The Grand Prix Commission met in Switzerland last week to discuss a few updates to the 2018 MotoGP regulations. The changes made were relatively minor, yet contained one or two interesting tidbits that revealed much about the 2017 season.
The most eye-catching rule tweak made was the change to the virtual pit board, or dashboard messages. The press release from the FIM states that the messages sent to a rider via the dashboard be precisely replicated in the message received by Dorna timekeeping and TV. After the controversy surrounding Ducati's messages to Jorge Lorenzo during the last two Grand Prix of the 2017 season, this suggests that they believe there was some kind of loophole in these regulations.
What that loophole might entail is not known, but if the dashboard system and the timekeeping system are separate, that would leave room for the system to send two different messages with a single trigger: one to the dashboard and one to Dorna timekeeping. Alternatively, the dashboard could display an alternative message by mapping messages received to a different dashboard message. This remains speculation, but the fact that the GPC considered it worthy of clarification suggests they believe there was room for manipulation.
The meeting also endorsed some extra rankings in the various championships. A team championship is to be introduced for Moto2 and Moto3, along the same lines as used in MotoGP. And an additional ranking is to be introduced in MotoGP for the best independent team as well as the best independent rider. MotoGP already recognizes the best independent rider at the end of each season.
The GPC approved KTM's request of five wildcard entries for Mika Kallio. KTM's Finnish test rider will race at Jerez, Barcelona, the Sachsenring, the Red Bull Ring, and Aragon in 2018. One of the benefits KTM had offered Kallio to retain him as test rider was the chance of more races, but having more races also keeps Kallio fresh and fast, a key factor for a test rider.
Allowing Kallio five wildcards also forced the GPC to confront a possible difficulty with the regulations. Currently, factories with concessions (i.e. teams without a podium in the previous season) are allowed six wildcards a season, while teams without concessions may only field wildcards at three events. If a manufacturer loses its concessions (by scoring a total of six concession points, awarded for scoring podiums), then normally, those concessions would be withdrawn immediately. However, given KTM's rapid progress in 2017, it is entirely conceivable that a factory with concessions could find itself having planned for a wildcard late in the season then having to cancel it. To allow factories to plan their season more effectively, the GPC changed the rules to allow them to keep their wildcards for that season.
One other minor note: the minutes of the GPC meeting also discussed the matter of insurance for permanent pass holders. After a series of health complications this year - including one team member hospitalized with a heart attack at a race, and another while cycling between events - the FIM decided to expand their insurance for hardcard holders. Everyone with a permanent pass - team staff, riders, riders assistants, Dorna staff, IRTA staff, Race Direction, and all media members - will be covered for medical expenses and repatriation costs if they suffer an accident or health emergency at an official Dorna event, such as a race or preseason test.
The FIM press release containing all of the minutes of the meeting 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 Vito Ippolito (FIM President), Carlos Ezpeleta (Dorna), Mike Trimby (IRTA, Secretary of the meeting), Corrado Cecchinelli (Director of Technology), Mike Webb (Race Director), Danny Aldridge (Technical Director), Fabio Muner and Steve Aeschlimann (FIM), in a meeting held in Mies, Switzerland on 29 November 2017, made the following decisions:
Effective Season 2018
Road Racing Wheels
New proposals for the testing and approval of road racing wheels were confirmed. Details can be seen in the updated technical regulations.
Virtual Pit Board Signals
In the 2018 season teams will continue to have the ability to send messages to the dashboard of the rider using the same system as already in place for Race Direction messages, as some of them have been doing towards the end of the 2017 season. Regulations have now been introduced to ensure that teams using this system comply with the protocols issued by Dorna timekeeping. The main requirement is that any message sent to a rider dashboard must be precisely replicated in the message received simultaneously by Dorna timekeeping and TV.
Effective Season 2018
New Championships and Classifications
There currently exists an FIM World Championship for MotoGP class teams. Two new FIM World Championships have now been introduced for Moto3 and Moto2 teams. Results will be based on the combined points of all riders in the team including substitutes and replacements.
Awards will also be introduced to recognise the highest ranked Independent Team in the MotoGP class and the highest ranked rider in an Independent MotoGP class team. These will not be World Championships but eligible teams and riders will compete for:
MotoGP Class Independent Team Trophy
MotoGP Class Independent Team Rider Trophy
MotoGP Class Wild Card Entries
An application from KTM to enter Mika Kallio as a wild card entry in the MotoGP class in five 2018 events was approved. The events are those in Spain (Jerez), Catalunya, Germany, Austria and Aragon. Teams using machines from Manufacturers with concessions have the right to have six wild card entries per season as opposed to only three. It has been decided that if a Manufacturer loses its concessions, this right won’t be revoked till the following season.
Best Grand Prix of 2017
The Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang was chosen as winner of the best Grand Prix of 2017.
Insurance for Permanent Pass Holders
For several years, holders of permanent working passes have been insured in case of accidental death whilst travelling to or from an event or actually during the event.
With effect from 2018 this policy is being extended to cover up to €100,000 of medical or repatriation costs of holders of all permanent working passes; IRTA, Dorna, FIM and Media. This cover will include the pre-season official tests in and outside of Europe.
The premium for this new arrangement will continue to be paid by the FIM
A regularly updated version of the FIM Grand Prix Regulations which contains the detailed text of the regulation changes may be viewed shortly on: