Flammini: "Production-Based Bikes Won't Be Competitive In MotoGP"

The two parties on either side of the argument over the 2012 rules in MotoGP - 1000cc, a maximum bore size of 81mm and the freedom to enter production-based engines - are circling slowly, sizing each other up. And from time to time, one party or another fires a broadside, in the hope of exposing weaknesses in the other side's arguments.

Today is no exception. In an interview in the German-language magazine Speedweek, Paolo Flammini took another potshot at the MotoGP series over the proposal to allow production-based engines to be used. This time, though, the man who runs the World Superbike championship together with his brother Maurizio tried another tack, by claiming that the production-based bikes just would not be competitive.

"I can't see any way that someone with [a production-based bike] can be competitive," Flammini told Speedweek. "Production-based bikes will lower the level of the World Championship." Flammini did say that he was sympathetic to MotoGP returning to a larger capacity. "I can see that the future for MotoGP will be 1000cc, but everything should be a prototype: Engine AND chassis!" Flammini said.

Doubts have been expressed by extremely authoratitive sources in the paddock that Flammini will be able to block any move to allow production-based engines in MotoGP. The consensus of opinion seems to be that the contract which the Infront Motor Sports has with the FIM grants them the exclusive right to organize a world championship for modified production motorcycles. This would meant that as long as the bikes use prototype chassis and significantly modified production engines, Infront would not have a case against the FIM.

The fact that Infront Motor Sports has yet to act against FIM over the Moto2 class seems to support that opinion. But Flammini warned that just because there has not been any legal action, they have ruled that option out altogether. "We are monitoring this class very carefully, and examining whether it breaches the contract we have with the FIM," Flammini told Speedweek. He conceded that the decision was not necessarily up to them, though. "The final decision is up to the FIM," he said.


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It is interesting though not surprising that Flamini refers to the bikes allowed under MotoGP rules as "production-based bikes" rather than production-based motors..

Isn't it about time the Falmmini's stopped whingeing. If they want MotoGP to be totally proptype, then WSB should be totally production - no custom: forks, shocks. swing arms, ECUs, tyres, etc., etc. As race fans all we need is clear blue water between the two. As long as the ethos for WSB is - the max performance you can get from an essentially production based bike, and for MotoGP - the technical pinnacle (with constraints), I for one will be very happy.

But his statement is completely true. The new rules (so far) just specify 81mm max bore and 4 cyl. Most of the production 1000s are high 70s bore and likely not enough meat for a 3mm overbore, so they either make new cases/head/crank/etc with new bore spacing to get to 81 or they try to live without the max possible revs the rules indirectly allow. Once one mfgr makes an 81mm bore prototype engine all the others will need to follow or get blown out of the water. There are always the efforts involving sacrificing outright Hp for something else in the name of a better overall package, but that is only effective once every season at best unless your name is V. Rossi. See 2007 season for proof. Great for a privateer team but not the strategy a major manufacturer will pursue. Can you imagine Rossi on a R1 engine- based bike losing to a prototype Ducati and not raising a stink at Yamaha?

The BMW S1000RR engine is 81mm bore so they may have a head start, but I would think they need a more compact powerplant to run competitively in motoGP, so new cases, crank and heads again.

The upside to the rules as they stand may be to allow privateer teams to run around at the back of the pack like they do now, just not at the financial beck and call of the major mfgrs. The other side of the coin is that Dorna has to allow these smaller independent teams the opportunity to run.

I like the new rules from my perspective as a potential constructor but they will not reduce how much Honda or Yamaha or Ducati spend developing these engines. If they want a championship, that is.


Thanks for the insight Chris, it's what I've been wondering for a long time. The only issue that the new rule addresses is the manufacturers stranglehold on the supply of bikes to the private teams, effectively meaning that Dorna are running a series that could be sunk at a moments notice should the major players decide to pull out. It seems a similar situation to that which F1 faced this year. But I can't see how it will be significantly cheaper to run an effective Motogp team under the new rules if you don't want to finish dead last every race. For the same money you could be a winning team in WSBK.

I cannot see how the the current leaders will permit themselves to be beaten by a production based bike, unless the rules become so restrictive that we effectively run a spec series.

As for the posters wanting SBK to a true production based series, that doesn't even happen at club level! There are very few series that are totally true to the concept of production racing.

Making powerful engines isn't hard. Making them rideable in a Motogp bike is another thing altogether. And this requires clever and very expensive electronics, teams of developers and technicians who monitor and refine constantly. If you add restrictions on fuel you then see engines that run different maps throughout both a lap and a race, all optimised to make the limited fuel last the distance whilst still providing race winning power.

Simply removing the current fuel limits would make the law of diminishing returns come into play for electronics. But in an attempt to appear eco friendly (ha! have you seen the circus that follows a race...the 21l of fuel used in the race is a fraction of the hydro carbons used during the weekend!) we have fuel limits. With strict engine rules the engineers will spend their budget chasing small improvements in performance rather then settling on a formula and working out the crinkles.

