Engine development freeze can slash MotoGP costs

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Honda team boss Lucio Cecchinello believes costs could be cut by 20 to 30 per cent with a freeze on engine development in MotoGP.

The LCR Honda boss is one of several teams treading a financial tightrope with sponsorship becoming harder and harder to source because of the current global financial crisis.

The credit crunch looks set to claim its first MotoGP victim with Kawasaki intending not to compete in 2009, though crisis talks are currently underway to mount a rescue package.

Cecchinello, who will field Randy de Puniet in 2009, believes effectively managed rules are the key to restricting expenditure.

“If we want to reduce the costs we have to revise the technical rules. I believe that in MotoGP, we need to freeze engine development, reduce the number of engines and increase the life of the engine. 

"Extending the engine life will impact on the number of engines we have. We have a one-rider team and we run with eight engines and that is a huge expense, not only for producing them but also for maintenance.

"To move the engine around between Europe and Japan to be overhauled costs a lot of money, “he told MCN.

Cecchinello believes a rev limit must be introduced to stop manufacturers aggressively chasing more performance. “We have to limit the revs. Using the high revs we do now in MotoGP makes the engines much more delicate and we need to make a lot of maintenance and change a lot of parts.

"I would say you need a maximum of four engines and a rev limit at 18,000rpm. Having an engine that has 19,000rpm or 21,000rpm has no impact on the manufacturers technology, so we are developing without benefit for the factories but with huge costs.”

Suzuki’s factory team boss Paul Denning though believes the rules should not be tampered with to go through a period of stability after major rule changes including the capacity reduction from 990cc to 800cc, and more recently the introduction of a single tyre rule for 2009.

“The most obvious way to control costs from a manufacturer’s point of view is definitely technical. But the problem is that the technical regulations have changed too much in the last few years anyway, so we need to keep some stability and that should help to reduce costs further with the rules staying the same, “said Denning.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt