24th Grid Slot for 2017 Withdrawn Due to Lack of Manufacturer Support

There will be only 23 bikes on the MotoGP grid in 2017. The FIM today officially announced that the 24th grid slot has been officially withdrawn, after manufacturers could not pledge to supply additional equipment.

There was plenty of interest in the grid slot. Five teams expressed an interest, and three teams submitted an official application for the 24th grid slot. Those teams are believed to have included Pons, LCR, and Ajo, all of whom had previously admitted publicly that they were keen to move up to MotoGP.

One of the main requirements put forward by the Selection Committee (comprising representatives of IRTA, Dorna and the FIM) was having a sound financial basis. Though Dorna will be offering €2.4 million in support for each grid slot, actually fielding a rider in MotoGP would cost at a very minimum €4 million a year, and most likely more. 

It was not the financial situation of the teams that was the problem, however. In the end, the decision to withdraw the 24th grid slot came down to a lack of competitive machinery. The manufacturers were not willing to supply extra bikes to a team to fill that slot. 

For Ducati, Honda and Yamaha, that is entirely understandable. Ducati have eight bikes on the grid, a veritable cornucopia of clearly competitive machinery. Yamaha are supplying four bikes, as they have done almost since the dawn of the four-stroke era. Honda are supplying five bikes, and though they could have added a sixth, the price cap to be introduced would have had an impact on that decision. Prices are capped at €2.2 million, but HRC are believed to be charging over €3.5 million for the RC213V, so a sixth Honda would have been a costly exercise for HRC.

That would leave Suzuki, KTM and Aprilia. 2017 will be KTM's first year in MotoGP, and will have their hands full developing the bike. A KTM would be a massive gamble for a satellite squad. Aprilia's RS-GP is clearly a much better package in 2016 than it was in 2015, but it is still some way off the pace. Here too, satellite squads would be wary of gambling on the bike. 

Suzuki's GSX-RR is a much more attractive prospect, but Suzuki have long been wary of supplying satellite teams. When asked about it in Austin, Suzuki team boss Davide Brivio told MotoMatters.com "we have no experience with satellite teams", expressing fears they would not be able to support a satellite team properly.

This goes against an agreement made between the factories and Dorna in 2015, however. In exchange for the change in financing, the factories committed to supplying bikes to satellite teams with bikes. Though it is unknown at this time whether any satellite team actually requested a bike from Suzuki, the rumors that Johann Zarco has been signed by Suzuki for 2017 suggest that they had. What impact that will have on Zarco's future remains to be seen.

Though the 24th slot has been withdrawn for 2017, this does not mean that the grid will not expand in the future. The FIM press release states that the grid slot could be offered again in the future, when factories may be more willing to supply competitive bikes.

Below is the FIM press release making the announcement:


MotoGP class entries from 2017

On the 21st of March it was announced that applications from existing MotoGP Championship teams to provide a 24th entry in the MotoGP class from 2017 would be invited. The deadline for applications was the 29th of April, on which date the Selection Committee, comprising delegates of FIM, IRTA and Dorna would consider the applications.

Expressions of interest were received from five teams who were then provided with more comprehensive details of the requirements and the financial conditions.

Three teams subsequently submitted official applications for consideration.

The Selection Committee considered the applications and concluded that all three had merit and each, in slightly different ways, had elements that could enhance the MotoGP class.

However, alongside the application process, discussions were also conducted with the Manufacturers to establish the likely availability of competitive machinery for the extra entry. The conclusion from these discussions was that there was reluctance amongst the existing Manufacturers to commit to making additional equipment available, at least for 2017.

It has therefore reluctantly been decided to postpone a decision on the allocation of the additional entry to a later season.

FIM, IRTA and Dorna wish to thank the teams who complied with the application process and apologise that the offer has had to be withdrawn.

Source: 

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Comments

Not impressed by Suzuki. This is not their first year back anymore, they should be able to support a sattelite team. This reeks again of doing things on the cheap which led to their departure a few years ago.

Total votes: 130

Suzuki have form for not supplying a customer machine. Never did it after the square four was pensioned off, nothing has changed. 

Are Suzuki really serious, Honda and Yamaha serious? We shall see.

