Pingley's thoughts: Engines
There has been much discussed in the public domain, behind closed doors and in the media about the ever increasingly sensitive subject of engines in the MotoGP class recently.
Regulations were introduced in 2009 at the Czech Grand Prix governing the number of engines for the rest of the season allowing five engines for the final seven Grands Prix and this was further reduced to six engines for the entire season of 2010.
In fact it became obvious before Assen for some people that some riders and teams were not going to complete the championship with these six engines even whilst carefully managing usage.
Fillipo Prezioso of Ducati said “The best thing is to use one engine with a high mileage for the practice and a fresh engine for the race and qualifying.”
The factory with the biggest problems at the moment is Suzuki and informal discussions were held at Laguna Seca to enable the team to complete the season without incurring the legislated penalties of starting from the pit lane with a ten second penalty each time the six engine limit is exceeded.
The subject is on the agenda for further discussion with the Grand Prix Commission during the weekend of the Czech Grand Prix at Brno in August.
The Suzuki riders are presently 13th and 15th in the championship, so any further engines will not make a big difference to the aliens at the front, but such exemptions are clearly controversial.
It is not only the factory teams struggling with engine associated issues, the satellite guys also have their own set of problems.
Tech 3 rider, Colin Edwards has made no secret of his frustrations with 2009 specification motors lacking speed and performance and sent an email to Yamaha senior management in Japan pleading for help for his and team mate Ben Spies’ home race at Laguna Seca.
Prior to the event the news was positive but the new specifications have not been made public with references to new internal parts, electronic updates like Honda or just an increase in the allowed maximum rev limit.
The motorcycle manufacturers currently have a stranglehold on MotoGP, formulating their own regulations unlike Formula One where manufacturers come and go on a whim as we have seen in recent years.
We have small grids again, and it's not an impossibility to consider losing Suzuki and even Yamaha from Grand Prix with their massive business losses and pressure to reduce costs.
The proposals to reduce costs and increase numbers on the MotoGP grid whilst attractive within the GP paddock have been met with alarm and fighting talk from WSBK boss Maurizio Flammini, claiming support from the FIM and his exclusive contract and vowing to fight until his last euro to protect his championship.
The problems of the shrinking MotoGP grid are not only cost but also machine availability, which is controlled by the manufacturers.
When these same manufacturers produced the amazing two stroke machines of the ‘70s they also produced affordable privateer machines which could, and did win races.
I think it is time the FIM stepped up to the plate and took control of the regulations again before our premier class implodes whilst going to war with Maurizio Flammini.
The new Moto2 class has proved there are plenty of competent chassis engineers interested in competing, we just need an engine or two. So, invite the manufacturers that are capable of doing so to provide an affordable sealed lease engine with a control ecu.
Their technology is protected, there is a business opportunity, the control ecu concept works in Formula One and the chassis guys get a real challenge.
Oh, and we get full premier class grids without a war with WSBK. Sounds good to me...