MotoGP Testing Restrictions Lifted, Brake Protectors Compulsory As GPC Tweaks MotoGP Rules

The testing limits imposed as a cost-cutting measure in MotoGP have finally been lifted. At the meeting of the Grand Prix Commission in Valencia, MotoGP's rule-making body dropped the rules limiting testing to non-contracted riders outside of MotoGP's official tests, and allowed contracted riders (e.g. any rider currently racing in MotoGP) to ride the bikes at private tests. The GPC accepted the argument put forward by Ducati that testing is already limited by the number of tires available, and that restricting testing to test riders did little to cut costs, as the factory riders were being paid anyway.

That argument was not shared by all the members of the MSMA, though. When asked by MotoMatters.com at Valencia about lifting the test ban, HRC Vice President Shuhei Nakamoto said that the measure would favor European manufacturers who have their bikes, crew and riders already close to the track. For the Japanese manufacturers, they would either have to fly their team personnel and riders to Japan, or their bikes, equipment and Japanese engineers to Europe if they wish to test at European tracks. Lifting the test ban would not cut costs for Honda, Nakamoto said.

The testing details have yet to be completely finalized, however. The next meeting of the Grand Prix Commission, in December, will settle details such as the total amount of tires to be allowed for testing (currently 240 per season per manufacturer, with suggestions that this could be increased to 280, though how those tires are distributed between factory and satellite teams could be an issue), and whether testing will be limited to a single, designated test track for the season.

Other rule changes were also adopted during the meeting. One small change with big safety implications is the imposition of compulsory brake lever protectors, as used by a number of teams in all classes, including the Marc VDS Racing team in Moto2 (see picture posted on their Twitter page) and LCR Honda in MotoGP, provided by their sponsor Rizoma. The move had previously been opposed because of fears the brake protectors could in some cases make the situation worse. In some forms of off-road racing, the larger bar and lever protectors have been known to fold completely in high-impact crashes, trapping fingers between the bars and the bent protectors and causing worse injury than they may have protected. But the introduction of bar-end style protectors has allayed such fears, and should provide protection against the sort of crash seen three years' ago in the 250 race at Mugello, when Marco Simoncelli veered across the track in front of Hector Barbera, clipping Barbera's brake lever and sending him flying over the handlebars at over 250 km/h.

Two other changes have been made impacting the Claiming Rule Teams. First, the engine sealing regulations had to be changed, to allow teams using engines without a cassette-style gearbox to change gear ratios on a sealed engine. This is meant especially to help teams using engines from production bikes, most of which do not have the ability to change the gears without splitting the gearbox. 

A restriction was also placed on the different types of carbon brake disks allowed. From now on, carbon brake disks will be limited to 320mm diameter, and teams will have a limit of just two different masses which they can use, different masses being typically required at circuits such as Mugello and Sepang which have a lot of heavy braking at high speeds, and tight, twisty tracks like Valencia. CRT bikes will not be subject to those restrictions for 2012, in part because the bikes are so completely new, and finding the ideal brake size and mass will need a good deal of experimentation. From 2013, the CRT entries will also be subject to the same restrictions.

The last significant change was to increase the minimum weight for the Moto2 class from 135kg to 140kg. A proposal for a combined rider and bike weight, as there is in 125s and will be in Moto3, was rejected. Raising the minimum weight to 140kg should make it less expensive to race in Moto2, with less money required to get the bike to meet the minimum weight. And adding 5kg to the bike will also diminish to an extent the advantage that lighter riders have in Moto2: more weight means that more strength is required to handle the bike, and the percentage difference in total weight between lighter and heavier riders has been reduced.

There is, however, also some opposition to heavier bikes. Some members of the paddock contend that the heavier, more powerful bikes make the racing more dangerous, as the bikes are more difficult and physically demanding to control, and the increased energy mean that any impact between bikes and fallen riders will be significantly greater. Some have also said that the heavier Moto2 and MotoGP machines may have been a contributing factor in the deaths of Shoya Tomizawa and Marco Simoncelli.

Below is the press release from the FIM containing full details of the rule changes:


FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix

Decision of the Grand Prix Commission

The Grand Prix Commission, composed of Messrs. Carmelo Ezpeleta (Dorna, Chairman), Ignacio Verneda (FIM Executive Director, Sport), Hervé Poncharal (IRTA) and Takanao Tsubouchi (MSMA), in the presence of Javier Alonso (Dorna) and M. Paul Butler (Secretary of the meeting), in a meeting held on 05 November in Valence (Spain), unanimously decided the following (Changes in bold):

WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT

1.15.1.1 MotoGP Class

It was agreed that with effect from 2012 private testing of MotoGP class machines may be carried out by any rider, subject to a limit on the total number of tyres being supplied by the official MotoGP tyre supplier. Final details will be confirmed at the next GPC meeting in December.