Total votes: 111

they should try and tempt Kawasaki back. It would be a good PR exercise for the rest of the divisions and they could spread the funding about as a corporate showcase for what is a fairly unknown company apart from the bikes. Not that I am a Kwaker fan, but if a small outfit like KTM can do it... Just dreaming :-))

Total votes: 106

It is easy to think that Suzuki have the same sort of racing department as Honda but they do not. 

HRC is a huge organisation and likewise Yamaha share a lot of race R&D with Toyota, who are major shareholders. Suzuki was badly hit by the slump, more so than its wealthier counterparts in Japan, and is still recovering at a slower rate. They very nearly collapsed at one point, hence their withdrawal from racing. The fact that we have a team from Suzuki in MotoGP and running so well, should be applauded in those circumstances. 

To question how serious they are seems disingenious at this point, they are still developing a motorcycle.

Total votes: 136

I dont think suz can build 2 extra bikes. they are still developing the bike and they put all they have into those 2 bikes. Being on the grid against honda/repsol yamaha/moviestar and ducati/audi/marlboro is tough enough. Kawasaki dont even want to try...... so im happy suz is back anyway

Total votes: 113

It would also be helpful if Zooks title sponsor wasn't their house-brand lubricants...

Total votes: 102

David claims that Ducati have been providing a veritable cornucopia of racing motorcycles. Cornucopia or not, yes they are providing eight. I have said in a previous post that this has happened that post Preziosi and in the era Dall'Igna, Ducati did a wise thing by running all iterations of the Desmosedici in order to arrive at the championship challenging version. Now that Ducati is almost there and if Jorge Lorenzo does well in 2017, I suppose Ducati will stop running the 14 and 14.2 versions of the Desmosedici and that would mean four bikes will be knocked off the grid which will once again be back to 19. I can understand Suzuki not wanting to run a satellite team; like Brivio said they never have and do not have the wherewithal to do that. KTM is even less likely to be manna from heaven since they will just have their first real experience beginning in MotoGP in 2017. The veritable cornucopia will ultimately cease to be in existence and that is when MotoGP will have to try tricks like CRT or its equivalent once again, unless of course they can combine MotoGP and WSBK together and bring the resources to one place instead of distributing it over two series one of which has no or little TV viewership due to most broadcasters not bothering with it.

Total votes: 100

You are right, they will remove the GP14.2s from the grid in future. They will be replaced by GP15s. Ducati are perfectly happy to continue supplying (older) bikes to satellite teams. They can do so at reasonable cost, and without losing money. There is no reason for them to stop doing so.

Total votes: 107

gave serious thought about offering a grid spot to a chassis builder? Surely one might like to step up from the ultra conservative Moto2 class now that spec electronics has removed one of the big technological barriers to entry in MotoGP all they would need would be an engine supply. Team Roberts proved how competitive this combination could be once they got an RCV engine for their KR MotoGP machine.

Total votes: 104

It's also about demand. Teams also have to want to race one of the bikes. They need to be competitive, so they would rather have a known quantity rather than take a chance. This is the same problem Aprilia face, and even Suzuki, to some extent.

Total votes: 101

Frustration and disappointment

Not blaming anyone but this is crap. Yamaha or Suzuki need to cough up another bike. Utilize the Ducati model, just sell the old bike w spares, share data. There are details w the price cap and Dorna ' s financial support of teams to review and perhaps incentivize differently. Suzuki's financial situation, good point. The new team wanting the bike...aren't we putting the cart in front of the horse? They would have a grid spot first with a plan for bikes that has options, just like they have options for riders.

Sito Pons has his act together and a great rider, excellent track record, has done well w funding. Are we REALLY going to not see someone like him enter because Suzuki says they can't afford to provide a bike, or Pons saying he wants a satellite Honda? This seems an incomplete story, and perhaps it is just that and on pause.

Grrr!

Total votes: 102

Just a thought... based on pure speculation... maybe Team VR|46 will be ready for MotoGP in a few more years. I feel pretty sure Dorna dreads the day Rossi retires from racing. Maybe his team continuing on would be the next best thing...??

Total votes: 100

I think the fact that Kawasaki, MV, Triumph and others not being interested in competing at all is merely a symptom of the current formula simply being way too expensive to be competitive.

Expecting the brands who ARE competing to stump up to support more teams when there are a heap of manufacturers who deem it to expensive to compete at all is a bit unrealistic.

Instead of flinging hate at Suzuki for not running a satellite team, questions should be directed to DORNA regarding what they propose to reduce costs.

 

Total votes: 107