MotoGP's rule-making body, the Grand Prix Commission met today, and as expected, did nothing to clarify the 2012 MotoGP rules, and especially to provide a definition of exactly what constitutes a Claiming Rule Team. Instead, what they came up with was a relaxation of the penalty for infringing the engine allocation rules: Instead of starting from the pit lane 20 seconds after the red lights go out for the start, any rider using a 7th (or 8th, or 9th) engine during the 2010 season will have to start just 10 seconds later.
During the evening rider debrief, one senior journalist asked Nicky Hayden what he thought about the rule, and his answers surprised the journalists present. "Well, it depends where it happens," Hayden said. "If you were at Le Mans, you'd be way back. But start at the end of the pit lane at Sepang, and you'd be right there!" The Ducati Marlboro mulled the question a little more, telling reporters "I'm just going through them all in my mind," before going on to say that starting from the pit lane at Laguna Seca would allow riders to cut out all of Turn 1 and most of Turn 2. The other US Grand Prix would be less fortuitous, however. "Indy would be terrible, you've got a tight little hairpin [on the exit to pit lane]."
Hayden was convinced this could be an issue towards the end of the championship. "You know, I think everybody's going to lose an engine at some stage. Maybe not everybody, but I'm sure somebody's going to have an engine problem, crash, tear up an engine, they're going to lose an engine someway, somehow," Hayden said. The issue could become crucial at the end of the year, Hayden felt. "At Valencia, you might need [a new engine]," the Marlboro Ducati said, and Valencia would be a very good place to have to start from the pit lane from. "Valencia? You would lead the race!"