'Positive feedback' for 1000cc MotoGP - Pt 2
2 December 2009
Reflecting on the 'pure' four-stroke MotoGP prototypes, initially of 990cc (2002) and then 800cc (2007 onwards), IRTA president Herve Poncharal insisted that they had been right for their time - but that times have changed.
“The bikes we have been using have been good, I don't want to criticise, but we need to look at the future and the future is different,” said the Frenchman, during an exclusive interview with Crash.net. “The perception of motorsport is different. We don't want to copy F1, but just look at the changes they are going through.
“This is the end of an era, but that doesn't mean that the era we went through was wrong.
“That era was matching a certain philosophy, a certain way of life at that time. And now things are changing. Global warming is an even bigger issue, we have the Copenhagen summit coming up, consumer consumption is down and the economic situation is difficult.
“We have to cope with all that and come up with MotoGP rules that match the new global situation. We need to come out of our bubble and have our feet firmly in the ground and always be connected to reality.”
That brought the discussion back to the potential use of production engines, a 'crazy' debate Poncharal wanted to stay clear of.
It was put to the MotoGP team owner that making use of more technology already 'bought and paid for' by the factories for production bikes was an obvious way to cut costs.
“The MotoGP championship and MotoGP class will always be the pinnacle. It will always be the place where we want to see the factories showcasing their know-how, their skill and their technology. Clearly it will always be the highest technical level for the bikes, also,” Herve replied.
“I don't want to add fuel to the [production engine] debate, which is completely crazy at the moment, because nothing other than what I've told you [in part one] was discussed at the meeting. The only thing I'm saying is that the main point for the new rules will be to reduce the technical cost by a lot.”
Poncharal, who ran the most successful satellite team and satellite rider in the 2009 world championship, then went on to explain that MotoGP also needs to consider its level of dependence on big manufacturers.
“I think we must never underestimate the fact that today the championship is supported by big factories, just like almost all the big car makers were involved in F1,” he said.
“But, as we have seen, we don't know what can happen with the economy and, clearly, for any big car or motorcycle manufacturer to delete their racing involvement is a possibility and will not affect the survival of the company.
“For us, Dorna and the teams, racing is 100 percent of our business. So we need to be sure that our championship is going to grow forward and have long-term stability. For that you need to have 'feet' and the 'feet' are the teams, if you look at history.
“Who is going to commit for the next five years, whatever happens? On that point I can be a really strong partner for the championship.
“But is anybody from any factory, any board member or any director, in a position to say 'it doesn't matter what happens, we are going to be here for the next five years'. I don't think many people could do that.
“We absolutely need the factories, but the factories are not in a position at the moment to commit 100 percent for the next five years. Providing that we [the independent teams] have enough financial support, we can commit to MotoGP for the next five, six, or seven years.
“So the discussion we are having includes how to retain the factories - but the factories, all of them, are also reconsidering the level of investment in racing - and how can we survive as the teams.
“We are all suffering at the moment, but it is an exciting time for the world generally. We have got to reconstruct and redesign all of society, basically. And that includes our small world in MotoGP.
“We know from the TV audience and spectator attendance - basically 2009 was very good - so we know there is a very strong interest in MotoGP. This is very favourable and positive because it means we have a strong base. Now it is up to us to adjust our product to make it 'competitive' in this new world.
“We shouldn't erase anything from the debate. We should take everything into consideration, but we don't want to bring some technology too early,” he said, when asked about the use of 'green' technology. “The most important thing now is overall cost, but nothing is an automatic 'no'. The dialogue is always open at the meetings and anything is welcome. It depends on what is feasible.
“And when we take the decision, either unanimously or by majority, the most important thing will be to stick with it. As soon as something is decided, people in our world tend to work against it.”