At its final meeting of 2013, the Grand Prix Commission has agreed changes to the regulations for the three Grand Prix classes, mostly minor, but a couple with much wider implications. Changes were agreed to the penalty points system, to the procedure for restarting interrupted races, for protests and wild cards. But the biggest changes made were to the Moto3 class. The loophole which allowed manufacturers to charge what they wanted for chassis has been closed, capping prices in Moto3 even further.
The biggest change to the sporting regulations is the extension of the penalty points system, to allow penalty points to be carried across between seasons. In 2013, the first year the system was used, penalty points accumulated during the season were only valid until after the final race of 2013 at Valencia was over. This posed a problem for Race Direction, as Mike Webb explained to MotoMatters.com in an interview at Valencia. It meant that any points awarded at the final races of the season had less effect on rider behavior than those early on in the season, and points awarded in the final race were completely meaningless. In his interview with this website, Mike Webb had already suggested giving points a limited lifetime, allowing them to be carried over from one season to the next.
That has now been agreed. From the start of next year, all penalty points issued by race direction will have a lifetime of a year (or rather, 365 days). This means that penalty points awarded later in the season, for example at races like Aragon in September, or Motegi in October, will be counted against the rider involved until September or October the following year. It means that penalty points can be issued with more consistency, as riders will carry points they pick up at the end of the season for the same duration as points early in the season.
This will make administering the points system a little more difficult, as a rider's points tally can go down as well as up during a season, as points accumulated in previous seasons expire. However, it will make it easier to maintain a consistent approach to penalties over multiple seasons.
The new system only comes into effect from 2014. This means that riders who were given penalty points during 2013 will still start the coming season with a clean slate, and a total of zero penalty points. The penalty points issued to Marc Marquez, Maverick Viñales, Rafid Topan Sucipto, Hector Barbera, Andrea Dovizioso, Andrea Iannone, Ricky Cardus, Alessandro Tonucci, Sandro Cortese, Pol Espargaro, Isaac Viñales, Jack Miller and Damo Cudlin will all be scrapped, and they will all start 2014 with no points on their license.
The biggest technical change the Grand Prix Commission agreed to was the introduction of a price cap on Moto3 rolling chassis. From 2015 onwards, the cost of a rolling chassis - frame, swingarm, bodywork, seat and tank unit, suspension, brakes and wheels - is fixed at a maximum of 85,000 euros. Furthermore, from 2015, the cost of engines has been reduced as well, to 60,000 euros for the six engines required per season, although that does not include gearboxes, which are fixed at 1,500 euros each. It had already been agreed that the rev limit would be reduced from 14,000 to 13,500 for 2015.
Though the price of a rolling chassis is to be limited, this will not prevent teams from upgrading wheels, brakes and suspension. Chassis will be homologated complete with wheels, brakes and suspension (the precise wording is 'a complete rolling chassis, requiring only the addition of an engine, ECU, datalogger and transponder'), but teams will still be free to change parts as they see fit.
The introduction of a price cap on rolling chassis closes the loophole which KTM had exploited to charge teams exorbitant amounts for a complete bike, while still nominally staying inside the rules forcing factories to sell engines for a maximum price. KTM would not sell engines separately, but only as part of a complete bike. The engine was cheap, but heavily subsidized by the price of the chassis, which was often upwards of 200,000 euros.
This was a situation which Honda had protested bitterly, saying it violated the spirit of the rules. Unwilling to stand idly by and watch KTM dominate the Moto3 category, Honda found their own loophole, waiting to announce their new bike until the very end of the 2013 season, forcing other teams to sign with KTM and Kalex (KTM's only official chassis partner) out of fear that Honda would only support the uncompetitive NSF250R for 2014. The new bike Honda will be fielding in 2014 is said to be even more expensive than the KTMs - prices as high as 400,000 euros have been bandied about - with Honda forced to subsidize the Racing Team Germany and Ongetta teams who are staying with Honda. Honda had waited until so late to announce their plans, as they would not be able to supply the minimum of 15 riders required by the rules.
The Grand Prix Commission closed this loophole as well, creating a deadline of 31st August for manufacturers to announce their plans for the next season. The loophole is not completely closed, as the rules demand only that manufacturers announce that they are willing to supply riders. They do not have to specify what level of equipment will be on offer. This rule change appears to have been a concession to KTM, after they had agreed to the price cap on chassis.
Even after these rule changes, it remains unclear whether Honda will continue to compete in Moto3 after 2014. Persistent and credible rumors in the paddock suggest that HRC had decided to go all out to win the Moto3 championship in 2014, to punish KTM for what Honda views as breaching the spirit of the regulations, before pulling out. If the new regulations for 2015 are successful in returning the Moto3 to its basic intent - providing an affordable entry class and a level playing field to help develop talent - then HRC are likely to want to stay.
Below is the press release from the FIM will the 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), Herve Poncharal (IRTA) and Takanao Tsubouchi (MSMA) in the presence of Javier Alonso (Dorna) and Mike Trimby (IRTA, Secretary of the meeting), in a meeting held on 10 December in Madrid, made the following decisions:
MotoGP Class - Effective Immediately
Nomination of Category
The deadline for final nomination of which riders will participate in which category, Factory or Open, will be 28 February, the normal closing date for entries.
All Classes - Effective 2014
In 2013 any Penalty Points imposed were wiped from the record of the rider at the end of the season. From 2014 penalty points will remain on the record of the rider for 365 days after which they will be cancelled. This means that a rider will have a rolling tally of penalty points with new points being added as incurred and points being deducted on their anniversary.
Restarting Interrupted Races
It was recognised that there may be circumstances when an interrupted race is restarted that it might be necessary to interrupt the restarted race. Currently there are no provisions in the regulations to provide for this race to be restarted. From 2014 restarted races that are interrupted after less than five laps are completed will be restarted again. In the Moto3 and Moto2 classes there will be a maximum of two restarts. In the MotoGP class the Race Direction can authorise more than two restarts according to the circumstances.
The precise details of the lengths of the restarted races and the determination of the final race results will be published in the FIM regulations.
The deadline for registering a protest has been reduced from one hour after publication of the results to 30 minutes.
The party involved must announce their intention to protest within 30 minutes by verbally notifying Race Direction or IRTA. They then have a deadline of one hour from the publication of results to confirm their protest in writing or, indeed, to announce that they have decided not to proceed with their protest.
Wild card entries that cancel their entry after acceptance, other than due to injury or other valid reason, will no longer be reimbursed the cost of the one event GP licence issued by the FIM.
Similarly, the entry fee paid by the wild card to cover the cost of the materials provided for his participation will not be refunded in full by IRTA unless the Federation can provide an alternate rider to take his place. If no replacement is provided by the Federation then only 50% of the entry fee will be refunded.
In future wild card entries will be allocated temporary pit box accommodation in the paddock alongside the pit boxes provided for contracted teams who have not qualified for a permanent pit box. The entry fee will be increased by €500.00 as a contribution towards the cost.
MotoGP Class - Effective 2014
Fuel Temperature Testing
Following the earlier decision of the GPC concerning the protocol for fuel temperature testing, a standard container, approved by the FIM, will be produced which must be used by all teams.
Moto3 Class - Effective 2015
With the co-operation and agreement of the current Moto3 Manufacturers and the approval of the FIM, new regulations will be introduced from 2015 to control the costs of the rolling chassis and further reduce the cost of engines.
A). Rolling Chassis
The price of a complete rolling chassis, requiring only the addition of an engine, ECU, datalogger and transponder is capped at €85,000. The price includes the cost of any upgraded parts supplied during the season. Each part may only be upgraded once during the season and must be provided to all competitors at the same time.
The rolling chassis may only be provided by or via one of the manufacturers participating in the class.
The complete chassis, including components such as brakes and suspension, will be homologated but allowance will also be made to permit teams to use chassis from previous seasons.
Manufacturers intending to participate in this class must announce to the Grand Prix Commission by the deadline of 31 August that they will offer to supply machines to the Moto3 class in the following season. Teams then have until 15 September to place orders with confirmation of acceptance of orders by 30 September.
Teams who have placed orders that were not accepted by the deadline can then negotiate with alternate manufacturers.
The maximum price for the package of six engines is reduced to €60,000. However, this price does not include the supply of any gearboxes. Teams may order the number of gearboxes they require, if any, which will be supplied at a cost of €1,500 each.
The full text of regulation changes may be viewed shortly on: