The Philip Morris-sponsored Wrooom event is not just the event at which Ducati launches its MotoGP season, it has also become the de facto kick off to the MotoGP season as a whole.

With an important section of the international media present, Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta inevitably seizes the opportunity to talk to the press about his view of the season ahead, and where necessary, of the future beyond that.

This year was little different. Ezpeleta spoke to the media ahead of the presentation by Ducati Corse boss Bernhard Gobmeier, and answered questions from a number of media outlets separately, answering questions on the future of both MotoGP and World Superbikes.

From his statements, a picture of Dorna’s vision for the two series starts to emerge: the future of world championship motorcycle racing is to be price-limited, with more support for the current teams, and factories holding a stake in both series, in exchange for keeping a lid on costs.

The calendars of both series would come under scrutiny, with MotoGP heading to South America in 2014, and both series only racing at circuits willing to pay a sanctioning fee which would cover the cost of the logistics to get there.

Ezpeleta gave his clearest indication of the level of pricing he expected to see in both series, though the Dorna boss made no direct mention of price caps being set out by regulation. The factories will be free to spend as they wish – beyond the price caps proposed on parts such as brakes and suspension – for both the factory and the satellite teams. Those teams – now designated “MSMA manufacturers”, rather than “prototypes” – will effectively be running fuel-limited racing, with the fuel allowance now at 20 liters per race, and using the standard electronics package with their own software.

Those bikes will be virtually identical to the current crop of 1000cc MotoGP machines, though engine development will be frozen throughout the season, the only permitted alterations being in software, inlet and exhaust tracts. As most in-season development involves chassis parts and software, the engine freeze is not as significant as it would have been in years past.

Non-MSMA entries – private teams, currently running the CRT bikes – will have the choice of racing either a production Honda RC213V clone, a Yamaha M1 engine in a chassis to be designed by a third party, or can continue to use the production-based equipment being fielded under the CRT banner.

The most important concession by the factories is that both Yamaha and Honda have agreed to limit their prices: a production RC213V will cost a maximum of 1 million euros for an entire season, while a season’s supply of Yamaha M1 engines will cost 800,000 euros, both numbers excluding crash damage, of course.

The privateers will have to use both the spec electronics hardware and software, supplied by Magneti Marelli through Dorna, but to compensate, they will have 4 extra liters of fuel. That is 20% more, an amount that should allow them to compete with the factory bikes.

The good news for the series is that these rules will be fixed for the three years from 2014 through 2016, and Ezpeleta said that exploratory talks are already underway for the 2017 season and beyond. One of the most important factors in controlling costs is rule stability, and having a predictable set of rules for the next four seasons, and plenty of time to prepare for any changes which may come after that, will be key to the success of the series.

Prices will also be limited in World Superbikes, though here, too, Ezpeleta did not want to speak of an official cap on prices. Competing in World Superbikes should cost no more than 250,000 euros a season, with each manufacturer obliged to be prepared to supply at least six riders, Ezpeleta said. This had been discussed with the teams, the FIM and the manufacturers at a special meeting convened in Geneva back in December, and had met with general acceptance.

“The general idea was to make everybody happy, while also controlling the cost, and to give similar equipment for all the riders who use the same manufacturer,” Ezpeleta explained. The price for a season of World Supersport should be no more than 100,000 euros.  Price caps might be a good idea, but in World Superbikes, this could be hard to monitor, Ezpeleta said. “It will be up to the manufacturers to ensure this,” he told GPOne.

In exchange, Dorna would be allowing the MSMA back into the Superbike Commission, the series’ rule-making body, Ezpeleta said. The MSMA had lost representation in the Superbike Commission with the set of rule changes that saw 1,000cc four-cylinders allowed into the series, subject to severe restrictions on modification. In return for controlling costs in WSBK, the MSMA would once again have a clearer voice in the future of the series.

The MSMA gain in World Superbikes was offset by a minor loss in MotoGP, however. Factories wishing to enter the series would not be able to roll up with their own team, Ezpeleta told the media. Instead, they would have to ally themselves with an existing team, and use that team’s infrastructure and, to an extent, personnel if they wanted to race in MotoGP. The new arrangement strengthens the position of the existing teams, giving IRTA a stronger hand in the series, but it also gives the series more stability.

The rule is a response to the fickleness of previous factories, especially of Kawasaki and Suzuki. Suzuki is keen to make a return to the series, but after the Japanese factory first reduced its involvement from two bikes to one in 2011, then pulled out entirely in 2012, Dorna will only allow the factory back if it is prepared to make a long-term commitment to the series.

