Gresini To Turn Hybrid For 2012 - One Honda 1000, One Aprilia CRT Bike?

Though highly anticipated, the return of the 1000cc machines to the MotoGP from 2012 could end up having an unexpected effect on grid numbers. Reports have been rife that Honda will be reducing their involvement in MotoGP from 6 to just 4 bikes from 2012, dropping the third Repsol Honda and leaving the San Carlo Gresini Honda with just a single bike for 2012. 

According to reports in today's Corriere dello Sport, as reported by, team boss Fausto Gresini is looking to adapt to the new situation by splitting his garage in two. On the one side, Marco Simoncelli is likely to continue on a Honda RC213V, though negotiations are still ongoing as to the level of support from HRC that Simoncelli can expect. On the other side, Gresini has a problem, for though he has the budget for a two-rider team, he has so far been unable to persuade Honda to give him a second RC213V, he told the Corriere dello Sport.

Instead, Gresini could solve the problem by becoming a hybrid team. Simoncelli's Honda would be entered under the rules for factory machines - 1000cc, 21 liters of fuel, 6 engines per season - but the second bike could be entered under the CRT rules. Gresini has been in talks about entering an Aprilia-powered machine as a CRT bike, which would allow the San Carlo team's second rider more fuel - 24 liters instead of 21 - and twice as many engines. Precisely which chassis such an Aprilia-powered bike would use was not clear, though the CRT rules ban the use of a production chassis, as used by the Aprilia RSV4 Superbike. 

The reaction of the MSMA will be interesting to hear. The CRT rules have been introduced as the existing manufacturers - assembled in the MSMA - have consistently failed to supply a full grid, yet the claiming rule was put in place precisely to prevent the entry of factories currently not competing in MotoGP from sneaking in under the guise of a CRT. Their fear is that factories such as Aprilia may provide bikes and support to a team such as Gresini and be a factory team in all but name.

If Gresini is to be accepted as a CRT entry, his entry must first be put to the Grand Prix Commission. The Grand Prix Commission must accept the entry unanimously for Gresini to be accepted as a CRT, which means that the MSMA have the power of veto over such an entry. Gresini could end up functioning as the first test case of the CRT regulations.

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Reading between the lines, Gresini's dilemma indicates that various rumors may or may not be true:

1. 4 Hondas (down from 6) on the grid in 2012

2. Dovi on the 4th Honda at LCR?

3. Rossi on the 4th Honda out of the back of a transit van?  ;)

If Gresini is a paying customer in good standing and with a claimed budget to run the season, why would Honda be reluctant to provide him bikes for 2 riders? Not saying they need to provide factory level support but doesn't everybody win when there are more "MotoGP" bike on the grid?

My idea of the CRT were those trying to break into the top level. Maybe they don't have the back ground of Gresini to Tech 3. Wasn't it the Moviestar team that pulled out of the series several years ago because of rough treatment like this?

If he has the money than why would Honda stiff him for the 2nd bike? Gresini has been a good Honda team over the years and it would be a shame if they are only supplied 1 bike by Honda.

No doubt Honda would hate to see Aprillia back on the grid next year, so maybe this is just Gresini putting some pressure on them to get the other Honda too.

Two Honda's at Gresini makes more sense to me anyway than splitting them between two teams.

I doubt it will help them securing HRC support for Marco though, Honda doesn't have that much of a sense of humour with matters like this.

why would Honda hate to see Aprillia back on the grid next year? Especially in a CRT bike and not even a factory effort. They were no threat last time out in MotoGP so I don't quite understand that.

Hasn't Carmelo Ezpeleta already categorically stated that Aprilia would be turned down for CRT use? I'm sure I saw a video interview of him saying so. His tone of voice seemed to suggest he was still sulking about them pulling out a few years ago.

It's difficult to get a read on Ezpeleta and Aprilia. They had an acrimonious split when Moto2 was introduced, and the 250s, which were supposed to race alongside the Moto2 bikes during the inaugural season, were banned. However, Aprilia's modus operandi (cheat their asses off) would be a benefit for Dorna right now. If they sold CRT racing parts to privateer teams it would put pressure on the MSMA. Carmelo could throw up his hands and say, "I guess the only solution is to give everyone 24L of fuel". The MSMA might bite.

IIRC, the MSMA decide what is factory and what is not factory. They may have told Ezpeleta that any Aprilia-powered CRT team will be designated factory.

I think it can go either way. Ezpeleta is bitter and vindictive. Ezpeleta laments that Aprilia's diabolical schemes cannot be of some benefit to him now. Maybe it's both.

Why wouldn't Gresini be able to run, for example, a chassis built by FTR with an Aprilia engine? This would *not* be Aprilia running a team, this would be exactly what the CRT rules say is allowed... no?
I can't see how they would reject such a formula since the CRT rules would be otherwise bogus.

So what exactly is it the FIA fears? More bikes on the grid?
If Aprilia production based engines are used by a CRT team that is OK by the rules as they are written. The FIA wants their cake and to eat it too.
Just where do the FIA expect CRT teams to get engines, Royal Enfield? Every engine is made by a manufacturer, they seem to be saying at only manufacturers who have a factory entry can be a source for production-based CRT engines. They should be happy to have engines from as many manufacturers as possible competing in their "world championship."
If an Aprilia or BMW engined CRT team wins (not likely) maybe it would lead to all the factories abandoning MotoGP and supplying engines to CRT Teams. We would still have a championship with the best riders and lots of teams on the grid. I repeat, what are they afraid of? This is happening in WSB and the racing is great.

Press the reset button, Dorna. Make new friends. Keep the formula stable at 1000cc, 4-cylinders, 81mm and 24L of fuel until the cost structure (to participate not to win) is stabilized. Allow production mills and prototype engines as long as they conform with the basic rules.

MotoGP might only have 3 manufacturers next season all b/c the cost structure is out of control. When factory teams reduce their development budget, they drop from top-5 to dead last b/c the satellite bikes swallow them up. Converting the IRTA teams into hybrids can hardly be construed as a decent solution, and it is a pity to hear that Gresini is looking at the CRT option (unless he is going to build the bike himself).

Time to start over. Change to 24L. Offer variable intake, variable exhaust, and oval pistons to keep Honda around. If the leave so what. Won't be the first time.

Can someone please clarify if Honda incurs a cost to themselves by supplying bikes/components to non-factory teams because they do it at a significantly reduced rate? That would be the only reason that I could see that they would stop supplying a second bike to Gresini because it has become too expensive.

I actually like the thought of a hybrid garage because it will certainly promote competitiveness within the team. Maybe Honda is also sick of having to supply parts to super sic after he bins the machine (I'm sure he'll get better :-))

With dwindling factory support for teams, the sponsorships might also start drying up ...... or the reverse could be true. The lower cost associated with non-factory teams might encourage sponsors to reduce the expenditure but still get exposure on a reasonable non-factory team.

I still think the best way to get more bikes on the grid is to stop this stupid travel between Europe and America occurring more than once in a calendar year. Any chance that we can get an idea of what it costs logistically to move the team to and from Europe to America?

Given that next year all the bikes will be new because of the capacity change, I imagine the difference between a factory and satellite bike might not be so great: ie there will be no last year's bikes to distribute to the less favoured teams.

Otoh, that also means eg Honda have to build their entire fleet from scratch, in a region still short on electricity, and a shortage of money. The decision to have fewer bikes may be an issue of simple manufacturing capacity, rather than money.

The sheer monstrosity of those CRT rules becomes ever more clear as the 2012 season comes closer. Can we please have ONE set of rules for everybody, so use whatever engine and chassis you want, put a limit on capacity and weight and go racing! Or maybe take it from a fuel limit basis, and give everybody say 22 litres and make whatever capacity engine you want. That might give less well-funded but creative engineers a fighting chance and stimulates sensible developments as well.

