MotoGP's Claiming Rule To Be Dropped From 2014
MotoGP's Claiming Rule is set to be consigned to the history books. At the next meeting of the Grand Prix Commission at Barcelona, a proposal will be put forward to abandon the claiming rule altogether. With the advent of the new distinction, between MSMA entries and non-MSMA entries, the need to claim an engine ceased to exist. The demise of the claiming rule opens the way towards the leasing of Yamaha engines to private teams without fear of those engines being claimed by other factories.
The claiming rule had been instigated at the start of 2012, to allow the grid to expand. At the end of 2011, with the departure of Suzuki, and both Honda and Ducati cutting back the number of satellite bikes they were prepared to provide, numbers on the MotoGP grid looked like falling to as low as 13 or 14 bikes. The switch back to 1000cc engines meant a rich spectrum of engines was available to custom chassis builders, to produce affordable race bikes. To allow such teams to compete with the full factory efforts, such teams were allowed extra fuel (24 liters instead of 21), and double the factory engine allowance, 12 instead of 6. To prevent new factories from taking advantage of the loophole, the MSMA members - the factories involved in MotoGP - retained the right to claim the engine of such teams. Hence the name, Claiming Rule Team or CRT.
The new rules proposed for 2014 make the claiming rule obsolete. With the introduction of spec ECU hardware, the teams now have the choice of either running their own ECU software, and accepting the limitation of just 20 liters of fuel and an allocation of 5 engines, or running the spec software supplied by Dorna, and written by Magneti Marelli for their spec ECU, and being granted 24 liters of fuel and 12 engines. That choice dictates whether they are regarded as an MSMA entry - i.e. a factory or satellite entry - or a non-MSMA entry, allowing them more fuel. All entries are assessed by both IRTA and the Grand Prix Commission, with the GPC having the final say on whether to allow an entry as either MSMA or non-MSMA.
With these new rules already in place, a proposal is to be made to the next meeting of the Grand Prix Commission at the Catalunya round of MotoGP in Barcelona to scrap the claiming rule altogether, MotoMatters.com has learned. All of the parties in the GPC are believed to be behind the proposal, and it is expected to be adopted without opposition.
The dropping of the claiming rule will come as a special relief to Yamaha. Their proposal to help expand the grid - leasing satellite-spec engines to private teams, to be fitted into chassis designed by builders such as FTR or Kalex - left them theoretically open to having their engines claimed by an other factory. With Suzuki entering MotoGP in 2014 with a big-bang firing order inline four, being able to examine a Yamaha engine, built to the same engine layout and design principles, would provide some interesting lessons. The gentleman's agreement among the existing factories meant that none of them have ever intended to actually claim the engine, and Suzuki would have honored that same agreement. But with the claiming rule removed, that possibility also disappears, should Suzuki, or another manufacturer, ever change their mind about such a code of honor.
It will of course also prevent the other factories from claiming engines from Honda's production racer, to be supplied to teams in 2014. Though that engine is of a lower spec than the factory RC213V machines - it will lack both pneumatic valves and HRC's seamless gearbox - there would still have been enough to learn for an interested factory.
The demise of the claiming rules does not mean the end of the CRTs, however. The name may no longer be accurate, but the machines and teams will continue, some continuing much as before. It looks like at least two FTR Kawasakis will continue to be raced in 2014, while Aspar looks set to keep racing Aprilia's ART machines. Those teams will cease to officially be called CRTs, and become instead non-MSMA entries. Teams opting to use Honda's production racer, or a leased Yamaha M1 engine in an FTR chassis, will also be non-MSMA entries, the same as the former CRTs. The existing factory and satellite teams will then become MSMA entries.
In summary, there will continue to be two classes of entries in MotoGP: MSMA and non-MSMA. The deciding factor between the two types of entry will be the choice of whether to run Dorna's spec software, or to continue to write their own custom software. That decision will then affect how much fuel they are allowed and how many engines they can use all year. Given the central role of software in modern MotoGP racing, it is a far more rational and logical separation than the former criteria.