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New WorldSBK Rules For 2018 - Will Rev Limits Transform World Superbikes?

The World Superbike championship has moved to address the performance disparities which have seen Kawasaki and Ducati dominate in recent seasons. The Superbike Commission, the rule-making body for the WorldSBK series, today announced a series of measures to ensure greater parity among teams and factories. The measures, which will enter into force in 2018, see rev limits replacing weight penalties and air restrictors as a performance balancing mechanism, and a performance-based concession point system for allowing engine updates during the season.

The changes fall into three main categories: the performance balancing system, a system of concession points, and the price capping of a range of suspension, chassis, and engine parts related to performance. The performance balancing system and the concession points system are aimed at creating more parity between different manufacturers, while the price capping of certain parts is aimed at both limiting costs, and of ensuring that all teams have access to the same parts.

Performance balancing via rev limits

The biggest change – and probably the most effective - is the adoption of rev limits as a performance balancing mechanism. The current system uses air restrictors placed in the throttle bodies as a way of restricting performance. That was originally a measure aimed at slowing down the Ducatis, especially once the maximum capacity for twins was increased to 1200cc.

There were two problem with using air restrictors. The first was that the effects were rather limited: factories grew more adept at squeezing more performance out of the engine despite restrictors, and there was a limit to how large or small the restrictors could be. A bigger issue is that it only addressed the performance disparity between twins and four cylinders, leaving the disparity between the different manufacturers of four-cylinder bikes untouched. It was aimed at containing Ducati. The problem is that Kawasaki has surpassed Ducati in performance, and there is no way of helping Honda, Aprilia, Yamaha, BMW, or Suzuki catch up.

Hence the switch to rev limits. Rev limits give the FIM and Dorna more direct control of the performance of different manufacturers. By allowing some manufacturers more revs and others fewer revs, they can impact peak power and torque of each individual brand. This will allow them, for example, to reduce revs for Kawasaki if Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes keep winning everything, leave the revs untouched for Yamaha, as Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark have been close to being competitive as the only other bikes on the podium other than the Kawasakis and Ducatis, while increasing revs for Aprilia and Honda to help make them more competitive.

The system will use an algorithm to calculate relative performance. That algorithm has yet to be completely defined, but it will combine a number of factors, including lap times, top speeds, number of riders on a particular bike, results, laps led, etc. to generate a relative performance ranking. Should a particular manufacturer come out high, then the series organizers will be able to reduce the maximum rev limit for that manufacturer by 250rpm. If the performance ranking comes out low, they can raise the rev limit by 250rpm.

The calculations will be made every three rounds, and may also be done at the end of the season for the following year. The proposed rev limits are shown below:

WSBK Initial rev-limit
Brand Proposed
Aprilia 14700
BMW 14700
Ducati 12400
Honda 14300
Kawasaki 14100
MV Agusta 14700
Suzuki 14700
Yamaha 14700

Rev limits will be imposed via the ECU for each bike, and monitored by the compulsory FIM-approved datalogger on each bike. Overrevving is allowed for downshifts, as the performance benefits of such are negligible.

There are of course limitations to what can be done with rev limits. Though theoretically, Dorna and the FIM could raise rev limits as high as they wanted, that doesn't mean that the bikes in question are actually capable of revving at those speeds. Yamaha, for example, limit their engine to lower than the proposed rev limit in the new regulations, to ensure reliability.

Of course, the real aim of the rev limits is not so much raising the limits for underperforming manufacturers, as lowering the limits for the manufacturers which are currently dominating. It is unlikely that Yamaha's rev limit will be raised, for example, but it is almost certain that the rev limits for Ducati and Kawasaki will be lowered if their stranglehold over the championship continues.

The lowering of Kawasaki and Ducati rev limits should also help privateer teams of the successful manufacturers. Currently, privateer Kawasakis don't rev anywhere near as high as the factory-backed KRT bikes of Rea and Sykes. Lowering Kawasaki rev limits will reduce the performance advantage of the factory team, but it won't necessarily affect the privateer squads running the same bike.

Concession points and concession parts

The other fork in this two-pronged attack on performance inequality is the introduction of concession points, which will be used to allow less successful manufacturers to catch up with the manufacturers which are already winning. The system is similar to the one used in MotoGP, which has been proven to be successful. But instead of testing allowances, manufacturers with concessions will be allowed to provide upgraded engine parts.

The concession points system works along the same lines as MotoGP. Points are awarded for each podium finish, 3 points for a win, 2 points for second, 1 point for third. At two points during the season, concession points will be tallied up for each manufacturer, and those who lag too far behind the manufacturer with the most concession points will be allowed to introduce new, upgraded parts.

The rules are ambiguous concerning the first point at which concession points are assessed. The rules currently state that the concession points will be evaluated after the first three "races". Strictly speaking, that would be halfway through the second event. The more logical explanation is that this is a mistake, and what is actually meant is that concession points will be evaluated after the first three events, or in other words, after six races.

At the first evaluation point, any manufacturer which trails the manufacturer with the most concession points by 9 points or more will be granted permission to introduce engine upgrades, though the list of parts which are allowed to be upgraded is limited.

Concession points will be evaluated at the end of the season as well. Any manufacturer which trails the leading manufacturer by 36 points or more will be allowed upgrades for the following season as well. Manufacturers within 36 points will be forced to retain the same spec of certain parts for the following year.

What this would mean in practice is that, for example, if the system were in place for this year, Kawasaki and Ducati would have to race next year with a virtually unchanged engine. The other manufacturers would all be allowed updates. If, theoretically, Yamaha had a strong 2018 and scored a lot of podiums alongside Kawasaki and Ducati, then Yamaha would then not be allowed upgrades for 2019, along with Kawasaki and Ducati, while Honda, MV Agusta, Aprilia, and BMW would once again be allowed new engine parts.

The list of parts which are allowed to be upgraded is limited. The full list is below, but the list basically comprises valve train components and flywheels. Other engine internals will remain frozen for the full season, but modifications to the valve train can have a marked effect on performance.

Price capping parts

The concession parts are all part of a price-capping initiative, to both restrict the cost of development, and to ensure that privateer teams have the same access to updated parts as the factory-supported teams. Engine parts which have been designated as concession parts must come from an approved supplier, appointed by the factory. They are all price capped, to keep the affordable for privateer teams.

In addition to concession parts, there is also a list of approved parts, including chassis and suspension parts, which are also price capped. These include swingarms, triple clamps, and a Superbike Kit ECU. The list, with prices, is below:

In addition to these approved parts, polished and ported cylinder heads must also be made available through the approved parts system. These, too, are price capped, at the retail price plus a premium which differs for each engine configuration: €3000 per cylinder head for an inline four, €1800 per cylinder head for a V4 (i.e. a total of €3600 plus the retail price), or €1200 per cylinder head for a V twin (i.e. a total of €2400 plus the retail price).

The approved parts and concession parts must be made available in time for the new season, to give all teams an equal chance to test the parts and integrate them into their own bikes. In addition, the team leading the development for each manufacturer (the so-called reference team, in most cases the factory-backed team) must make certain information about their development available to all privateer teams using the same bike. Changes to the frame, and the dimensions of inlet air funnels and exhausts, must also be passed on.

Why do this?

All in all, the changes being proposed are a radical shake-up of the technical regulations. The reason for doing so: the current domination by Kawasaki and Ducati has made for a sterile spectator experience. Of the 24 races held so far, 16 have been won by a Kawasaki, and 8 by a Ducati. Jonathan Rea has 14 wins, and Chaz Davies has 7 wins. Yamaha is the only other manufacturer to score podiums, with 5 shared between Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes.

The prime objective of these rules is to slow the Kawasakis and Ducatis down, especially the factory bikes of the KRT and Aruba.it Ducati teams. The rev limit will be the biggest lever which Dorna and the FIM can pull to achieve this, by reducing the revs the two manufacturers can use. It is a lever with a very direct effect, limiting the horsepower available to the best riders and best teams.

At the other end of the spectrum, the concession parts and approved parts list are aimed at helping the manufacturers and teams who are lagging behind to catch up. By ensuring that certain key performance parts are available to all teams at an affordable price, that makes it easier for privateer teams and slower manufacturers to compete.

What's in it for the factories?

What is interesting about these rules is that they have been adopted with the approval of the MSMA. Despite the fact that this will both hamstring their development and potentially restrict the advantage they have over each other and privateer teams, the factories must believe this is a step worth taking.

The reason they would be willing to accept this is that racing is still primarily a marketing exercise, rather than an exercise in R&D. It is imperative for the manufacturers that as many people as possible watch the racing, and the closer and more exciting the racing, the bigger the audience. Kawasaki may be utterly dominating WorldSBK, but the promotional value of the series is greater if Jonathan Rea wins half the races but twice as many people watch him do that.

What these changes will not do, of course, is provide a magic bullet to suddenly allow riders for the Pedercini or Ioda Racing teams to win races. The best riders will always end up with the best teams on the best bikes. These changes may make it much harder for Jonathan Rea and Chaz Davies to win races, but it won't stop them. However, if it means that at the end of 2018, Honda, MV Agusta, Aprilia, BMW have joined Kawasaki, Ducati, and Yamaha on the podium, it will all be worthwhile. Unfortunately, the only way to find out if it has worked is to wait until the end of 2018.

The draft version of the new regulations can be found on the FIM website. The key rule changes are shown below, while the press release giving a brief recap of the new rules appears below that.


MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship

Changes to the Regulations for 2018

The Superbike Commission composed of Messrs Gregorio Lavilla (WorldSBK Sporting Director), Rezsö Bulcsu (FIM CCR Director), Takanao Tsubouchi (MSMA Representative) in the presence of Messrs Daniel Carrera (WorldSBK Executive Director), Paul Duparc (FIM CCR Coordinator), Charles Hennekam (International Technical Commission Coordinator) and Scott Smart (FIM Technical Director) have announced the changes for the 2018 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship from an electronic meeting held on Tuesday 24 October 2017.

The 2018 regulations have been agreed following the consideration of multiple aspects of the Series. A detailed analysis was carried out in collaboration with teams, riders, and manufacturers, with particular focus to parity, affordability and competition.

As a result, the main changes of this analysis are detailed in the points below.

Technical Regulations

REV LIMIT

The balancing system using air restrictors has been replaced with a rev limiting system. The rev limit can be altered at various points throughout the season and applies to each individual manufacturer.

CONCESSIONS

A concession points system will be introduced to restrict engine development of the fastest machines. At certain stages in the season teams that have achieved fewer concession points will be allowed to introduce updated concession parts.

As a secondary benefit, the private teams will get access to cost capped engine parts to help them reach performance levels similar to the factory supported teams.

FRONT AND REAR SUSPENSIONS AND APPROVED ENGINE PARTS

Price caps and approval process have been applied to several key frame, suspension and engine parts. These are called approved parts. This process ensures access and availability to all parts for all teams along with controlled pricing.

The version of the Motul FIM Superbike World Championship regulations, which contain the detailed text changes are available on the FIM website HERE


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Aleix Espargaro Out Of Sepang With Broken Hand

Aleix Espargaro will not be racing at Sepang. The Spaniard broke a bone in his left hand when he crashed out of the MotoGP race in Phillip Island, and is to fly back to Barcelona for surgery. Aprilia will not replace Espargaro, his absence coming at too short notice to find a replacement rider in time.

Espargaro announced he would be missing Sepang with a post on his Instagram feed. The Spaniard expects to be fit in time for Valencia, as he confirmed himself on Twitter

Below is the official press release issued by Aprilia:

ALEIX ESPARGARÓ FORCED TO MISS THE GP OF MALAYSIA
THE SPANISH RIDER WILL UNDERGO SURGERY THURSDAY IN BARCELONA

Despite his great desire to get back on the track, the injury he suffered at Phillip Island will force Aleix Espargaró to miss the GP of Malaysia. The Spanish rider, who fell in the race as he was battling in the lead group, suffered a fracture to the fourth metacarpus of the left hand and he will undergo surgery on Thursday in Barcelona. The goal is to recover in time for the last race of the season in Valencia.

This is an unfortunate episode that occurred at a time when Aleix and his Aprilia RS-GP had been on a positive trend, demonstrating absolutely outstanding performance in recent rounds. The objective is Valencia, where Espargaró will set his sights on finishing an unquestionably positive season in the best possible way.

The Aprilia Racing Team Gresini will not replace Aleix in the Malaysian race.

ALEIX ESPARGARO'

"The idea after the injury was to avoid surgery and to try to race here in Malaysia. Unfortunately, the situation is forcing me to go back home for surgery so that I will be able to fully recover for Valencia. In agreement with Dr. Mir, we agreed to have the surgery done on Thursday in Barcelona. It was an unfortunate crash, but I am already focused on the last race of the season where I want to demonstrate the level that the Aprilia RS-GP and I have reached."

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Michael van der Mark To Replace Jonas Folger At Sepang

Michael van der Mark is to get his MotoGP chance after all. After missing out at Aragon, when he was called up to replace Valentino Rossi, but Rossi raced to a stunning 5th place, Van der Mark has been drafted in to replace Jonas Folger in the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team. Van der Mark will take Folger's place at the Sepang MotoGP race next weekend.

This may not be Van der Mark's only appearance on a MotoGP bike this season. Though Jonas Folger is still undergoing tests to diagnose his illness, the most probable explanation is a recurrence of the Epstein Barr virus, which he has had previously. Though very rare, the disease can sometimes flare up again years after first being caught. This makes it likely that Folger will also be forced to miss the final race of 2017 at Valencia, in which case Van der Mark would be the obvious choice to replace him.

Van der Mark's call up leaves the Dutchman with a very busy schedule. Having just completed the second race of the Spanish round of WorldSBK on Sunday, he must now make his way to Malaysia, for the MotoGP race at Sepang. After the Sepang race, he will then have to get on a plane to Qatar, for the last round of WorldSBK. From there, he will head home to Europe, but that trip could include a stopover at Valencia to fill in for Folger, if the German is absent at the final MotoGP round.

The press release from the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha MotoGP team appears below:


Van der Mark to ride for Monster Yamaha Tech3 at Sepang

World Superbike front-runner Michael van der Mark will jump on the Monster Yamaha Tech3 YZR-M1 to replace the recovering Jonas Folger at the Malaysian GP. The young Dutch rider rose through the ranks of the Superbike leagues before winning the World Supersport Championship in 2014. Some strong performances this year, including two podium finishes aboard the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team YZF-R1, leave the MotoGP paddock eager to see how Van der Mark will perform at the penultimate round of the 2017 World Championship.

Michael van der Mark

"It goes without saying that I am really excited. I came quite close to getting the opportunity to ride a MotoGP bike a few weeks ago, but it didn’t work out. Then Hervé called, and although I will have a busy schedule, I could not say no to this chance. I am very happy and I look forward to this adventure. Luckily, I know Sepang, but the MotoGP riders have done a lot of tests there this year, so everyone will be fast. However, I just want to enjoy this weekend, to improve myself and see how it is to ride the YZR-M1. At the moment we have some good momentum in World Superbikes so I think it is the perfect time to jump on the Yamaha. I look forward to riding the bike and I want to thank Hervé and Yamaha for this opportunity."

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Michelin Extends MotoGP Tire Deal Until 2023

At the MotoGP round for which they are title sponsor, Michelin announced they have extended their contract as official tire supplier to MotoGP for a further five years. The French tire manufacturer will continue to be the sole tire supplier until the end of the 2023 season.

The news did not come as a surprise. Dorna have made no secret of how happy they have been with the job Michelin have done for them, in helping to make the MotoGP series a much closer and exciting championship. During the press conference held to announce the deal, Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta lauded the fact that there had been nine race winners in 2016, saying "this is a championship of bikes and of riders". Ezpeleta added "We are happy Michelin has helped the competitiveness of the championship." 

Extending the contract with Michelin brings stability to the championship, something the factories have been keen to maintain, as it allows them to focus their development on making the tires work with their bikes without worrying that tires would change if a new manufacturer came into the series. Dorna was particularly pleased with the way Michelin had responded to problems and to requests from the riders and from Dorna, Ezpeleta said. Ezpeleta noted the expansion of the allocation from two to three rear tire compounds as an example.

For Michelin, the extension of five years was a welcome show of confidence from Dorna. The French tire manufacturer sees many benefits from racing. In the press conference, Director of Michelin Motorsport Pascal Couasnon explained their motives for going racing. "We race for two main things," Couasnon said. "Obviously, the association of racing with the brand is important. But technical improvement is also important. When you race, you are in extreme conditions and you learn quite a lot. Learning about grip, learning about constant performance with longevity are key areas which we want to transfer very quickly."

Those technical developments were one of the reasons Michelin had asked Dorna to switch to 17-inch tires when they took over from Bridgestone as official tire supplier. Asked for examples, Nicolas Goubert, Michelin Racing Technical Director cited research into compounds which was starting to make its way into production slicks. "Compound technology developed here is going into a range of commercial slicks available from next year," he said. "Some of those were available at the Bol d'Or this year. But have to wait a bit longer for real production tires."

Technology transfer is one of the reasons Michelin had no interest in providing qualifiers, Goubert explained. "We do racing to develop technology for the production tires. That's one of the reasons we asked Carmelo to go to 17-inch tires, to be able to transfer technology very easily. We made the point at the beginning of the season, when Carmelo's team asked us to bring more tire specifications especially on the rear, to make sure we would not bring a tire only made for qualification. So we made sure that all three specs could do the race with at least a few riders. This is what's happening, and it's what has made the racing closer in some cases. If we go to qualification tires, we go far away from technology you use on the street. So it's not within our objective to come back to that."

