The first steps in reducing the costs of competing in the MotoGP World Championship have been officially announced by the Grand Prix Commission, following a meeting at the FIM headquarters at Geneva on Wednesday.
Made in response to the global financial crises and Kawasaki's factory withdraw, which has potentially reduced the 2009 MotoGP field to just four manufacturers and 17 riders, the six rule changes include the expected reduction in track and test time - plus a limit on engine changes - but also ban launch control, electronic suspension and ceramic composite materials for brake discs or pads.
With the new racing season starting on April 12 and the 2009 machinery already built (click here
for an insight into the aims and time constraints surrounding the new regulations) reducing running costs, recently described as 'huge' by LCR boss Lucio Cecchinello, was one area that could be most easily influenced.
Maintenance and running costs will be lowered by cutting track time during a grand prix weekend, limiting post-race tests and extending engine life (during the second half of the season).
GP track time will be reduced by cancelling the Friday morning free practice session (for all three classes) and reducing the three remaining MotoGP practice sessions - including qualifying - from one hour to 45 minutes. Warm-up time and race distance are unchanged.
Post race testing will be allowed on just two occasions, after Catalunya (June 14) and Czech GP (August 16) and even then “test riders only are permitted.”
Engine life will be extended by limiting each rider to five engines for the final eight rounds of 2009. “No changing of parts will be permitted except daily maintenance”, although no penalties for breaking the rule were announced.
Further rule changes for the 2010 season, including the possible banning of spare bikes, are still to be decided upon - but IRTA president Herve Poncharal recently told Crash.net
that these will be the most 'drastic'.
“It is impossible now to take all the measures [under discussion], because some of them are too drastic,” he said. “We are already in the 2009 season; all the manufactures have already built the bikes, so we can only really change a few things about organisation for this year. Of course we are also thinking about what to do for 2010 and onwards and there will be for sure some more drastic decisions taken, but they will only be enforced in 2010.”
The full list of 2009 rule changes, as provided by the FIM, can be seen below:
“The Grand Prix Commission, composed of Messrs. Carmelo Ezpeleta (Dorna, Chairman), Claude Danis (FIM), Hervé Poncharal (IRTA) and Takanao Tsubouchi (MSMA), in the presence of Messrs Vito Ippolito (FIM President), Ignacio Verneda (FIM Sport Director), Javier Alonso (Dorna) and M. Paul Butler (Secretary of the meeting), in a meeting held on 18th February 2009 at the FIM Headquarters in Mies, Switzerland, unanimously decided to introduce the following amendments to the Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix Regulations – with immediate application.
“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.”