Herve Poncharal: I Don't Think There Will Be Any 800cc Bikes In 2012

On the Saturday of the Jerez MotoGP weekend, the Grand Prix Commission met to further hammer out the regulations which will govern the MotoGP class from the 2012 season. It was feared that the meeting would fail to come up with a clear definition of the bikes to be run by the Claiming Rule Teams, the privateer teams expected to enter MotoGP with production-based engines in prototype chassis. So it came as no surprise that the minutes of the press release of the Grand Prix Commission merely modified the penalty for using an extra engine in the 2010 season, dropping it from 20 seconds to 10.

MotoMatters.com was interested to find out why the Grand Prix Commission had not had anything to say about the 2012 regulations, and so we caught up with IRTA's representative on the GP Commission, Herve Poncharal. When we put it to the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha boss that it was a little strange that the MSMA (the manufacturer's association, who are charged with drawing up the technical regulations) had yet to produce a definition of a Claiming Rule Team bike, Poncharal said that this was not a problem, as the rules already defined the basics of the bikes: 1000cc engine, 81mm maximum bore, 24 liters of fuel and 12 engines to last the season. But how do we define a Claiming Rule team, we asked Poncharal.

Hervé Poncharal: I think the situation is pretty clear. CRT (Claiming Rule) teams will be selected by the Grand Prix Commission on a unanimous basis. Nobody is thinking of having any CRT teams in 2011. So it means we still have a few months to get it ready for 2012. But clearly there will be CRT Teams, they will use production-based engines. There are a lot of people showing interest. Some people are already building something, I know Eskil Suter is already building something. And I'm sure some others are already thinking and already working on something. That was exactly what happened with the Moto2 rule. OK, some started a bit too early, because we came up with the standard engine, so maybe the same thing might apply. But I'm quite sure than in 2012, there will be claiming rule teams on the grid.

MotoMatters.com: There are still a few questions, though. For a start, how much use is an engine without the chassis that's been built for it.

HP: The claiming rule here is to make the MSMA happy that no new factory is going to enter as a CRT team when it is really a full factory team. But if you're a full factory and you enter as a CRT team, for sure if you have to sell your engine for 20-30,000 euros, something like that, you're going to think twice before you do a full prototype engine.

But also, I think what is most important is the Grand Prix Commission will study each case and decide whether a team is a CRT or a full factory, and whether they will be 6 engines and 21 liters or 12 engines, 24 liters.

MM: So they will be policing very carefully?

HP: Yes. But also, I've got a feeling, but this is only a feeling, that although the current manufacturers have been pushing to keep 800cc, we hear more and more some of the current manufacturers are already working to be ready in 2012 with a 1000cc prototype. Can you see any manufacturers who will want to race against a 1000cc prototype with an 800cc prototype?

I feel, it's only a feeling, that one of them, maybe more, will be ready to race with a 1000cc prototype, and if one is doing it, then all them will have to do it. So maybe, already, from 2012, the 800cc won't be a problem any more, because out of the rules we already have, you could almost already delete the 800cc.

MM: Like Moto2, where first it was allowed to race the 250s, but they were dropped when nobody entered them?

HP: Yes. Because they could have a gentlemen's arrangement between themselves, for economic reasons we want to stay with 800cc for 2012, 2013, for example, but that's not going to happen. And everyone understands that the future of MotoGP is 1000cc, so the earlier you start, the better you will be. That's only my feeling.

MM: Of course, with 1000cc, you don't have to rev so high, so you have fewer problems with cooling and reliability.

HP: Absolutely. Absolutely.

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I tend to agree with Poncharal. If even one of the MSMA teams switches to 1000cc, the rest will probably have to switch. Imo, the CRT rules require the MSMA to switch to 1000cc b/c the S1000RR engine is nearly an 81mm 1000cc engine, and Dorna are granting CRT teams an additional 3L of fuel.

I still don't understand how the CRT rules are supposed to work. An S1000RR engine without a lot of kit could almost be competitive right out of the box. It sounds like the MSMA want CRT teams to run a single engine to protect the 1000cc factory teams and to make sure the claiming rules are effective. The production engine they choose is going to have a major impact on what happens!! If CRT teams run a Suzuki, Honda, or Kawasaki engine, they've got no chance, imo. But if they run a Yamaha, Aprilia, or BMW they might stand an outside chance at some results.

I hope the manufacturers decide to supply 1000cc engines, instead. Maybe that's what this is all about. 24L is designed to get them to supply engines so everyone must run 21L.

It will be interesting to see whether manufacturers like Honda or Yamaha will support CRT with special parts like the Superbike race kits available right now and in the past. CBR1000 full HRC MotoGp kit for example, with crank, rods, pistons, transmission etc. For sale at the same price as the claiming rule limit, therefore anyone could get one.

You'd have think that a slightly higher output than current superbike engine, within a Moriwaki or TSR chassis (in the above Honda example) would be a great way to enter the top level, especially with 3 litres more fuel and 6 more engines allowed.

Will factories be able to claim, or only other claiming rule teams? Would be strange for Honda to claim a privateer Honda engine that is running alongside them !

This has nothing to do with saving costs.. if it was, where are the 07, 08 and 09 800s that could have been used to boost grid numbers? IN the fcukin' crusher. If factories will not let the electronics thing go, GPS, 3 axis gyros and all, Dorna needs to ban them as they have absolutely SFA to do with road bikes and safety as claimed by MSMA, it just ensures the factories have an unbeatable advantage.. Grow some teeth and a spine Ezpeleta, they all walked before..let them go again.. These racers are pretty much cutting their food intake to be able to fit into these minibikes, they look like cadavers. This is not modeling for God's sake!

Political grandstanding and posturing aside, I don't think Dorna are terribly worried about the cost of factory electronics now that the 1000s are returning (according to Poncharal's gut feeling).

Dorna are most worried with reducing the amount of money they pay to IRTA. I posted some excerpts from a Mat Oxley article a while back, and it turns out that Dorna pay private IRTA teams to run satellite bikes, and they pay the MSMA to produce satellite bikes. I believe Ezpeleta said that Dorna had increased it's commitment by 60% during a grid contraction!!

The name of the game for Dorna is to reduce the cost of satellite teams (CRT eams now) and raise revenues. Dorna seem convinced that costs will go down and revenues will go up if they return to the 1000s.

I'm skeptical b/c 21L is driving costs, but we will see what happens. Maybe the CRT teams will force the MSMA to accept 24L of fuel (I hope).