It was also a question of budget, Pascal Couasnon added. "At the end, you have a budget, which is signification but reasonable. What we want to do is use that money for something very useful. So we prefer to use that to bring a third a spec for the rear than to bring a qualifying tire. Because we believe that's more useful to give an opportunity to as many riders as possible to win."

There have also been problems with the Michelin tires, especially with respect to quality control. Riders have consistently complained that two tires with the same specification can feel different when they get out on track. Riders have also regularly referred to hoping to be lucky in getting a 'good' tire when it comes to race day. Identifying the precise cause of a problem can be difficult. With tires which are so supremely sensitive to temperature, even small changes in handling can have a big effect. The way tire warmers are used, the amount of time a tire is left uncovered in the pits, riders riding slowly on sections on the track can have an effect. 

Temperature sensitivity is an issue, but for the first time, both Michelin and Dorna acknowledged their had been problems with the consistency of the tires. Carmelo Ezpeleta named quality control as the main focus for Dorna and Michelin going forward. In response to a question about quality control, Nicolas Goubert went into some detail on the issue. 

"Quality is key in racing, and it's key for production tires as well," Goubert told the press conference. "It's part of the Michelin image to be able to provide high quality tires at very high standards. And of course we are doing everything to deliver the same here. As was mentioned, the technical challenge was very high to come back here and I think after two years we made tremendous improvement. Most of the teams now are asking for stability for the type of tires we bring, but as Carmelo pointed out, we still have some work to do in terms of quality issues. We've improved a lot compared to one-and-a-half years ago, but sometimes today we still have some criticism or requests from the riders, saying that the performance of such-and-such tires are not the same. Sometimes it's not always true, but sometimes it is true, so we have to make everything possible to find out where it comes from and to stop it from happening again. We're working very hard with the factories to control that and make sure that everything single tire of the same specification offers the same performance for the riders."

Michelin was focusing on the details of the production and handling process in an attempt to eliminate the differences, Goubert explained. "Fine tuning the process, making sure that every component is exactly the same, that everything is done in the same way, basically putting everything we can under control," he said.   

Below is the press release issued by Dorna announcing the contract extension with Michelin:


Michelin confirmed as MotoGP tyre supplier until 2023

Contract extension confirms the French firm will continue as official, sole tyre supplier of the premier class from 2019-2023

Dorna Sports is delighted to announce a contract extension with Michelin that will see the French marque continue as the sole, official tyre supplier to MotoGP™ until at least 2023. The five-year agreement, covering the 2019 to 2023 seasons, is announced at the Michelin® Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Phillip Island, Victoria, as the countdown continues to the grand finale of another stunning season of racing action.

Michelin, based in Clermont-Ferrand in France, joined MotoGP™ as sole supplier in 2016. Since then, the premier class has enjoyed two of the most spectacular seasons in the 69-year history of motorcycle Grand Prix racing - something both parties are delighted to extend for a further five years. As part of the agreement, the Michelin brand will also continue to be featured trackside at each event – and will be the title sponsor of a Grand Prix. The Michelin® Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix in 2017 makes the perfect stage from which to announce this contract as MotoGP™ prepares to take on the fabled Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit in another classic encounter.

Pascal Couasnon, Director of Michelin Motorsport: “After two seasons that have seen tyre performance and strategy make a real contribution to the show delivered by motorcycle racing’s premier series, DORNA Sports has decided to extend its collaboration with Michelin as technical partner and exclusive tyre supplier to MotoGP™ for five more years. We are naturally delighted to have earned the confidence of Carmelo Ezpeleta and his team. Michelin intends to use its continuing association with DORNA Sports to continue developing ever-safer and more competitive racing tyres, as well as innovations that will go on to benefit our road tyres. Michelin is also delighted to continue working with the teams and riders who gave us such a warm welcome back after our absence from the championship and also to be able to build on the sense of pride felt by our staff following our successful return to MotoGP.”

Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO Dorna Sports: “I am delighted that MotoGP and Michelin will continue their collaboration for a further five years. MotoGP has only continued to grow, excite and thrill fans since Michelin came on board as sole tyre supplier in 2016, and we are proud that our partnership will once again form the foundations of a further five years of stunning racing. This is fantastic news for the Championship, teams and riders as we look to the future.”

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Andrew Gosling's Friday Photos From Phillip Island


Not a happy Doctor at the Island


KTM bullish on prospects in Moto2


Jack is back, after just 20 days


Maverick Viñales, happier than his teammate on Friday


Ducati's winglets helped turn Jorge Lorenzo's season around, but they haven't worked so far at Phillip Island


Upmarket workplace for lease, seven figure annual rent


Nick Harris, the voice of MotoGP for a generation or more


Romano Fenati nearly highsided himself to the moon this morning. Fortunately, he is made of rubber


What Andrea Dovizioso doesn't want to be looking at on Sunday


Coming off the back of a good result at Motegi, Andrea Iannone is of to a flying start in Australia


Watching in the pits can be more painful than actually riding the bike


Mirko and Freddie, snappers to the MotoGP stars, and stars in their own right


Honda, producer of fine-looking rear ends for 71 years


Food for thought


Cal Crutchlow won here last year. This year? It's going to be tough


If you'd like to have desktop-sized versions of the fantastic photos we feature on the site, you can become a site supporter and take out a subscription. If you'd like a print of one of Andrew Gosling's shots, then send Andrew an email and he'll be happy to help.

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Grand Prix Commission Restricts MotoGP Testing From 2018

MotoGP testing is to be further restricted from next season. At the meeting in Motegi of the Grand Prix Commission, MotoGP's rule-making body, the teams, factories, FIM, and Dorna agreed to limit the amount of testing which can be done next year and in 2019.

