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Moto2 Class Confirmed In Spanish Championship For 2009

Shortly after the regulations for the new Moto2 class were announced, the RFME - the Spanish Motorcycling Federation, the organization which runs motorcycle racing in Spain - expressed an interest in running the new class as part of the Spanish CEV Championship. And now, just a few days later, the Spanish Federation has made good on that statement: In a press release issued today, the RFME announced its intention to run a Moto2 class alongside the existing CEV championship.

Exact details have not been released yet - the RFME say that they expect to release the exact technical and sporting regulations shortly - and the series will only go ahead if the RFME receive enough entries for all of the CEV rounds currently scheduled. But the hope is that enough teams will be interested to take part, and that this series will serve as a proving ground for the point at which the Moto2 class replaces the 250cc class in 2011.

The entry list for the Moto2 series will be worth watching very closely. Both the number of entrants, and the parties who choose to build bikes for this will point the way to the success of the series. Several parties are believed to be interested in the series - Moriwaki having already built a prototype - but that interest may not translate into actual participation. Oscar Gallardo, the man who runs the CEV championship, told AS.com that the series would need two weeks' notice to organize. As the CEV is due to start on April 19th, we should now exactly how much interest there is by the beginning of April.

No Mention Of MotoGP In Honda CEO's Year End Speech

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No news is good news, the old saying runs, and never has that been truer than for MotoGP fans after Honda CEO Takeo Fukui's end-of-year speech. Reports in the Spanish media - emanating mostly from the magazine Solo Moto - had suggested that Fukui would seize that opportunity to announce Honda's withdrawal from MotoGP. But fortunately for MotoGP fans - and for the MotoGP series - Fukui announced no such thing.

His speech certainly contained a lot of bad news: Delays in bringing a number of new factories into production; Confirmation of Honda's withdrawal from F1; Cancellation of some model development; Even cutting of salaries and reviews of bonuses for senior Honda management. But no word on the future of MotoGP.

While this is not quite confirmation that Honda will be staying, a lot of the announcements once again reaffirmed the importance of motorcycles in Honda's business strategy. Motorcycle sales were overall much stronger than Honda's car sales, growing 12% where car sales were flat, and are expected to grow by another 10.5% next year, where Honda expects car sales to fall by 7% in the same period. Fukui was emphatic: "History shows that motorcycles remain strong in a difficult market environment and have always supported Honda in difficult times."

So it seems like our friends over at the Italian site GPOne.com got it right when they said that they believed the stories (including the stories reported here) claiming Honda would pull out of MotoGP were nonsense. Even Valentino Rossi says that Honda will be staying, so our worst fears have allayed.

Honda Could Announce MotoGP Withdrawal On Friday

Honda's future in MotoGP has been an almost constant subject of debate since the announcement that the Japanese motoring giant was withdrawing from Formula One on December 5th this year. The situation was only made worse by American Honda's decision to withdraw from the AMA Superbike championship next year, announced exactly a week later. And now, it looks like there could be three "Black Fridays" in a row for Honda's involvement in racing.

For this Friday, December 19th, Honda CEO Takeo Fukui is due to deliver his end-of-year speech, and if reports from the Spanish press are to be believed, there is a real possibility that Fukui will announce the withdrawal of Honda from MotoGP. Both AS.com and Motociclismo.es have picked up a story by the weekly magazine Solo Moto, which quotes a spokesman from HRC as saying that "all of our projects are currently under consideration."

The problem, as you most likely guessed, is due to the global economic crisis. Honda's margins are under severe pressure, with sales slowing worldwide, a fact confirmed by a drop of nearly 27% in new car registrations in Western Europe. And as profits fall, Honda is coming under extreme pressure from investors to cut costs. Investors reacted positively to both Honda's F1 pullout, as well as their withdrawal from the AMA, despite the vast difference in budgets for the two activities, and Solo Moto believes that MotoGP is their next target.

