STM – MotoGP Rules Update Rumors

March 19, 2014
Frank Melling
Frank Melling
Contributing Editor| Articles|RSS

Our Memorable Motorcycles expert, Frank Melling also is the organizer of the British vintage motorcycle extravaganza known as Thundersprint. Melling began riding five decades ago and remains as much in love with motorcycles as when he drove his first bike into a cow shed wall aged ten. In the last 50 years, Melling has competed in every form of motorcycle sport and now declares himself to be too old to grow up and be sensible.

With only days to go before the opening of the 2014 MotoGP season the internet is on fire with rumors of a complete update to the regulations governing the three classes which now comprise every MotoGP race.

The French website Néné Titane first broke the story, quoting unnamed sources in Barcelona who are reportedly working night and day to clarify the present confusion surrounding motorcycling’s premier race series.

Currently, there are three classes within MotoGP. These are the Prototype for full on factory machines using unrestricted software but 20 liters of fuel and a limited choice of Bridgestone tires.

Then there is the Open class for factory machines using control software and ECU. The exception is Ducati who reportedly took Roberto Dalla from Magenti Marelli out for a spectacular lunch after which Sig. Dalla donated some Magneti Marelli decals which were stuck on to a Ducati ECU.

However, if Ducati score any results worthy of getting them on TV then their fuel allowance will be cut by 1.5 liters.

Finally, there are the teams who are neither rich enough to employ Gigi Dall’Igna, nor smart enough to have a corporate lawyer in their pitbox.

All these issues are driven by TV coverage – or more accurately, the lack of it. Sig. Caligula Flagellazione from Orgia Racing explained: “As a Sicilian based team we know all about organization and motivation. Believe me, when a couple of our staff visit you at two o’clock in the morning, with their Beretta lupari tucked in their overcoat pockets, you soon get motivated and on message.

“If the race paddock was like this we would have no problems. Our tasteful black minivan would pull up outside Race Control, my boys would go up for a chat and we could relax knowing the Sunday results before free practice had even started.

“That’s how we run our soccer teams in “Serie A” so what’s the big difference with racing motorcycles?

“Done this way, we can talk to our sponsors sensibly and like adult businessmen. You know, this race we’re going to finish in such and such a position and that race we’ll do a bit better but hey, the TV coverage will be the same.

“Instead, we’ve got this stupid situation where the fastest rider wins and if he doesn’t then the rules are changed to make sure that he does.

“How can you do business with guys like this? What we need is straightforward dishonesty done in a nice, open and honest way.”

Clearly, the current status quo is completely unsatisfactory for spectators, and the teams, so the current plan is for a unified set of regulations which will make for better TV coverage and also allow fans to understand, in simple terms, exactly what is happening.

For spectators, the best way to enjoy a MotoGP race is to download the GP Spectator App and then simply key in the information it requests. After that, everything should be straightforward. Here’s a simplified version of the whole process.

First, complete the basic rider information. This is straightforward. R(rider)= πR²H x P1 x P2 x P3 where πR²H represents the total volume of the rider including helmet and P1 is the value for the pressure he is under from his team following his latest three finishes. P2 is his need to earn bonus money to buy his long-legged, and impossibly beautiful, girlfriend that detached ranch in the hills she is always talking about as she slips naked into bed. Finally, P3 is how many months are left in the season.

There is an accompanying Excel spread sheet containing all the standardized data.

Once you have calculated the value for R simply divide this by the number you get from this little equation: N1 x F1 x  x TV³.

N1 is the rider’s nationality (check the spreadsheet to see how a rider’s nation scores) and F1 stands for the number of laps led.  is a variable based on a rider’s ability to read these two characters. This will be zero if he can actually read the characters and then progress towards 10 if he has no idea what they are. TV³ is the inverse of the amount of TV coverage the rider has received in terms of the minutes of exposure.

Now, it’s an equally simple job to calculate just how much fuel a rider will be allowed and what grade of tire will be available to him.

The best part of new regulations is that every rider will start a race with 5 liters of fuel. However, the whole field will be given a credit card with their fuel allowance burnt into the chip it carries.

So, a rider at the back of the field might well have a 30 liter allowance while Marc Marquez will have to do the whole GP on just 7 liters. This will mean some really smooth, careful riding and none of those silly, showyoffy, fuel burning wheelies or slides.

There will be one fuel dispenser in the pit lane for the whole entry so the precise moment at which to take on extra gas will be critical.

The cultural identity of American riders will be respected by making them pre-pay for their fuel less they forget – and if you have ever bought gas in the US last thing at night you will know how easy this is to do. However, all American riders will be given an additional allowance to purchase convenience store-grade chocolate chip cookies and Nachos, which will have to be bought at the same time as gas.

Any British rider caught sighing, drumming their fingers on the gas tank or tutting at the length of the queue will be sent to the back of the line because bad manners never pays – as, being English, they are taught from childhood.

Clearly, the current TV coverage where the fastest rider competing on the best bike wins and therefore gets the most air time, is completely unacceptable. For 2014, all bikes will carry a chip which will feedback the amount of TV coverage received during the race.

This will be directly linked to the amount a team Principal spends on meals and other “benefits” for organizers. Like the fuel allowance, this figure will be burnt into a credit card – along with the running value of those brown envelopes which conveniently fall out of briefcases in meetings.

The great advantage of this new, clearer, system of TV coverage is that all the uncertainty is removed from the exercise. Currently, we have the ludicrous situation where a TV producer will insist on showing some wheel to wheel battle for fourth place when the audience should be enjoying long, decal revealing, images of Marquez cruising round on his own.

It’s pointless in the extreme for teams to spend a lot of money and then have their TV coverage limited merely on the basis that one element of the racing is actually exciting while the other is as dull as a Health and Safety briefing from a Local Government Officer.

Most of all, these new regulations will actively involve fans in a way which has never been done before.

Instead of sitting back on the couch with a cold beer and a bag of spicy Mexican chips, while watching the best riders in the world show why they are motorcycling deities and giving a race commentary to your mates, you can now enjoy the vastly more satisfying cerebral delights of spreadsheets, on-the-fly calculations and data processing.

And, be honest, isn’t this what you really want from a MotoGP race?

2014 MotoGP Season Photos

 Marc Marquez testing at Valencia in November 2013. Valentino Rossi posted the fourth-fastest time on Day 2 of testing at Sepang. Dani Pedrosa during the final day of testing at Sepang.
Aleix Espargaro placed his FTR-Yamaha within half a second of the fastest lap at Sepang on the final day of testing. Randy de Puniet testing the new Suzuki MotoGP machine at Sepang. Andrea Dovizioso finished seven-tenths off the lead pace during the second session of testing at Sepang II.