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MotoGP - Where to now?

Discussion in 'Racing, Motorsports, and Track Days' started by cejay, Aug 6, 2008.

  1. I'm prompted to start this after reading articles in various Motogp related websites.

    The current 4 stroke Motogp era was started in 2002 to increase participation of manufacturers, reduce costs and allow manufacturers to market products related to their racing machines.

    Initially there was talk about how power would never be a problem, as the tyres in 2002 would be the limiting factor. 220hp was around the maximum and this could be achieved by any competent manufacturer. Aprilia was rumoured to be making the most power, but in a package that was totally unrideable. Still, a small company from Italy was there and not just making up the numbers.

    Over the next couple of years, tyres caught up and the manufacturers were using electronics to harness 240hp machines. Speeds increased and laptimes reduced. Still, there were 20+ bikes in a field and a second string team could still win a race.

    Honda and Yamaha were dominant and there was a mix of engine configurations. For 2007 there was a push to change the formula to 800cc, ostensibly to reduce speeds. The 800's were labelled 'Safety bikes'.

    At the same time as reducing capacity, fuel was also reduced. For some reason, Dorna thought this was the way to make bikes safer, instead the manufacturers came up with ever more elaborate ways to make the bikes as fast as before. Corner speed is now critical as is fuel economy. Circuits now have fuel maps for each corner and Ducati are rumoured to have used electronics to reduce the fuel supply when bikes are in different parts of the corner.

    Electronics are now so important that the much talked about traction control is really more a variable fuel mapping service. Get the map wrong and the power comes on so strong and so hard that bikes now flip riders off. High sides had almost disappeared with the 990's as the power was so great and the torque curve so fat, that light switch power bands were a thing of the past.

    During all of this, the costs have risen so greatly that an 18 bike grid is the maximum size. Honda and Yamaha supply more than their factory effort, but even a Schwantz /Spies team cannot raise enough money to run a bike from Suzuki. Roberts, who ran a 3rd string team in 2006 and still managed the occasional podium is unlikely to return.

    All of this in an era of a boom economy, with charasmatic riders and large crowds, yet sponsors are hard to find.

    Now Dorna are proposing a spec ECU in an effort to improve the show. Where does a spec ECU sit in a prototype series? A series where the rulebook is really quite small (I reviewed it and there isn't much there!). If a spec ECU doesn't improve the show, lower the costs or increase participation, where to next? And how long will Kawasaki and Suzuki continue to sink tens of millions of US$ into a sport that doesn't seem to provide a return for them?
  2. I think what's even more concerning is the support classes.

    MotoGP, as in the 125/250/800 classes, is in a deathly downward spiral.

    I have no idea why a manufacturer would bother to support the 600cc replacement class that's being proposed, especially when World SuperSport fills that role already. The ruleset allows for a more "prototype" bike in the MotoGP 600cc class, but that will just raise costs astronomically.

    Grids are shrinking, if not for lack of sponsors, but also for lack of factory willingness to produce enough bikes to fill the grid, and now they're basically copying the current woes of the MotoGP class, and applying that to a new 600cc class that is near completely irrelevant for the marketplace, or even as a spectacle overall if not enough manufacturers and sponsors come to the table to fill the grid.

    The 125 and 250cc classes are being killed off, even though they offer a better spectable than the MotoGP class. MotoGP gets its premier status from fielding the fastest bikes in the world. The 125/250GP grids are made up from (relatively) cheap, consistent, and largely equally competitive machines. A true champion rider breeding ground if ever there was one.

    WorldSBK is looking to even greater heights. A stark contrast to the dwindling grids in MotoGP.
  3. I too am not happy about a 600 class, it will not be much different from either 600 Supersport if production based, and to much alike an 800 prototype machine.

    I think a 500 fourstroke prototype or production (they should make some) class would be interesting.
  4. Good article, CJ.

    My view is that GP racing, as you've pointed out, is a prototype class. By introducing control elements to the class is to undermine that unique status. The idea of a prototype class is to build a bike from the ground up. It's sad that the manufacturers have to supply engines to the rest of teh field that aren't a part of their factory teams.

    Let's look to F1 for a minute. How much if it, a 4 wheeled protoype class, has spec components or control components? How many teams run engines from the factories? Is it more than say, two or three per manufacturer? And how does MotoGP compare?

    Does, by encouraging, forcing or cajoling the likes of Honda or Ducati to supply engines to other teams does it take away from the class? Does it help with reining in costs?

    I personally would like to see a return to 990s. For one they sounded heaps better. Secondly, as Vermulen stated they're easier to ride. Surely this would in itself make for safer racing, particularly as the likes of McCoy could gives us excellent demonstrations of controlled power slides without the need for fancy ECUs, traction control or whatever.

    I'm not sure what to think about the 125s or 250s. Certainly, as it stands they provide for exciting racing and are the pefect development environment for future world champions. And they seem to be cheap enough given the full fields in those two classes. But, again, from a spectator's perspective, they don't sound good. But does that matter?

    Whatever, if they create a class that could be filled by an existing production class they need to make sure that there is no loss of identity. The 990s were able to achieve this by simply being called that. Not 1000cc or whatever, even though there are but a few cc's between an R1 an M1.

    So, consider a 500cc 4 stroke class and a 250cc 4 stroke class. However, they too need to be non-production based, whatever capacity they arrive at. Otherwise, what's the point?
  5. What is the point - period.....

    Look at the History of Motorcycle GP racing. We have been through the "dominance" in the passed with Honda and their 500cc motorcycles. We also had these bikes putting out close to 250HP. So, let me ask you, what is different.

    The whole class is a mess and I wont be surprised if it eventually dies. Afterall, the only bikes that are comeptative are Honda, Yamaha and Ducati - the rest of the field might as well go home. In all honesty, I dont think it has a future as it is going down the formula 1 path with too much regulation and too much garbage associated with safety BUT doing it the wrong way.

    DORMA complains about emissions and safety and noise. Well, why change the config of the bikes motor - these can be achieved quite easilt with exhaust and fuel changes. As for safety, imporve fencing and run-off areas on the tracks and not change the damn bikes.
  6. Do the manufacturers have a "Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday" view with MotoGP? I would believe that they would with WSB but MotoGP, maybe not?

    If the manufacturers see a variety of benefits, say brand awareness for one or wanting to continue to use MotoGP as product development tool for another then perhaps there may not be a crisis? I agree that the smaller fields is a problem but perhaps as low as 15 bikes is natural for this stage of the sport.

    I'd be happy with a return to 1000's just for the spectacle.

    Regarding the 250's I don't know. Certainly a 600 class doesn't sound like a good plan for all the reasons stated. Could it work with the 150's in a 2 shorter race format and then the 800's as is?

    More questions than answers.
  7. And what sort of brand awareness does perpetually losing create? In both WSB AND Motogp, Kawasaki are struggling. All I associate with Kawasaki (and to a less extend Suzuki) is failure. If Kawasaki pulled out of Motogp, it would release funds and personnel for their WSB effort. Or the other way around.

    The problem with 15 bikes is that the grid looks incredibly bare. Even F1, a hugely more expensive sport has grids of 20+. Compare and contrast Motogp with the prospect of factory teams from KTM, Aprilia, BMW, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Yamaha and a host of satellite teams in WSB next year (and they all have to be 2 bike teams). Even top flight bikes are in the order of hundreds of thousands (as opposed to millions) and a good satellite team with a good rider can win a race.

    One of the points I was hoping to make is that the continuing rule changes are not adding to the spectacle, but do add to the cost. When it was 990's, power was not a problem. Making tyres last and controlling wheelspin was. Torque was abundant and speeds were high, but there were remarkably few big accidents.

    The 800's have created light switch power deliveries that are controlled almost entirely by electronics. Casey's performance improvement in the last few races has come for a s/w change, not an large engine change or chassis improvement (as was the case previously).

    Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki and Kawasaki are doing the same tinkering, although it does seem that the 3 Japanese makers are still settling on valve actuation and engine configurations.

    Dorna seem to want to emulate F1, without the actual product to do so. F1 is enormously popular (I don't know why!) but is more a circus than a race. That works ok when there are so many people who want to be associated with the sport. But Motogp isn't F1 and Motogp fans tends to be bikers who want to watch racing.

    Take for instance the changes this year. For some reason, Dorna have insisted that the bikes, on the grid, have to have barriers around them. This seems to serve no purpose other than to lend an air of importance.

    The 125 and 250 paddocks have now been removed away from the Motogp paddock, whereas before they shared the same pit/paddock area. A rider from the 125/250 classes (and their teams) occupied the same free space as the top flight teams. No more, they have their own (lesser spec) area.

    Dorna have ended their relationship with Eurosport and signed exclusive deals with the BBC and other European broadcasters. None of these rights holders will supply the same coverage of the 125 or 250 races and no pre-race coverage. The support classes will now have little or no television coverage, other than filler material to be broadcast when the rights holder decides to show it.

    I wonder what the overall agenda is?
  8. I think they should come up with a matrix formula. So a 750/4 would weigh x and a 900/v2 would wiegh y and a 1000/3 would weigh z, etc, etc.

