The FIM and Dorna have confirmed that 800cc engines could be leased to privateer teams from 2011, to help boost MotoGP grid numbers.
The 2009 grid now consists of just 17 full time entries, prompting Dorna to table the possibility of allowing 1000cc production-based engines to be used inside a prototype chassis and raced alongside the full 800cc factory-built machines.
This extension of the new Moto2 format would have created a two-tier championship, with the 1000s limited to prevent them beating the 800s, while the World Superbike Championship warned firmly against the use of production-based engines.
But the idea seems to have had the desired effect of jolting the MotoGP manufacturers into action and plans are now afoot for the factories to make their 800cc prototype engines available within some form of leasing structure.
“Given the current economic situation, the ever evolving technology in MotoGP and looking at costs cutting measures, we had made a proposal to combine 1000cc engines and the current 800cc engines in the MotoGP class,” Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta told the official MotoGP website. “The MSMA acknowledged the issues we're facing at the moment and looked for another solution.”
“Now their proposal is, that from 2011, they could lease engines to teams with a fair standard price. This would not involve a technical regulation change as engines would be the same as they are now and it would allow us to optimise costs.
“The MSMA still has to announce what would be the price of the lease and we're also waiting on an agreement with the manufacturers to commit to the championship for a precise period of time. Once those two elements are set, it would be a very positive development for the future of the MotoGP World Championship.”
It is not clear if all MotoGP manufacturers would be part of the engine lease, or how many engines each factory would make available - and at what specification.
Leased engines would mean the return of three types of team in MotoGP: Factory, Satellite and Independent.
The idea of leased engines was last tried by Team Roberts, which ran Honda RCV powerplants within its own chassis in 2006 (990cc) and 2007 (800cc).
The first year of the partnership brought two podiums for Kenny Roberts
Jr, but the team (like all non-factory Honda teams) struggled badly in 2007 and was forced to pull out of the championship at the end of the year.