Two Races Per Engine From Indy Onwards

The proposals on the table aimed at cutting costs in MotoGP are pretty well known now, and have been discussed here several times. It looks increasingly likely that practice and testing will be reduced this year, with more drastic measures, including engines having to last for at least two races and only allowing the riders to have one bike instead of two.

But it looks like the MSMA feels the situation is more desparate than at first thought. Motorcycle News is reporting that the regulations enforcing extended engine life will be introduced ahead of schedule, as early as the Indianapolis Grand Prix at the end of August. Other measures MCN is reporting to be adopted include the dropping of the Friday morning free practice session, the reduction of the other sessions to 45 minutes instead of an hour, and the dropping of most of the post-race tests in Europe.

One question mark hanging over the introduction of the extended engine life is the penalty for breaking it. Two suggestions had been put forward to deal with this: having points deducted or being put to the back of the grid. MCN does not report what punishment has been decided on, but both are problematic. Manufacturers seem unlikely to accept a points reduction, but being put to the back of the grid encourages gaming the system. If the power advantage is great enough for an engine lasting one race, then it might be worth taking the penalty and gambling on being able to fight your way forward through the field. Also, with only 17 bikes on the grid, if all of the factory bikes break the rule, then the rider who qualified fastest would find himself back on the 3rd row, instead of the back row.

And although extended engine life will allow savings on maintenance, something that will benefit the satellite teams, there will be a lot of pressure on racing departments inside the manufacturers to squeeze the same amount of horsepower out of an engine with greater reliability, which will inevitably involve an increase in R&D spending. The question of whether this will be more or less than the amount saved on maintenance remains unanswered.

One thing is clear, though. Big changes are coming to MotoGP. And with such big changes on hand, these measures have to succeed in actually cutting costs. If they don't then the next step - and the future of MotoGP - are anyone's guess.

 

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Comments

I will keep working on new ways to say the same thing I've been saying...  Eliminating practice will diminish the riders' abilities. 

Picture this Sepang test, after so much time away from their bikes, one day shorter.  That's how much the riders will not improve (meaning:  they won't be comfortable on their bikes).  Then picture this test being gone altogether and the riders show up at Losail for 1 practice session before Qualifying to begin the season!

Practice is how people improve their craft (especially in sports).  So, this is a tacit admission that improvement is a bad thing?

I hope things work out and the spectacle does not change. It's odd to wonder what the situation would be like with a stronger FIM position or leader like Max Mosley. Very odd.

I completely agree with you. There is no need to cut down on practice. Not only does it make it harder for the riders, it also lessens the 'show' for the spectators who have become used to watching practice on Fridays.

However, if they are going to a system similar to Formula 1 how about they do the same with Friday practice, which allows teams to use a different engine just for Friday practice. Overnight they would swap out the engine to that of their race and qualifying engine and use it for the remainder of the weekend.

Surely all this talk by us is useless without knowing how race costs are structured. Where do the largest costs come from? Would stopping a 1hr free practice save any money and if so, is the money significant. I can see a problem where the FP is lost, then the rider falls aiming for a good QP time.

"Where do the largest costs come from?"  Payroll:  engineers, mechanics, technicians, programmers, and sometimes even the rider.  The equipment costs a lot, too.

With the spectre of the teams cutting down to one bike and the riders getting no practice time to become familar with that bike (never mind make improvements), will riders risk a crash, or just motor around well short of their limits?

So, if the majority of costs are down to payroll, would it be possible to limit the number of people working in the team? That way you don't neccesarily need to ban electronics, or limit engine hours or revs, as the 'budget' will be set according to what the team can acheive with limited personel .... probably impossible to police though.

As you say, it would be impossible to police. After all, how do you count the people working on the team? How about all the people back at HRC or YRC working on developing the bikes? What if you lease your trucks together with a driver: who does the driver work for? What about hospitality and catering, do the staff there work for the team, or for the company contracted to do the catering? It's too easy to get around all of these limitations, though the idea behind limiting staff is sound.