With the Grand Prix Commission meeting what feels like every race weekend nowadays, it's hardly surprising that readers of the press releases issued get a sense of déjà vu from time to time. Today's FIM press release detailing the latest decision of the Grand Prix Commission is no exception. MotoGP's rule-making body - consisting of the organizers (Dorna), the teams (IRTA), the sanctioning body (FIM) and the manufacturers (MSMA) - introduced new restrictions on fuel pressure, limiting the pressure in fuel lines to a maximum of 10 Bar. If that had a familiar ring to it, it is because exactly the same rule was introduced for 2010 at a previous meeting of the GP Commission back in December of 2009, a rule that was quietly dropped before the start of the 2010 season.
As reported this weekend, the four-practice schedule used at Aragon was a huge hit with the teams and riders. The general consensus was that the chance to try out big changes between sessions more than outweighed the shorter time during the session to make changes. As a result, the teams asked for a return to the four-practice schedule (FP1 and FP2 on Friday, then FP3 and QP on Saturday), preferring four 45-minute sessions to three sessions of 1 hour. Saturday's meeting of the Grand Prix Commission rubber-stamped the change, and so at the Portuguese Grand Prix at Estoril and the Grand Prix of Valencia, four sessions of practice will be run, with the same schedule likely to return for the whole of next year.
The move to drop Friday morning practice - introduced for the 2009 season as a cost-cutting measure - has never been popular among either riders or fans. The riders and teams feel they are wasting their time, sitting around on Friday morning kicking their heels waiting for the afternoon session to kick off, and the fans miss out on an opportunity to watch the bikes out on track. Rookies, such as Interwetten Honda's Hiroshi Aoyama and his crew chief Tom Jojic, also lamented the lack of an extra session of practice, as the time between the sessions allowed the riders and their crews to go over the data collected.
When the Grand Prix Commission met at Brno to officially confirm the replacement of the 125cc class - an 81mm 250cc four-stroke single, provisionally being named Moto3 - it was clear that keeping costs down was right at the top of their agenda. Instead of a spec engine as used in Moto2, the proposal included measures to prevent a horsepower war driving spending on the engines out of control, by requiring that any manufacturer wanting to produce engines for the class must sell the engines for a maximum of 10,000 euros and be prepared to supply at least 15 riders with bikes.
The good news in that announcement is that the Grand Prix Commission is thinking seriously about how to prevent the class once again being dominated by a single manufacturer charging monopoly prices to selected teams for the best bikes. That, at least, is progress, as so many of the recent rule changes have been so clearly open to manipulation, and a first step has been taken to prevent that. The bad news is that as they stand, the suggested solutions are so woefully inadequate for their intended aim that they more likely to encourage manipulation rather than reduce it.
The Grand Prix Commission, MotoGP's ruling body, met at Brno today, and as expected, they finalized the demise of the two-stroke engine from Grand Prix racing. As of 2012, the 125cc class is to be replaced by Moto3, a 250cc single-cylinder four-stroke engine, with a maximum bore of 81mm.
There are many who hope and believe that admitting production engines in prototype chassis into the MotoGP will be the saving of the series. Finally, there could be a way for privateer outfits to build and race machinery on a more or less equitable footing with the factory teams.
To ensure that a balance is kept between the manufacturers and the privateer teams, the inclusion of so-called Claiming Rule Teams has been announced from 2012. Under the new rules, engine capacity rises to 1000cc, but but bore size is limited to 81mm, and the number of cylinders restricted to a maximum of four for both factory and CRT teams.
The big difference, though, is in the amount of fuel and the number of engines the factory and CRT teams will be allowed. While factory teams will still be restricted to 21 liters of fuel for each race and six engines per season, as is the case with the current regulations, CRT teams will be allowed 24 liters of fuel per race, and twelve engines to last the season.
The thinking behind both of these rules is sensible, and aimed at keeping costs low. By allowing the CRT teams three extra liters of fuel, the teams will not have to spend so much time and money on eking out the maximum performance from the allotted gasoline. And by giving the CRT teams twice as many engines, the privateer efforts will neither need to spend huge amounts on R&D in order to get the mileage from the engines, nor feel required to throw a new engine at every race weekend, to maximize performance.
With the success of the switch from the 250cc class to the four-stroke Moto2 formula - in terms of cost, and certainly in terms of grid size - the many fans of the two-stroke engine have been fearing the worst: the disappearance of the last two-stroke formula from the MotoGP paddock. At Assen, news is unofficially emerging that their fears have been confirmed. For the members of the Grand Prix commission are close to an agreement on replacing the 125cc class, and the bad news for two-stroke enthusiasts is that the smallest of the Grand Prix classes is about to turn four stroke.
From 2012 - or possibly 2013, according to some rumors - the 125s will be replaced with a 250cc four-stroke single. Contrary to earlier reports, though, the bikes will not be based on the existing four-stroke engines being used in motocross bikes such as Yamaha's YZ250F or Honda's CRF250R. The engines will have a maximum bore of 81 millimeters, making for much higher-revving short-stroke motors.
On the Saturday of the Jerez MotoGP weekend, the Grand Prix Commission met to further hammer out the regulations which will govern the MotoGP class from the 2012 season. It was feared that the meeting would fail to come up with a clear definition of the bikes to be run by the Claiming Rule Teams, the privateer teams expected to enter MotoGP with production-based engines in prototype chassis. So it came as no surprise that the minutes of the press release of the Grand Prix Commission merely modified the penalty for using an extra engine in the 2010 season, dropping it from 20 seconds to 10.
MotoGP's rule-making body, the Grand Prix Commission met today, and as expected, did nothing to clarify the 2012 MotoGP rules, and especially to provide a definition of exactly what constitutes a Claiming Rule Team. Instead, what they came up with was a relaxation of the penalty for infringing the engine allocation rules: Instead of starting from the pit lane 20 seconds after the red lights go out for the start, any rider using a 7th (or 8th, or 9th) engine during the 2010 season will have to start just 10 seconds later.
The agenda for Wednesday's meeting of the Grand Prix Commission - MotoGP's rule-making body - was clear: To thrash out some of the difficulties arising from their previous decision to revert MotoGP to 1000cc. Their hope was that after this meeting, the main points of the rules would be clear to everyone involved, and manufacturers and privateers could go off and start working on the machines which they will contest the 2012 MotoGP championship with.
Sure enough, after the meeting, the FIM issued a press release containing the new regulations agreed by the GP Commission, and it should come as no surprise that a host of details remain to be sorted out. The changes noted in the press release do point to some fascinating developments. Here are the main points for the 2012 regulations, which we will go into in more detail below:
Technical Specifications for 2012 for the MotoGP class