It was also agreed that manufacturers may use any rider for the completion of their 2011 testing programme during November 2011.

2.3.7

7.) As an exception to Aricle 2.3.7. 6), it will be possible to break the seals if all the following conditions apply:
a) the machine is entered by a CRT team,
b) for the sole purpose of changing the gearbox and/or primary ratios, on an engine design where seals need to be removed for internal gearbox access,
c) under supervision of the Technical Director and staff, at a time and place determined by the Technical Director.

2.5.1

The following are the revised minimum weights permitted:
- Moto3: motorcycle & rider 148kg
- Moto2: motorcycle 140kg
- MotoGP up to 800cc motorcycle 150kg
- 801 - 1000cc motorcycle 153kg

2.7.3.3

In the MotoGP class, carbon brake discs must be of one size for outside diameter of 320mm and only 2 standard choices of disc mass are permitted.

As an exception for the 2012 season only, machines entered by a CRT team are allowed to use carbon brake discs of other sizes.

2.7.3.4

In all classes, the proportion of ceramic composite materials in brake discs must not exceed 2% by mass.

Ceramic materials are defined as inorganic, non metallic solids (e.g. Al2O3, SiC, B4C, Ti5Si3, SiO2, Si3N4).

2.7.3.5

Motorcycles must be equipped with brake lever protection, intended to protect the handlebar brake lever(s) from being accidentally activated in case of collision with another machine. Acceptable protection includes the fairing extending sufficiently to cover the brake lever, as viewed from the front.

Such devices must be strong enough to function effectively and designed so that there is no risk for the rider to be injured or trapped by it, and it must not be considered a dangerous fitting (at the sole discretion of the Technical Director).

In case the brake lever protection is attached to any part of the braking system (eg. brake master cylinder), then the brake system manufacturer must officially confirm in writing to the Technical Director that the device does not interfere with the proper brake operation.

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Comments

The (rather brief) story on motogp.com states the lifting of restrictions also applies to the remainder of this month. Didn't somebody state recently that they had no tyres left anyway?

1) - Japanese manufacturers being prejudiced with "unlimited" testing, as opiniated by Honda representative (Nakamoto-San)...
Surely this is exactly the same as how it was before the limiting on tests was brought up? Why all of a sudden this is a complaint?
Why didn't the japanese factories already based (or created) at least some racing R&D base/infrastructures in Europe, as seen for instances in SBK (Yamaha Belgarda, etc)?
I mean, for decades they throw millions that nobody else has on developments, then complain on "logistics"... absolutely ludicrous.

2)- Restriction placed for two different types (masses) of carbon brake disks, which must be 320mm diameter for factory prototypes but no such limits for CRT...
Now, aren't the weight limits the same for both factory prototypes and CRT? The engine performances may vary, but surely stopping power efficiency/refinment can be adjusted on CRTs, through periferic brake components, even with these limitations on them too?
I'm not sure this is a fair (or right) decision, as this means the brakes will not be really the same between CRT and factory bikes, with all things that can be related to that.

3)- Combined rider and bike weight limits being rejected in Moto2, but getting weight on bikes increased (+5 kg)...
I was hoping they would get a good compromise as seen in 125cc/Moto3. I think the small/lighter riders ("jockey style") do have an advantage. Not understanding why (and again) it was rejected(?).
I agree on the 5kg increase, it translates in less money spent on parts and exploits for weight shaving.

Still regarding MotoGP, there's one thing that I haven't seen aproached so far, which is a predictable difference of performances between the CRT and factory prototypes but, especially, between "less experienced riders" (on CRT) and the usual "long timers" (on MSMA prototypes). ...surely that can be dangerous when riders of the two different factions cross paths, having different references to what each one is doing?

The sport is for everyone, not just jockeys. Plus, riders like Simocelli were regularly handing "jockeys" their asses on the racetrack...

Combined rider/bike weights in all classes sounds like a good idea to me if it can be implemented fairly, which it easily can.

God only knows what Sic could have done if his total weight with the bike was equal to 'Drosa-bots....

It's for the unnaturally gifted. They don't have variable height baskets to give the short guys a chance in basketball, and you can't win a gold medal in high jump by clearing a larger multiple of your height...

If Sic had been Pedrosa's weight, ne would have had to brake earlier and probably been slower in the corners. When you say larger riders "regularly" beat smaller ones, surely that is counter to your argument that the little ones have an advantage?

"If Sic had been Pedrosa's weight, ne would have had to brake earlier and probably been slower in the corners."

False and false. Lower weight would allow _later_ braking AND higher corner speeds. Any minute advantage via gravity from higher weight giving more "downforce" is MORE than overcome by the inertial (horizontal to the ground) disadvantage caused by that weight.

Its more complex than your explanation. If the rider was rigidly bolted to the seat you may have some point but it is not a rigid coupling. Rider weight is movable weight and being able to move more weight forward or rearward or off the bike in corners is a huge advantage to acceleration, braking and cornering respectively.

Gravity's downward pull is equally offset by the lateral g's (not more than overcome) but the advantage is for a heavier rider to require less bike lean angle allowing them to be on a fatter part of the tire.

This whole heavy/light rider advantage issue has been gone over ad naseum on this site and the fact that more wins are taken by riders heavier/taller than average makes this a point that has no facts to back it up.

Chris
http://moto2-usa.blogspot.com/

Good points. If there was a minimum weight and a rider like Pedrosa had to carry ballast it is most likely that he would be significantly disadvantaged. The ballast would need to be fixed somewhere on the bike and there are not a lot of places for it to go, unlike a car. This means that the bike would be significantly heavier, meaning that it would be more difficult to maneuver. But while the heavier rider is able to move his weight around on the bike to his advantage, the extra ballast that the smaller rider carries cannot move. So we have a smaller and probably physically weaker rider forced to ride a heavier bike, against a bigger stronger rider who can move his weight around on a bike that is lighter. The whole debate about weight on motorcycles is not so simple as it might appear.

And where do we draw the line? What if some guy seven feet tall and 300 lbs wants to ride a MotoGP bike? The fact is that humans come in a variety of sizes, and certain sports suit certain body types. It's just a fact of life.

Pity the tyres aren't allocated per rider, rather than per manufacturer: that would naturally advantage a manufacturer who puts more bikes on the grid. It would also allow satellite teams to do their own testing, rather than patiently wait to be given the results by the factory.

But how will it work for the CRT's? Is FTR a manufacturer, so they need to split the tyres between testing their Honda, Kawasaki and Aprilia powered bikes? Or does each combination of frame and engine count separately?

As for combined bike+rider weights... if Simoncelli could win a title on a 100kg, 110hp Aprilia, I can't see why bikes that weigh more than the old 500's are providing too much advantage to the little guys.

>>As for combined bike+rider weights... if Simoncelli could win a title on a 100kg, 110hp Aprilia, I can't see why bikes that weigh more than the old 500's are providing too much advantage to the little guys.<<

That's a valid point, but then I think Simoncelli was one exception to the norm (among many), where his rider talent/aggressiveness compensated for a possible size/weight disavantage.

In my mind there's always this image of Toni Elias and Dani Pedrosa battling on similar machinery (none of them are tall, but Pedrosa was considerably lighter and shorter then). Dani would always pull some noticeable faster acceleration and top speeds (decreased braking distances due to less rider weight vs bigger body working as "parachute" can be a moot point though), sometimes even with Elias in his draft, to which he was one of the first to insist on measures that should consider combined bike+rider weights.

If we have Moto2 bikes all in the same spec-engine (same power/torque) and same min.weight, I would think that guys like Scott Redding are in disadvantage (small or not, moot point) to guys like, say, Marc Marquez. Perhaps even sooner exceeding the limits(?) on those bikes.

We used to ride with very similar bar ends when mountain biking many years ago and I can tell you they are more trouble then they are worth. I can see them getting more easily hooked on the other bikes when there is contact with another bike. This is definitely something where I see the solution as worse than the problem.

I understand the possibility of lever protectors getting caught up but guys have been using them already and I haven't seen a single crash because of them. I think it certainly would have prevented the crash between Josh Herrin and Dane Westby at Daytona this year amongst a few other crashes like Capirossi and Gibernau. That's two examples where they certainly could have helped versus no incidents where they've attributed to a crash or more serious injuries.

I wonder if that has actually been used by any top level riders because from the video it looks like it locks out the brake lever even under partial throttle which could pose a problem for braking in certain circumstances.

Anything that prevents me from applying the brake by locking out the lever in any situation is a no-go. If there is any mechanical throttle malfunction you could be left not being able to brake. Not good. I'd be surprised if that would pass tech.

Also, a lot of those situations occur on turn-in when the rider is off the throttle and partially braking so it would be ineffective.

Chris
http://moto2-usa.blogspot.com/

One could move the brake lever pivot to the end of the bar, as used to be done way back. That way the rider uses his stronger fingers closer to the lever end, reducing the leverage required in the process, and the likelihood of the lever being operated in a collision is reduced. The pivot could be covered as far as the rider's little finger. Master cylinder and reservoir can be inboard, as they are now.

This issue should never have raised its head in the first place.
The fundamental of the sport is closed circuit asphalt motorcycle racing.
To run off at a tangent,tennis is a closed court, ball and racket sport.
Why should a smaller rider carry ballast? Why should a longer limbed tennis player be forced to use a ping pong bat because he has a 6 inch height and reach advantage? Next thing someone will have a brainstorm and suggest handicaps according to physical dimensions. Something like sub 65kg riders limited to 900cc and plus 70's get 1000cc. Then it can all degenerate into the rules that govern boxing. Racing in different weight divisions. Riders pushing their mass up or down depending on which engine capacity/bike mass suits them best.
That way we could have two riders crowned MotoGP world champion within any given season. We are already on the cusp of a Prototype and CRT world champion for 2012. The very idea is totally flawed. Big or small,the cream always rises to the top anyway.
Lever protection ? I'll reserve judgement.
Testing for team riders ? No complaints.
What I would like to see is all such tests limited to one or two tracks only. Additionally,those circuits should not be on the GP calender for the season in question. Something like a Brazilian circuit and a South African circuit. Get them to test proper rather than test with the eye on circuit advantage. That will certainly cut the costs of testing as the manufacturer's would balk at the prospect and rather focus on getting their kit and riders on song at the official tests.

There's different opinions on the matter, none is totally right or wrong.
I completely agree that it wouldn't make sense in MotoGP, and I too think "the cream always rises to the top" (only the "cream" should make that grid anyway).

But in Moto2, where the racing is based on a mid capacity spec-engine, where (very) different experienced levels of riders are racing together, and having it in use successfully in 125cc/Moto3, it makes some sense to apply combined bike+rider weights there, IMHO.

I'm really struggling with the whole "riders will be too busy to test" arguement. This may be a "grass is greener on the other side" view but are GP riders really rushed off their feet for 12 months of the year? Do they work longer hours than the rest of the paddock, or even the rest of the world? I have heard mention of Ducati requiring Stoner to do a lot of PR for the team in his days with the Italian team and the lesser demands placed upon him by Honda being a motivating factor for his switch to them. I'd be interested to hear exacly how many days a typical rider can call his own in a season. Anyone?

18 events x 3 days = 54
Winter testing = 10
2012 testing = 8
2011 testing = 2

74 days a year on the bike.

Allowing 2 days travel to/from each event adds 36 for the racing and 8 for winter testing and an extra 5 days for travel for in season testing, more than usual because of the 2012 bike tests.

49 days travel.

This estimate doesn't include PR work but means about 123 days a year riding and travelling..or 2 days on 4 days off.

On the rider/bike weight issue: I think one point that is being missed is this: it takes less NRG to move a lighter mass, at the same speed, then a heavier one. Add in the fuel limits, and there is a definite advantage to being lighter! Simple physics. David had a great article on how the fuel limits were affecting lap times, where the lap times (he used Nicky as an example) were fast, dropped off and got slower (by almost a second/lap, if memory serves), then got faster. The fuel management system was changing the metering to make sure he could finish the race. A lighter total mass would use less NRG (fuel) to propel it at the same speed as a heavier one. Meaning, the lighter 'system' could use slightly more fuel (go faster) and still finish the race. Is this making any sense to you guys?

I prefer the word 'energy', given the rest of your post is mostly in english and not textlish.
What you are saying does make sense, but I think it is only an aspect of the issue. When the smallest guy in MotoGP isn't the most winning rider, the whole argument for combined rider/bike weight limits lacks a bit of credibility.

They've got a $7 million bike with a $1.4 million transmission and they think open testing is expensive? Or they don't want other teams who don't have a dozen test riders, vast computer and static testing labs, and their own track to have a chance to develop a challenger? Give the CRT teams all the fuel the rider can handle, I say. The factories burn a hundred thousand gallons of jet fuel shipping test bikes/crews all over, CRT teams should get to put .01% of that in their racebike. That's cost effective racing.

Your right . . . the lightest guy in GP is not the winnings ridder, but that has to do with TALENT! My point is that the weight argument is simple physics---it takes less NRG (fuel) to make a lighter mass go faster then a heavy one. This is an important point with the moronic fuel limits MSMA has implemented.

So you are saying that the reason light riders don't win is that they are systematically less talented than heavy ones? Remarkable. Maybe if they eat more their talent will increase.

. . . from my days in physics and chemistry classes . . . many decades ago . . .