Decision On MotoGP Engine Leasing Expected At Indianapolis GP

The radical drop in the size of the MotoGP grid has everyone inside MotoGP worried. First Kawasaki officially withdrew, leaving only Marco Melandri on the Hayate in the class, then Grupo Francisco Hernando pulled out of sponsoring Sete Gibernau's GFH team, dropping the number of entries from 18 to 17. Add to that the shenanigans surrounding Yuki Takahashi's replacement by Gabor Talmacsi, after Talmacsi was able to bring funds to the cash-strapped team, and the picture of a series in crisis is complete. 

Clearly something has to be done, to reduce costs and to expand the number of bikes on the grid. Last week at the Sachsenring, the Grand Prix Commission met to discuss the situation, and Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta launched the idea of a two-tier system, allowing bikes with prototype chassis with engines based on production bikes to race against the current generation of fully factory supported prototype 800s. The story was unearthed by Paolo Scalera of the Italian sports daily Corriere dello Sport, and senior MotoGP journalist Michael Scott in last week's issue of GPWeek opined that the move was probably a bullying tactic by Ezpeleta, aimed at forcing the factories into coming up with a counterproposal.

It seems the thought of racing against production-based engines has done exactly that. At Donington, Tech 3 boss and head of IRTA Herve Poncharal spoke extensively to MotoGPMatters.com, covering a wide range of subjects. One of the subjects he discussed at length was the cost-cutting proposals put forward by the MSMA to counter the exodus of teams from the premier class. He revealed that as Mike Scott had predicted, the MSMA had offered to lease engines only to MotoGP teams at a much more affordable price, allowing them to build their own prototype chassis around the engine. 

Poncharal confirmed that Ezpeleta had launched the idea of using production engines at the Grand Prix Commission in Germany, saying, "Carmelo proposed [the idea]. Because of the Moto2 class, because it was a big success, then we were thinking 'what can we do to make it cheaper in the MotoGP class' and we thought 'OK, why can't we do Moto1 like the first Moto2 project?' Start from a production 1000cc engine, and have everything else full prototype, like in Moto2."

"So this idea we threw on the table, asking the MSMA  'What do you think?'. They came back with a proposal that they might be in the position from 2011 to supply engines only, 800cc prototype engines, at a really affordable cost."

When asked whether the Team KR bike was an example of this, Poncharal replied, "Exactly! But they are now thinking to do it, all of them, maybe not Suzuki, but all of the ones who are supplying the independent teams Ducati Honda and Yamaha, at an affordable cost. This is an idea, but they have been asking us to wait until Indianapolis to come with a real strong proposal."

The Grand Prix Commission is expected to meet here on Saturday, to discuss issues surrounding the number of sealed engines, but the big news, the news about the future of the MotoGP class, will have to wait until the end of August and the Indianapolis Grand Prix.

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Comments

while the lease engines would certainly be down on power, we still have the chance of having a full field with a variety of different frame designs...interesting competition, etc...GOOD STUFF!

it would be like when yamaha sold all those OWs back in the day and the field was full of them!

it would be nice if the lease engines were only a few % down on power so there would be some semblance of close racing. at least all of the lease engines would make for good racing between them, just not at the front!

For a very simple reason. To watch a closely matched & relatively affordable series I already have WSBK.

The only reason why I follow MotoGP it's because it's the manufacturer's supreme battle going on there. If they start turning it into a spec-series I'll lose my interest the same way I've stopped watching F1.

Sure the riders will get fun riding and seting up prototype bikes, but at least me I don't really care. What I love to see is Yamaha, Honda, Ducati and Suzuki going flat out with everything they have to defeat each other.

It can almost be presumed this idea will be approved in principle.  Now, we wait for the details.

Astute observers will point out this only worked for Kenny Roberts for one year, but we can always hope. 

The problem, of course, is funding.  It's not like the frame is the "cheap half" of a MotoGP bike.  Ilmor already have both a frame and an engine, but lack the financial backing to support a team.  Who else has a frame - and a team - looking for an engine?

As I read the story, the manufacturers of these precious little 800cc prototypes are unwilling to race against their own modified unlimited engines. They are so scared of this prospect that they are willing the flood this little market with copies of sealed..underpowered replicas of their current prototype engines

I don't want anymore of these engines and the requisite electronics...I want to see the best that these manufacturers can do, and I suspect that the best they can do is already racing in Superbike..

The manufacturers should have collectively made an effort to go this way a long time ago. The core problem to me though is that MotoGP needs to bring in more engine producers, besides Honda, Yamaha and Ducati (not holding my breathe for Suzuki). And this proposal probably won't do that...

The MSMA are thinking about adding a handful of backmarkers for next season? I'm tingling with anticipation. These guys are limping through the economic crisis under the false pretense that bad racing will attract good sponsors when the economy recovers. It is obvious the MSMA run the sport, and there is little hope for improvement.

It's time for Ezy to grow a pair. He needs to hop on a plane and go see Aprilia, Proton, Ilmor, BMW, Rotax, etc. and he needs to request engines. No displacement limit, peak power 230hp, maximum weight, minimum engine life criteria, and a maximum selling price. Use the engines to rally support in the IRTA, then ram through engine homologation rules, annual engine freezes, unlimited fuel, and raise the minimum weight to 155kg or 160kg.

If the manufacturers want to continue to play with their 800s, they can. If they want to develop new engines and have them homologated, they can. Even if the manufacturers cheat, there isn't a huge benefit associated with an additional 10 peak hp (not in unlimited displacement racing anyway). If you win the championship, your engine for the season is automatically homologated for the next season, and you don't get to make any updates.