a few hundredths each, before you know it, you've gained half a second.

In motorcycle racing, the devil is in the details, and the factory teams have the most resources with which to exorcise those devils.

Total votes: 141

Nice information. One observation of the race - Honda and Yamaha are leading the battle. I have seen that Ducati is a powerful bike. In the straights it can take out both Yamaha and Honda, in the same stretch. I wonder why in corners it cannot perform. If the Ducati perfoms same as the Honda and Yamaha in corners and on straights do its duty, then it will take the competition.

Total votes: 170

I stopped watching F1 around the turn of the millennium, after a season in which it was later determined that neither the eventual driver's champion nor his runner-up (thought it was David Coulthard & Damon Hill [never mind -- don't care]) had ever passed one another on the track

Keep the Shiny Side Up

Total votes: 99