Honda's MotoGP program does have a number of things stacked in its favor, however. Firstly, the MotoGP program costs about one tenth of the approximately $500 million Honda is believed to have spent on Formula One every year. Secondly, and more importantly, most of the tab for Honda's MotoGP budget is picked up by Repsol, the sponsor for the factory squad fielding Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso. So pulling out of MotoGP would not produce much of an actual saving.

Worryingly, there are precedents in Honda's history. In February 1968, Mike Hailwood and Ralph Bryans flew to Japan to meet Michihiko Aika, then head of Honda's motorcycle racing department, expecting to test the new machinery for the upcoming season. But instead of testing, they found themselves being told that Honda had decided to withdraw from motorcycle racing, with no prior warning. It would take Honda another 15 years to win another Grand Prix Championship.

If Honda did pull out of MotoGP, it would have a devastating effect on the series. Honda currently provides 6 of the 19 bikes on the grid, and with FIM rules requiring a minimum of 15 entries for a world championship series, the prospects of the 2009 MotoGP season being run as a cup, with no world title at stake, do not bode well. The best case scenario - is it could be called such - would be that only the factory team would be disbanded, with Honda continuing to provide a bike to the satellite teams. This would leave two of MotoGP's brightest talents, Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso out in the cold, and mean that the Honda RC212V would be unlikely to receive any further development for the rest of the season, making it an uncompetitive proposition.

Despite the fact that Solo Moto is a highly-respected publication, with what AS.com describes as "a direct line" into HRC, there is still no certainty as to what will happen. Honda UK has already announced that they will continue their support for the British Superbike series next year, and Motorcycle News is running an interview with LCR Honda's Lucio Cecchinello, in which the Italian states that he does not believe that Honda will pull out of MotoGP. But this has been a turbulent and troubled period, for all of motorsports, with both Suzuki and Subaru pulling out of the World Rally Championship. Right now, you'd have to say anything is possible, and only Takeo Fukui knows for sure. And he'll be telling us about it on Friday.

FIM Releases MotoGP Entry List: 19 In MotoGP, 22 In 250s, 29 In 125s

The FIM today released the provisional entry list for the MotoGP series, encompassing the MotoGP, 250cc and 125cc classes. As expected, the MotoGP class has 19 entries, the single tire rule freeing up the equipment for Sete Gibernau's team.

Perhaps the best news is the entry list of 22 riders for the 250cc class. With KTM's withdrawal from the class earlier this year, it looked for a while like there could be fewer than the minimum of 15 entries required for a World Championship to be organized. Since then, a number of privateer teams have entered Aprilia LE's, and Aspar has found sponsorship from the new Balatonring circuit in Hungary to provide former 125cc World Champion Gabor Talmacsi with factory equipment.

FIM Provisional Entry List 2009 

MotoGP Class
3DANI PEDROSASPAREPSOL HONDA TEAM
4ANDREA DOVIZIOSOITAREPSOL HONDA TEAM
5COLIN EDWARDSUSATECH 3 YAMAHA
7CHRIS VERMEULENAUSRIZLA SUZUKI MotoGP
14RANDY DE PUNIETFRALCR HONDA MotoGP
15ALEX DE ANGELISRSMSAN CARLO HONDA GRESINI
21JOHN HOPKINSUSAKAWASAKI RACING TEAM
24TONI ELIASSPASAN CARLO HONDA GRESINI
27CASEY STONERAUSDUCATI MARLBORO TEAM
33MARCO MELANDRIITAKAWASAKI RACING TEAM
36MIKA KALLIOFINPRAMAC RACING
46VALENTINO ROSSIITAFIAT YAMAHA TEAM
52JAMES TOSELANDGBRTECH 3 YAMAHA
59SETE GIBERNAUSPAGRUPO FRANCISCO HERNANDO
65LORIS CAPIROSSIITARIZLA SUZUKI MotoGP
69NICKY HAYDENUSADUCATI MARLBORO TEAM
72YUKI TAKAHASHIJPNSCOT RACING TEAM MotoGP
88NICCOLO CANEPAITAPRAMAC RACING
99JORGE LORENZOSPAFIAT YAMAHA TEAM
 
