2016 MotoGP Rules Clarified: 7 Engines, 22 Liters, 157kg, & Performance Balancing

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The Grand Prix Commission have filled in the last question marks over the 2016 MotoGP regulations.

While the decision on the amount of fuel the bikes would be allowed to run had already been decided last year, the rules on a minimum weight, the number of engines to be used, and how and whether the concessions allowed to manufacturers without a win would be extended into 2016 and beyond.

All of these questions were settled at Qatar.

The GPC meeting, where Dorma, the FIM, the manufacturers and the teams meet to agree a set of rules, confirmed that all bikes in MotoGP next year will use 22 liters of fuel.

They also agreed that the minimum weight would be 157kg, and that each rider would be allowed a maximum of 7 engines to last the year.

Both these measures were compromises: originally, there was a proposal to reduce the minimum to 156kg, but after a reduction to 158kg for this year, it was felt that may be too fast.

As for the number of engines, the Italian manufacturers found themselves pitted against the Japanese. Honda, Suzuki, and Yamaha all wanted the number reduced to 6 engines per season, while Ducati and Aprilia lobbied for 9 engines.

As the MSMA could not reach a unanimous conclusion, Dorna proposed a compromise, and the figure of 7 engines a season was accepted. Engine development will remain frozen, as before.

This does not apply to all of the manufacturers, however. Factories without a dry win between 2013 and 2015 will still be allowed to use 12 engines, as well as the other concessions currently granted to Ducati, Aprilia and Suzuki.

Those factories will be free to test as often as they like with contracted riders, and engine development will still be allowed.

Manufacturers can lose concessions, however, and a more formal system of point scoring has been introduced. With 3 points for a win, 2 for second and 1 for third, any manufacturer racking up a total of 6 concession points will lose the right to unlimited testing with immediate effect, and all concessions for the following season.

If, for example, Ducati do not win a dry race in 2015, and score a total of 6 concession points in 2016, then they will have to compete with 7 engines, no development and restricted testing from the 2017 season onwards.

Two interesting twists have been added to the new concession points system. The first is that concessions can be granted as well as lost. Any manufacturer not scoring a single podium (and therefore no concession points) during a season will have the full set of concessions granted for the following season.

And to level the playing field a little, podiums scored in the wet will count towards losing concessions or not. So far, only results in they dry have counted.

The aim of the concession system is clear. By allowing factories that have so far been unsuccessful free development, more engines and more testing, they have the chance to catch up with the factories which are winning.

Successful factories will not be able to extend their advantage over the rest too far during the season. It is a rather broad scale form of performance balancing, but implemented over the medium term, rather than the short term.

The GPC also discussed the matter of electronics. Honda and Yamaha had reportedly been unhappy with the current state of development, and had wanted more input into the spec software which is due to be introduced for 2016.

The three manufacturers who in 2014 accepted the proposal to introduce of spec software for 2016 – Honda, Yamaha, and Ducati – have been given a veto over the software.

Any changes which Magneti Marelli wishes to make to the software must be unanimously agreed to by the three factories. Conversely, if the three factories unanimously propose a change to the software, then that change must be made. The cost of doing so, however, must be borne by the three factories.

The change means that the spec software is likely to be more complex than was envisaged originally. The real intrigue will come from whether the three factories will remain unanimous in their demands.

Over the past couple of years, Ducati has shown itself to be more than willing to break ranks with Honda and Yamaha, while the Japanese factories have always acted as a single front. This arrangement puts a lot of power into the hands of Ducati, and its racing boss Gigi Dall’Igna.

The press release containing the rule changes appears below:

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 CEO), 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 27 March 2015 in Losail (Qatar), made the following decisions:

Sporting Regulations

Effective 2015

Further to the decision made at the previous meeting concerning the procedure to be adopted when there is a change in climatic conditions after the riders have reached the grid after their sighting lap.

In the Moto3 and Moto2 classes, when a change in conditions leads to a start delayed procedure, the race distance will be reduced to 2/3 of the original race distance. This brings the procedure into line with that for restarted races in these classes.

Technical Regulations

MotoGP Class

Effective 2016

The number of engines that may be used in a season of up to 20 races is seven, with frozen specifications.

The minimum vehicle weight will be 157 kg.

The maximum fuel tank capacity will be 22 litres. (Already announced following the previous GPC meeting).

Concerning the unified software to be used in 2016 the following decision was made:

a). The strategies of the 2016 unified software will be based on the present version, (2015 start of season version), of the Open Class software.

b). Starting from July 1st 2015 and until the end of 2016 season, if a change of the unified software is requested unanimously by Ducati, Honda and Yamaha, then the Organiser must adopt this modification, but the cost is the responsibility of the manufacturers.

c). Conversely, during the same period as above, if the Organiser wants to make a change to the unified software, this change must be approved unanimously by Ducati, Honda and Yamaha; otherwise the Organiser can’t update the software.

Concessions – MotoGP Class

All concessions granted to MotoGP class Manufacturers who have not won a race in dry conditions in 2013, 2014 or 2015 will continue to apply. However the criteria for losing concessions has been redefined and will be based on “Concession Points” calculated as follows.

First place 3 concession points
Second place 2 concession points
Third place 1 concession point

The effect of this will be:

In 2015 a manufacturer achieving three Concession Points in dry races must immediately reduce fuel tank capacity from 24 litres to 22 litres.

(Note: the criteria for losing concessions concerning the use of Open class tyres and testing with contracted riders remains at three race wins in dry conditions).

In 2016 a manufacturer achieving six concession points in dry or wet conditions will immediately lose the right to test with contracted riders and will lose all concessions from the following season.

However, with effect from the 2016 season, any manufacturer who gains no concession points, (effectively meaning no podium places), will benefit from the full package of concessions in the following season.

Source: FIM

David Emmett

One of MotoGP's most respected journalists, David Emmett is the proprietor of the esteemed MotoMatters. We are very grateful to republish David's work here on A&R...though dread the day we ever again get in a car with him.