    That way manufacturers could race a prototype of the bike they wish to put into production.

    there would have to be boundary limits. So the open class for example would be limited to say 650-1000 for I4s and 750-1100 for twin, etc, or similar.

    then the feeder class would have lower boundary limits and smaller tyres etc. Also you would set this lower class up to make it possible to convert a production motorcycle. This would reduce costs and encourage larger grids.
  9. They already have a weight to cylinders rule. The engine size is set as a class formula.

    A prototype is a prototype, it can't be related to a production bike, otherwise it fails to become a prototype.

    The FIM have an agreement with WSBK that they are the only production based formula. Motogp rules forbid the use of any part that is sourced from a production bike.
  10. Other than watching most races I do no reading on the behind the scenes issues and I only occasionally participate in one other forum.

    From my limited perspective the only issue is the reduced grids. I'd taken at face value the fact that Kawasaki and Suzuki are still developing their bikes and would eventually be competitive. There's a defending champion under pressure from a hugely popular former champ and with Pedrosa thrown into the mix, it's a pretty exciting time for spectators.

    Rules can be changed but my question is, are sponsors leaving without replacements coming through?
  11. Yep. just saying why should it be 800? Is that the quickest bike on the road? The answer is "it depends". So a true prototype formula would allow for what a manufacturer believes is the fasted production bike configuration
    and? Why can't it be a development formula also?

    Well that explains why the grids are so small. And it really sucks. The little guy should be able to take on the big guns, particularly in the feeder classes.
  12. Nice subject CJ.

    One of the nice successes of World SBK is a team like Ten Kate Honda can be so successful. They are basically a very well run and very skilled privateer team. The two Danish cousins were well known engine tuners that slowly went racing working their way up from Superstock to World SS to the big SBK class eventually winning a championship with only minimal help from HRC. They even go their own way when it comes to choosing brake, suspension and electronics packages. You can buy one of their prepped bikes for 250 000 Euro, and with a savvy bike tuner and excellent rider, have a chance of WINNING a race. Maybe not every race nor the championship, but you can still be competitive.

    With KTM, Aprilia and BMW joining the grid over the next couple of years, World SBK goes from strength to strength while there are still rumours that the MotoGP grid may even shrink some more.

    Troubling times indeed.
  13. The Le Mans series' have managed that quite well for a while now. (Though the diesels have been giving them a bit of grief)
  14. I would like to see a 200cc/400cc/800cc prototype 4-stroke class.

    600cc is too close to 800cc. I'm sure if they did make it 400cc 4-stroke the bikes would not get times like the current 250cc 2-strokes who are sometimes on tracks only a few seconds down on their motogp rivals.
  15. Dont forget rotaries!
  16. Do what they do in FIM and AMA motocross.

    125cc 2-stroke - 250cc 4-stroke

    250cc s-stroke - 450cc 4-stroke

    This method works and guess what, most manufacturers already do this. KTM when they entered 125cc road-racing used their KTM125cc MX engine to do so.....

    So, lets see who has these 4-stroke engines: Yamaha, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Huzqvarna, KTM, TM, Shirco, Aprillia......

    This is the formula and this is the solution.
  17. #17 2ndclasscitizen, Aug 8, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 13, 2015
    The rotaries were easy for them to deal with. BAN! Which is a pity: [media=youtube]9675TKafw3g[/media]
  18. I have an idea for the tiddler 125 class. Replace with single cylinder 250 cc motors with all the bikes the same. Same tires, ECU engines, etc etc. Kind of link upgrading the KTM 125 cc series into the major leagues. Place a limit on the age to the riders to promote up and coming talent. Maybe allow different suspension and braking components as these tend to be somewhat off the shelf parts anyway and this should keep costs to a minimum.

    Should allow for extremely close racing and the best talent will rise to the surface.

    Bike and tire companies can bid to be the series supplier and major sponsers.

    Still unsure as to what to do with the 250 cc guys though?

    I have no idea how they are going to keep a lid on costs on what will basically be another prototype series. They have enough trouble fielding a 800 cc prototype grid.
  19. i think the 600/800 should be seen as the best of the best class. where the best in 600/800 may compete and win, rather than prototype class.
  20. Well I dont see the 600cc class replacing the 250cc without the demise of most or all the European manufacturers and a change to 4 stroke wont be popular either ..
    As for the 800cc class I dont see anything wrong with how it is at present .I can see the electronics being regulated and maybe a control tire in the future ,If kawaka and Suzuki cant keep up well there not putting enough in to it are they ...
    They only way you could control motogp is they all run the same engine and tires and it comes down to Rider ,frame and suspension..Good racing yes would anyone be involved no..
    The FIM has a hard job trying to balance safety, manufacturer involvment, development, rider involvement ,and keeping sponsors ,fans and media happy ...Every job site need a safety inspector and every race needs an FIM ...