Ducati tried to ‘block’ KTM, Aprilia concessions | Miller: ‘Honda won a GP!"

As the saying goes, a good compromise is when the various parties are dissatisfied with something, and that’s roughly the case with the new MotoGP concessions ranking.
Aleix Espargaro, Thai MotoGP
Aleix Espargaro, Thai MotoGP

Out goes the old system of podium points leading to ‘in or out’ access to technical perks. In comes a new ranking system, with four different tiers, determined by each manufacturer’s percentage score of maximum constructors’ points.

The range of perks have also been expanded to include testing tyres and wild-cards with the ranking percentages recalculated every six months (over the previous year).

In brief, Ducati, the only manufacturer starting in Ranking A with 96% of the 2023 constructors’ points maximum, loses out with a reduction in testing tyres and wild-cards compared to last season.

No manufacturer starts in Ranking B with KTM (51%) and Aprilia (45%) slotting into Ranking C, where they will gain both testing tyres and wild-cards over the 2023 rules.

Yamaha (27%) and Honda (25%) fit into ranking D. They are the biggest beneficiaries, being eligible for the full range of ‘old’ concessions as well as a jump in testing tyres.

Although each had been winless for one of the last two seasons, Honda in 2022 and Yamaha in 2023, the old system only required one podium finish per year to exclude access to any concessions.

Ducati Corse general manager Gigi Dall’Igna said he was happy to give the Japanese brands a chance to recover more quickly via the new rankings, but took a different view of separating Ducati from KTM and Aprilia.

Luigi Dall,Igna, German MotoGP, 18 June
Luigi Dall,Igna, German MotoGP, 18 June

“I support the concession system, because for the show, for the championship, it is important to give possibilities to manufacturers that have had some difficult years to improve,” said Dall’Igna, whose factory has eight riders on the grid.

“So, for the Japanese, I am very happy to give them some chance to recover fast.

“[But] we give also to the Aprilias and KTMs an advantage in comparison with us, because we have less tyres to develop the bike during the season and no possibilities to do the wild-card.

“They won some races this season and they fought to win races all the season. So this seems to me quite strange.”

However, Dall’Igna said Ducati had ultimately dropped its opposition to the KTM and Aprilia perks to get the new system approved ‘unanimously’.

“We consider that supporting the Japanese is more important than to block the concessions to KTM and Aprilia. In the end we are here for the show and if the show is really good then I think it’s better for everyone.

“In the end, we have to reach a compromise.”

Alex Rins, MotoGP race, Grand Prix of the Americas, 16 April
Alex Rins, MotoGP race, Grand Prix of the Americas, 16 April

Jack Miller meanwhile pointed out that Honda is eligible for maximum concessions next year even though they won a grand prix this season, with Alex Rins at COTA.

Although KTM finished second in the constructors’ standings, the Austrian factory did not win a Sunday race.

“They [Honda] won a GP last year, but they still get that. We didn't!”

Told that Honda’s D ranking was due to its meagre 25% of maximum points scored, the Australian countered: “But that’s easy when half of their riders don’t ride the full season!”

The 2023 Grand Prix wins were split 17 for Ducati, 2 for Aprilia and 1 for Honda. Ducati also won 16 of the 19 Sprints (Phillip Island was cancelled), with 2 wins for KTM and 1 for Aprilia.

Constructors’ points are awarded for the highest-placed rider from each manufacturer, in each race.

Alberto Puig, MotoGP, Valencia MotoGP, 25 November
Alberto Puig, MotoGP, Valencia MotoGP, 25 November

Until now, the once-dominant Japanese brands were the only MotoGP manufacturers not to have had access to any concessions with Ducati, KTM, Aprilia and Suzuki all progressing through the old concessions system.

"I think it's for sure a help, as we saw in the past with other manufacturers,” said Repsol Honda team manager Alberto Puig.

“Now it's our turn to benefit. for sure it will help but it’s not like, 'I have concessions, I will have a good bike immediately'.

“You need time, but the time to recover the lack of performance is going to be faster. We are happy and pleased for that."

Fitting in extra testing with race riders during a record 2024 season of 22 events will be an arduous task, but LCR Honda team boss Lucio Cecchinello is excited to get started:

"Many people asked me, 'Now you have more work to do, more tests, more days away from home'. My reply was thank goodness we have this opportunity because we really want to close the gap.

“It's important for Honda as well as LCR and I think HRC will be using LCR more and more as a development platform [next year].”

The first of those extra tests is likely to be in the form of the Sepang Shakedown in early February.

"We didn’t book our flights to the official Sepang test yet because we knew there was a possibility to ask us to join the Shakedown as well. If [HRC} call us, we are happy to be there."

Fabio Quartararo, Malaysian MotoGP, 11 November
Fabio Quartararo, Malaysian MotoGP, 11 November

As well as Repsol and LCR Honda, the Monster Yamaha team of Fabio Quartararo and Alex Rins will also now be eligible for the Shakedown test.

“Yamaha really needs more tests,” Quartararo said before the new rankings were officially announced. “If we have concessions, we have 6 days of tests in Malaysia, so I will be dead! But for me, whatever Yamaha needs is the way we have to push.

“I think to be able to use more engine [specifications during the season] is also something that can be really helpful… [I want] Everything! Whatever is possible to have [with the new concessions] we will take it! It's always better to have more than less.”

Although 2021 world champion Quartararo didn't win a race this year he gave Yamaha three Grand Prix podiums.

After Rins' Texas win, Marc Marquez handed Honda a second rosturm of the year at Motegi.

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