As predicted earlier this week on Crash.net, the International Disciplinary Court has today (Wednesday) announced its verdict on the appeal by the WCM team over their disqualification from the South African (and subsequent) Grands Prix for alleged technical infringements.

The Court, composed of Mrs. Clotilde Galy (President), Messrs Vassilis Koussis and Wojcziech Tomczyk, convened on May 16 at the FIM headquarters in Mies, Switzerland, in a public hearing.

The Harris-WCM motorcycles were disqualified for non-conformity with Art. 2.2.1 of the Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix Regulations (the prototype rules) - because their R1 based engine was felt by the FIM to not be of an 'original design'.

WCM team manager Mr Peter Clifford was present at the hearing, together with his lawyers Mr. Ian Mill (QC), Mr Mike Brookes and Mrs Jane Mulcahy.

Messrs Oriol Puig Bulto, President of the FIM International Technical Panel, Fabio Fazi, CTI Vice-President, David Hagen, consultant engineer, and Robert Fleck, expert engineer, were present as witnesses and experts.

In brief, Clifford argued in Court that:

"1) The Harris motorcycle of the WCM-GP LTD team must be recognised as a 4-stroke prototype compliant with the regulation, because the regulation is imprecise and open to several different interpretations which must benefit the team.

"2) Subsidiarily, the disqualification was unjustified, disproportionate and excessive."

Meanwhile, Oriol Puig Bulto expressed the following:

"In my view, it is very clear that Mr Clifford has understood the meaning of the regulation. He was working on an original design: this is proved by the mail dated 6 March in which he said that: "Our own engine will not be ready in March and we will not be able to compete at the Japanese and South Africa rounds..." (Exhibit No. 25 in the FIM file).

"He knew that he could not be ready; subsequently, time being short, he was obliged to find a solution because his contract with Dorna obliged him to participate without interruption in the Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix and he had to find sponsors.

"The engine of the WCM-GP LTD team inspected by me was not an engine of original design. I am familiar with the pressures involved and I want to convey all my sympathy to Mr Clifford."

After hearing all the evidence, the following conclusion was reached:

"The CDI (International Disciplinary Court) considered the appeal acceptable, but confirmed the decision of the FIM Stewards to disqualify the Harris-WCM motorcycle. The costs of the procedure are to be borne by WCM," read a brief FIM statement.

The verdict casts doubt on whether the WCM team, and its riders Chris Burns and David de Gea, will be able to particulate in this weekend's Italian Grand Prix, with the only positive news from their point of view appearing to be the admission that the clarity of the regulation needs improving.

While the Court believes that the prototype rules in question - written by Mr Puig Bulto - weren't 'watertight' in their definition, the deciding factor seems to have been that Mr Puig Bulto's interpretation "engines manufactured in thousands of units in pressure die-cast moulds are not engines obtained by an original design" was agreed with by the court.

A nine page report from the appeal was provided to explain why the disqualification was upheld. The final chapter, which explains the Court Ruling, is reproduced exactly below:

"A" refers to whether the WCM team had broken Art. 2.2.1 of the Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix Regulations.

"B" refers to whether the decision to disqualify the team for their alleged infringement of those rules was justified.

"THE COURT RULED AS FOLLOWS

"A - As to the interpretation of the regulation:

"1) While the judges are required to apply stringently the regulations, the fact remains that they are not technicians and must therefore rely on the statements made by experts.

"2) More than just an expert, it will be noted that Mr PUIG BULTO, whose witness statement was requested by the Court, is the President of the International Technical Panel (CTI) of the FIM and was mandated in that capacity by the Management Council of the FIM at its extraordinary meeting of 17 and 18 June 2000, to finalise the complete text of the technical regulation of the World Grand Prix Road Racing Championship in agreement with the Grand Prix Commission.

"3) Since he was at the origin of the wording of Article 2.2.1 of the incriminated regulation, Mr PUIG BULTO was able to effectively enlighten the Court as to the interpretation of the text.

"4) While Mr PUIG BULTO readily acknowledged that the regulation might be improved in its definitions, he was adamant in his belief that "engines manufactured in thousands of units in pressure die-cast moulds are not engines obtained by an original design"; that is certainly the case of the Yamaha R1 engine, even though this engine might undergo ancillary modifications to improve its performance.

"5) In their witness statement which was not open to any doubt, Mr PUIG BULTO and Mr FAZI stated that the castings of the crankcase, cylinder and cylinder head of the Harris motorcycle of the WCM-GP LTD team inspected by them revealed no differences from the Yamaha R1 engine. All the statements were confirmed by the presentation of the 3 engines:

- the Yamaha R1 engine
- the engine designed by Mr D. Hagen
- the engine which underwent the inspection in Welkom on 23 April 2003.

"The crankcase, cylinder and cylinder head of the inspected engine were not different from the parts of the R1 engine which derived from the industrial production.

"6) Finally, an objective analysis of the facts showed that Mr CLIFFORD had acknowledged both when the motorcycle was inspected and to the Court that the motorcycle of the WCM-GP LTD team was fitted with a Yamaha R1 engine, although Mr CLIFFORD claimed that the engine had undergone modifications to the components which create performance.

"7) Mr PUIG BULTO and Mr FAZI effectively confirmed that some moving parts of the engine had been changed, but maintained that these changes only concerned ancillary parts.

"The Court points out that paragraph 4 of Article 2.2.1 of the Regulations is not ambiguous in its reference to the moving parts, because it reads as follows:

"...The moving parts (crankshaft, pistons, connecting rods, gearbox etc) are not covered by these requirements."

"Consequently, the Court set aside the arguments of Mr CLIFFORD which it believed not to be pertinent.

"In consequence, the Panel of FIM Stewards rightly judged on 24 April 2003 at Welkom on the occasion of the South African Road Racing Grand Prix that the engine of the WCM-GP LTD team was not compliant with the regulation and in particular with paragraph 4 of Article 2.2.1 of the regulation.

"B - As to the justification of the disqualification

"When a machine is found to be non-compliant with the regulation, it cannot under any circumstances take part in an event; disqualification is therefore the only possible solution.

"Applying any other penalty would have the consequence of simply changing the regulation for the event by implicitly allowing non-compliant motorcycles to participate.

"The Panel of FIM Stewards therefore rightly decided to disqualify the Harris-WCM motorcycle of the WCM-GP LTD team since it was found to be non-compliant with Article 2.2.1 of the regulation.

"THAT BEING SO:

"The CDI confirms in every respect the decision handed down by the Panel of FIM Stewards on 24 April 2003 at Welkom in South Africa which disqualified the Harris-WCM motorcycle of the WCM-GP LTD team.

"The CDI orders the WCM-GP LTD team to pay costs of the procedure."

The WCM team have yet to comment on the verdict.