Sepang test: Track time and testing to be slashed in 2009

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MotoGP fans will have a major reduction in the amount of track time they will see the likes of Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner on track in 2009.

Fans will see one hour and 45 minutes less action next season under plans to be approved next week to help MotoGP survive the current global economic crisis.

Further meetings to discuss cost-cutting measures to counter the credit crunch were held yesterday (Wednesday) and today in Malaysia.

It now seems certain that two modifications to the rules will be introduced for next season.

One includes the banning of Friday’s opening 60-minute free practice session and the reduction of the other two practice sessions and qualifying by 15 minutes to 45 minutes.

Sunday’s morning warm-up session will remain at 20 minutes, with plans to slash time to just 10 minutes being scrapped.

The reduction in track time comes after discussions within the Motorcycle Sport Manufacturers Association in a lengthy meeting at the Pan Pacific Hotel near the Sepang circuit held yesterday.

Cutting the practice and qualifying time allowed will help teams reduce engine mileage, with technical costs one of the key areas MotoGP bosses are looking to make a significant saving on.

The other plan to be sanctioned is the abolishment of the five-planned post-race test sessions in Europe. Some leeway maybe allowed though with a one-day session held after the Catalunya and Brno races.

The initial proposals have the support of the MSMA and the International Race Teams Association. A meeting of the Grand Prix Commission is expected to convene in Europe next week to approve the changes.

Further and far more sweeping changes for the 2010 world championship are still under discussion. On the table are plans to make engines last a minimum of two races, cut bike allocation down to one per rider, and possibly even run two-day meetings.

Those proposals will be discussed in further detail by the MSMA at a meeting during the Qatar test in early March.

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt