It appears the addition of Thailand to the 2018 MotoGP calendar could lead to several changes in the testing schedule, with Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of series organiser Dorna, hinting that modifications to the current schedule are afoot. has learned that proposals were tabled at an IRTA Committee meeting at Aragon, with IRTA - the International Road-racing Team’s Association - and Dorna keen to limit factories testing at circuits during the season, several weeks before a race, as witnessed on several occasions this year.

As Mike Trimby, CEO of IRTA, put it, "We want factories to use these days based on the original purpose of machine development and not as extra set up practice for specific events."

And it is believed other ideas were aired, which included fairly radical changes. One of those could see each MotoGP rider limited to five days of testing from the nine available at the three official preseason tests at Sepang (Malaysia), Burium (Thailand) and Losail (Qatar). At this stage, premier class rookies would be exempt from this rule.

Another could see the scrapping of the Valencia MotoGP test in November, ’18. Next year’s race will take place on the 18th of that month, meaning the two-day test, held in the subsequent days, would be limited by ever-falling temperatures and decreasing light.

The IRTA Committee will meet again at Motegi next weekend where further proposals will be tabled. The Grand Prix commission, which comprises of members from Dorna, IRTA, the FIM - the motorcycle governing body – and the MSMA, the manufacturer’s association, would then be consulted, to discuss and approve those changes.

Speaking at Aragon, Ezpeleta put it plainly: “It’s better to race than test. When we are testing, they pay money and we pay money to lease the circuit or whatever. When we are racing we receive money and the teams receive money.”

For the first time in its 69-year history, the motorcycle grand prix season will be contested across 19 rounds in ‘18, with races running from mid-March to late November. With the addition of other countries like Finland in the following two years, the calendar could expand to 20 before 2020.

Ezpeleta also suggested that one of the three preseason tests could be dropped in the coming years. “I’m completely sure that if we increase the number of races, we will reduce the number of tests,” he said. “Testing, to be honest, one day the test was to prepare the bikes for the new season, the new situation.

“Now today many of the tests are used to prepare the race, and this is not a reason. We don’t want people testing to prepare the race because this costs money. At least we will propose to reduce that. If they don’t want, it’s their problem. But then later, don’t claim.”

Would MotoGP rookies be exempt from any particular cap that could be placed on testing? “Yes. As we do, it’s our proposal,” came his response. And it would not just be rookies that could benefit from ‘concessions’ as he put it. ‘Teams who are not winning,’ may also be allowed to test more than the official factory entries from Honda, Yamaha and Ducati, who have shared the premier class wins among them this year.

“If it’s accepted, good. If not, we will see. But it’s our proposition to say exactly the same, but we make some concessions to teams who are not winning.

“We think to make some concessions in testing for the rookies in the championship. It’s my opinion. If something need to be approved by the other people, but clearly we share your opinion that rookies must have the opportunity to test more.”

On whether these changes would be implemented for the 2018 season, Ezpeleta said, “We will try.”

Earlier this year, Michelin’s technical director Nicolas Goubert expanded on the benefits of factories testing at tracks a number of weeks before the race weekend.

"Quite often what happened this year is that the team that went testing two weeks before the race - like Yamaha did in Le Mans, like Ducati did in Mugello and Barcelona, like Honda before Brno - they won,” he said.

"Of course that is a big advantage - and it's even more of an advantage when you get bad weather during the weekend, like in Brno. Rain means less dry time for the guys that have not been there for testing and a bigger advantage if you have been beforehand.”

All will become clearer next weekend.


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