The 'claiming rule' for privateer MotoGP machines is to be dropped.
The rule change will be effective immediately “for any CRT entry using the official Magneti Marelli hardware and software” before being cancelled completely for 2014.
Forward Racing (FTR Kawasaki), Avinitia (FTR Kawasaki), Ioda (Suter-BMW) and PBM (PBM-Aprilia) already use the standard Magneti Marelli ECU, which will be compulsory from next season.
Aspar (ART), Cardion AB (ART) and the second PBM entry (ART) are currently using Aprilia electronics, while Gresini (FTR Honda) runs a Cosworth ECU.
The main purpose of the claiming rule was to limit the use of expensive or secretive technology among the privateers.
Dropping the claiming rule means the present (CRT) motorcycles continuing in MotoGP next year will need to upgrade their engines to fight at the front of the class, especially given the new wave of manufacturer-backed privateer machinery from Honda, Yamaha and possibly Ducati.
The claiming rule - CRT stands for 'Claiming Rule Team' - was introduced for the new breed of Superbike-powered bikes that joined MotoGP at the start of last season, in order to boost dangerously low grid numbers. CRTs now form half of the 24-rider grid, alongside official prototypes from Honda, Yamaha and Ducati.
'Claiming' of the engine and gearbox, which can only be done by an MSMA (Manufacturers' Association) member rather than a rival team, has never occurred and the rule was always intended as a deterrent.
However, as previously highlighted,
Yamaha's game-changing offer of prototype M1 engines for privateers next season, which the factory will not allow to be offered for 'claiming' due to their high spec, confirmed that MotoGP faced two main options for 2014: 1.
Remove the claiming rule, so that only two classes of bike - 'MSMA' (factory/satellite) and 'non-MSMA' (privateer) - exist. 2.
Allow a third variation: 'MSMA', 'non-MSMA' and the present 'CRT' - comprising of any privateer machines that continue to be part of a claiming rule.
The Grand Prix Commission has decided on option 1.
In addition to the Yamaha engine lease, Honda is building a 'Production' version of its RC213V prototype, while Ducati recently revealed it could offer this year's GP13 motorcycle
for use with next year's full standard ECU, creating a further privateer option.
Official factory prototypes will also be forced to use the standard ECU hardware from 2014, but can continue developing their own software, for which they face a penalty of four litres less fuel per race and five - rather than twelve - engine changes per season.
CRTs also have a softer rear tyre available relative to the factory machines.
The class-leading Aprilia ART, based on the RSV4 Superbike, is the only complete CRT motorcycle currently on offer from a manufacturer. The other machines have been created by combining a bespoke racing chassis (FTR, Suter or PBM) with a modified Superbike engine (Honda, Kawasaki or BMW).
Although Aprilia's involvement in CRT caused initial controversy, the ART 'format' of an off-the-shelf production MotoGP bike looks to have provided a template for Honda's Production Racer.
Unlike the Yamaha engine lease, the privateer Honda will not feature pneumatic valves, or the RC213V's prized seamless-shift gearbox, allowing the Honda to be sold rather than leased.
Top CRT rider Aleix Espargaro (Aspar ART) has finished eighth at the last three events. The Spaniard beat all four Ducatis and one Yamaha at last Saturday's Assen round.