800cc four-stroke machines could race against a batch of new 1000cc bikes in MotoGP in 2012, MCN can reveal.
In a surprise development on the second and final day of testing at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia, Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta confirmed to MCN that he fully expected a split grid of 800cc and 1000cc bikes in 2012.
It was thought the current 800cc machines, which have been blamed for making MotoGP much less spectacular and entertaining since their introduction in 2007, would be scrapped in favour of an exclusive 1000cc format.
But MCN understands several factories want to continue racing 800s having invested heavily in the smaller capacity format since the 990cc capacity was abolished at the end of 2006.
Dorna boss Ezpeleta, facing mounting pressure to slash costs and stop plummeting grid numbers, flew into Kuala Lumpur especially for talks with the Motorcycle Sport Manufacturers Association and International Race Teams Association to thrash out further details of the 2012 regulations.
It was agreed unanimously prior to Christmas that MotoGP would allow 1000cc bikes with a maximum cylinder bore measurement of 81mm into MotoGP in 2012.
But in Sepang it emerged today that the 800s could be given a stay of execution, with the MSMA presenting more concrete details of the future format.
Details of rules for the 2012 premier class campaign have not been revealed after several secret meetings took place in the Far East. A definitive set of rules will be unveiled following a meeting of the Grand Prix Commission in Barcelona on February 17.
But MCN understands the rules have been set to ensure close competition between the 800s and 1000cc bikes, with different fuel tank size and weight limits to ensure there is no major performance disparity.
It is not the first time that MotoGP could have a split grid. In 2002 when the first 990cc four-strokes were introduced, the majority of the field ran 500cc two-strokes.
The grid only became exclusive for 990cc four-strokes in 2003.