MotoGP: New 600cc class delayed for one year

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Plans to axe the world 250 championship for a new prototype 600cc class have been delayed until 2011.

Although a capacity for the new class has still to be officially finalised, a 600cc class remains favourite after draft plans were drawn up at the Czech Republic GP in Brno back in late August.

The 250 class was expected to be replaced in 2010 after it was confirmed by Honda it would cease all two-stroke production at the end of 2009.

An initial plan to run two-stroke and four-stroke machines together in 2010 and 2011, before deciding on which capacity to run for 2012, was scrapped by the Motorcycle Sport Manufacturers Association in favour of the new proposal.

The MSMA met again in Sepang last weekend and the new class will feature prototype chassis with rev limiters, maximum four-cylinders and no pneumatic valves. In a bid to slash costs as well, proposals under discussion will see teams only allowed to scrutineer one bike per rider, and there will be a limit on the engines used per rider at each event.

HRC Managing Director Kosuke Yasutake said: “This class should not be a factory machine dominated class. The chance for engine tuners, chassis builders and private teams and riders should be able to compete in this.”

Some current 250 team bosses reckon switching to a four-stroke class will triple costs and force a lot of them off the grid.

But Kosuke Yasutake added: “It depends on the spec of the engine. In two-stroke engines the reliability is very short and the cost is very high.

“We have to look at regulations that will keep the costs at the same or lower than the current level.”

The MSMA has from now until the Valencia MotoGP in 2008 to finalise the full technical regulations, though an agreement is expected to come much earlier.

Scrapping the 250 class is the third major overhaul of world championship technical rules in the last few years. Two-stroke 500s were ditched for four-stroke 990cc machines in 2002, while capacity was reduced to 800cc for 2007 in a move motivated by improving safety.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt