Update: Following the publication of this story, MotoGP.com has edited the year of the 5 engine limit (link below) to read "Effective 2013" and not "Effective 2014", as was stated in November's official FIM press release. The FIM rulebook continues to list 6 engines for 2013 but a similar update can be expected.
When MotoGP title runner-up Dani Pedrosa spoke about engine durability testing at Sepang last week "because of the engine rule, which is 5 now" it raised a few eyebrows.
The change from 6 to 5 engines per season seemed to be starting in 2014, at least according to last November's FIM press release - a copy of which can be seen on MotoGP.com
- where the 5 engines statement is present under "Effective 01 January 2014", alongside the proposed control ECU rules.
The FIM's 2013 MotoGP rulebook, available on its website (with 'articles amended as from 1.1.2013') also states, on page 52: "The number of engines available for use by each [MSMA] rider is limited to 6 engines per permanent contracted rider for all the scheduled races of the season."
However the teams clearly expect otherwise.
"It's 5 engines from 2013 so this is why Dani was doing some engine durability testing," a spokesman for Pedrosa's Repsol Honda team told Crash.net
The FIM have not yet responded to a request for clarification.
Either way, Pedrosa had this to say about cutting down to 5 engines:
"It's not a big change but the mechanics inside the engine are different for more life, so it feels slightly different."
And will the top speed change?
"I would say that from the engine performance we have seen here, no. But it's one engine less for the year and at the end of the life of the engine, they run a little slower."
Pedrosa dismissed the suggestion that Honda might gain an advantage from less engines.
"People have been saying that since the engine rule was introduced!
"The last two years Jorge [Lorenzo, Yamaha] broke one engine in each year: One time in Germany and one time in Assen, so he was running with 5 and a half engines for the season let's say.
"So I don't think it is a big factor. It is more about if you crash twice and you break an engine each time..."
Ducati's Nicky Hayden also said the change is a small one - in theory, but will suddenly become much more significant if a 'new' engine is lost.
"The change to 5 engines is not a big difference. In 2011 I basically did the year on 5 engines, because I lost an engine early in the season in Portugal so we really had to stretch out the miles," explained the 2006 world champion.
"So it's not going to be a huge change - unless you have a problem.
"With 6 engines you could manage it better if you have a problem. But they will definitely drop off towards the end of their life and you'll have to use those [old] engines for practice."
By Peter McLaren