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Sepang test preview: Teams poised for crunch cost talks

Published: 04 February 2009

This week’s Sepang MotoGP test session will not only be a chance for race fans to get a first gauge of the contenders and pretenders for 2009 when winter testing resumes on track in Malaysia.

Off track issues are also high on the agenda in the Far East as fans are likely to get the first clues as to the future direction of the sport, with major cost-cutting proposals expected to be thrashed out in a series of key meetings.

The Motorcycle Sport Manufacturers Association (MSMA), International Race Teams Association (IRTA), Dorna and the FIM will all meet in the Sepang paddock to discuss cost-cutting measures to counter the impact of the global economic crisis.

The credit crunch has already claimed Kawasaki’s factory team, leaving just 17 bikes on the grid at this stage.

The meetings are all engineered towards preserving the future of MotoGP with a series of cost cuts for the forthcoming 2009 season, with more wider ranging rule changes implemented for 2010.

Proposals including shortening practice sessions, extending engine life by at least 50 per cent and allowing a rider to use only one bike per race weekend instead of the current format of two.

All post race testing will be abolished and there will be a further reduction in close season testing, with the 2008/09 winter calendar cut from eight to five tests.

A ban on carbon brakes and two-day meetings have also been discussed, yet a more definitive list of measures will be agreed in Sepang before going to the Grand Prix Commission in the very near future.

IRTA president Herve Poncharal told MCN: “There has been a few proposals from the MSMA, Dorna, the FIM and the teams and in Sepang there is going to be a few meetings taking place.

"I think what is discussed in those meetings will certainly go before the Grand Prix Commission before the end of the month and be finalised for 2009 and 2010.

"The meetings in Sepang will identify the clear rules from the many ideas that have been suggested by the various parties involved.

"Everybody though has been very positive in the approach to this matter. In the past there has been a reluctance to make too many changes, but now that is not the case and everybody is in agreement that costs must be reduced.

"There is an understanding that the economic crisis is going to be stronger and maybe longer than expected.

"There has been a lot of brainstorming and some of the measures are too far at this stage, some are not sufficient to reduce costs, but there are plenty of ideas that could easily reduce the technical costs.

"And that not only helps the factories, but it helps them make the bikes cheaper for the satellite teams.”

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