As we reported yesterday, based on reports by Italian website GPOne.com, engine and aerodynamics development is to be frozen. But it appears that the story was wrong in at least one respect: engine homologation will not be taken from this week, but be backdated to Qatar.
What this means in practice is that the factories will have to submit engine designs for homologation as they were intending to use them at Qatar. Honda had already done this, having submitted engines for homologation at the season opener at Qatar, at which the MotoGP class was not present. But the bikes and engines were, as were a few key staff. The other factories did not submit their engines at Qatar, but have now sent sample engines to Dorna for homologation.
Aerodynamics is also to be frozen, although these are to be homologated by submitting technical drawings of the designs. Technical Director Danny Aldridge will assess those designs against the MotoGP regulations and approve or reject them on that basis.
This means that once racing gets underway again, whenever that may be this season, the factories without concessions - Ducati, Honda, Yamaha, and Suzuki - will have to race with the engine designs already submitted to Danny Aldridge for homologation, and all six factories . They will be allowed one more upgrade during the 2020 season.
Dorna issued a press release explaining the procedure in response to a few news stories which had been floating around. Initially, engine homologation had been expected to take place at the first race of the season, which at the time of the Qatar season opener was expected to be in April. That would have allowed factories to continue developing their engines and aerodynamics, although they would have had to rely on test riders rather than factory riders due to test restrictions.
The fact that Honda chose to submit their engines for homologation at Qatar demonstrates the caution with which the factories approach this. Homologation an engine approved by a test rider without contracted riders having a chance to try it would have been a massive risk, with the penalty for getting it wrong substantial: being forced to use that engine for the entire season.
Dorna also made a point of clearing up another point of confusion. In the past few days, the idea of freezing all development had been floated in the media, but Dorna was keen to quash any such suggestion. They had never considered any such suggestion, the press release stated, for the very good reason that it would be impossible to police.
The Dorna press release announcing the move appears below:
MotoGP™ class scrutineering carried out remotely
Manufacturers supply sample engines and digital drawings of their aero-body in order to complete homologation
Monday, 23 March 2020
There are a number of questions that the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and subsequent delay in competition raises for the MotoGP™ World Championship, and one of those is the technical homologation. In the MotoGP™ class, the engine must be the same specification for the whole season – the only exemptions being for factories qualifying for concessions – and each rider also has the limit of two aero-body versions per season and per rider that they are allowed to homologate.
Normally, the engine specification for the season is homologated on the Thursday of the first Grand Prix, as is the first of the two aero-fairings. Due to the cancellation of the MotoGP™ class at Losail, that wasn’t possible for every factory. However, the QNB Grand Prix of Qatar remains the official starting point of the season and the point at which the rules for homologation begin being enforced.
Like every year, the 2020 engine specifications (except KTM and Aprilia machines as they qualify for concessions) must remain the same during the whole season and each rider has to homologate the first aero-fairing.
The FIM, IRTA, MSMA and Dorna all agree that for reasons of equality and fairness the homologation must therefore be carried out remotely and digitally as soon as possible.
Under normal circumstances, factories have two options. Either they can supply a list of sample engine parts to the organisation, providing a means of comparison with engines used throughout the season to verify no changes have been made, or they can supply digital drawings. Normally, each factory chooses to supply either a full sample engine or a sample for all the parts that the engine contains.
This means that if a manufacturer has riders using different engine specifications, like for example an Independent Team rider using an engine design from a past season, they must supply every sample.
Honda are the exception, as they were the only manufacturer that did supply all their sample engine parts at Qatar. The rest of the factories were not able to do so this year due to the extenuating circumstances, and have instead sent their sample engines to the organisation, which must match those in the machines at the first 2020 event.
Digital drawings of each rider’s first aero-body must also be supplied and these must likewise be homologated if they are within the technical restrictions provided in the rulebook.
The FIM, IRTA, MSMA and Dorna make every effort to focus on simplicity for both the manufacturers and the enforcement of the rules. MotoGP™ has never considered a shutdown period in which all factories must cease any and all development for a set period of time, at any time of year, primarily due to the difficulty of policing such a regulation.
Development on any other part of the machine not subject to homologation may therefore continue, as is the case during any season.