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Interview: Carmelo Ezpeleta On A Spec ECU For CRT Bikes, Subsidizing Factories And MotoGP In Asia

Much was expected of Friday's Grand Prix Commission meeting at Assen, which was set to discuss the major changes coming in MotoGP. The results of that meeting turned out to be a damp squib rather than the expected revolution, as decisions on the big changes were pushed further down the road. On Saturday morning, the day of the race, MotoMatters.com spoke to Carmelo Ezpeleta about those expected rule changes, and about the reasoning behind them.

In the discussion, Ezpeleta told MotoMatters.com that his main aim was to both reduce costs and increase the entertainment value of the series. Part of that would be by helping the CRT bikes where they are weak: the electronics are a major issue for the CRT bikes, and Dorna have enlisted the help of Magneti Marelli to provide the CRT machines with a standard ECU, developed using their extensive experience gained from racing in MotoGP. A rev limit is still on the cards, but whether this will be introduced in 2014 or 2015 is as yet unclear.

While unpopular with a lot of people, Ezpeleta laid out exactly why the rule changes are needed: Dorna is in the entertainment business, and is subsidizing both the teams and factories to race in MotoGP. That contribution is substantial, and the only way to keep the series viable is by keeping costs low. Expanding the popularity of the series was also important, and to that end, MotoGP will be going to Southeast Asia in either 2014 or 2015, though Ezpeleta was coy on exactly where that would be. Here's what Carmelo Ezpeleta had to tell MotoMatters.com at Assen:

MotoMatters: I would like to ask you about the new rules for MotoGP, the rules which are coming in 2014 or 2015.

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MotoGP Rule Changes As Expected: Rookie Rule, Single-Bike Scrapped, But Restrictions On Factory Bikes Introduced

Much was expected of this Friday's meeting of the Grand Prix Commission, but in the end, the decisions taken were relatively minor. Dorna, IRTA, the FIM and the MSMA agreed on a number of proposals which had widely been expected, but made no real progress on the major rule changes expected for the 2014 or 2015 season. 

The rule change with the biggest immediate impact was the dropping of the Rookie Rule, as we reported during the Silverstone round of MotoGP. The dropping of the Rookie Rule, which prevents new entries into the MotoGP class from going straight to a factory team, opens the way for Marc Marquez to join the factory Repsol Honda team next season. Contrary to popular opinion, however, the rule was not dropped at the request of HRC, but rather of the Honda satellite teams themselves, both Lucio Cecchinello and Fausto Gresini fearing the disruption that Marquez would bring for just a single year.

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Radical Cost-Cutting Plan Leaked: 18 Race MotoGP Season To Be Hosted At 6 Tracks In Spain

As many of you will have spotted, this was in fact an April Fool's story. The leaked document is a figment of my fevered imagination, and Dorna intends to cut races in Spain, rather than expand them. We are more likely to see races in a wider variety of countries than see all the races be held in Spain. For another year at least, all of the stories on the website will be as accurate as possible. Normal service has now been resumed... 

Since the start of the global financial crisis in 2008, MotoGP has been desperately looking for ways to cut costs. A raft of measures aimed at lowering the technological costs of MotoGP have been rushed through over the past three years, with more expected to come in the coming months and years. But with much of the excess already cut from the bikes and the technology, the following area to undergo drastic cost reductions is the second largest budget item facing teams: Travel and transportation.

MotoMatters.com has received a copy of a confidential internal discussion document circulating inside Dorna setting out a plan to radically reduce the costs of travel and accommodation for the MotoGP paddock. The plan is certain to be controversial: the method for reducing travel costs currently under discussion is simply to do away with them, and host all of the MotoGP races in Spain.

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MotoGP Bikes To Go To 5 Engines Per Season From 2013, Rev Limit Draws Closer

As talks continue between Dorna and the MSMA over the future of MotoGP from 2013 onwards, some proposals are already looking solid for the future. On Saturday, Carmelo Ezpeleta told members of the Spanish press that Dorna and the factories had agreed further limits on the number of engines allowed for each rider during the season. As part of the cost-cutting proposals, from 2013, the number of engines is to be reduced from 6 per rider to 5.

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Dorna and MSMA Swap Proposals At Jerez For 2013: One Bike Per Rider, Price Cap on Satellite Bikes, Limits

Talks are continuing at Jerez over the future of MotoGP, with the focus on how to reduce costs for a sustainable championship. After the proposals that Dorna presented to the factories at Sepang, with measures including a rev limit and a standard ECU, it was the turn of the factories to come with their counterproposals to make the championship affordable. 

