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Should MotoGP bikes be sold?

Kawasaki's withdraw from MotoGP has prompted a range of suggestions to help improve the health (read grid size) in MotoGP, which could feature just 17 bikes in 2009 pending the outcome of efforts to hand the ZX-RRs to a privateer team.

In order to help retain the remaining four MotoGP manufacturers (Honda, Ducati, Yamaha and Suzuki) and attract new future entries it is necessary to know what MotoGP offers manufacturers.

There are arguably two main reasons why a factory might want a MotoGP presence:
1) As a proving ground for the development of future technology.
2) As a marketing exercise to improve brand awareness and prestige.

The problem is that neither of these attributes is unique to MotoGP - Superbike championships can offer both (to a lesser degree) for a fraction of the cost.

But MotoGP's biggest problem is this: If a factory enters MotoGP it will spend tens of millions of dollars a year designing, developing and racing a motorcycle it will never sell - at least in the case of Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki and (previously) Kawasaki.

That is a hard case to put to a board of directors during difficult financial times - particularly if track success is not forthcoming - and probably prompted Aprilia, BMW and, in future, KTM to chose WSBK instead.

However Ducati - the smallest and most commercially aware of the MotoGP manufacturers - was quick to realise that, in order to justify a MotoGP presence, it needed to make money directly from its Desmosedici, even in the 'good times'.

Ducati, which entered MotoGP in 2003, unveiled the Desmosedici RR (road replica, pictured) in 2006 with the first deliveries made the following year. By June of 2007 Ducati had received 1,200 orders for the machine, which at the time was worth around 68 million Euros (£46 million) in business. Each RR costs around 55,000-60,000 Euros (depending on time of order).

So, in an effort to drive down costs and increase MotoGP's business relevance, why not require all MotoGP manufacturers to either:

1) Build at least, say, 100 road-legal replicas of their grand prix prototypes (technical similarities and allowable differences roughly as per the Desmosedici RR) for public sale by the start of the following season. The aim of this would be to limit the cost of each MotoGP machine and the types of technology used, with the added bonus of a sales income.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Ducati Desmosedici RR, Italian MotoGP, 2006
Nicky Hayden - A tribute
Private testing action from Barcelona
Morning (left) and afternoon (right) lap times from Weds at Barcelona test
Marquez fall at private Barcelona test
Barcelona Circuit of Catalunya chicane final sector
New Catalunya chicane during private test
New chicane in use at Catalunya MotoGP test
Pedrosa, Zarco, Vinales, French MotoGP 2017
Vinales, French MotoGP 2017
Crowd, French MotoGP 2017
Baz, French MotoGP 2017
Rossi, Vinales, French MotoGP 2017
Iannone, French MotoGP 2017
Folger, French MotoGP 2017
Crowd, French MotoGP 2017
Dovizioso, Crutchlow, French MotoGP 2017
Vinales, Zarco, Rossi, French MotoGP 2017

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January 24, 2009 3:23 PM

Back in the bad old days, you know the ones before dorna, when the FIM ran the show. we had grids of 40 riders qualified for the GP's (certainly in the uk). Now i dont want to open up any old wounds, but, the point i'm trying to make is, the bikes where available to buy by the public hence full grids for GP's and national championships all over the world. to me, full grids meant more exciting racing. Any good racers who wanted to compete at national, international and world championship level, could (subject to the right license being obtained). so if full grids could be achieved then more spectacular racing. Good for TV !!!!! I accept this is a bit simplistic but it's a way to go. Gary

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