As the MotoGP championship expands to 20 race in 2020, and the prospect of 22 races from 2022, Dorna and IRTA are making a push to reduce the amount of testing in the series. Next year, testing will be much more limited, not just for MotoGP, but for Moto2 as well.
At Misano, the Grand Prix Commission met to discuss testing for Moto2 going forward. There have long been complaints that the current rules allowed rich teams to spend a lot more time testing than poor teams, the lack of rules on testing between the end of the season and the start of the test ban on December 1st meaning that testing was almost unlimited.
From 2020, Moto2 and Moto3 teams will be restricted to two official tests to be held at Jerez and Qatar ahead before the start of the season on 6th March in Qatar. They will also have the number of private testing days reduced from 7 to 6 days, with all testing taking place after Valencia and before the winter test ban now included in those testing days. There will also be a private two-day test held during the season, which will not count as part of the 6 days of allowed testing.
Though not officially announced by the Grand Prix Commission, MotoGP testing is also to be reduced from 2020. According to a source with knowledge of the matter, alongside the preseason tests at Sepang and Qatar, the number of in-season tests will be reduced from 3 to 2 days, with tests to be held after Jerez and Barcelona. The Monday test after Brno has been dropped. This will be a popular decision, as the stress of packing everything up on Monday night at Brno and then starting to build it all back up again the next day at the Red Bull Ring in Austria placed a burden on the teams. There will also be a two-day test after Misano, before the teams head to Aragon.
More significantly, the post-race test at Valencia is to be dropped from 2020. Instead of the two-day test on the Tuesday and Wednesday after Valencia, the teams will head to Jerez for a test a week or so later.
The dropping of the Valencia test will be welcomed by the teams and factories. Jerez is a far better and more productive test track than Valencia, with a wider variety of corners. The weather is generally more amenable than at Valencia, temperatures warmer for a longer part of the day. And perhaps more importantly, the riders are fresher too. The riders are generally deflated after the end of a long season, and giving them a week to recuperate and recharge their batteries should make a difference.
Opinion on a reduction of testing is split between factories and teams. The teams are in favor of less testing, as they have they receive money from Dorna for racing, but have to pay for testing out of their own pocket. The factories, on the other hand, fear that less testing makes it more difficult to develop their bikes and make them competitive. They argue that it is bad for the satellite teams too, as if a factory is unable to produce a competitive bike, the satellite teams suffers along with the factory team.
The reduction in testing time has increased the importance of the test teams, with all six factories now having test teams with competitive riders based in Europe. The cost savings from restricting technology is going into expanding the test team program.
The Grand Prix Commission introduced two other rules for 2020 at the meeting in Misano. First, carbon fiber swingarms were banned in Moto3, in an effort to control costs. This was more to anticipate future developments, as currently, no factories use carbon fiber swingarms in the smallest class.
There had been moves to ban carbon swingarms in Moto2 as well, but that had met resistance from Speed Up, who have been using a carbon swingarm for many years in the class. Kalex is also set to introduce carbon fiber swingarms from next year in Moto2.
The final regulation introduced was to make the use of a X2 Racelink Pro device, a combined GPS tracker and CAN Bus communication device. This is needed to allow for more accurate GPS tracking of the bikes by Race Direction, and to speed up communication between the bikes and Race Direction, to assist with the virtual pit board signals.
The use of GPS remains banned for the manufacturers themselves, the spec software not using GPS signals to determine the position of the bike. But Dorna wants to be able to track the position of the bike both to assist Race Direction, and to feed data into its timing and display systems.
Below is the press release issued by the Grand Prix Commission.
FIM Grand Prix World Championship
Decision of the Grand Prix Commission
The Grand Prix Commission, composed of Messrs. Carmelo Ezpeleta (Dorna, Chairman), Paul Duparc (FIM), Herve Poncharal (IRTA) and Takanao Tsubouchi (MSMA), in the presence of Carlos Ezpeleta (Dorna), Mike Trimby (IRTA, Secretary of the meeting) and Corrado Cecchinelli (Director of Technology), in a meeting held in Misano on 13 September 2019, made the following decisions:
EFFECTIVE SEASON 2020
Test Restrictions Moto3 and Moto2 Classes
In response to a request from the teams, testing days will be limited to:
Two official tests, each of three days, between 01 February and the first event of the season.
One private test of two days during the season of events, at a circuit agreed by the teams.
Six days per rider of private testing at a circuit in Europe or at a circuit in the country of the team.
Any testing after the last event of the previous season and before 30 November will count towards the maximum of six days of private testing per rider. (Previously, testing in this period was unrestricted).
EFFECTIVE 01 JANUARY 2020
The use of carbon swingarms is not permitted. (Note: None are used on current machines).
MotoGP Class CAN Layout (Annex to the Technical Regulations)
The MotoGP CAN layout will change to allow for the introduction of the X2 Racelink Pro device
The X2 Racelink Pro will be mandatory on all MotoGP Class machines, and it will provide, amongst other things, an improved GPS positioning for Race Direction, and real-time communication for Race Direction messaging and virtual pit board displays.
The X2 Racelink Pro will be powered by the motorcycle electric system and will need a specific and additional GPS antenna to be placed on all machines.
A regularly updated version of the FIM Grand Prix Regulations which contains the detailed text of the regulation changes may be viewed shortly on: