Former MotoGP champion Nicky Hayden admits that the Open class situation has become confusing – even for the teams.
Hayden has joined the new class by signing to ride a Production Honda for Drive M7 Aspar. But Hayden's former Factory Ducati team has now also applied to enter the Open category - prompting the last-minute creation of a third, Factory 2, class.
The final rules are yet to be announced but it seems Factory 2 teams will start under Open rules, then have lower race fuel (24 to 22.5 litres) and engine changes (twelve to nine) if they achieve a certain number of (dry) top three results.
Ducati may also be the only Open team using the latest upgrade to the standard ECU software. Factory teams still run their own software.
“In theory I think it's a good idea, but I guess it hasn't turned out the way we hoped at the moment,” Hayden said of the Open class, which replaces the privateer Claiming Rule Team category.
“This concept - Open, Factory, Factory 2 is really not good. I love MotoGP. I hear the fans. They're not happy. It's confusing. It's even confusing for me and the team. We were talking about it this morning, 'Wait, but who gets 22.5 litres?'
“There are a bit too many rules. I hope we can sort this out and make it good for everyone. Obviously Dorna - when everybody is using control ECUs - I hope that they can control better the regulations and make better racing. So at the moment I think it's not going to be an easy transition.”
Class confusion aside, Hayden believes MotoGP could be in for an entertaining season - with injured reigning champion Marc Marquez the man to beat.
“Obviously Marquez, we've got to see how much he improves from his rookie year. Let's hope for our sake not too much! At the moment he's the guy with the title, until someone goes and takes it. He's still the favourite.
“But testing has been really interesting, Marquez has been out for some testing which makes it look different - because when he was there he was fastest on all three days - but regardless we've seen a lot of different bikes going fast, also on different tracks.
“I think the class situation is maybe confusing for some people but it looks like there could be a lot better racing than the last couple of years, especially outside of the top three. So we've just got to do our work and try to be there soon.”
Hayden has been the fastest of the new Open Honda riders throughout testing, but trailed the top Factory class machine by 1.9s at the Sepang tests and was 1.399s behind Open leader Aleix Espargaro (Yamaha) last weekend in Qatar.
“My objective is for sure to be competitive. We've seen in testing that we're not competitive and the gap is really big, so I'll certainly be disappointed if we end the season like that,” Hayden declared.
The new racing season starts at the Losail circuit on March 23.