While much of the current focus in the MotoGP paddock is on 2011, and the impending rider switches in the paddock - including Valentino Rossi's move to Ducati, Casey Stoner's switch to Honda and Ben Spies' promotion to the factory Yamaha team - there is a bigger change on the horizon, the return to 1000cc in the MotoGP class, the arrival of the 250cc Moto3 class and the introduction of the CRT concept, where 1000cc production engines will be allowed to compete in prototype chassis in the hands of private teams. These seismic changes are in the hands of the Grand Prix Commission, consisting of the manufacturers' association MSMA, the teams' representative IRTA, the FIM sanctioning body and Dorna, the commercial rights holders.
At Estoril, MotoMatters.com had the chance to spend 10 minutes with Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta, and ask a few questions about the changes due to happen in 2012. We were particularly interested in the relationship between Dorna and the MSMA, given the fact that the contract between the two parties is also up for renewal at the start of the 2012 season. So that's where we started:
MotoMatters.com: I'd like to talk about the changes that are going to happen to MotoGP in 2012. MotoGP goes to 1000cc, and at the same time, the contract with the MSMA finishes, and you have to negotiate a new contract with the MSMA. Can you talk about that contract and how you expect that to change?
Carmelo Ezpeleta: Well, in principle the contract with the MSMA and us will be the same in terms of politics, but not in terms of economics. We will not continue making an agreement for all the manufacturers involved in the MSMA, but instead, we will make individual contracts with each of the manufacturers, regarding their participation in the world championship. So the agreement will remain the same in terms of politics, the MSMA maintain the right to veto if they're unanimous, they're unanimous, as it is right now. But contracts will change: until now we were paying x amount of money for the participation of the bikes. This will be changed, and we will make individual contracts with the individual manufacturers.
MM: So you will value different contracts differently?
MM: The MSMA will still have the veto on the technical rules?
CE: A unanimous veto, that means all members of the MSMA, if they agree, they have a unanimous right of veto, but not a unanimous right of proposal or whatever. If we propose something and they unanimously reject, we cannot make the change.
MM: This is also something in Moto2, people like Suter, FTR, Moriwaki, they don't seem to have representation, they are manufacturers, but they are not manufacturers.
CE: No, no, they are not manufacturers. They are chassis manufacturers, we are not considering working on an agreement with something like the MSMA but for chassis manufacturers.
MM: And you don't see a role for them in making the rules?
MM: The rules will change in 2012, how long do you expect the rules to stay stable.
CE: Five years.
MM: The other thing that Valentino talked about, Nicky Hayden has talked about, everyone has talked about, is electronics. Do you see a way to limit this?
CE: Not in the MotoGP class. Obviously in Moto3 there will be a spec ECU and we will control that. In Moto2 it is one single engine and one single ECU, that is not a problem. In MotoGP at the moment, there are no regulations, and electronics are being used less. When we go to 1000cc with the existing regulations, there will still be less electronics. It is not is not as bad as it was, there are less electronics than there were two years ago. Within the current situation, there is enough regulation.
But then I think to be honest now, not many people are talking about electronics. Did you see Casey sliding in Philip Island? If you see that, then nobody can say it is compulsory to use electronics. He was so fast, using less electronics than anybody else. For me this is no longer an issue, you know, we are OK with that. With the 1000cc, everything will be more competitive. But we haven't about electronics for the last half a year.
MM: It has just not been a subject at all. Also because there is the 81 mm bore which should limit revs?
CE: I think right now the impact of electronics is less than it was. With the single tire and with the situation of electronics right now, no one is talking a lot in the last six months about traction control or whatever. And everybody expects with the 1000cc there will be even less. With the existing electronics, we have less electronics now than there were in the last year of the 990s. And then with the 1000cc bikes, we will have less electronics than there were in 2001.
MM: Also, for Moto3, alongside a spec ECU there will be rev limit.
MM: Is a rev limit also an option in MotoGP or not?
CE: No. We have not discussed that.
MM: Do you have an idea how many teams are going to be taking part in 2012, because there's a lot of talk in the paddock of new teams wanting to join under the new rules.
CE: We would like to have no more than 22 bikes on the grid. The maximum is maybe 24 bikes, but our ideal number is 22. Maybe we need to have more, because so many people are asking for places, maybe we will rise to about 24, but we are thinking now 22. It is the ideal number.
MM: In Moto2 next year, do you know how many will be there?
CE: Unfortunately, we will end up with the same number, maybe one less, two less. To be honest, we already have more people than is necessary this year, now it is difficult to refuse some of the entries. We will try to refuse some entries, but even then, there are more and more people asking for places. Most probably, we will be around 40 next year. If we have only 38, we will be very happy, but right now, we don't see many possibilities of that happening.
MM: When do you expect to have a final list for Moto2? It was originally scheduled for Saturday.
CE: Everybody is still working on this, and we don't know the exact date, but they are working. It will be soon.