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Five or nine engines for Suzuki in MotoGP?

16 May 2013

The final 2014 MotoGP rules are yet to be published, but it appears possible that Suzuki could again enjoy an engine change advantage during its proposed return.

The revised 2014 technical rules as announced at Valencia last year declared:

“The maximum number of engines that may be used in a season is limited to:
*MSMA manufacturers machines (Maximum four per manufacturer) 5 engines.
*MSMA manufacturers in their first season of participation 9 engines.
*All other entries 12 engines.”

So will Suzuki, which pulled out of MotoGP at the end of 2011 due to the financial crisis, be deemed to be in its “first season of participation” next year?

Under the present 2013 regulations Suzuki would not be eligible, since the nine engines are only available for “an MSMA member participating in MotoGP for the first time since 2007”. If those words - not included in the 2014 rules to date - are carried over then Suzuki would clearly join Honda, Yamaha and Ducati on five engine changes.

But at the time of leaving MotoGP in 2011, Suzuki had been able to use nine engine changes.

Suzuki was the first to suffer at the hands of the MotoGP engine durability rules, which debuted in the form of five engine changes per rider during the last seven rounds of 2009. Loris Capirossi needed a sixth by the Australian Grand Prix, with two more rounds remaining.

In 2010, the first full season of the durability rules, six engines were allowed. But Suzuki was granted a special exemption when it became clear they were again struggling to stay within the limits:

"For 2010 the manufacturer members of MSMA who did not win at least 2 dry races in 2008 + 2009 seasons can use 9 engines instead of 6," said an FIM statement released at Brno in August of 2010, which spared Suzuki's blushes by not specifically naming the manufacturer.

The rule - like the rule allowing rookies to sign for Suzuki (since it had no satellite team) - no longer exists. Both were seen as an ultimately unsuccessful effort to try and keep Suzuki in MotoGP. Suzuki will be on track alongside its MotoGP rivals for the first time since 2011 during the Barcelona post-race test in June. Nobuatsu Aoki and a 'European rider' are expected to be at the controls.

In a separate 2014 engine issue, Yamaha is clearly not prepared to have its newly announced supply of M1 engines - available for lease to privateers - 'claimed', as required under the existing CRT regulations.

It remains to be seen if the claiming rule will be dropped completely for 2014, potentially causing privateer costs to rise, or if a new category of non-CRT privateers will race alongside the present machines.

If so, those that continue to allow their engines and gearbox to be 'claimed' are sure to want some form of technical advantage over their non-claiming rivals.

The possibility of 'claiming' (buying) a privateer engine and gearbox by an MSMA manufacturer, although unlikely to ever occur, exists in order to keep a limit on privateer costs by discouraging the use of expensive or confidential technology.

Since the new Production Honda RCV will be offered for sale to privateers, rather than as a lease, HRC is clearly unconcerned about potential 'claiming'.


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