250cc Class
4HIROSHI AOYAMAJPNSCOT RACING TEAM 250cc
7AXEL PONSSPAPEPE WORLD PONS WRB
8BASTIEN CHESAUXSWIRACING TEAM GERMANY
9TONI WIRSINGGERRACING TEAM GERMANY
10IMRE TOTHHUNTEAM TOTH APRILIA
12THOMAS LUTHISWIEMMI - CAFFE LATTE
14RATTHAPARK WILAIROTTHATHAI HONDA PTT SAG
15ROBERTO LOCATELLIITAMETIS GILERA
16JULES CLUZELFRAMATTEONI RACING
17KAREL ABRAHAMCZECARDION AB MOTORACING
19ALVARO BAUTISTASPAMAPFRE ASPAR TEAM
21HECTOR BARBERASPAPEPE WORLD PONS WRB
25ALEX BALDOLINIITAWTR SAN MARINO TEAM
28GABOR TALMACSIHUNBALATON RACING TEAM 250cc
35RAFFAELE DE ROSAITASCOT RACING TEAM 250cc
41ALEIX ESPARGAROSPACAMPETELLA RACING
48SHOYA TOMIZAWAJPNTEAM CIP
51STEVIE BONSEYUSAAPRILIA MADRID
52LUKAS PESEKCZEAUTO KELLY - CP
58MARCO SIMONCELLIITAMETIS GILERA
63MIKE DI MEGLIOFRAMAPFRE ASPAR TEAM 250cc
75MATTIA PASINIITATEAM TOTH APRILIA
 
125cc Class
5ALEXIS MASBOUFRALONCIN RACING
7DOMINIQUE AEGERTERSWIAJO INTERWETTEN
8LORENZO ZANETTIITAWWC
11SANDRO CORTESEGERAJO INTERWETTEN
12ESTEVE RABATSPABLUSENS APRILIA
16CAMERON BEAUBIERUSARED BULL KTM 125
17STEFAN BRADLGERKIEFER RACING
18NICOLAS TEROLSPAJACK & JONES PONS WRB
24SIMONE CORSIITAJACK & JONES PONS WRB
27STEFANO BIANCOITACBC CORSE
29ANDREA IANNONEITAWWC
30PERE TUTUSAUSSPAMATTEONI RACING
32LORENZO SAVADORIITAFONTANA RACING
33SERGIO GADEASPABANCAJA ASPAR TEAM 125cc
34RANDY KRUMMENACHERSWIDEGRAAF GRAND PRIX
38BRADLEY SMITHGBRBANCAJA ASPAR TEAM 125cc
44POL ESPARGAROSPABELSON DERBI
45SCOTT REDDINGGBRBLUSENS APRILIA
60JULIAN SIMONSPABANCAJA ASPAR TEAM 125cc
66MATTHEW HOYLEGBRMAXTRA TEAM
71TOMOYOSHI KOYAMAJPNLONCIN RACING
72MARCO RAVAIOLIITACBC CORSE
73TAKAAKI NAKAGAMIJPNWWC
81JASPER IWEMANEDKIEFER RACING
88MICHAEL RANSEDERAUTMAXTRA TEAM
93MARC MARQUEZSPARED BULL KTM 125
94JONAS FOLGERGERWWC
99DANNY WEBBGBRDEGRAAF GRAND PRIX
To be confirmedBELSON DERBI

 

Ezpeleta: "The Electronics Aren't To Blame"

There are many people around the world with opinions about MotoGP - some more informed, some less - but there is one voice that is always listened to, when its owner chooses to speak. That man is, of course, Carmelo Ezpeleta, the CEO of Dorna, the body which runs MotoGP. Ezpeleta is both admired for the huge strides in popularity and exposure that MotoGP has made under his leadership, and despised for what some see as the crippling of MotoGP, by switching from the old 990cc formula to the 800s.

Ezpeleta's critics' greatest fear is that he will continue to meddle with MotoGP rules, in the hope of achieving certain competitive outcomes. Both the new tire regulations and the switch from 990cc to 800cc were done on the pretext of safety, in the hope of slowing bikes down. But the cynics take the fact that both the 800s and the new single tires have seen lap records shattered as proof of their argument that Ezpeleta is interfering in the hope of making the racer closing.

The Spanish MotoGP chief has made no secret of his desire to limit the role of electronics in racing, but in an interview with the Spanish weekly magazine Motociclismo, translated and annotated by Speed TV's Dennis Noyes, Ezpeleta reveals some remarkable insights.

The most remarkable of these is that he doesn't believe that electronics have made the racing any less close. Ezpeleta points out that despite the fact that there have been no last-lap passes for the lead since Toni Elias won a thrilling race at Estoril in 2006, there has still been plenty of close racing down to the final lap further down the field. The lack of passes for the lead "must be because the riders at the front are different," Ezpeleta said. "If there are battles for the other positions, why not for the leading positions?"

Ezpeleta also revealed he has had talks with the factories about limiting the role of electronics, but that the factories were not interested.

The interview goes on to cover the single tire rule and the new Moto2 250 replacement class. Ezpeleta points out that the 250 class had already become a de facto single manufacturer class, with Aprilia deciding who would receive one of the 6 magic RSA 250 machines which were the only real bikes capable of winning a championship.

The interview makes interesting reading, and is in two parts. Read the first part of the interview in full over on SpeedTV's website. And here is the second part of the interview.

Still Shipping In Time For Christmas: The MotoGPMatters.com 2009 Motorcycle Racing Calendar

Christmas is rapidly approaching, and I'm sure that like me, many of you are running out of gift ideas. Luckily for anyone who is a race fan or knows a race fan, the ideal affordable motorcycle racing gift is still on sale: The 2009 MotoGPMatters.com motorcycle racing calendar!

Featuring a host of gorgeous photographs by Scott Jones, as well as a full listing of MotoGP and World Superbike weekends clearly marked on each month, it's the perfect schedule planner for motorcycle racing fans who don't want to miss the best racing on the planet. Printed using a four-color offset process, providing rich and beautiful photographs, the calendar measures 11" by 8.5", or 11" by 17" when folded out, with a photograph above a month grid.

Below is a sample month to give you an idea of the layout:

motogp motogpmatters calendar 2009 jorge lorenzo

So get your orders in quickly so that we can get this to you in time for the gift-giving season, and before we run out. Orders can be made by Paypal, as shown below. For orders of more than 2 calendars, or for shipping options outside of the countries shown below, send an e-mail to calendar@motogpmatters.com.

Orders for 1 Calendar

US & Canada Orders
Orders for Europe, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa

Orders for 2 calendars

US & Canada Orders - 2 Calendars
Orders for Europe, Australia, NZ and South Africa - 2 Calendar

PS: If you love the photos, Scott Jones will offer customers who buy a calendar a discount on full-size prints of any of the images from the calendar if you order them from his website, http://www.turn2photography.com/

2008 Kyalami World Superbike Testing - Final Day 3 Times

Testing concluded today for the final World Superbike test of the year, in Kyalami, South Africa. And once again, as he had done the previous two days, it was Michel Fabrizio on the factory Ducati who finished on top of the pile. Ben Spies was back in 2nd place again on Friday, having managed not to crash his Yamaha R1, as he did on Thursday. Meanwhile, it was Noriyuki Haga rounding out the top 3, and the last of the riders to have cracked into the 1'39 bracket.

The Hondas improved once again, with Johnny Rea and Carlos Checa setting the 4th and 5th fastest times, and a good deal more competitive than on the first day of the test, when they were some 4 seconds slower.

In the new machinery stakes, Aprilia continues to beat BMW, with Max Biaggi fastest, 6/10ths faster than his team mate Shinya Nakano, and nearly 4/10ths faster than Troy Corser on the BMW. But Corser was hampered by a crash earlier in the day, which he escaped form unscathed.