Suzuki had already obtained a series of concessions from Dorna before they left – their refusal to supply a satellite team, asking for and being granted concessions over extra engines, and an exemption from the now-defunct rookie rule – and so Dorna is loath to show them much leniency. By forcing Suzuki to come in via an existing team, Ezpeleta hopes to ensure a more stable field.

That should not be a problem for Suzuki: prior to his entry into MotoGP, Jorge Martinez was in talks with Suzuki to supply bikes to his Aspar team, but that deal never materialized. Aspar would be the prime candidate to run a Suzuki effort, should they decide to return with the inline four MotoGP prototype they have been developing.

The other subject Ezpeleta touched upon was the number and location of the races for both series. He assured Giovanni Zamagni of Moto.it that the race in Argentina, canceled for 2013, would go ahead, and hoped that a second South American could be held in Brazil. Ezpeleta said that the ideal size of the calendar is still 18 rounds, though 19 would be the maxiumum.

Reducing the number of races was not an option; each MotoGP race meant income for the teams, which is not the case in World Superbikes. Races would only be held at circuits prepared to cover the costs of racing there, the Dorna chief said, in response to questions about the Brno round of World Superbikes.

The good news for race fans was that Ezpeleta once again reiterated that the two series would continue to exist, and remain separate. “This is to confirm that we will maintain the two separate championships. One will be for motorcycles derived from production bikes [World Superbikes] and the other one will be prototypes [MotoGP]”. Moving World Superbikes to a winter championship was an interesting idea, Ezpeleta said, but not feasible. Both MotoGP and WSBK were centered around Europe, and racing in Europe in the winter was not a viable option.

With both MotoGP and World Superbikes under his control, Carmelo Ezpeleta has a very firm grip on both series. He has had to grant a number of concessions to the factories to keep them in racing, but so far, they have shown that they are willing to play ball.

The first test of the agreement will come in the middle of the year, when Honda and Yamaha have to start producing bikes and engines for the 2014 MotoGP season. At the same time, the seven manufacturers in World Superbikes will have to come up with ways of keeping costs down in that series, to keep the price of equipment under the maximum proposed by Dorna.

There are signs of peace breaking out in the world of motorcycle racing, but it is still just a little too early to be hanging out the bunting.

Source: HRC; Photo: © 2012 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.

  • William

    Great article
    Thank You

  • Good, now I hope that means in a few years time we will see Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Aprilia (the real deal, not “ART” CRTs) line up alongside Yamaha, Honda, and Ducati in MotoGP… Maybe even BMW? Let’s see MotoGP return to a full grid of glory!

  • smiler

    Honda take yet another step towards dominating motorcycle sport by providing all the bikes for moto2 and now the only manufacturer providing complete “CRT” bikes for MotoGP. With the WSB V4 derived from the CRT RCV then essentially they will be racing the knock down RCV from MotoGP in WSB. Perhaps even Fireblades and the V4.

    Other than that the news of good for WSB

    As for MotoGP, still 2 tier racing. I simply cannot see how CRT’s will ever compete with prototypes.

    It would be good to see another manufacturer aside from Suzi back in MotoGP. For next yr WSB to watch.

  • sburns2421

    CRT bikes could easily compete with the prototypes, but not a level playing field. Further restrict the fuel available to prototypes, add weight, reduce the number of engines to less than 6, add a restrictive rev limt. All of these things would close the gap in engine performance between hot-rod production engine and full prototype engine.

    But go too far and the three remaining manufacturers bail and kill the series. If either Honda or Yamaha alone leave, the series is probably dead anyway.

    IMO the entire CRT experiment was never intended to produce close racing of a $10M prototype to a $1M CRT bike. A two-tiered system was cooked in when they wrote the rules. I’m sure there was some hope of the CRT bikes performing a little better than they did, maybe with the occasional podium or top 5, but it obviously wasn’t going to happen last year without tons of attrition.

    This works for the remaining Japanese manufacturers too, effectively what it does is means half the field is never going to be challenging at the front of the grid. In 2011/12 Ducati was uncompetitive, meaning it was Honda versus Yamaha for the world championship and all the advertising rights that come with it. So if 2013 is a repeat, we really have a three-tiered system. Honda and Yamaha at the top, Ducati behind them, and then the CRT.

  • Ed Gray

    I can’t see what i am typing because there is a cars .com ad that I cannot make go away.

  • GM

    Ed, you need to find an add blocking extension for whatever internet browser you are using. There are some really great free ones that will change your life.

  • Gritboy

    To me, MotoGP prototype class should NOT be limited accept in weight, power and fuel… it’s a prototype class shouldn’t be price capped. The whole point is to be a balls to the walls, price is no object to push the envelope. I find the whole CRT thing rather annoying. If teams can’t afford the entry price for MotoGP there’s WSBK or Moto2. Still, I’m pleased to hear the rules will be standardized for 3 years… stuff has been wonky the past few years.

  • Franxou

    I understand the price cap but I don’t understand a lot of other requirements… There was someone in the discussion of another article in the same vein as this one that said something that got me thinking: If it is prototype racing, why limit engine typet? I think he wrote something about “Manufacturers should be allowed to make any engine up to 250hp no matter what engine configuration is used” and I really think it could be the future with some trimming.
    Think of it: Series asks for proof that the machine can only put out 250hp on its best electronic configuration (yeah that might induce cheating but they’ll find a way), all bikes must weight at least (random number)kg, run on (random tire manufacturer and sizes) and are allowed 20litres of fuel per race.
    Now that would be prototype racing instead of 4-cyl 1000cc superbike prototype racing. Want to enter a britton? Why not, make it work! Want to enter a nitrous-injected RG500 Gamma engined Buell frame? As long as it can’t put out more than 250hp, you’re in! Ducati wants a V-2? If it doesn’t bust the 250hp limit, go for it in the size you deem right. If a japanese manufacturer think that a 1500cc inline-4 is the way to go, they could make it and race it. BMW feels nostalgic and want a souped-up boxer-twin?
    It’s sure that after a couple years most manufacturers would be making bikes of the same type again and it might happen to be a 4-cyl 1000cc machine, but at least it would let them think outside the box instead of just refurnishing the same box over and over again and from time to time someone will come with a good idea and be allowed to try it instead of having it sweeped under the rug because it can’t fit in any racing class.

  • sunstroke

    @ Franxou

    The problem is that the manufacturers don’t want horsepower regulations to put everyone on a level playing field. The manufacturers already have SBK for that purpose, and anytime Dorna tries to impose a rev limit or other horsepower regs, the manufacturers refuse. They accept the bore limit b/c it doesn’t really interfere with the racing. The MSMA want regulations to keep the sport unequal.

    Furthermore, the idea of giving everyone a specific power is already used in other forms of motorsport, but it is problematic. If the engine is tuned to produce a certain horsepower, the manufacturers cannot make any changes to the design, which means the cadence of development is limited by homologation. Furthermore, the governing bodies rarely get the power balance correct on the first try, and they have to make competitive adjustments. The fans and manufacturers are usually angered by engine changes.

    There are two ways to get a sport similar to what you describe–air restriction or fuel-flow-restriction. Air restrictors are used in LMP, GT, NASCAR, and WRC. Air restriction is a bit difficult for bikes due to size constraints. Balancing air restrictors as proposed for the original 1000cc SBK formula is politically difficult. Fuel-flow-limiting is not used yet, but both LMP1 and F1 will be moving to fuel-flow regulations in 2014. F1 will use very similar engines for all participants, and the FIA will stipulate max fuel pressure (500psi) and a fuel flow equation with max fuel flow (1ookg/hour) occurring over a wide power band (10,000rpm-15,000rpm, IIRC). LMP1 will limit the maximum flow, and stipulate fuel tank size (100L) and the amount of fuel that can be used per lap (adjusted for KERS and other constraints), which allows more engine design freedom. MotoGP isn’t endurance racing so they could probably stipulate max fuel flow, max fuel pressure, and max fuel tank capacity. MotoGP already has fuel capacity restrictions and fuel pressure restrictions. Since they already homologate the fuel systems, the GPC would only need to specify a max fuel flow rate, and figure out how to police the rule.

    Fuel-flow-limiting will not make all of the bikes equal b/c thermal efficiency will make some bikes more powerful than others. MotoGP probably won’t allow turbos, KERS, or waste energy recapture so the engines should be pretty close. The competitiveness of the engines depends on whether they allow variable valve timing, direct injection, variable intake, variable exhaust, etc. Since downspeeding is a good way to reduce friction, displacement limits may be necessary to keep the engines from becoming irrelevantly large, but they could stratify displacement by cylinder count like WSBK.

    Anyway, something to think about.