MotoGP Rules Tweaked: Testing Restrictions Ended, 9 CRT Entries Accepted, Minimum Weights Increased

MotoGP's rule-making body, the Grand Prix Commission, adopted a number of changes to the MotoGP rules in a meeting on Wednesday. As expected, the testing restrictions were dropped, now to be limited by tire allocation. Other changes adopted include an increase in the minimum weight, the introduction of rear-facing red lights to be carried in wet conditions, a slight tweak to the 107% qualifying minimum time, and explicitly granting authority to impose penalties on event organizers. The GPC also considered the entry list for the 2012 MotoGP season, and accepted 9 CRT entries, along with 1 reserve CRT entry.

The change to the testing regulations had been expected for a while, but the Grand Prix Commission cleared up the final details for the 2012 season. As announced earlier, contracted riders will be allowed to test for the factories instead of test riders, the only restriction being the limit of 240 tires allotted for testing purposes. In effect, this replaces a de jure restriction (amount of testing limited by the rules) with a de facto one (testing limited by tire allocation). But the easing of restrictions on the factories left the satellite and claiming rule teams in limbo: manufacturers were unlikely to make tires available to them to test with, and so they were awarded their own supply. Each MotoGP rider not in a factory team will have their own allocation of 120 tires to be used for testing, giving them an equivalent amount to the factories. 

Rather ironically, the disappearance of Suzuki and the reduction of the Repsol Honda team from three riders to just two was one move that made this possible. Honda, Yamaha and Ducati now all have two-rider teams, so in theory, those tires could be distributed equally between both riders in the team. In practice, factories will still also want to run tests with test riders, and that testing will also be done with tires from the factory allocation of 240, reducing the amount of track time for the factory riders. But it also gives the factories the flexibility to continue development, should one of their factory riders suffer serious injury and be ruled out for an extended period of time. The other rider could pick up the slack, without being restrained by the limits imposed on non-factory teams.

In theory, this should give the non-factory riders a slight advantage. They could have a little more time for testing the bike than the factory riders, with none of their tires being used by test riders. In practice, it will not make that much difference, however.

The most interesting news was the acceptance of 9 Claiming Rule Team entries and 1 reserve, which would bring the total grid up to 21 bikes, including the 12 factory prototypes already accepted. Though the list has not yet formally been issued, it seems likely that the entries will include the latest confirmed riders (as shown here), along with the two BQR entries. The reserve entry is likely to be the Laglisse Suter BMW of Carmelo Morales, and with funding still likely to be an issue for some of the Claiming Rule Teams, there is a reasonable chance that the Laglisse team will make it onto the grid.

The press release emphasized that the GPC still has the authority to withdraw CRT status at any time. However, to do so requires a simple majority of the four parties in the GPC: Dorna, IRTA, the FIM and the MSMA. With IRTA and Dorna almost certain to want to have the teams retain CRT status, securing a majority will be hard for the MSMA (who have the most to lose from the CRT rules), especially as Dorna has the casting vote, as chair of the committee. In effect, once CRT status has been awarded, it will be very hard to have it taken away again.

Some of the changes have been made in response to either safety or the changing of the rules. With all three classes now four stroke, allowing starters onto the grid is a necessity. The days of (relatively) easy-to-bump-start two strokes are gone. Red tail lights have now been made mandatory for all classes in wet conditions, a rule that should enhance safety in poor visibility conditions. And the 107% qualifying rule has been extended to include times set during warm up, giving riders who fail to make the cut during qualifying one last chance to make it onto the grid on Sunday morning.

The penalty for infringing the engine durability regulations has also been tightened up a fraction. Riders who have used an extra engine over and above their allowance of 6 (for factory prototypes) or 12 (for CRT entries) will now have to wait until 10 seconds after the green light at the end of pit lane has gone out, rather than 10 seconds after the start of the race. This has been a response to what was informally being referred to as "the Valencia situation," where starting from the pit lane - even 10 seconds after the race started - put you in with a fighting chance of entering mid-pack. In terms of both fairness and safety, this was not acceptable, and the change means that riders taking an extra engine will now start 10 seconds after the riders on the grid have passed pit lane. The 10-second delay is now a genuine disadvantage, and now varies much less between race tracks.

