FIM President: World Superbike Contract No Obstacle To Production Engines In MotoGP

The momentum behind a return to 1000cc for the MotoGP class has been building throughout the year. On Saturday, news emerged from the Grand Prix Commission that the manufacturers had dropped their opposition to the plan, making backing for the 1000cc formula unanimous inside MotoGP's rulemaking body. As a consequence, the proposal is almost certain to be adopted for the 2012 season of MotoGP.

Under the new proposed rules, the current requirement that four-stroke motorcycles must be prototypes will be either dropped or defined far more loosely. This would allow both teams and manufacturers to use engines based on production powerplants, greatly reducing the cost of research and development and paving the way for new teams to enter the class. The aim is to cut the cost of running a team roughly in half, from around 10 million euros for a two-rider satellite team down to between 5 and 6 million euros. Using production-based engines and allowing more engineering and maintenance to be done by the teams should be a major contributing factor in making this happen.

The niggling doubt whenever the proposal has come up has been the position of the World Superbike series. Since the introduction of the Moto2 class, Paolo and Maurizio Flammini of InFront Motor Sports and the men who run World Superbikes have complained that Dorna and the MotoGP series are encroaching on their territory and made veiled legal threats. Their threats have centered around their claim that they and InFront Motor Sport have a contract with the FIM which gives them the exclusive rights to organize racing based on production motorcycles. Any move to allow production motorcycles to compete in MotoGP would be a breach of that contract, the Flamminis claim, and they would be prepared to defend their exclusive rights in court.

The problem for most outside observers is that no one outside of the FIM and InFront Motor Sports knows exactly what the wording is in that contract, and what definition is used to delineate the racing of production motorcycles. The first clue came when the Moto2 class was finally announced. The Flamminis threatened to sue, but actual legal proceedings never materialized. The official position of InFront Motor Sport was that the use of a standardized engine avoided any conflicts with the rights they hold, but the seeds of doubt had been planted in the minds of everyone following the story.

At Valencia came a much greater clarification of the details of the contract between the FIM and InFront. Speaking on the Spanish TV show "MotoGP Club" respected American journalist Dennis Noyes said that he had been told by FIM president Vito Ippolito that the World Superbike contract would not be an impediment for the use of production-based engines in MotoGP. The contract, according to Ippolito, states that InFront has the exclusive right to race "production motorcycles" not "production engines." If InFront were to take the FIM to court, they would have no leg to stand on. 

What this means in practice is that if a team turned up with a modified Yamaha R1, Honda CBR1000, MV Agusta F4 or BMW S1000RR, it would not be declared legal. However, if someone turned up with, say, a heavily modified engine based on Yamaha R1 crankcases in a Harris chassis, they could roll it out on track and compete. By the same token, if the teams turned up with a 2006 Yamaha M1, or the 2005 Ducati Desmosedici ridden by Loris Capirossi, they would also most likely be legal. The discussions at the moment are based around racing four-cylinder four-strokes, limiting the number of permitted cylinders in an attempt to cap costs.

The proposed rule changes are making the WCM team run by Peter Clifford and Bob MacLean at the start of the four-stroke era look like the visionaries they were. MotoMatters.com recorded a lengthy interview with Clifford at the beginning of the year, during the IRTA Tests at Jerez. That interview will be appearing online during the course of the next week. For anyone who wants to know what the future will be like, it will make compulsory reading.

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Comments

Suzuki should be behind this all the way. Dump the boat anchor V4 they have been using and bore out a GSXR750 to get 800cc first then make a lighter GSXR1000 for the next generation of motogp and sell them as a race preped bike with all the go fast bits ( anodized in gold just to make it look fast and expensive )

Total votes: 106

At first I thought, "This is crap." But the more I think about it, a Moto1 class could be really cool if they pull it off; it would be the last step after WSB. Just like Moto2 should be the final step after WSS. It should make movement between the classes a lot easier.
It seems like having production based (not simply production engines) could lead to more direct trickle down from the GP classes, to the Superbikes, to the bikes you can actually buy.
For example, if Honda wants to use a trick V4 in their Moto1 bike, then they'll have to produce a V4 consumer bike with at least some of the trick bits first. That can only be good for us.

Total votes: 125

So would the MotoGP 1000cc formula allow production based engines or require them?

Total votes: 106

As I understand it, allowed. That's what makes the most sense. 

Total votes: 108

It all depends on what you want. This proposal will kill the prototypes. They're just too expensive. The manufacturers will all move towards the "production" 1000cc engines to save money.

Total votes: 106

I rather doubt that. The factories are there to win and thier current motor are better than any production motor will ever be. If they are going to play they are going to spend whaatever it takes to win. Honda, Yamaha and DUcati will never run a production motor.

Saving money is only about saving just a little bit less than the other guy.

Total votes: 114

(see below)

It's important to note that the biggest difference between "prototype" and "production" is durability, or time-between-rebuilds; followed by number-of-units-sold.  Prototypes exist to run in extreme situations, and then ultimately develop into something that can last long enough to be sold to a public that can't rebuild after each weekend.

