The agenda for Wednesday's meeting of the Grand Prix Commission - MotoGP's rule-making body - was clear: To thrash out some of the difficulties arising from their previous decision to revert MotoGP to 1000cc. Their hope was that after this meeting, the main points of the rules would be clear to everyone involved, and manufacturers and privateers could go off and start working on the machines which they will contest the 2012 MotoGP championship with.
Sure enough, after the meeting, the FIM issued a press release containing the new regulations agreed by the GP Commission, and it should come as no surprise that a host of details remain to be sorted out. The changes noted in the press release do point to some fascinating developments. Here are the main points for the 2012 regulations, which we will go into in more detail below:
Technical Specifications for 2012 for the MotoGP class
|Capacity||up to 1,000cc|
|Number of maximum cylinders||4|
|Maximum bore||ø 81 mm|
|Minimum weight||150 kg (up to 800cc) and 153 kg (over 800cc)|
|Maximum number of engines available for use by each rider||6|
|Fuel tank capacity||21 liters|
Exception for Claiming Rule Teams (CRT’s) approved by the Grand Prix Commission. The definition will be published by the end of May.
|Maximum number of engines available for use by each rider||12|
|Fuel tank capacity||24 liters|
Several things are immediately clear from the above:
- The class will consist of three different formulas: the existing 800cc machines; some kind of factory 1000cc prototype machine; and a third, "Claiming Rule Team" bike, presumably built by the teams themselves and based on existing equipment.
- MotoGP is to have a so-called "claiming rule", which usually means that one team can demand to be given certain specific parts of a race bike for a fixed fee. A claiming rule was first proposed for the engines in the Moto2 class, the point of which was to prevent teams from spending astronomical amounts on engines, by making them sell their very powerful engine to a rival team prepared to pay 20,000 euros.
The rules confirm previous reports from Sepang that the MSMA - the body representing the manufacturers - wish to keep the 800cc formula, to allow them to get a few more years out of their existing investment in the class. These machines will be running up against factory prototypes with 1000cc, but the limited stroke should help maintain parity between the factory machines.
To help keep the costs down for private entries - now apparently known as Claiming Rule Teams or CRTs - these bikes will be allowed more engines and - most crucially of all - more fuel to bring down the cost of development. Sticking more fuel into an engine is a simple and effective way of producing more power, and by limiting the factories while allowing the privateers more fuel, some kind of parity can be created at a limited cost. It is a simple and elegant solution, and one that has been put forward by one or two of the more astute commenters on previous stories here on MotoMatters.com.