Monday Test To Be Run With Both Sealed And Unsealed Engines

On the face of it, the rules limiting the number of engines to be used for the rest of the season are clear enough: Each rider will have just 5 engines to use for the remaining 7 races. But as MotoGP fans and followers began to contemplate the official one-day test to be held on Monday, after the Brno round of MotoGP, questions immediately began to arise over which engines could be used in those tests.

The rules seemed ambiguous. The relevant parts of the regulations had been announced at the last meeting of the Grand Prix Commission on July 25th, at the British Grand Prix in Donington. Under section 2.3.6 of the rules, the following subsections had been added:

1.) In the MotoGP class the number of engines available for use by each rider is limited. For the 2009 season a maximum of 5 engines may be used by each rider for the final 7 scheduled races of the season, that is from and including the Czech Grand Prix until the end of the season. Should a rider be replaced for any reason, the replacement rider will be deemed to be the original rider for purposes of engine allocation.

6.) To prevent the running of a used, allocated engine outside of MotoGP events, all allocated engines will have security seals placed over either exhaust or inlet ports (on at least one cylinder bank, in the case of V-type engines) before leaving the circuit. Teams wishing to re-use such an allocated and sealed engine must request the Technical Director to remove the security seals. If the Technical Director or his staff find that the security seals are not intact, the engine will be deemed to be a new engine in the allocation, with the appropriate penalty.

This seemed to indicate that non-allocated engines had to be used for the tests, but we were not sure, so we turned to the man whose job it is to know, MotoGP Technical Director Mike Webb. He explained the situation simply and clearly as follows:

"In all parts of our regulations the term 'MotoGP event' refers to any official activity, ie. GP races and Official tests (which is why the word 'event' is used rather than 'race'). The wording in Rule 2.3.6.6 about '..outside of MotoGP events..' means that sealed engines cannot be tested between GPs. Specifically this was requested by the factories to prevent dyno testing. It seems that when sealed engine regs were first introduced into F1, it quickly became standard practice to send every engine back to the factory after every event to test them all and determine which one(s) to use at the next event. Obviously the costs were enormous, and since the whole point of the sealed engine regs are to reduce costs, this rule is to prevent dyno testing between events.

So teams can use the allocated, sealed engines on Monday if they wish, as it is an official test. However Rule 2.3.6.1 specifically refers to the engine limitation covering '..7 races..'. Again a deliberate choice of words, as the engine limit was intended to cover race mileage, not testing at this stage. So the teams can also use extra test engines (outside of the 5 engine allocation) on Monday if they wish."

The wording of the text may seem a little complicated, but it has been phrased very precisely and with very specific goals in mind. Webb told MotoGPMatters.com "bear in mind that the engine regs now are really a test for 2010 when the real restrictions will be imposed. The Brno test is an important part of further developing the long-life engines for next year, hence the wording to allow extra engines on Monday."

So there you have it, straight from the horse's mouth. The teams can choose to use both allocated AND non-allocated engines on Monday. Whether they do or not is an entirely different question.

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