MotoGP Rules Primer: Open vs. Factory, The Short Version

02/28/2014 @ 1:47 pm, by David Emmett6 COMMENTS

MotoGP Rules Primer: Open vs. Factory, The Short Version ducati desmosedici gp13 no fairings scott jones 635x422

With Ducati having elected to switch to racing as an Open entry in the MotoGP class, it is time for a quick refresher course on the rules. Below is a primer on the key differences between racing as an Open entry and racing as a Factory Option entry, and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

The Rules

Factory Option: Factory Option bikes have 20 liters of fuel, and 5 engines to last the season. No engine development is allowed, the engine specifications being frozen before the first race in Qatar. Factories have to supply template engines with specifications of all parts at the race, those parts must remain unchanged.

Development is frozen on parts not accessible when engine is sealed. In short, this means engine internals, crankshaft, crankcases, cams, valves, pistons, conrods, etc. Gearboxes can still be modified. Engine specifications must be identical within teams.

This means that engines for Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez must be identical, Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi’s engines must be identical, Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro’s engines must be identical.

Testing is also limited for Factory Option teams. They can take part in all official tests (the three one-day tests after Jerez, Barcelona and Brno) and on five days at a nominated circuit.

Factory Option teams must use the spec Magneti Marelli ECU and datalogger, but can develop their own software and use their own sensor package.

Open: Open class bikes can use 24 liters of fuel, and can use 12 engines throughout the season. There are no restrictions on engine development, each of the 12 engines can be completely different, and engines can be different between teammates.

Testing is limited only by the tire allowance (120 tires per season per contracted rider). Riders can test when and where they want, although not on a circuit where a race is to be held within 15 days.

Open teams must use the spec Magneti Marelli ECU package, including datalogger, sensor package and software.

Open teams have an extra option tire, of softer compound.

The Pros and Cons

Why would you choose to stay with the Factory Option? For the manufacturers, one major way they justify their participation in MotoGP is the returns on research and development.

Having just 5 engines for the season offers a chance to learn about engine durability. 20 liters of fuel means that they have to pursue combustion efficiency and throttle response on very lean mixture.

And the freedom to develop their own software means that manufacturers can learn about vehicle dynamics and controlling motorcycles under all sorts of different circumstances.

Why would you choose to go Open? More fuel, a softer tire, but most of all, more testing and the freedom to develop the engine during the year. In Ducati’s case, they fear they need to modify the engine to improve bike balance and behavior.

They may need to change the location or dimensions of engine components, add weight to the crankshaft, relocate engine or gearbox shafts, change the engine attitude (rotating it forwards or backwards).

They can’t do that under the engine development freeze, but they can as an Open entry. And under the Open rules, they can test those changes with Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow.

Tires: The softer tire available to the Open teams offers a clear performance advantage, but only in the early stages of the race. The less complex championship software is not as effective as managing tire wear as the software produced by Yamaha and Honda, which means that tire performance will drop more towards the end of the race.

HRC and Yamaha use data collected during practice to enter into their predictive algorithms, which modifies the traction control settings based on predicted tire wear for each lap. The same software can also modify its own behavior based on feedback from sensors, adding or subtracting traction control if tire wear is more or less than expected.

Fuel: Having 20% more fuel is an advantage for the Open teams over the duration of the race. But in the early laps, carrying around 3kg extra weight will make stopping the bike a little harder, until the fuel burns off.

The Factory Option teams will struggle with throttle response, especially at tracks such as Motegi and Misano which are heavy on fuel. The Open bikes will not have an issue with fuel, giving better throttle response all throughout the race.

Photo: © 2013 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.

Comment:

  1. Norm G. says:

    anybody seen hide or hair of ezpelata…? no…? me neither.

  2. Rob F. says:

    So are you predicting a 2 tier championship as it was with the CRT rules or do you think that all teams will be on a more level playing field in terms of pace and competitiveness? It’d be great to see a full grid competing closely again.

  3. Norm G. says:

    re: “So are you predicting a 2 tier championship as it was with the CRT rules or do you think that all teams will be on a more level playing field in terms of pace and competitiveness?”

    wait, me…? or dave…?

    if me, Normstradamus predicts another 2 tier championship (at a minimum). but honestly, you don’t need my predictive superpowers to see this. you can call if for yourself… friend-O. (Anton Chigurh voice)

    it’s happening just as i illustrated. ducati’s trying to squeeze their ENTIRE LOT lot through the door of reasonable doubt known as the Open class, meanwhile nicky can’t get arrested on customer kit, built by HRC, and tested by Stoner…?

    which one of these things is not like the other…? (Sesame Street players sing)

  4. Frank says:

    @ Norm – meanwhile nicky can’t get arrested on customer kit, built by HRC, and tested by Stoner…?

    I’m pretty sure, no actual times were revealed for that test with CS. That was a ‘only a couple tenths back’ comment released by Nakamoto who was keen to actually sell a couple production racers. At the time I think he realized that he had over-estimated the interest in the Production Racer. I knew that Nicky would be slow. I figured that Yamaha would have the best open option because of the leased chassis and swing arm. At this point it looks like Aleix has proven he can run close to the front of the pack for at least half the race on his current chassis. What will come of FTRs chassis is another story. I feel like there is now way that Aleix’s times will stay consistent when the FTR chassis arrives. That being said- I’d also not be surprised at all if it never shows up.

    The open class is interesting. Ducati is a factory team, parading as an open entry – simply allowing everyone else access to their electronics package prior to Sepang Test 2. NGM Forward is running last year’s Satellite Yamaha M1 with 24 liters of fuel and the softer option tire and then there is the rest of the field… Lots of rule ‘interpretation’ going on here. I keep hearing everyone refer to Aleix’s bike as the ‘FTR Yamaha.’ How is it an FTR bike if there is no FTR chassis? I’d like to know what is FTR about it as it has been tested so far… I’m ignorant on this point. Anyone have any insight?

  5. L2C says:

    “Ducati is a factory team, parading as an open entry – simply allowing everyone else access to their electronics package prior to Sepang Test 2.”

    Right. That’s Ducati pretty much giving HRC the finger. It’s Ducati doing exactly what Dorna wants Ducati to do. And this makes me believe that Honda has every intention of leaving MotoGP if Honda is forced to used Ducati’s software on their factory bikes.

  6. L2C says:

    Correction:

    “Ducati is a factory team, parading as an open entry – simply allowing everyone else access to their electronics package prior to Sepang Test 2.”

    Right. That’s Ducati pretty much giving HRC the finger. It’s Ducati doing exactly what Dorna wants Ducati to do. And this makes me believe that Honda has every intention of leaving MotoGP if Honda is forced to used Ducati’s software on Honda’s factory bikes.