Another change which could prove to be significant is the explicit granting of the authority to Race Direction to police the running of a MotoGP event and issue fines as appropriate. The issue was raised in response to the failure of officials at Sepang to wave warning flags during the first session of free practice for the Moto2 class, causing a number of riders to crash very heavily. The incident possibly affected the outcome of the 2011 Moto2 championship, with Marc Marquez' incredible charge being halted due to the injury he sustained, and ending his title hopes. Race Direction will now have a much greater say and much more direct influence over the running of an event. After criticism leveled at the series over the deaths of Marco Simoncelli and Shoya Tomizawa, this move should provide better consistency in the running of the events.

Below is the official press release from the FIM announcing 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), Herve Poncharal (IRTA) and Takanao Tsubouchi (MSMA) in the presence of Javier Alonso (Dorna), Mike Trimby (IRTA) and Paul Butler (Secretary of the meeting), in a meeting held on 14 December in Madrid, decided the following:

Application effective from 01 January 2012

Sporting Regulations

A revised wording of the testing regulation was approved. This incorporated the various decisions made earlier in 2011 concerning this matter. Additionally it was decided that contracted riders in the MotoGP class may also test machines using the allocation of 240 tyres available to each manufacturer's team. Previously such testing was restricted to test riders only. In the interest of fair competition it was also agreed that other MotoGP class riders could exclusively test their team machines with a limit of 120 tyres per rider.

It was agreed that riders who did not qualify for the race based on their time in the qualifying practice can qualify if they achieve a time at least equal to 107% of the fastest rider in the warm up. This is an addition to the previous regulation which only considered free practice sessions.

Under the regulation concerning MotoGP class riders starting the race from pit lane due to an engine durability sanction, it was agreed that in future they will start ten seconds after the green light is shown at the pit lane exit.

Riders in all classes may now use a starter engine on the grid. For all classes tyre warmers may now remain in place until the display of the one minute board. Generators must still be removed at the three minute board.

Technical Regulations

With effect from 2012, for all classes, it will be compulsory to display a red rear light in rain conditions.

The minimum weight limits for 1000cc machines in the MotoGP class will be increased from the current 153 kilos.

Effective 2012 157 kilos
Effective 2013 160 kilos

The permitted wheel sizes for the Moto3 class were confirmed as:

Front 2.50" x 17" only
Rear 3.50" x 17" only

Several detail changes to regulations, submitted by the Technical Director were all approved.

A list of MotoGP class entries for 2012 was considered by the Commission. The list contained nine entries plus one reserve entry using CRT machinery of various types. Participation of all CRT entries was approved by the Commission on the understanding that the granting of CRT Status was subject to review by the Grand Prix Commission at any time.

Disciplinary and Arbitration Code

The authority and competence of the Race Direction to impose penalties was extended to cover failure by any party to ensure the efficient running of events or for serious breaches of the regulations

Precise wording for all the changes will be incorporated into the FIM Grand Prix regulations shortly. The regulations may be viewed on line at WWW.FIM-LIVE.COM

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Entries are judged both on their quality and on their viability. MotoGP could probably have more bikes on the grid, but they would be 10 or more seconds off the pace, and the riders would be a liability. So only riders judged to be in with a decent chance of actually being competitive will be accepted. And only teams with the financial means to complete the full season will be accepted as well.

Dorna regards 24 bikes as a full grid, and would love to have that many good quality entries. But we will have to wait until next year for that, I think.

Do the GPC consider 21 bikes on the grid the optimum number ?. Or don't they think the Laglisse team have the financial backing to properly run a Motogp team, and will only let them in to make up the grid if another team drop out ?.
Do like the idea of having a tail light on the bikes in wet conditions for safety reasons.

It seems unfair that if a team does not qualify during QUALIFYING that they get to put their bike on the grid during Sunday warm-up. Isn't that the point of qualifying? I suppose if I were in the team that this applied to it would be great, but still.

And I certainly hope that if they do get bumped into the race from a warm-up time they are placed at the back of the grid and it's not based on their lap time and placed mid-pack or worse.

Maybe this is a reaction to the one-bike rule for Moto2 (not sure about Moto3). So if a rider wads up his or her's [awesome to type that] bike early in the session they get a chance to race.

The 107% is indeed a response to the one-bike rule. Both Moto2 and Moto3 have short qualifying sessions, and if you trash your bike on the out lap, you are out of QP. Technical problems, health problems, any number of other problems could cause an otherwise competent rider to fall outside of the 107% rule. And yes, posting a 107% time in the warm up will put you at the very back of the grid.

Is the weight increase to allow teams to fit electric starters and associated fittings/hardware to the bikes?
- High compression multi-cylinder four strokes can be difficult to restart, especially if a slipping type clutch is fitted.

Or is it to allow for the difference of 21L and 24L for the two spec of teams?
- So that a CRT entry does not have to try and get below the weight of a factory prototype to offset the extra weight in fuel they are carrying. Is the minimum weight measured at the end of the race, or the start with a full tank?

Otherwise cant really see the need to increase weight other than the two above or to limit motivation of using expensive light metal alloys.

It's to prevent any genuine innovation that might change the status quo.
So long as the rules prevent any advantage by trying something different (triples, twins, lighter frame materials, composite matrix crankcases), the winner will be the one who sits the most engineers in front of the best CFD programmes. The one with the most money, in other words. The ultimate corporate perversion: no-risk competition.

The materials cost is such a small fraction of R&D, suggesting that it's about cost saving is an insult to the intelligence of the fans.

I'm not sure the difference of 3 more kilos makes it vastly more lethal. The engines are increasing capacity so wouldn't you expect the minimum weight to also increase accordingly? I don't think 3 kilos shaved off on the bike would save anyone's life if ran over by it and you certainly have no way to prove that but increasing the weight limit likely does make it easier on the teams budget.

by the weight increase. Every increase in weight correlates to a decrease in safety. Strange decision...

And I agree with codewheeney: what's wrong with 22 bikes on the grid?

Explain how it correlates to a decrease in safety. The engines are growing 200cc and you think the minimum weight is going to stay the same and have the series remain within the budgets of the smaller teams? More weight=cheaper Bigger engine=more weight.

Let me give you an extreme analogy to illustrate the point:

It would be way cheaper to run 600lb. VFRs around the track than prototypes. Which are going to be safer to push to the limit, though?

Increased mass = increased momentum. Raise the weight, and you're decreasing the effectiveness of the brakes, increasing the resistance to direction change, increasing the distance a bike will travel and tumble once down, and increasing the energy that machine will impart on another object in a collision.

If you have to cut cost, I don't think compromising safety is the answer.

Were there any teams last year even remotely worried about being overweight?

Can see the logic behind your extreme example but bringing it back to the current bike size/weight and tyres - wouldn't a heavier bike warm the tyres up faster and therefore help avoid cold tyres letting go and therefore riders staying upright?

Just a thought.....

Yes, it will definitely change all those things. But the question is how much will a 5% increase in momentum truly affect them. If the effect was in any way significant then heavier riders should go slower around corners, eat more tires and crash more often. And they don't.
As for the kinetic energy, I don't think a human being can stand being hit by a 150kg hard object at 100km/h. Since the bikes usually go faster than that and a 2X factor in speed means a 4X factor in kinetic energy I doubt going from 153kg to 160kg will change much.

Glancing blows, e.g., might happen at a slower speed. The speed differential might even be minimal in some cases in which case the weight of the bike will dominate in what force gets applied, e.g. where one bike rides over a rider (think RdP being riden over by Bautista - might his leg have had a better chance if that had happened with a 130kg 500?). Further, you can't point at a specific scenario and say "this wouldn't be survivable at 100km/h, regardless of 153kg or 160kg". There's too many variables to be able to calculate that for sure - you can only make a probabilistic determination. And there's just no getting away from basic laws of physics: crashes with higher momentum will, statistically & all else being equal, lead to greater forces being applied to riders (including how high they get thrown in high-sides, or even how hard their leg gets smacked into the ground if they hang on to a flicking bike) and hence more serious injuries and deaths.

Serious bike-rider impacts are, thankfully, rare, and so I suspect we don't really have enough data to make statistically meaningful comparisons. We do seem to have had quite a few major injuries, and 2 fatalities now, in the top two classes since they switched to significantly heavier formulas (250cc -> Moto2: 100kg -> 135kg; 500cc -> MotoGP: 130kg -> 145kg '02, 160kg '12?).

Quite right! I think that considering the very large amount of factor that coincide in any accident and how they affect the outcome there is not much point in saying that a 5% weight increase will affect safety (or at least there is now way of supporting it).
Not only the weight has change in the last year, speed has increased both in a straight line and trough the corners, tires are very, very different and in Moto2 there are more bikes on the track. I feel all those thing affect the likelihood of accident far more than 7kg.
Considering the enormous amount of variables, the only meaningful analisis (if there is any) is the one that limits them as much as possible. Heavy riders are not more dangerous than lighter ones.

I don't think anyone has argued that increased weight increases the number of accidents. I don't think I did anyway. Rather, the argument is that increased weight increases the severity of accidents *once they occur*. This is based on inescapable laws of physics: heavier bikes deliver higher forces when they hit things, if the speed is the same; heavier bikes take longer to change direction (e.g. trying to avoid riders who have crashed).

Heavier riders are maybe 65 to 70kg max, over the lightest (55kg? how heavy is Dani?). The bikes on the other hand have gone from 130kg to 160kg - much more significant. Also, there's little that can be done to engineer lighter riders.

Then can you make an argument if the weight limit stays as now or even lower there will be a safer motogp race? I think MotoGp is already a dangerous sport, what ever weight limit imposed.

It seems like once Ducati abandoned carbon subframe, they pushed for increasing minimum weight limit, as their new chassis is heavier, right ?

I don't think that weight was ever consider a significant advantage of CF vs aluminium. I think they always said that with CF you could engineer more flexibility and do so more precisely. I'm not sure but I think Presiozi said that with a higher weight limit the weight distribution problem would be easier for them to fix.

I don't understand why do teams have to be approved. I think any team that is able to build a prototype according to the CRT rules should be allowed to take part in a GP.

If they can produce a fast enough qualifying lap time, why on earth shouldn't they be allowed to be on the grid for sunday's race?

When you are talking about a grid with only 21 members, I think it is absurd to put any access restriction other than the 107% laptime difference.

Dorna's elitism is bad for the sport, specially now, in this important crisis moment for the Motogp class. When you are trying to find a new championship model, everyone should be invited. Why just 21 bikes on the grid? There are around 40 in Moto2.


"Approving the budget" is what they do. To make sure that teams won't run out of money before the end of the season. On some tracks there will be few bikes more than 21 or 22 because of the wild card entries.

What happened with those teams which used to appear in three or four races during the championship?

The point in my comment was that IMHO, having a rider with an International racing License, a CRT compliant machine and making the 107% time in the QP should be the only requirements for racing. This would allow teams in development stage to test and directly compare their progression with the permanent MotoGP teams.

I would like to see certain politic rules removed. If a team wants to take part in a GP, as long as they can show that they are competitive enough, they should be allowed to race.



Fees to run as a wildcard entry are quite high, I remember hearing in the region of $20k USD for a Moto2 wildcard ride when talking to people at Indy. That was the Dorna fee only, nothing to do with bike or logistics. It may have been gossip only and not accurate but I think making the 107% lap time cutoff is perhaps the least important requirement a team/rider needs to cover. In reality it is the last one they need to accomplish so keeping the riff-raff out by checking bank account balances is an easy first step.

Like it or not (and I don't) GP racing is no longer a fire in which the best are tested but a carefully balanced entertainment platform. Nationalities and 'character' are as important as performance.