A "heavily modified production engine" is the logical step between the two.  The factories will always pursue something new, which can then be sold to customers, who may in turn want to do their own modifications.  If a factory stops developing, they are probably going to stop winning.

Total votes: 109

This sounds like 2008 all over again. I think MotoGP is getting closer to having more competitive races. By that I mean they're getting closer to not having 4 guys win every race. But if they allow 1000cc production engines then satellite teams will flock to it and the factory bikes will still have all the money and all the technology. I think if this new rule is implemented its only going to help these 4 guys take all the victories. They need to get it so the teams all have similar engines (but keep different manufacturers). This was one of the better MotoGP seasons and I think it has a lot to do with the single tire supplier. I don't want everyone to have the same engine, but races would be better if a satellite rider had a chance (not just in wet races).

Total votes: 107

Do you really think it will kill prototypes?
The only real innovation to come out of MotoGP in the last decade, aside from electronics packages which are already ludicrous to think of, is the Yamaha firing order, which was only just translated to the R1 for the 2009 production year.

Carbon fiber chassis were tried decades ago by Herron Suzuki (well, carbon composite) and composite brakes have been around since the late 80's/early 90's. Various current engine configurations have been around for as easily as long, both in two and four stroke versions. Tires progress, but nothing new in construction or compound has come about in at least a decade as well.

"Prototypes" were gone a long time ago. It's been naught but refinement for years, save the rare 'new' idea every so often. Otherwise, it will go on as it has.

On the positive side, teams that only a few years ago who were denied a place on the grid (WCM anybody?) because they tried this approach are now vindicated, and other teams can try their hand at top-flight racing, as well.

Wouldn't a Spondon or Harris chassis be just as good..or perhaps better (anyone remember the Marlboro-Roberts Yamaha that Wayne Rainey rode that was an ROC chassis?) than a factory frame? (and wouldn't it be cool to see another ROC-Yamaha buildup on the grid again?)

The LMS/ALMS racing series has been utilizing a similar formula for years, this 'factory powerplant in a customer chassis' thing, and it's been working well. Lets see what can be done, before we condemn it.

I bet will work wonderfully.

Total votes: 101

It is not necessarily true that this will kill the prototype format.  The factories still have to spend and develop to be competitive.  If they want to field a bike that loses badly, then they can save money and put a factory engine in a racing frame.

This does two things that are important:

1).  Allows for better cross-pollenation between prototype engines and street engines.  Since the explicit prohibition of mass-produced parts specs would be lifted, this could close the gap between prototypes and products available to the public; making the costs of racing R&D much easier to justify.

2).  It re-opens the doors for privateers.  As in the WCM case, now a team does not have to fabricate, machine, and develop their motors from scratch, while also having no manufacturing base to support the R&D costs.

Also, I don't know if the semantics are fully cemented yet, but at this point there should be a distinction between the concepts of Moto2 and "Moto1".  Since these new proposals are not for a spec engine, this makes it signficantly different than what Moto2 is now, and still retains a much more serious connection to the prototype paradigm.

But, if they don't also include an increase in fuel, it will be pointless.  The electronics (and engineers) necessary to run a stock motor exceedingly lean are just as expensive as with a prototype one... and will be similarly processional.

Total votes: 110

Pre-production. In industry prototypes are made to verify the integrity of a design before tooling up for full scale mass production.

What would make economic sense for the manufacturers would to use this new formula as a way of testing future production designs. Since they wouldn't be actual production motors (sand castings) the Flamini's contract wouldn't be breached & the manufacturers would actually be making motors that would have a purpose.

They'd further benefit from stressing the motors in competion...accelerated aging. 1000 miles of racing equals 20,000+ street riding.

Total votes: 115

The one that interests me is Aprilia. I wonder how fast an unlimited tuning RSV-4 would be?

Total votes: 115

This all sounds interesting and good. But as long as there's nothing to stop the factory squads from continuing with their current methods of prototypes and spending it will result in an even more spread out grid. We'll see many of the expanded grid as lapped riders in dry races and the same top bikes and riders on the podium.

If product development was the goal, you'd see huge budgets in World Endurance. It's all about bragging rights in sprint races.

Total votes: 107

I thought something weird like this would happen when they made announcements that MotoGP would return to "1000cc". MotoGP was classified as 990cc to differentiate it from WSBK so "1000cc" could only have been a reference to aligning the GP formula with production engines.

I think this is ALL about Dorna's M-O-N-E-Y and I doubt very much that it is about fostering new competition or helping the little guys. Dorna pays a lot to get the manufacturers to supply satellite bikes, but the manufacturers balk at the idea of providing factory-spec equipment. Dorna is basically trying to fill the grid with unsubsidized also-rans by introducing the usage of production engines. The manufacturers don't care b/c Dorna is probably going to pay them a bit extra to support the production engine idea, and the MSMA know a production engine will never keep up with a lightweight, compact prototype engine

But what does the change mean for SBK? They can't have both series running lap times within 1 second while featuring identical displacement and nearly identical appearance. It seems like the FIM might reduce the engine tuning rules in SBK to cut costs and spread the lap times a bit. WSBK is practically prototype racing anyway so the FIM may not have any qualms about eliminating a lot of the factory custom parts. It seems like WSBK might become a privateer series with little factory support and low barriers to entry.

It looks like the displacement changes in GP may be part of a much bigger plan to change the way the FIM sanctions SBK and GP. Keep your eyes peeled for a 250 series in WSBK.

Total votes: 108

I think you have stepped a little too far there. WSBK machines are not consistently within 1 second of MotoGP machines. Most of the time, they are 2-3 seconds off and this is only at a few tracks that they share.

However, the important point that you have missed is that the MotoGP bikes are lapping faster with 200cc less displacement. IF both series are running liter motors, MotoGP can only increase the gap.

A side note, Dorna isn't paying the factories anything and I cannot imagine they would start just to get the to okay a production engine rule.

Total votes: 100

How do you think we got Hayate this season? Dorna had Kawasaki under contract and they weren't able to withdraw. Toby and Jules have talked about the commercial rights arrangement numerous times on-air. Dorna pays the manufacturers and they pay them to provide satellite bikes. Dorna are going broke trying to make sure the sport doesn't lose world championship status.

Total votes: 103

Dorna pays teams. I believe they must finish the first lap to get the payout. Then teams all can lease from whoever they can afford. The TV rights payout doesn't cover everything and that's why they also need sponsors. I think the Hayate deal was a compromise between Kawasaki and Dorna to avoid any contract related litigation. Besides risking FIM championship status rules (which could have been modified in the interest of the sport) that would be a lose-lose situation. I don't think this is the standard relationship.

Total votes: 104

I agree. Dorna have allegedly been trying to get Yamaha to increase their support, but Yamaha have been reluctant so profitability doesn't seem to be the motivating force behind satellite equipment.

I'm only trying to illustrate that rising costs are a double whammy for Dorna. They probably have to pay more to get satellite bikes produced, and then Dorna likely pay more to the private teams so they can afford higher lease fees and parts costs.

I suspect InFront is probably dealing with similar circumstances resulting from falling revenues (not rising costs). If the FIM is going to make a ruling about which series is guilty of encroachment, I can't imagine they will be sympathetic to SBK's plight since most of the major SBK components are basically prototype parts. That's why I have suggested the FIM may impose a BSB Evo style arrangement in SBK.

Total votes: 111

Is Dorna/fim saying there will be 1000cc prototypes AND 1000cc production engines ? OR Will there be 800cc prototypes AND 1000cc production engines?

I would think it would be 1000cc for both . Just in case a team would take a 1000cc production engine and make a ..grenade... motor for qualifing. Leaving MotoGP standing there with egg on its face .
The production teams know the chances of winning a race is slim to none so why not get there 15 minets of fame at least .
If they can get 200+ hp out of a 1200cc Harley engine for bonneville salt flat record runs its not impossible for a high tech Japanese production 1000cc engine to have 220+. It wont hold together for a whole race of course . But the producton teams dont have much to lose(especially at the end of the year) And are more concerned about getting the notority than embarassing Dorna .

Total votes: 113

The rules will be simple: 1000cc engine, either based on a production engine or with a fixed bore and stroke. The prototypes will still win, but the production engines should at least get a look in from time to time. As for horsepower figures, the WSBK bikes (modified street bikes) are making in excess of 220hp fairly comfortably. The new modified production engines should make 230+. 

Total votes: 104

David Emmett my main question was the displacement of the Prototype machines . Are they to be 800cc of 1000cc. Did you mean the prototype of 1000cc with have a fixed bore and stroke . If only the prototype has a fixed bore and stroke wouldnt it be interesting if a company makes a production engine with a greater bore to stroke ratio allowing greater RPM lol.

Total votes: 118

Both production and prototype engines will be 1000cc. The prototypes (at least) will be restricted to 4 cylinders and a fixed bore * stroke. And I don't think people were thinking about twins, but more V5s, V6s, lots of other options. 

Total votes: 116

While I'm glad the new displacement rules will bounce the MotoGP bikes back to 1,000cc, I get the impression this rule, or set of rules, still needs to be ironed out a whoooole lot more before being made official.

Also, I hope this doesn't become yet another 4's only series. Don't we have enough of them already?? This is a great time to work out some details in the new rules to encourage bikes with engines of other cylinder counts to be produced and raced in the series.

Total votes: 108

Although i like twins and have a race team with twins . The top tier racing series be it motorcycle or car inherantly have always been the class with the fastest vehicles on the planet . Having twins be competitive would hamper the speed aspect of the series . Therfore im agaist it .

Total votes: 98

Fours make less power than sixes, and sixes make less power than eights given a set displacement. Why are we stuck racing fours?

A twin is an inferior engine as long as arbitrary limitations like displacement are used to regulate performance. Such limitations don't exist in the production market.

The issue with 1000cc rules is restricting horsepower with uncomplicated rules while still allowing engine development. I would prefer to see rev limits based upon cylinder count. I know it might have a few enforcement issues, but the manufacturers will be happier if they can develop the engines they want to develop, not just 4 cylinder engines.

Total votes: 106