Final times from day 3:

1Michel FabrizioDucati1'39.714
2Ben SpiesYamaha1'39.978
3Noriyuki HagaDucati1'39.984
4Jonathan ReaHonda1'40.035
5Carlos ChecaHonda1'40.170
6Max NeukirchnerSuzuki1'40.394
7Yukio KagayamaSuzuki1'40.657
8Max BiaggiAprilia1'40.768
9Ryuichi KiyonariHonda1'41.067
10Troy CorserBMW1'41.102
11Shinya NakanoAprilia1'41.331
12Tom SykesYamaha1'41.562
13Ruben XausBMW1'41.996
14Kenan SofuogluHonda Supersport1'42.872
15Andrew PittHonda Supersport1'43.908

 

Moto2 Bikes To Run In Spain In 2009, With 250s In 2010

With the ink for the brand new Moto2 regulations still damp on the page (summarized here), proposals are already being made to start racing the bikes as soon as possible. According to Spanish sports daily AS.com, the Moto2 bikes could get their first outing alongside the Spanish CEV series in 2009.

Oscar Gallardo, the former Dakar racer who now runs the Spanish championship, told AS.com that the CEV could get a series up and running very quickly, if they had sufficient bikes. "We would need a minimum of 10 to 15 bikes to organize a championship, something we could do very quickly. The 2009 CEV is due to start on April 19th in Albacete, it would be feasible to organize a Moto2 championship with about two weeks' notice."

"We know that some teams have been preparing bikes for some time," Gallardo told AS.com, a fact confirmed to MotoGPMatters.com by Ronald ten Kate at Portimao. "We're just waiting for a set of rules to be announced," Ten Kate said back in November, confirming the Ten Kate team's interest in providing equipment to the class. Moriwaki have already showed a bike they had prepared in Japan, and rumors persist of Honda having a Moto2 bike ready to race.

The Spanish CEV series - technically it would probably be a "Cup", allowing riders in the other CEV classes to compete, something currently forbidden Spanish championship rules - would then be used as a proving ground for an early entry of the bikes into the 250 class. According to Motorcycle News, the 600cc Moto2 bikes could run alongside the 250cc two strokes as early as 2010. The decision to run the 600s together with the 250s will be taken based on whether or not the 600cc bikes can compete with the 250s.

That is indeed the million dollar question. In an analysis done by Dennis Noyes over on SpeedTV.com, the veteran motorcycle racing writer compares the current World Supersport times at Valencia and Jerez to times set by the 250s during the MotoGP round and the Spanish CEV Supersport and 1000cc Formula Extreme races. What is clear is that the 250s are 1-2 seconds faster than the Supersport 600s, but then the Supersport machines weigh in the region of 160kg, as opposed to the 135kg permitted for the Moto2 bikes.

Noyes' excellent article also covers the question which most threatens the series: Just exactly what constitutes a prototype. The rules clearly state that the major chassis components may not be taken from a production motorcycle, but nothing has been said about engines - one suspects, deliberately. And precisely this vagueness may end up causing Infront Motor Sports (as FG Sport, the organizing body behind World Superbikes is now known) to get involved.

Infront, by way of the Flammini brothers, have exclusive rights to "production-based motorcycle racing" from the FIM. And Infront has already been highly vocal about its intention to defend those rights. Complicating the matter is the fact that only the FIM and Infront actually know the exact wording of those rights.

Already, Paolo Ciabatti has started to set out Infront's stall, telling GPOne.com that the new Moto2 rules as they stand constitute "a gray area." But he made it clear that he didn't think that just using a production engine would necessarily violate Infront's contract. If a private team were to purchase a production engine, put it into a prototype chassis and turn it into a pure racing machine, that might not be such a problem for Infront. However, if the factories were to do the same - take an engine out of, say, a CBR600RR or R6 - and put it into a prototype frame, then Infront would tend to regard that as a production machine, and an infringement of their exclusive rights to production racing.

With the rules for Moto2 now published, things are starting to move very fast indeed, faster than many people expected. This story isn't going to go away in a hurry.

 

2008 Kyalami World Superbike Testing - Day 2 Times

World Superbike testing continues at Kyalami, and the WSBK regulars have picked up the pace. Once again it was Michel Fabrizio who was quickest, taking almost a second off his time from yesterday. Young German rider Max Neukirchner was 2nd quickest on the Suzuki, ahead of Nori Haga on the Ducati. Haga managed to stay aboard today, after crashing three times on Wednesday.