One thing is for sure: too many rules make the racing confusing for the spectators AND for potential competitors, especially since the rules keep changing the whole time, making any investment unsure. And the bottom line is: the team with the biggest budget will always have an advantage, regardless of the rules. Just like now for instance the testing restrictions are more of a problem for the smaller/slower teams than for the bigger/faster teams.

The CRT option will be an act of semi logical thinking with poor attainable results. The primary example of CRT test show (despite very limited development) how poor there standing will be against the factory machines.

The satellite teams succeed when they make a rally for the podium, and at times have but when success in racing is making a press for the rostrum not a win says something. So what to make of it when your barometer of success is making a top ten?? Weak and more reason why I am watching less GP racing year to year which is silly because I live and breath riding bikes.

BSB just brought in no TC for 2012-2015 and spec ECU. I am more excited to see this pan out than any other series as the bikes and the ride yielded by the pilot will be what wholly dictates the sum of the ride. As all, we will see but Dorna, IRTA, MSMA and the like need to have a come-to-jesus meeting about things as when racing becomes this abstract with weird rules and all it makes for skewed results and racing.

Semi-logic is best typified by the idea that racing is only worthwhile if competitiveness is assured. Some people simply want to learn how to build and tune motorcycles. GP gives them a revenue stream. CRT reduces negative cash flow for Dorna and may even create revenue streams for Dorna. However, CRT is not really a solution to Dorna's problems.

I do agree that BSB's ban on traction control will be the most intriguing change in racing for 2012. I hope the sport is still safe, and I hope the bikes with even firing orders are still competitive. AFIAK, traction control has never been banned in an SBK series with control tires. The result should be interesting.

of banning the use of any technology on a race bike when it's available for a reasonably cheap price on the street version, often even on the basic version.
Nowadays most of the superbikes offer traction control (Kawasaki, Suzuki, Ducati, Aprilia, BMW, Honda rumored to follow for 2012 which would only leave Yamaha without TC) on bikes that cost between 15 and 20K.

Why would anyone want to end up with race bikes less advanced that the basic street bikes?

Removing the headlights and such is common sense but why should you have to remove the electronics ensuring better/easier performance on the race track when you turn your street bike into a race bike?

MSVR's reasoning is straightforward. Banning traction control reduces expenses, and BSB are convinced that prohibiting traction control will also increase revenues by making the sport entertaining. I don't know if MSVR's hopes will come to pass, but the reasoning isn't convoluted.

NASCAR is less technologically advanced than regular cars. Grand Am is less technologically advanced. Some GT3 cars are less powerful and less technologically advanced than the road cars. I'm not necessarily advocating the arrangement, but banning traction control in BSB certainly doesn't make me think less of it. As long as Suzuki, Honda, Kawasaki, and BMW are still competitive without TC, everything should be fine.

to forbid using the TC already on the street bike? They get a refund when they return the street ECU to their dealer?
For the entertainment value, this change is likely to slow down the bikes a bit and not guaranteed at all to see more overtaking and such. Whether all bikes or no bikes have TC, this is not what is making the difference...

The stock ECU is not sufficient for racing even if it has TC equipped. The spec Motec ECU will be more capable even if it doesn't have TC.

Just as an idea, the stock ECU has one lambda sensor (O2) to allow the fuel maps to be adjusted. In SBK racing, it is customary to have a lambda sensor in the header pipe of every cylinder so for individual cylinder tuning. Racing ECUs also have gear position sensors and such to adjust mapping during acceleration by gear and rpm and to adjust engine braking by gear and rpm. The Motec will also be designed to work with a quick shift kit, IIRC only BMW's stock ECU has quick shift functionality. The Motec might have adaptive mapping for fuel as well, IDK.

The spec ECU saves money b/c it is less expensive than other systems with TC, anti-wheelie, anti-jerk, launch control, etc.