Ezpeleta & Rossi on Proposed Rules

October 22, 2012
Scott Mathews
Contributing Editor|Articles|Articles RSS

There are few people worthy of getting an audience with Mathews but he makes himself available on occasion to the racers of the Grand Prix paddock. If they’re lucky, he might even mention their name. He’s Scott Mathews, and he’s bringing you the inside scoop on MotoGP.

Carmelo Ezpeleta is considering implementing control ECUs and rev limiters to help cut costs in MotoGP in 2013.
Carmelo Ezpeleta is considering implementing control ECU’s and rev limiters to help cut costs in MotoGP by 2014.

MotoGP boss Carmelo Ezpeleta says he will push through his controversial plans for a controlled ECU and rev limit unless the factories can propose viable alternative options to help achieve his objectives of cutting costs and making racing more entertaining.

Ezpeleta said he is willing to compromise on implementing radical rule changes like a single ECU if HondaYamaha and Ducati can offer up a different solution to meet his targets for the future of racing in the premier class. But he said won’t accept the factories dithering and stalling over future regulation changes and if there is no counter proposal from the Motorcycle Sport Manufacturers Association (MSMA), he won’t hesitate to introduce a controlled ECU and rev limit, despite the risk of alienating Honda, Yamaha and Ducati.

It is almost one year ago since Ezpeleta chaired crisis talks at Valencia with representatives from HRC, Yamaha and Ducati, warning them that costs had to be reduced to ensure MotoGP could ride out the economic storm created by the global financial meltdown. But almost 12 months on and there are no concrete plans in place for how MotoGP will tackle the cost reduction issue, while also looking to tweak the rulebook to make the racing less boring and processional.

Speaking at the Japanese Grand Prix, Ezpeleta insisted he was not at war with the factories and said: “My philosophy is to reach a consensus and I don’t want to impose anything on anybody. This is not a war. We are more than happy to continue discussions. We think that the controlled ECU and a limit on the revs is the easiest way to reduce the costs and control performance. If somebody shows us something that can close the gap between the factory prototypes and CRT without changing the rev limit or the ECU then let them propose that. But time is passing and it is not a case that they can just say no to the single ECU or rev limit. We want to apply these rules for 2014 and if by January or February they say nothing then we will say sorry, if the only proposals are from us then so be it. We have some technical regulations to propose to everybody that for sure will obtain what we want. The only thing I won’t accept is them (MSMA) saying this is not valid, but they don’t come up with anything different. To answer no is not enough. We have been discussing how to reduce the costs and make the spectacle better since Valencia last year but until now there has been no proposal.”

Yamaha Factory Racing boss Lin Jarvis at the 2012 Yamaha Racing team launch in Jerez.
Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis says he wants to wait until ECU regulations are made clear before making a judgment on the changes suggested by Carmelo Ezpeleta.

Honda has been the most vocal opponent of the controlled ECU plan, but most believe it won’t push through with its threat to quit MotoGP in protest.

Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis said until it was clear what the restrictions of the new ECU would be and what if any changes factories were allowed to make, it was hard to make a judgment.

He said: “We have to understand what it involves because so far the concept of the single ECU depends on which ECU and it depends on the software modifications you are allowed to make. We use Magneti Marelli already, so probably the hardware is very similar to what we are using already. Until we know exactly what the definition of the restrictions are it is difficult to give a comment.”

Ducati is understood to have been the most receptive to the changes so far, but technical boss Filippo Preziosi said he wants to understand more about how the single ECU concept will work.

He said: “It is just a tradeoff between keeping the costs under control and keeping the technical interest for the factories. It depends on the final rules and then we will reach our decision.”

Valentino Rossi: World Superbikes Too Close to MotoGP 

Valentino Rossi believes World Superbikes needs a major technical revamp to use more production-based machinery in the future. But the nine-time champion has urged Dorna, which now controls World Superbikes after the recent acquisition of Infront Motor Sports, not to dumb down the technical rules too much to take away the skill and fascination of riding in WSB.

Valentino Rossi signs some autographs at the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi.
Valentino Rossi on World Superbike: “For me it is important that the two (MotoGP and World Superbike) are different with prototype in MotoGP and the normal bikes in World Superbike. Maybe now the problem is that both are too close and they have to make a step back with World Superbike and race more with the stock bike.”

Now that Dorna has control of World Superbikes, CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta will implement rule changes that will help reduce costs in WSB, but also help create more room for him to maneuver in MotoGP.

Ezpeleta has two main objectives to help MotoGP prosper in the future. The first is to reduce costs, which is why he is threatening to introduce the aforementioned ECU and rev limit for 2014. And his second goal is to improve the show in MotoGP, with too many races in recent history being boring and processional.

World Superbikes has edged closer and closer to the full blown prototype category that MotoGP is, and Ezpeleta believes WSB should adopt rules similar to the current Superstock format, where slightly modified production bikes race.

Rossi said he supports the move to reduce the level of technology in World Superbikes. And he said Dorna now controlling WSB was a positive move that should help both prosper and complement each other in the future.

The factory Ducati rider said: “I like World Superbikes a lot and I am a fan. When I am at home I always follow it, but I’ve been doing this for 10 years now. For me it is important that the two are different with prototype in MotoGP and the normal bikes in World Superbikes. Maybe now the problem is that both are too close and they have to make a step back with World Superbikes and race more with the stock bike. For World Superbike they have to understand the right level between a stock bike and now. The bike has to remain fascinating and with a good performance and not just be a street bike. This is the balance. Now Carmelo has more power with the manufacturers in MotoGP. But I think it is a positive thing. Who is in charge of deciding the rules doesn’t have to have so much pressure from the manufacturers.”

Rossi’s view is an opinion shared by International Race Teams Association boss Mike Trimby, who said during the Japanese Grand Prix: “We have always been of the opinion that there should be a clear distinction between MotoGP and World Superbikes. And what’s happened is that World Superbikes has moved closer to MotoGP by effectively running prototypes and that makes it difficult for us to make positive plans to reduce the costs in MotoGP. Unless costs are reduced in World Superbike as well and the technical specifications are more closely aligned with an evolution from street bikes, then we were going nowhere. That’s where we feel MotoGP should go and to do that World Superbikes has to also get its act together and return to what it was supposed to be, which is a street bike series.”

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