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2012 Sepang 1 MotoGP Test Day 2 Round Up: Work Starts In Earnest, And Ezpeleta Talks 2013

With the excitement of MotoGP bikes being back on track subsiding to more manageable levels, the riders and teams were back hard at work again on Wednesday. The track had improved sufficiently to see times start to drop to where they might reasonably be expected to be. At Mugello in July of last year, Ducati Corse boss Filippo Preziosi had told the press that the simulations Ducati had run comparing their 1000cc bike - now radically changed since then - to the 800 showed that the 1000s should be about half a second faster round Mugello than the 800s, and that prediction proved to be just about spot on at Sepang.

The name of the rider at the top of the timesheet should surprise no one, Casey Stoner returning from a back problem - though still clearly stiff and not back to full strength - to post a scorching lap time, clear of the two Yamahas of Ben Spies and Jorge Lorenzo. Stoner did only a relatively few laps on the RC213V, concentrating on getting the parts tested he had on his work list, rather than working on a setup for the 2012 season. He compared the two chassis he had been given - and asked for the best parts of both chassis again, unsurprisingly - and concentrated on the big stuff.

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Ezpeleta On The Future Of MotoGP: Bikes Costing 1 Million Euros, Fewer Spanish Races And Performance Balancing

Although the Wrooom event at the Italian ski resort of Madonna di Campiglio is formally meant as the launch for Ducati's MotoGP and Ferrari's Formula One season, many other big names from the world of racing are also in attendance. One such person was Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta, and given the major changes coming to MotoGP for 2012 - and even bigger changes from 2013 onwards - Ezpeleta had arranged to give a short press conference to talk to journalists about some of his plans for next season and beyond. But he barely made it into the press conference: on his way in, he was doorstepped by a group of journalists who started grilling Ezpeleta about the future of MotoGP, leaving the Spaniard with little left to say in the press conference. His answers did provide a compelling look at the future of MotoGP as Dorna sees it.

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Jerez MotoGP Round Confirmed For 2012, Negotiations Underway For 2013 And Beyond

The cloud hanging over the future of the Jerez MotoGP has lifted a little. Today, Dorna announced that an agreement had been reached with the Circuito de Jerez to allow the iconic Spanish circuit to host the MotoGP round scheduled for April 29th, 2012, confirming the calendar updates announced earlier this month. The 2012 round will go ahead as scheduled, despite the ongoing financial woes at the circuit.

Beyond the upcoming season, the future of the race is not entirely clear, however. Rumors persist that Jerez will be dropped from the MotoGP calendar from 2013, as new circuits such as Austin in Texas and Termas de Rio Hondo in Argentina are added to the calendar. With Aragon, Barcelona and Valencia all confirmed through 2016, having four races in Spain is seen as detracting from MotoGP's stature as a World Championship.

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MotoGP Rules Tweaked: Testing Restrictions Ended, 9 CRT Entries Accepted, Minimum Weights Increased

MotoGP's rule-making body, the Grand Prix Commission, adopted a number of changes to the MotoGP rules in a meeting on Wednesday. As expected, the testing restrictions were dropped, now to be limited by tire allocation. Other changes adopted include an increase in the minimum weight, the introduction of rear-facing red lights to be carried in wet conditions, a slight tweak to the 107% qualifying minimum time, and explicitly granting authority to impose penalties on event organizers. The GPC also considered the entry list for the 2012 MotoGP season, and accepted 9 CRT entries, along with 1 reserve CRT entry.

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CRT FAQ: Everything You Always Wanted To Know About The Claiming Rule Teams, But Were Afraid To Ask

The introduction of the Claiming Rule Teams has caused a massive wave of confusion among MotoGP fans, and left then with a host of questions. Below, we attempt to answer most of the questions that race fans have about this new category of bikes, as well as addressing how it came to be created in the first place.

What on earth is a CRT?

CRT stands for Claiming Rule Team, and is a new category of entry in the MotoGP class. They will run alongside the normal factory and satellite MotoGP bikes (now officially classified as "factory prototypes" regardless of whether they are being run in a factory team or a satellite team), and be subject to slightly different rules.

What are the rule differences between the CRTs and the factory prototypes?

The CRT entries will be allowed more fuel and more engines: while factory prototypes will have 21 liters of fuel and be allowed to use 6 engines in 2012 (just as in 2011), the CRT entries will be given 24 liters of fuel to last a race, and have 12 engines for the 2012 season. Because of these advantages, existing manufacturers (Honda, Yamaha or Ducati) will be allowed to claim engines from CRT entries.

What does "claiming an engine" mean and how does it work?

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