December is a time for reflection, and for making the necessary changes to the rulebook where incidents during the season have made clear. Last week, MotoGP's rule making body, the Grand Prix Commission met to review the 2016 season and make a few necessary adjustments to the MotoGP rulebook. Fortunately, they decided not to do anything quite so drastic as the Superbike Commission did at the same time.
The most eye-catching change is the dropping of intermediate tires in MotoGP. Intermediates had been introduced at the request of the teams and Dorna, to allow riders to go out during sessions when conditions were not suitable for slicks. However, the experience of 2016 showed that intermediates were rarely used, and when they were, they added little or no value over soft slicks or hard wets. During a press conference at Valencia, Michelin boss Nicolas Goubert said "at some races, there were riders on track with slicks, with intermediate, and with rain tires, all at the same time."
The loss of the intermediate is to be compensated by an extra tire choice for both front and rear slicks. Though the total allocation is not to be increased, the riders will now have three front compounds, plus an option tire, and three rear compounds, plus an option tire, to choose from. Several times during 2016, Michelin was already bringing a choice of four front tires (i.e. three plus an option) to the races, so this is merely formalizing an already existing situation. The addition of an extra tire will most likely be at the soft end of the spectrum, to allow a soft slick to fill the void left by the loss of intermediates.
The remainder of the rule changes were less significant, though one or two merit mention. As the use of onboard cameras in Moto2 and Moto3 has grown, there were some complaints that bikes with cameras had an unfair disadvantage. Ballast is to be added to balance that out.
An extra appeals board will be put in place at each track, to allow the FIM Stewards to hear appeals against penalties issued immediately, rather than having to wait for several days.
An interesting change has been made to the medical code, giving the riders a little more confidentiality over their medical records. As the Clinica Mobile has come to play a significant role in the medical treatment of riders - many riders prefer to consult the Clinica, rather than their home doctors - there has been some dilution of medical privacy. That has led FIM doctors and Clinica staff to disclose information to the media, without the permission of the riders.
The new rule change is also in part a response to some of the more serious incidents in MotoGP, including the tragic death of Luis Salom. Chains of communication in such cases are now much clearer, with family members and teams being informed first, and only then statements being made to the media, with permission.
An important change was also made to the duties of a rider. They must now inform MotoGP medical staff if they pick up an injury outside of MotoGP events. For example, a rider breaking a bone or suffering a concussion in a training accident will have to inform MotoGP medical staff, and submit themselves for medical examination before being passed fit to race.
The FIM press release with the full minutes of the Grand Prix Commission appears below:
FIM Grand Prix World Championship
Decision of the Grand Prix Commission
The Grand Prix Commission, composed of Messrs. Carmelo Ezpeleta (Dorna, Chairman), Ignacio Verneda (FIM CEO), Herve Poncharal (IRTA) and Takanao Tsubouchi (MSMA) in the presence of Carlos Ezpeleta (Dorna), Mike Trimby (IRTA CEO, Secretary of the meeting), Paul Duparc (FIM), Mike Webb (Race Director), Danny Aldridge (Technical Director) and Corrado Cecchinelli (Director of Technology), in a meeting held in Madrid on 2 December 2016, made the following decisions:
Effective Season 2017
Dummy Cameras/Weights in Moto3 and Moto2
Currently the top six riders in Moto3 and Moto2 are required to carry on board cameras. It is considered that the additional weight involved in classes where machine performance is so equal could disadvantage riders required to carry the cameras. It will now be a requirement for other machines not equipped with actual cameras to carry dummy versions or weights, in the same positions.
Whilst there will be no change in the minimum machine/rider weight in Moto3, in the Moto2 class the minimum weight will be increased by two kilos to 217 kilos.
Tyre Allocations – MotoGP Class
After consultation with the Safety Commission and with the approval of Michelin, tyre allocations have been changed.
Intermediate tyres will no longer be available.
The maximum number of wet and dry track tyres remains unchanged but there is an additional specification of front and rear dry slick tyres available to choose.
Moto2 and Moto3 Testing
The regulation limiting the days of private testing has been clarified and now applies exclusively to contracted riders. Teams may test with any contracted rider at any circuit for a maximum of ten days per rider during the season, in addition to official tests and tests in November after the last event.
Race Start Procedure
Any rider who arrives at the grid behind the safety car after completing his warm up lap must now enter the pit lane and start the race from the pit lane exit.
Speeding in Pit Lane
Following instances of certain riders breaking pit lane speed limits several times during the same event the conclusion was that the current penalty of €150.00 per offence was not a sufficient deterrent. In future, the fine for the first offence will be €200.00 but second and subsequent offences can be penalised with larger fines or other penalties determined, according to circumstances, by the FIM MotoGP Stewards.
The regulations will be modified to make it clear that when a race is interrupted after less than three laps have been completed, all riders may start including riders who might not have completed the sighting or warm up lap for the original start.
At all Grand Prix events the Clerk of the Course and the Chief Medical Officer must be holders of the relevant FIM Superlicence.
In reaction to recent incidents, it is no longer permitted for track marshals to clean the track or alter the condition of the racing surface without prior instructions or authorisation from the Race Director and the Safety Officer.
The function and responsibilities of the Race Direction and the FIM MotoGP Stewards remain unchanged. Race Direction, which comprises the Race Director, the FIM Representative and a Dorna representative have no role in the application of penalties but may refer matters to the FIM MotoGP Stewards comprising the Race Director, a permanent FIM Steward and a second FIM Steward appointed by rotation.
The change involves the creation of a second tier of “Appeal Stewards” comprising an additional Steward appointed by the FIM and a second Steward appointed by the FMNR. The Appeal Stewards will be present at every event and will hear appeals against any decisions of the FIM MotoGP Stewards. This means that in virtually all cases results and sanctions can be confirmed or annulled during the event. (Previously, appeals against decisions of the FIM MotoGP Stewards could only be heard by the FIM Court of Appeal which was not present at events and had four days to reach a decision).
Various changes have been made to the FIM Medical Code including giving the FIM Medical Officer more power and responsibility to ensure that medical facilities and staff are adequate and competent to deal with injured riders.
The code has also reinforced the right of injured riders to have confidentiality respected about their condition. Medical staff or race officials are no longer authorised to make statements to any third party, other than immediate relatives, about the condition of injured riders without the authorisation of the FIM and Dorna.
Reacting to numerous recent incidents where riders have been injured at events other than MotoGP, or in training, riders will now be responsible for notifying the relevant FIM Medical Officer and the CMO of any injury or illness that might affect his/her ability to ride or compete.
A regularly updated version of the FIM Grand Prix Regulations which contains the detailed text of the regulation changes may be viewed shortly on: