MotoGP riders are to get some help with braking. From Mugello, all riders will be able to choose once again between running 320mm and 340mm brake discs on the front wheel. Use of the 340mm discs had been made compulsory at Motegi for safety reasons, but now, they will be available at all circuits.
The 320mm brake discs had been made compulsory at the end of the 2011 season, in an effort to cut costs. At that point, teams were free to choose from multiple sizes and masses of brake disc, meaning they were forced to purchase and transport sizeable numbers of discs to each race, while only using one or two sizes. Limiting choice was meant to rationalize the process, and cut costs for the teams.
Unfortunately, the compulsory brake disc size was imposed at the same time as bike capacity and weight were increased. In 2012, the first year of the restrictions, capacity of MotoGP machines was increased to 1000cc, and weights were increased to 157kg, and a year later to 160kg. With more power and nearly 7% more weight, braking forces were growing very large once again. A series of braking problems, most notably for Cal Crutchlow, appear to be related to the size of the brake discs. It was becoming more and more difficult for the teams to manage braking safely, especially at the faster circuits. With Mugello and Barcelona up next, two of the fastest tracks on the calendar, this was a good time to allow the larger brake discs.
The news will be especially welcome for the Yamaha riders, who have struggled with braking for the last two years. Larger discs will help the bike stop more easily, though it will also require changes to set up to handle the greater braking forces and absorb some of the load. Riders are already complaining about the front Bridgestone squirming under braking, and bigger discs will make this problem bigger.
Allowing larger brake discs is a prelude to more changes to the technical rules. At some point in the near future, minimum weights will also be reduced again, probably from 160kg to 155kg. With the new Open class bikes based far less on production bikes and much closer to the factory prototype machines, the allowance of extra weight is simply not needed. Talks on weights have been going on in the background for the last few weeks. More on the reduced weights will appear here soon.
Below is the press release from the FIM on allowing larger brake discs:
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 an electronic meeting held on 22 May 2014, made the following decision:
The Commission unanimously decided, in the interests of safety, to modify the regulation concerning the front carbon disc brake sizes in the MotoGP class.
Currently the regulations permit two sizes of front carbon discs; 320 mm discs must be used at all circuits except at Motegi where the use of 340 mm discs is mandatory and at Montmelo and Sepang where use of 340 mm discs is optional.
Following a recommendation from the Safety Commission and with the support of the brake manufacturers it has been decided that the use of 340 mm disc brakes will be optional for all circuits with the exception of Motegi where such use remains mandatory.
A regularly updated version of the FIM Grand Prix Regulations which contains the detailed text of the regulation changes may be viewed shortly on: