A minimum weight limit for the Moto2 world championship is currently under discussion in a move that could significantly reduce the disadvantage heavier riders like British star Scott Redding currently have to contend with.
The entire Moto2 field were individually weighed in full riding kit including helmet during last weekend’s Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island.
It was seen as the first move towards MotoGP management bowing to intense pressure to introduce a minimum weight limit in a class where the size of the rider plays a pivotal role, with everybody on the same Honda CBR600RR-based engine, Dunlop tyres and electronics.
The minimum weight limit, which MCN understands could be set at 220kg including bike and rider in full kit, will be further debated during a meeting of the Grand Prix Commission during the season’s final round in Valencia next weekend.
Closely monitoring the discussions will be Gloucestershire teenager Redding and his Belgian-based Marc VDS Racing squad.
Redding and Marc VDS Racing boss Michael Bartholemy have repeatedly lobbied MotoGP bosses to introduce a minimum weight limit for rider and bike in a bid to tip the scales in favour of the bulkier riders.
Weighing in at 74kg, Redding is the heaviest rider in Moto2 and he has frequently bemoaned the performance disadvantage compared to featherweight riders like newly crowned world champion Marc Marquez, who is 15kg lighter.
When weighed in full riding kit at Phillip Island last Saturday, Redding’s total weight was 87.7kg. Although not confirmed, it is understood Marquez’s weight in full riding kit was just over 70kg. Redding’s Finnish teammate Mika Kallio was only 67kg, while Japanese rider Tomoyoshi Koyama was only 60kg while decked out on his full racing gear.
Speaking to MCN, Redding said: “We have been pushing really hard for a weight limit and I think everyone can understand the disadvantage we are at. I was 87.7kg and it seems Marquez and (Pol) Espargaro were around the 70kg mark. And we were all weighed on the exact same scales, so 17kg is a massive difference. If we get a weight limit it would make the class even more interesting because it gives everybody a fair chance.
Marquez has got a massive advantage and that is something I could never get. It will give me more of a chance of getting the title. If there is a rider and a bike limit that will be good. If people are still a bit lighter than me then I can handle that, but if the gap is 15 to 20kg then it is a bit too much.”
A clear demonstration of Redding’s disadvantage came at the recent Motorland Aragon race in Spain when he was engaged in a race long duel with Marquez.
Marquez’s Suter machine would effortlessly pass Redding’s Kalex without the aid of a slipstream on the long back straight and Redding added: “I lose the most on acceleration. The smaller riders have more of an advantage because they don’t lose anything. But for me picking it up out of slow corners, every gear change it is just a little bit of time lost.”
Espargaro said he was in favour of a more level playing field and he supported the introduction of a minimum weight limit.
The Spaniard, who dominated last weekend’s Phillip Island race, told MCN: “I think it is a good idea. I am not a heavy rider in that aspect and it will not change anything but maybe it will help a little bit the riders that are heavy and make it better for them to make it more equal. Marc has had a good advantage and that is clear. Maybe not in top speed but certainly in acceleration and it is not a big difference for me. Sure with Scott the difference is so big and for me the disadvantage he has is a little bit too much, so for him it will be a great rule.”
It seems though that minimum weight debate for Moto2 is not based purely on performance but more out of a concern that heavier riders like Redding have to resort to extreme measures to keep their weight down like embarking on strict diets and punishing training regimes.
International Race Teams Association boss Mike Trimby told MCN the talks were only at a preliminary stage and it was not clear whether a minimum weight limit would be introduced for 2013 if approved.
Trimby told MCN: “There is a discussion about a minimum weight limit for Moto2 and it will be discussed by the Grand Prix Commission in Valencia. We weighed everybody in Phillip Island so we had a reference to see what the average weight is at the moment. IRTA proposed a minimum weight limit some years ago but it was turned down on the basis that they were balancing benefits of riders having an acceleration advantage and then weight and strength.
The consideration now is more about the health of the riders. When you have a class that is equal on engines and tyres, we don’t want riders to think they have to gain an advantage by strict diets. That’s the concern rather than equalising performance on natural body weight.”