The Ten Kate Honda team also made a huge leap, going 3 seconds faster than yesterday, while Shinya Nakano managed to beat his Aprilia team mate Max Biaggi once again. After his strong start yesterday, Ben Spies could only manage the 9th fastest time on the Yamaha R1, taking half a second off his time from Wednesday.

Times from day 2:

1Michel FabrizioDucati1'40.256
2Max NeukirchnerSuzuki1'40.688
3Noriyuki HagaDucati1'40.709
4Carlos ChecaHonda1'40.725
5Jonathan ReaHonda1'40.842
6Yukio KagayamaSuzuki1'40.959
7Shinya NakanoAprilia1'40.968
8Max BiaggiAprilia1'41.041
9Ben SpiesYamaha1'41.049
10Ryuichi KiyonariHonda1'41.412
11Troy CorserBMW1'41.986
12Ruben XausBMW1'42.438
13Tom SykesYamaha1'42.933
14Kenan SofuogluHonda (Supersport)1'43.755
15Andrew PittHonda (Supersport)1'44.101

 

FIM Unveils "Moto2" - 600cc Four-Stroke Regulations To Replace 250s

The FIM today finally announced at least a preliminary version of the rules for the new four-stroke class to replace the 250s. Many of the proposals had already leaked out, and even been discussed publicly, but now that the basic proposals are out in full, a much clearer picture of the goal of the regulations is starting to appear.

The main points of the regulations, which are due to come into force in 2011, can be summarized as follows:

Engine:

All engines must be conventionally aspirated (e.g. no turbos) four-stroke engines with a maximum capacity of 600cc, using a maximum of 4 cylinders. The following maximum engine speeds will be enforced using an electronics package to be supplied by the organizers:

4 cylinder engines16,000 RPM
3 cylinder engines15,500 RPM
2 cylinder engines15,000 RPM

Valves will be as conventional as possible, with no pneumatic valves or variable valve timing or lift allowed. Valves must be of an iron-based alloy, ruling out the more expensive alloys.

Fuel Injection and Exhaust Systems:

Fuel systems are to be as conventional as possible, too. Throttle bodies must be circular, with a single control or butterfly valve. Variable inlet tract systems are banned, as are variable length exhaust systems and direct injection. Throttle body internal diameters will be limited as follows: 

4 cylinder engines42 mm
3 cylinder engines48 mm
2 cylinder engines59 mm

Fuel injection pressures will be limited to 5 Bar, and spec fuel injectors will be used. The engines must use conventional, commercially available unleaded fuel.

The maximum noise levels will be raised to 120 dB/A.

Transmission:

Gearboxes will be limited to 6 speeds, as they are currently. However, the gear ratios will be considerably limited. At the start of the season, teams will have to nominate all gear ratios they will be using that year. For each speed, 3 possible ratios will be permitted, as well as 2 different primary drive ratios.

One rule on transmissions is worthy of note:

Electro-mechanical or electro-hydraulic clutch actuating systems are not permitted.

It is not entirely clear what the purpose of this is, though the main suspect must be electrically or hydraulically assisted slipper clutches.

Electronics:

The organizer (in this instance, Dorna) will provide a standardized or spec ECU, which will cost a maximum of JPY 75,000 (about EUR 650, or USD 820). The spec ECU will include fuel injection, ignition, datalogging, timing transponder and rev limit functions. All other electronic systems for datalogging or electronic control will be banned.

Chassis, Running Gear and Materials:

All major chassis components (frame, tank, seat, fairing, swing arm) must be prototypes. The rules explicitly forbid use of items from road-going machinery, to avoid a conflict of interest with Infront Motor Sports (formerly FG Sport) and the World Supersport series.

Carbon brakes are banned, as are carbon wheels. Rim widths and diameters are limited front and rear, to 4 inches (front) and 6-6.25 inches (rear) with a diameter of 17 inches. Tire quantities will be restricted.