The 2018 testing season will look largely familiar, with a two-day test at Valencia on Tuesday and Wednesday after the race, then three three-day tests at Sepang, Thailand, and Qatar ahead of the start of the MotoGP season, and one-day tests after three of the European rounds (Jerez, Barcelona, Brno). In 2019, the number of preseason tests will be reduced, with testing taking place only at Sepang and Qatar before the start of the season.

Teams still have five days of private testing, but in a bid to switch the aims of testing from preparing for a race to actually developing their motorcycles, fewer tests will be allowed before a race. In 2018, teams will be allowed to use three of their five days at circuits before the race has happened there, while the other two days may only be used after the race has been held.

In 2019, the teams will have to use two of their private test days in November, after the last race of the season. The remaining three days can be used at any time during the season. As is now the case, no private testing is allowed at a track within 14 days of the race being held there. 

The reason for the testing changes is to restrict the advantage factory teams were gaining preparing for the races. Private teams often don't have the resources to use the full five days of private testing, but factory teams have been testing ahead of races to prepare the ground and get a jump on setup for the event. There have been numerous examples: Ducati at Barcelona and Misano, and Honda at Brno and Misano, among others.

For manufacturers with concessions - that is, new manufacturers and manufacturers which have not scored a podium in 2017 - they will retain the right to unlimited testing.

The GPC also reduced the number of wildcards. From 2018, factories will be limited to a maximum of three wildcards each season. Factories with concessions will be restricted to a maximum of six wildcards. What this means in practice is that Michele Pirro will only be able to race for Ducati at three events in 2018, while Mika Kallio will be able to participate in six races next year. Only three engines will be available to wildcard entries for the entire season.

The GPC finalized a few other details. The use of air bags is to be made compulsory from 2018 for all riders, as had previously been agreed. And Moto2 chassis manufacturers were granted 10 days of testing with the new Triumph Moto2 engine to be used in the class from 2019.

The FIM press release containing the decisions of the Grand Prix Commission appears below:


FIM Grand Prix World Championship
Decisions of the Grand Prix Commission

The Grand Prix Commission, composed of Messrs. Carmelo Ezpeleta (Dorna, Chairman), Paul Duparc (FIM), Herve Poncharal (IRTA) and Takanao Tsubouchi (MSMA), in the presence of Carlos Ezpeleta (Dorna), Mike Trimby (IRTA, Secretary of the meeting) and Corrado Cecchinelli (Director of Technology), in a meeting held in Motegi on 14 October 2017, made the following decisions:

Technical Regulations

Effective Season 2018

Airbag Systems

All rider’s race suits must be fitted with an Airbag system designed with the purpose of minimising injuries. The technical specifications of the systems and the testing methods were also approved.

Moto2 Testing with Triumph Engines

Each manufacturer of Moto2 chassis who is supplying teams in the 2018 season may test chassis fitted with Triumph engines for a maximum of ten days per manufacturer. Testing may be conducted using any rider and the number of riders who may participate on each test day is not limited.

MotoGP Class Wild Card Machines

Each wild card entry is restricted to the use of three engines for their exclusive use. The technical specifications of the engine, ECU hardware, other electronics. etc., must be as those for the manufacturer of the machine.

Sporting Regulations

MotoGP Class Testing Restrictions – Effective Season 2018

Current arrangements for official tests are unchanged being a two day test after Valencia, three of three days tests at the beginning of 2018 at circuits outside of Europe and three, one day tests on Mondays after events.

Teams are restricted to five days of private tests with their contracted riders. After the winter test ban period only three days of testing are permitted prior to events and other tests can only take place on a circuit where the event has already taken place. No testing can take place within 14 days of the event at the same circuit.

No testing with contracted riders is permitted in the “summer break”. In 2018 this means between Monday 16 July and Thursday 02 August.

Test teams of Manufacturers may nominate three current Grand Prix circuits at which they may test at any time except within 14 days of the event at that circuit. They may also test during the three days preceding the first official test after the winter test ban period. Such teams may also participate at all official tests.

MotoGP Class Testing Restrictions – Effective Season 2019

Regulations will be as per season 2018 above with the following changes:

The number of official, three day tests outside of Europe is reduced to two. Teams will continue to be restricted to five days of private tests with their contracted riders. However, at least two days of private testing must take place between the last event of the season and 30 November. Remaining tests can take place at any time but not within 14 days of the event at the same circuit.

Wild Card Entries in the MotoGP Class – effective Season 2018

Each Manufacturer is permitted to enter a maximum of three wild cards per season. With the exception that Manufacturers who benefit from concessions are permitted to enter a maximum of six wild card entries per season. Entries from any single Manufacturer cannot be at consecutive events.

A regularly updated version of the FIM Grand Prix Regulations which contains the detailed text of the regulation changes may be viewed shortly on:

http://www.fim-live.com/en/sport/regulations-and-documents/grand-prix/

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Broc Parkes To Replace Jonas Folger at Tech 3 For Phillip Island MotoGP Round

Broc Parkes is to step in to replace the still ill Jonas Folger in the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team at Phillip Island. The Australian veteran is already part of the Yamaha family, riding for the manufacturer-backed YART World Endurance team. 

Parkes is an obvious choice, being both Australian and having previous MotoGP experience. Parkes previously rode for the PBM team in 2014, when he was teammates with Michael Laverty aboard Aprilia-based ART machines.

There is still no news on when Folger will make a return to MotoGP, as the team has not yet released any information on a diagnosis of his illness. Folger is suspected of having suffered a relapse of the Epstein Barr virus, and if that is correct, that would put him out for an extended period of time, and possibly meaning he would miss the rest of the season. If that happens, Tech 3 will have to make a decision on who would replace Folger for the last two races of the season, at Sepang and Valencia.

