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US MotoGP: Privateer Ducati prompts full Forward Yamahas?

Six Yamaha YZR-M1s for MotoGP in 2014?
The news that Ducati is considering fitting the full control electronics to this year's Desmosedici, to create a privateer machine for MotoGP next season looks to have led to Yamaha offering near complete privateer YZR-M1s.

Since the 'Claiming Rule Team' category was introduced in 2012, a privateer motorcycle had to be approved as such by unanimous decision of the Grand Prix Commission - to avoid any undercover official entries.

The criteria was deliberately vague, but it was only after being accepted as a CRT that the privateer perks - including modification of bore and stroke, extra engine changes and fuel per race, plus a softer rear tyre - became applicable.

The privateer class will be shaken up next year, with the claiming rule dropped and new machinery from Honda and Yamaha already confirmed. Honda will offer a complete production racer based on a cut-price version of its RC213V, while Yamaha had intended to lease satellite-spec M1 engines, with teams to supply their own chassis.

Privateers must use the full control ECU system in 2014, hardware and software, while official entries (factory/satellite) will continue with their own software - but face a four litre fuel penalty per race and five rather than twelve engine changes per season.

Both the Honda and Yamaha packages followed the previous philosophy of being a privateer motorcycle before any of the special privateer-only concessions and equipment have been added.

Ducati has reversed that concept, by offering to fit the full control electronics to what is otherwise a manufacturer bike, and in doing so turn it from an official MSMA (manufacturers' association) entry into a privateer. It's a totally different approach since, without the control ECU software, the bike would be an official entry. But it is also the simplest way to create much needed competitive machinery for the privateers.

As a result, is reporting that Yamaha has now offered Forward Racing - which recently reached a verbal agreement for the privateer M1 engine supply - the chance of using the M1 chassis as well as engines. Previously Forward was thought to be planning to place the Yamaha engines in FTR frames, as used on the present Kawasaki powered bikes of Colin Edwards and Claudio Corti.

If the Forward deal materialises, it would mean at least six M1s on the grid next year: Two at the factory team of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, two further official entries at the satellite Tech 3 team, plus the two privateer bikes at Forward Racing.

Yamaha is prepared to supply engines for four privateers, but only Forward is confirmed as in advanced negotiations and the possible change to a full bike might mean only two privateer Yamaha riders. Only five engine changes will be used, despite the twelve available.

Each MotoGP manufacturer is restricted to no more than two factory and two satellite bikes.

During Thursday's US GP pre-event press conference, Edwards joked that Forward should sign both himself and Nicky Hayden to create 'Team America' for 2014. Perhaps it could happen. After all, Hayden came very close to making his MotoGP debut with Yamaha...

Tagged as: Lorenzo , Edwards , Valentino Rossi , Ajo , corti

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