"Non-conventional" materials and manufacturing processes will be banned, to try and keep costs down. The FIM will issue a list of banned materials, which it will presumably have to keep updating regularly. Iron-based or aluminium alloys must be used for several key components, including crankshafts, camshafts, con rods, valve springs, pistons, crankcases and cylinder heads. No definition is given of an "iron-based" alloy.

General Rules:

Teams will only be allowed one bike and two engines per race weekend. There will be a claiming rule, allowing any team to purchase the engine of any other team, minus throttle bodies, exhaust system and ECU, for EUR 20,000, or USD 26,500. Any claim must be made within 1 hour of the race finishing. Refusing to sell the engine will mean automatic disqualification.

So What Does It All Mean?

It's clear that the FIM has gone out of its way to ensure that there are no clashes between the current World Supersport regulations and the new Moto2 class. The rules specifically forbid the use of production chassis components. However, it remains to be seen whether this will be sufficient for the Flammini brothers, as it would still be possible to drop, say, a Honda CBR600RR engine into a custom chassis and enter it into the series.

The rules also highlight Dorna's thinking on MotoGP. The introduction of a spec ECU is an obvious testbed for a similar move in MotoGP, and with Dorna controlling the specifications for such a system, they will be attempting to exclude traction control.

Unfortunately, providing a spec ECU makes the job of the data technician that much more difficult, and to get the maximum advantage out of the situation, teams will need to employ a lot of highly-skilled and expensive programmers. Though aimed at reducing costs, this one measure will turn out to be the one which increases costs the most.

The claiming rule looks like being the rule least likely to succeed. If Team A can buy Team B's engine at the end of the race, and Team B believe their biggest advantage is in their engine, then it is in Team B's interests to ensure that the engine doesn't make it back into the pits in one piece. Ideally, the engine would destroy itself as the rider entered pit lane at the end of the race.

Obviously, you couldn't afford to do this as a privateer team, as the costs involved would be too high. But if you are a major manufacturer, sacrificing an engine each race weekend is an affordable way of discouraging the privateer teams (who would have the most to gain from the claiming rule) from actually trying to apply the claiming rule.

The point of the rules is clear: To attempt to reduce the cost of racing, and get more teams into the class. With a factory-spec Aprilia 250 costing around $1 million to lease for a season, that's a laudable and necessary aim. The question is, will they succeed? Issuing a list of banned materials (excluded because of the cost of manufacturing) seems like a great place to start, but like the list of banned performance-enhancing substances in professional sports, it's hard to keep up. Whether or not the bikes get cheaper to produce, the regulations are certainly going to be a lot more expensive to enforce.

The final question is whether the 250 class will be capable of capturing the imagination of the fans. This is a much more difficult question, and one that has no clear answer. The current 250cc two-stroke racing machines, though arguably the purest race bikes on the planet, no longer have any bearing on the types of bikes that most MotoGP fans or other motorcyclists ride. The two stroke-engine is slowly dying out, mostly as a result of its reputation as extremely polluting, a reputation it does not necessarily deserve. Replacing two-stroke engines with four strokes will certainly bring the bikes being raced much closer to the type of machinery the fans rode up on. This is also the reason for selecting 600cc as the maximum engine capacity, the 600cc sportsbike is a huge sales hit for just about every manufacturer who makes such a machine.

The problem is that the rules as they stand will leave the bikes racing around the track looking a lot less sophisticated than the machines the fans rode up on. Oval inlet tracts, variable inlet length, variable exhaust length, all these things are becoming commonplace on 600cc road bikes. Traction control is not far behind. And as the 600cc market becomes more cutthroat, and the World Supersport series becomes more important as a marketing tool, the evolution of the 600cc bikes is only going to get faster, with the 600cc supersport machine on the dealer's floor quickly outstripping the Moto2 bike in terms of sophistication.

The real test will come when the racing starts. If the World Supersport bikes keep getting better, then they are likely to be, and to remain, quicker than the new Moto2 class bikes at every circuit both bikes go to. The question is, will that matter to the fans?

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