The Grand Prix Commission is working through the unintended consequences of the decision to restrict testing in all three Grand Prix classes.
Those restrictions have been a positive aid in reducing costs, but have made it impossible to use riders not currently under contract unless their contracted riders are absent due to illness or injury.
Adding a further layer of complexity to this is the current state of the MotoGP rider’s market: with everyone out of contract at the end of 2020, and a large crop of Moto2 riders looking to step up, the factories want to take a look at riders not currently on the MotoGP grid.
In previous years, such rookies would be given a private test – that happened with Johann Zarco, Alex Marquez, and Brad Binder, to name a few. But with private testing now banned, that has become impossible.
As a result, the GPC has decided to allow non-contracted riders to run alongside contracted riders at MotoGP tests, subject to the proviso that they share riding time: i.e. only one of them can be on the track at the same time.
So for example, should Yamaha decide to give current Moto2 rider Luca Marini a test, he could share a garage with Valentino Rossi, but Marini would have to ride in the morning, Rossi in the afternoon.
This measure also allows the four MotoGP manufacturers without concessions to get a shot at younger riders.
The testing restrictions do not apply to factories with concessions, so Aprilia and KTM are free to give Moto2 riders or riders from other championships a test on the bike at private tests.
The fact that this has come up as a subject – with the objective of evaluating future riders mentioned explicitly – suggests that this is something factories and teams are currently looking at very seriously.
It is another sign that the riders market for 2021 could be very hectic, and shake up the grid significantly.
The first test where we are likely to see young riders given some time on the bike is probably Barcelona.
The preseason tests at Sepang and Qatar are too important for the start of the season, and the post-race test at Jerez is the first chance the teams get to bring updates for the season, and try to find solutions to problems uncovered by the first few races.
The other rectification to the regulations was to align MotoGP wildcards and MotoE. For example, as a concessions manufacturer, Aprilia have the right to enter test rider Bradley Smith as a wildcard rider in six events. However, wildcard riders are currently forbidden from appearing in consecutive events.
With Smith also racing in MotoE making it impossible to wildcard and race in MotoE on the same weekend, and other test riders also having race programs outside of MotoGP on a fixed schedule, that rule has been dropped.
Source: FIM; Photo: MotoGP