13 December 2005
Surtees: MotoGP should be 600cc.
Former four-times 500cc World Champion, John Surtees, believes that MotoGP engines should be limited to 600cc - rather than the soon to be 800cc - since it would provide a natural progression from the light and nimble 125 and 250cc machines, match the commercial needs of the manufacturers and allow for long term rule stability.
Surtees, the only man ever to win both 500cc and Formula One world championships, has now taken on the role of team principal for Team Great Britain in the new A1 Grand Prix series, dubbed the 'world cup of motorsport' because of the way it pits nation against nation.
However, despite his four-wheeled motorsport commitments, the 71-year-old Englishman - who won a total of seven motorcycle world championships before clinching his four-wheeled title with Ferrari in 1964 - continues to keep a close eye on MotoGP, and has clear opinions about the direction of the sport.
"I think that there were mistakes made during the change from two-strokes to four-strokes (in 2002)," Surtees told Crash.net at the recent Dubai A1 GP round. "Those mistakes, I suppose, had some justification in that they weren't sure how many people were going to be able to actually come up with a four-stroke design in time. So they had to have a year when two-strokes were still racing (against the four-strokes)."
By combining two and four-strokes, Surtees implied that the engine capacity of the four-strokes had to be set at level high enough (990cc) to ensure that the new machines could instantly beat the 500cc two-strokes - even though, at that time, the MotoGP four-strokes were at the very beginning of their development while the two-strokes had reached their peak.
It worked in the sense that four-strokes won every race that year - and two-strokes were quickly replaced as a result - but, as four-stroke progress has continued, the new machines have got relentlessly faster, forcing engine capacity to be reduced to 800cc from 2007 onwards.
However, Surtees isn't convinced by that value and believes 600cc - the capacity used by Supersport road machines - would have been more appropriate:
"I would have thought that the long term programme would have been much better if they had gone immediately to 600. 600 is a wonderful capacity relative to worldwide sales and appeal - and you only need to go back to my time when we had 125, 250, 350 and 500," he said.
"I think that if you had 125, 250 and 600 you have a wonderful range of machines which fit in with 1; the commercial market and 2; the progression of riders through (the lower world championships).
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