The FIM, the governing body of international motorcycle racing, today announced changes to the technical regulations for the MotoGP series. The changes are numerous, if mostly rather minor, and covered tires, seat units, and cylinder bores, together with a host of minor clean ups and clarifications.
The biggest change concerns tire testing, and is aimed at further reducing the sky high costs which developing tires for MotoGP seem to entail. The text, which is a clarification of the new tire regulations released in October, allows MotoGP tire manufacturers to test for up to four whole days using MotoGP machines at a Grand Prix track selected by the teams before the season starts. However, the amended text seems to create some ambiguity in testing. The text reads:
Tyre manufacturers that supply tyres to the MotoGP class may, prior to the first event of each year, designate and inform the Race Direction of one Grand Prix circuit as their testing circuit at which they may practice during the season and during the breaks with MotoGP class machines during a maximum of 4 days or part thereof, but not with riders designated by teams and not prior to the event that takes place at that circuit.
This would seem to leave a loophole open for teams to test on non-MotoGP machines (such as 1000cc superbikes) at tracks as long and as often as they like. That is surely not the FIM's intention, but this is a loophole that is likely to be explored in some detail.
Another clarification was an amendment to the ban on oval pistons, instated after Honda's brilliant but ill-fated NR500 machine used oval pistons - or rather, pistons shaped like a tin of Spam. The rules originally just stated that oval pistons were banned, without defining exactly what oval meant. Now, the Grand Prix Commission has stated that pistons must be more or less circular, defining circular as the diameter of the piston between any two given points being within 5% of the diameter of any other two points.
One clarification included in the rule changes is meant to settle a dispute which had arisen earlier this year, over the legality of the Ducati GP7's tail section. The rules have been amended to make it clearer how to measure the amount by which the tail unit may protrude above the seat, and that only the tail hump is to be counted, and not equipment such as TV cameras.
The final major change is to the rules governing entry into the pits. If a rider rides a bike into the pit garage, this machine must will now be regarded as retired, and the machine may not be used again in during the race. If riders enter the pits with the intention of going back out again, they must remain outside the garage, and if the machine is to be fixed, the mechanics must fix it in pit lane.