"Production-Based Bikes Won't Be Competitive In MotoGP" True Dat! The question is whether anyone will try and what it will take to build an engine capable of finishing 12th. Then there's the question of whether any of the manufacturers will build an engine for privateers using production bits as a starting point. Just about the only one I can imagine doing that is Aprilia.

Maybe we're looking at this the wrong way. Let's assume that Honda, Yamaha and Ducati somehow find the money to do exactly what they do now and field the same number of prototypes. And Suzuki use a little of that VW money to stay in the game.
- What should Aprilia do?
- Is there any more scope for an Illmor to appear
- What should a WCM do? Is anyone going to even try?
- Is there any chance of somebody (like Kawasaki) offering if not full engines, then enough bits to create one.

As I write this, I have this sneaking suspicion that nobody's going to step up. 2012 will have the same 15-17 grid with the same manufacturers, and all the rule changes will have done is to make them spend more money on creating completely new designs.

I don't think anyone believes these rules will allow privaterr teams to run at the front.

However, even getting into MotoGP is a huge achievement for many race teams - far more so than competing in WSBK.

But really the point of all of this is that it is now cheaper to get in. I can look to Motoczysz, WCM and Ilmor as all being very close to being able to get on the grid. These are all engineering and racing teams who have nothing to gain from WSBK. Why would they go out and race someone else's machine when their passion is engineering? Additionally, Aprilia seems to be making moves and they have a shot at actually being competitive. BMW appears to be a real possibility as well.

Even if none of those teams show up we can write that off to economic conditions rather than the rulebook. This is by no means a panacea but it is still a significant step forward.

All those companies could race tomorrow. They only need a capacity increase in the rules to enter the paddock.

I can't see any of them being in any way competitive with 1000cc engines. With the pace of development their old 990's sitting in the back room can't just be dusted off and raced at the front. They'd be competing with the factory prototypes and Aprilia, Suzuki and Kawasaki have demonstrated how hard Yamaha, Honda and Ducati are to beat. And I can't see how an independent engineering company would want to take a production engine and modify it. WCM only used their R1 parts as a stop gap, their intention was always to go pure prototype.

I understand exactly why Dorna are doing this and it has parallels with FOM/FIM trying to break the manufacturers hold in F1 (largely successful now). It does allow a race team to enter with an engine that's largely stock, modify it gradually and race from there, but the costs are still huge.

Who in the world we live in has any great interest in buying 800cc bikes? while there isn't as direct a route to the showroom from the motogp paddock, they still need to sell product in order to justify racing. WSBK is not immune to financial constraints and we may soon see rules that serious alter the package in order to revive the field.

I'm a little worried that the infighting will leave us with another Mat Mladin story...

@RatsMC: But really the point of all of this is that it is now cheaper to get in.

I wish somebody could explain to me how the new rules make it cheaper to get in.

The hope is that it will be cheaper. Theoretically, getting competitive HP out of 1000cc will be significantly cheaper than trying to do the same with 800cc. Our own David Emmett has discussed this at length.

- All the manufacturers will build prototypes
- Which means new prototypes, and new work on the electronics. Which all costs lots of money
- They now have to cope with engine life limits, the same fuel restrictions, but worse than that they'll be trying to work out how to push the engine rev limits with a fixed bore and stroke. Producing competitive prototypes didn't get any easier or cheaper, it just got harder.

So I can't see how it's going to be any easier to find 260hp than it currently is to find 220hp. So I can't see how it will be any cheaper.

In theory, it will be possible to start with a production engine but you'll still need an electronics package and a lot of modification. Given how far an 81mm bore is from any production engine, I'm not sure anyone is actually going to try. Even if you did, you'll be at the back of the pack. So what if Yamaha (say) produce a set of prototypes for their main teams and then produce a limited run modified R1 engine for their privateers. They've now got to produce what is effectively two prototypes and support them. More expense.

The "cheaper" argument depends on there being more than enough power so you can be competitive without chasing ultimate top end. Except I don't remember 990cc avoiding a horse power race. The moment Ducati can pass people at will on the straight, everyone else will spend money to try and stay with them.

So I don't buy this "cheaper" argument. I think it has no clothes.

Two things. First, you are confusing the new rules with the old. The engine limits existed before and would have whatever effect on cost that they would regardless of displacement.

Second, the factories will spend whatever it is they can or will. The cheaper being mentioned is for privateer teams. Yes, they will still need to invest a lot in engineering and electronics but the equation is now different. Given that only so much HP is usable, a privateer can now much more cheaply get up to that threshold. Getting beyond it is expensive and only the factories will be able to dump so much money into very little return but the privateer will have less of a performance gap than they would with an 800 where they would have to invest in pneumatic valves in order to reach the RPMs needed get even close to the usable HP limit.