By Barry Russell
After a MotoGP season in which nobody was able to compete consistently with the factory-supported Hondas, Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta has become increasingly evangelical about the Claiming Rule Teams (CRT) system.
With a leased factory Honda believed to cost US$4m for a season, he is resolute that the premier class has become too expensive and provides a poor spectacle for spectators.
"I don't like the way things are going," Ezpeleta recently told Motosprint
magazine. "I don't like MotoGP these days. We have a series where the Hondas go very quick, some others a bit less, and others even worse. This way there is little fighting, so the spectacle is unsatisfactory.
"This isn't just a technological challenge, it's also a sport and entertainment. I don't like this situation, so things won't go on this way for much longer."
Indeed, it is hard to argue that rising technical costs and falling revenues as crowds and TV audiences drift away is a sustainable model for the sport.
The CRT rulebook is a pumped-up version of the one that has made Moto2 one of the best racing spectacles to be seen anywhere in the world. Instead of restricting the engines to one manufacturer, CRTs can use any production engine in a race chassis.
As entrants are confirmed some fascinating hybrids are emerging, with chassis manufacturers FTR, Suter and possibly Aprilia being matched with engines from Kawasaki, BMW, Aprilia and Honda. This week's announcement that Michele Pirro will ride for Gresini with a Honda CBR1000R engine in a FTR chassis was the latest example.
CRT bikes will initially be allowed an additional three litres of fuel per race and twelve engines per season, as opposed to six for the factory-built MotoGP bikes, but the rules will be under constant review as the inaugural 1000cc season gets underway.
At the same time Ezpeleta is looking at ways to reduce the importance of electronics, so a good deal of tweaking is likely during 2012 to create a more level playing field from 2013 onwards. He has also declared that Dorna will in future only provide financial support to CRTs.