The FIM has disqualified the Harris WCM team from this weekend's Africa's Grand Prix for failing a technical inspection.
At the beginning of February, the WCM team was requested by the FIM to provide evidence that the motorcycle was built according to the Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix Technical Regulations. A technical inspection was due to take place when the engine was ready.
Subsequently, drawings were provided by the team together with information that the motorcycle would not
be ready and would not
compete in the first two Grand Prix (Japan and South Africa) of the 2003 season.
Nevertheless, the WCM team was effectively present in Suzuka for the Japanese Grand Prix, but did not take part in the final qualifying session nor the race, due to a lack of engines.
Upon arrival at the Africa's Grand Prix in Welkom, two members of the FIM Technical Panel, Messrs Oriol Puig Bulto (President) and Fabio Fazi (Vice-President), examined the Harris WCM and concluded that the motorcycle was not in conformity with Art. 2.2.1 of the Road Racing Grand Prix World Championship Regulations – Technical Regulations (eligibility of a prototype motorcycle).
Although few details were given, the problem appears to be that the engine was not significantly 'unique' to qualify as a prototype - as required by the rules. The Harris WCM engine was heavily based on a Yamaha R1.
The matter was put forward to the Race Direction in the first instance, and then brought forward to the FIM Stewards yesterday (Thursday) evening at the circuit of Welkom.
The FIM Stewards took the decision to disqualify the two Harris WCM motorcycles, of Chris Burns and David de Gea, from the Africa's Grand Prix for "non conformity with Art. 2.2.1 of the Road Racing Grand Prix World Championship Regulations - Technical Regulations."
An appeal to the International Disciplinary Court may be lodged within 5 days against the decision of the FIM Stewards.
The WCM team had decided to build their own motorcycles after failing to raise the finance needed to purchase factory machinery.
Despite the odds being stacked against them, sole rider Chris Burns had qualified for the Japanese Grand Prix, before being forced to miss his MotoGP debut due to the engine problems.
It is unknown if Burns, or new team-mate de Gea, were aware of the impending technical issues when they arrived in Africa.
First qualifying for the Africa's Grand Prix takes place today (Friday).