MotoGP is banning the use of launch control, limiting the use of other electronics and reducing the number and duration of practice sessions in an effort to make racing cheaper for the remaining teams involved. Last month Kawasaki pulled out of the series citing costs and its rumored several other major manufacturers have struggled to justify the expense. The problem is that while cutting costs is a sensible goal, the new rules may be ineffective at doing so.
Here's the new rules:
1. Standard time schedule
13:05-13:45 125cc Free Practice 1
14:05-14:50 MotoGP Free Practice 1
15:05-15:50 250cc Free Practice 1
09:05-09:45 125cc Free Practice 2
10:05-10:50 MotoGP Free Practice 2
11:05-11:50 250cc Free Practice 2
13:05-13:45 125cc Qualifying Practice
14:05-14:50 MotoGP Qualifying Practice
15:05-15:50 250cc Qualifying Practice
08:40-09:00 125cc Warm Up
09:10-09:30 250cc Warm Up
09:40-10:00 MotoGP Warm Up
11:00 125cc Race
12:15 250cc Race
14:00 MotoGP Race
2. From Czech GP, maximum 5 engines can be used in 8 races. No changing of parts will be permitted except daily maintenance.
3. Ceramic composite materials are not permitted for brakes disc or pads.
4. Launch control system is not permitted.
5. Electronic controlled suspension is not permitted.
6. Only 2 post race tests at Catalunya and Czech GP for development purposes using test riders only are permitted.
We're confused as to how these are actually meant to reduce costs. The loss of a Friday morning practice session simply mandates extra testing, as does the engine longevity rule. Rather than detuning engines for reliability, teams will seek to maintain, if not increase, engine performance all while making them more reliable. That means even more development and testing.
The ban on ceramic brake ban makes little since until you consider Dorna's indication that 2010 will bring a ban on the currently used carbon discs. A move to steel would seem to trim the costs of exotic brake materials, but will once again require significant development and testing.
Electronically controlled suspension isn't currently used, but it's a shame to see a potential massive performance and safety aid for road bikes that could have been developed in racing fall by the wayside.
As proven by Formula One car racing, a ban on traction control will prove exceptionally difficult to enforce, encouraging teams to find an advantage by hiding such a system deep within the bikes' electronics, meriting further investment.
With BMW and Aprilia entering SBK this year, we're increasingly thinking we're going to devote our TV time and plane rides to that series.