Below is the press release from the Tech 3 team announcing Broc Parkes as a replacement:


Broc Parkes to join Tech3 for Australian Grand Prix

Experienced Australian rider Broc Parkes will fill in for the recovering Jonas Folger in front of his home crowd this weekend at Phillip Island. Folger returned to his native Germany before the Japanese Grand Prix to undertake blood tests for the suspected Epstein Barr virus. Monster Yamaha Tech3 would like to welcome Parkes, who has previously competed in MotoGP in 2014 and who has achieved success in the World Superbike and Supersport leagues. The Australian ace is also a competitive front-runner in the FIM Endurance World Championship for the Yamaha Austria Racing Team having picked up four podiums in fifteen races.

Broc Parkes

"Of course, I would like to thank the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team for giving me the amazing opportunity to race at my home Grand Prix in front of all of my supporters, fans and family. I am really looking forward to getting on the Yamaha YZR-M1 at Phillip Island and giving it my all!"

 

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Sylvain Guintoli, Ant West To Race In Jerez

The WorldSBK grid at Jerez will be full of replacement riders, as injury takes its toll, not just on the regular riders, but also on possible replacements. Sylvain Guintoli is to step in and replace the still injured and departing Randy Krummenacher in the Kawasaki Puccetti team for the rest of the season, the Swiss rider having previously fractured his wrist. Guintoli will ride for the Puccetti team in both the remaining rounds this year, at Jerez and at Qatar.

The replacement ride is also something of an audition. Guintoli and Puccetti are believed to still be negotiating over a possibility the Frenchman could ride for them in 2018 in WorldSBK.

There is a replacement in Puccetti's WorldSSP team as well. With Kenan Sofuoglu almost certain to miss Jerez and Qatar, Ant West will be riding one of the Puccetti bikes. Leon Haslam had originally been scheduled to race Sofuoglu's bike, but the Englishman fractured an ankle in a major crash in the final race of the BSB championship at Brands Hatch this weekend. 

Below are the press releases announcing the changes:


Guintoli Joins Kawasaki Puccetti For Final WorldSBK Rounds

2014 FIM Superbike World Champion Sylvain Guintoli will join the Kawasaki Puccetti Racing Team for the final two rounds of the 2017 WorldSBK season, starting this coming weekend at Jerez de la Frontera in Spain.

Having just completed a season in the British Superbike Championship the French rider has decided to make his return into the WorldSBK paddock with the Reggio Emilia based Kawasaki Puccetti Racing squad.

Guintoli, who rode for many years in both 250cc Grands Prix and MotoGP, before winning nine WorldSBK races and subsequently the title itself, will make his comeback on two track layouts – Jerez and Losail - that he knows very well. This will also be his first ever experience riding a Kawasaki machine in WorldSBK.

Sylvain Guintoli, stated: “I am very happy to be back in the FIM Superbike World Championship for the last two rounds of the season. Jerez and Doha are fantastic race tracks and I have many memories related to these layouts. I can’t wait to try the ZX-10RR machine and I would like to thank both Manuel and Kawasaki for this great opportunity.”

Manuel Puccetti, Team Principal, stated: “We are really happy to have a top rider as Sylvain on our bike for the final stages of the season. Guintoli is a strong rider with a great experience as he was riding in MotoGP for many years. We hope that the team will grow even more thanks to his work.”


All Change For Penultimate WorldSSP Round

The Jerez de la Frontera round of the 2017 WorldSSP championship takes place this coming weekend in southern Spain with five-times World Champion Kenan Sofuoglu ruled out of the action through injury. There will be a new line-up of official Kawasaki Puccetti Racing WorldSSP riders in Spain, with Axel Bassani and Anthony West competing for the Italian based team.

Despite a hip injury sustained in a crash during Superpole at the previous round in France, Kenan Sofuoglu still aims to return racing in 2017. The condition of the Turkish rider, who went back to his home country directly after his accident, is constantly improving, but it remains to be seen if he will be able to come back to action for the final round of the year in Qatar.

The 2016 European WorldSSP Champion Axel Bassani will replace Sofuoglu at Jerez. After a positive seventh place at Misano earlier in the year, riding on board Michael Canducci’s Kawasaki ZX-6R machine, the Italian rider aims to complete the Spanish round with a strong performance to help win the 2017 Teams’ title for Kawasaki Puccetti. Alongside Bassani, Australian rider Anthony West will ride in the WorldSSP class this weekend.

On the completion of the Jerez round the championship finale will be held on Saturday 4th November, at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar.

Axel Bassani, stated: “I am really happy to be able to get back racing! I was waiting for a similar chance for months and finally it arrived. I will give my best to replace the world champion. Now I will focus only on the race weekend.”

Manuel Puccetti stated: “In WorldSSP the Riders’ title seems already impossible to win, but we won’t give up on the Teams’ title. Canducci, Bassani and West will try to get into the top 5 this weekend.”

Michael Canducci (3570 Puccetti Racing FMI Kawasaki) will start his Spanish weekend sitting 15th in the championship table, Kazuki Watanabe (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven) is currently in 18th place.

Part-time ESS rider Rob Hartog (Team Hartog Jenik Against Cancer Kawasaki) sits 20th, Gino Rea (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven) is still 21st and series regular Nacho Calero (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) starts his home round in 27th place.

Lachlan Epis (Response RE Racing Kawasaki) is on the same points score as Calero, in 28th place, while Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) remains 34th.


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Dominique Aegerter Stripped Of Misano Win For Use Of Illegal Oil

Dominique Aegerter has been stripped of his victory in the Misano Moto2 race for use of illegal engine oil. The oil was sent for testing directly after the Misano race, and found to be in contravention of the rules, which mandate the use of oil from the official supplier to Moto2, LIQUI MOLY.

Aegerter and the Kiefer Racing team were notified of the violation at the Aragon round, and immediately asked for the B sample (the second sample taken to rule out contamination or mistakes) to be examined. That was done between Aragon and Motegi, and the same result was found. At Motegi, the FIM Panel of Stewards confirmed the penalty. The Kiefer team maintain their innocence, and issued a press release denying any wrongdoing, but accepting the ruling, and waiving their right of appeal. 

The delay in finalizing the punishment is due to the process required to establish the facts of such an offense. The oil samples have to be sent to labs for testing, and the findings of that analysis presented to the team and the rider at a hearing. Given that riders, teams, and FIM Stewards are scheduled to be in the same place every race weekend, such hearings are normally held at race events. That means there can be several weeks in between an infringement and a penalty being imposed for such an infringement. 

Though Kiefer insists they used the official oil, there are incentives for a team to risk using illegal oil. In a series with a spec engine, where engines are carefully assembled and checked to ensure they all produce as close to the same horsepower as possible, marginal gains can count. Using a thinner oil or oil with special additives can extract one or two more horsepower from the engine, and give the team that uses it a slim advantage. 

Speaking to German-language website Speedweek, Suter boss Eskil Suter dismissed the idea that Kiefer would have used an illegal oil as "ridiculous". Suter told Speedweek he believes it must be a faulty analysis. In response to the fact that the B sample was also found to be illegal, Suter said he believed there are alternative pathways to contamination. It could, he said, be that oil used to prepare the clutch plates could have contaminated Aegerter's engine oil. The fact that this is the second time this year that a rider has been found guilty of using an ilegal oil - Mattia Pasini was stripped of his second place at Barcelona for the same offense - suggests to Suter that that, too, was a faulty analysis.

The penalty imposed, disqualification from the Misano round of Moto2 and stripping Aegerter of the 25 points he earned there, will have a small but not insignificant effect on the Moto2 championship. With Aegerter disqualified, Tom Luthi has been handed the win, and an extra 5 points. As Franco Morbidelli did not score any points at Misano, the Italian's lead in the Moto2 championship is cut from 24 to 19 points. With just three races left to go, that could end up being a decisive factor in the title chase.

Aegerter's disqualification has few other effects in the championship, other than for himself. His points tally is cut from 99 points to just 74, and he drops from eighth in the championship down to eleventh, behind Xavi Vierge. Dorna and the FIM have yet to release an officially revised championship points table, but will surely do so shortly.

Below is the FIM Stewards Panel press release confirming the punishment, and below that, Kiefer's press release refuting the allegations but accepting the ruling.


FIM MotoGP Stewards Panel
NOTIFICATION OF SANCTION

To: The Team of Dominique AEGERTER, Rider No. 77 of the Moto2 Class.

Dear Sir,

According to Article 3.5.5 of the FIM World Championship Grand Prix Regulations, we confirm our decision.

Motive

On 9 September 2017 at post qualifying technical control after the Moto2 Qualifying Practice of the GRAN PREMIO TRIBUL MASTERCARD DI SAN MARINO E DELLA RIVIERA DI RIMINI, you were found to be using an oil outside the FIM Moto2 specifications.

This contravenes the Article 2.5.5.1.3b of the FIM World Championship Grand Prix Regulations “Only engine oil from the appointed oil supplier is permitted. This oil will be available at all official events and will conform to the FIM Grand Prix specification for the relevant class. The use of the official oil without any addition or alteration is mandatory.

Convocation

You were summoned to attend a hearing with the FIM MotoGP Stewards Panel during the GRAN PREMIO MOVISTAR DE ARAGON. You attended the hearing and acknowledged the facts presented and elected to have the B Sample tested.

The B sample test results were received, showing the same results as the A sample, with both samples failing to comply with the regulations. You were subsequently summoned to attend a hearing with the FIM MotoGP Stewards Panel during the MOTUL GRAND PRIX OF JAPAN. You attended the hearing and acknowledged the facts presented.

Sanction

For the above reasons, the FIM MotoGP Stewards Panel has imposed upon you a disqualification from the results of the entire event, being the Moto2 class Qualifying and Race of the GRAN PREMIO TRIBUL MASTERCARD DI SAN MARINO E DELLA RIVIERA DI RIMINI according to Article 3.2.1 of the FIM World Championship Grand Prix Disciplinary and Arbitration Code.

Right of Appeal

According to Articles 3.4.2, 3.4.6, and 3.4.7 of the FIM World Championship Grand Prix Regulations, you have the right to appeal against this decision of the MotoGP Stewards Panel to the FIM Appeal Stewards. A statement of appeal must be made within 30 minutes from the date and time of this notification, and accompanied by a security deposit of €1320. The appeal can be lodged with IRTA who may also arrange for guarantee of the security deposit payment.

Sincerely,

FIM MotoGP Stewards Panel


Official statement on the allegation of non-compliance at the Misano Grand Prix 2017

In a technical control at the Misano Grand Prix, an oil sample was taken from the motorcycle of race winner Dominique Aegerter.

In the analysis of this oil sample, irregularities were found and later confirmed with the B sample.

According to technical regulations, this means the disqualification in the Misano race. As a result, the victory of Dominique Aegerter and Kiefer Racing at this Grand Prix has been revoked.

Kiefer Racing has no other choice than to accept this decision, since the same irregularity occurred in both the tests. However, this irregularity remains an inexplicable mystery to the team management and the engineers in Aegerter’s crew. Kiefer Racing has evidently used engine oil according to the FIM Moto2 specifications and declares categorically that no additives whatsoever have been used.

The FIM's decision is devastating for Kiefer Racing. We have to accept this ruling, but we strongly deny any wrongdoing.

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Jonas Folger To Miss Motegi And Possibly More Due To Illness

Jonas Folger has been forced to pull out of the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi, and may be absent for the remainder of the overseas triple header as well. The German has been taken ill with what could potentially be a recurrence of Epstein Bar, which he suffered from previously. Japanese test rider Kohta Nozane is to replace him in the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team for the Motegi round at least.

Folger was taken ill on his travels to Japan, suffering from a complete lack of energy, forcing him to miss a number of official Yamaha events. He had hoped that some rest would mean he was strong enough to race at Motegi, but rest has not helped. After consultation with Dr. Charte, the medical officer for MotoGP, the decision was taken to fly back to Germany for further tests to try to pin down the cause of Folger's problems. The first check to be carried out will be for Epstein Barr, which Folger has had previously, and which can flare up again in some rare cases.

The Tech 3 team was lucky in some respects that Folger was taken ill at Motegi. Yamaha's young Japanese test rider Kohta Nozane was going to be present at the Japanese round of MotoGP anyway, and this presents a perfect opportunity for him to get some time on a MotoGP bike on a race weekend. Nozane is already familiar with the bike, having tested it at Sepang earlier this year.

Whether Nozane will continue on the bike, if Folger is not fit enough to return at Phillip Island, remains to be seen. The next round of the All-Japan Superbike championship is not until 5th November, meaning that Nozane will be free for both Phillip Island and Sepang. Yamaha's WorldSBK riders Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark will be busy next weekend, racing at the penultimate round of the WorldSBK championship in Jerez, which clashes with Phillip Island.

Below are the press releases from the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team announcing Folger's withdrawal and Nozane as a replacement:


Folger forced to withdraw from forthcoming MotoGP action

Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team rider Jonas Folger will sit out the Japanese Grand Prix and return immediately to his native Germany for medical checks. The Clinica Mobile medical staff examined Folger today and recommended that he undertake further tests in Munich, with his participation in the next two rounds being doubtful. The entire team would like to wish Jonas a swift and full recovery.

Jonas Folger
Championship: 10th - Points: 84

"I came to Japan and was motivated for these three flyaway races, but I’ve been feeling really weak since the Misano and Aragon rounds. On arrival here, I have been struggling with my energy levels, even leaving the hotel room was impossible for me, and unfortunately, I had to miss some Yamaha events, which I’m very sorry for. I met with Hervé on Wednesday night and we agreed to go for a check with the doctors this morning. I met with Dr Charte and the Clinica Mobile team and they have advised me to return to Germany right away for a series of blood tests. I’ve had Epstein Barr virus in the past and it’s a possibility that this has flared up again and resurfaced, but we can’t be sure until I’ve had these tests in Munich. I’m really sorry for my whole team and Yamaha at their home race and would like to thank them for all their support. Also sorry to my personal sponsors, I appreciate them all standing by me at this difficult time. Now we must remain positive and aim to come back stronger."

Hervé PONCHARAL
Team manager

“The very sad news for the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team is that Jonas Folger will fly home to Germany tonight and he will not compete in the Japanese GP. He has a disease but we don’t know exactly what it is, however, Jonas has been checked by Dr Charte, the MotoGP World Championship doctor, who confirmed that he is very weak and that this condition has lasted for several weeks. If there is anything good about this situation, it is that we now know why he has been so weak since the summer break. The more he trained, the worse he felt, and the peak of the problem was on Tuesday and Wednesday where he had to stay in bed because he couldn’t even walk and he unfortunately had to miss the Yamaha promotion activities. For sure he will miss this round, but we don’t want to start guessing as to when our rider will return. When Jonas gets back to Munich he will have a thorough check in the hospital as recommended by Dr Charte, and we will know more then. The entire Tech3 team wishes him a swift recovery and we all need Jonas back with us but at the moment there is not much that we can say or do. He will not start this race and it’s 99% certain that he will not participate in the Australian round. More news will come, but for now, we just want to express our sadness and wish him a speedy recovery. We all know that he is a top rider when he is on top form.”


Nozane to replace Folger at Japanese Grand Prix

Local hero Kohta Nozane will step in for the absent Jonas Folger this weekend at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan. Folger will fly home today in order to undertake more medical checks and his seat will be filled by Nozane, who made his Grand Prix debut as a 16-year-old in the 2012 Japanese Moto2 race as a wildcard. He won the Japanese GP2 class one year later and for the past few seasons, he has competed in the JSB1000 Championship where he has produced some highly impressive results. In addition, he has also notably battled for Yamaha in the World Endurance Championship. The Monster Yamaha Tech3 team would like to welcome Nozane, and would also like to wish Jonas Folger a speedy recovery.

Kohta Nozane

"This is big surprise for me! I still can’t believe that I will ride at the Grand Prix of Japan. Motegi is my favourite circuit, and I have ridden the YZR-M1 with Michelin tyres here before as a Yamaha test rider. It will be an honour to ride on home soil like a MotoGP rider. I would like to thank Yamaha and Monster Yamaha Tech3 for giving me this opportunity."

Hervé PONCHARAL
Team manager

“After the very sad and disappointing news that Jonas Folger can not take part in the Japanese Grand Prix, I am pleased to say that the #94 side of the garage will be racing this weekend. We are proud to announce that Kohta Nozane will compete for us here. He is a really important rider for Yamaha Motor Company and has raced in many different championships, including the World Endurance Championship. When we knew that Jonas was going to have to withdraw from this GP, we talked with Yamaha and it made perfect sense to choose Nozane. He knows Motegi quite well and I think he won a race here this year in the Japanese Superbike Championship. He tested the M1 in January, which will clearly be a big help for him to show what he can do. We don’t expect too much because this is one shot and he doesn’t have MotoGP experience. However, one thing that will be interesting is his mentor, Nakasuga, who is a wildcard on another YZR-M1 and I’m sure they will be happy to compete against each other. We are pleased to have found the possibility for two riders to race for Tech3 this weekend. We don’t want to put any pressure on Nozane, but we just want to thank him, YMC, Mr Tsuji and Mr Tsuya, who have helped us tremendously to have this opportunity. We hope that we can give Nozane a good experience, which will help him grow as a racer and hopefully as a MotoGP rider in the near future. Lets see what happens, but the weather forecast does not look so good as there will certainly be sure rain during the weekend. Nevertheless, I want to say thanks and welcome him to our team.”


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