Casey Stoner urges rules stability in MotoGP

Published: 18 April 2012

Reigning world champion Casey Stoner has urged MotoGP bosses to stop meddling with rules and regulations to have a period of stability to help the premier class prosper in the future.

The Australian believes a lack of stability with technical rules in recent years has been the downfall of the series and contributed to small grid numbers and the huge expense to compete in MotoGP.

The 2012 campaign kicked off in Qatar earlier this month with involvement from just three factories, including Honda, Ducati and Yamaha.

Kawasaki and Suzuki have recently withdrawn their official factory efforts from MotoGP having blamed the impact of the global economic crisis for pulling out.
In the last decade, MotoGP has undergone numerous sweeping rules changes that Repsol Honda rider Stoner believes have been to the detriment of the sport and forced factories and teams to spend more money.

First there was the switch from two-stroke 500s to four-stroke 990s in 2002. Capacity was then reduced from 990cc to 800cc in 2007 and technical rules were revised again for this year with capacity increased again to 1000cc.

Factories have had to spend fortunes of developing sophisticated electronic systems to cope with issues like fuel consumption, with fuel tank capacity now at 21 litres. A limit on the number of engines to six per season also forced factories to develop longer life engines.

MotoGP bosses are currently discussing a raft of radical new rule changes for the future to help cut costs.

Under discussion are rules including one bike per rider and rev limit to cut costs and help bridge the gap between the current factory prototypes and the new generation CRT machines.

But Stoner, who finished third in the season’s opening race in Qatar, blames Dorna more than the powerful Motorcycle Sport Manufacturers Assocation (MSMSA), which has heavily influenced the implementation of technical rules in the last decade.

The 26-year-old told MCN: “It just needs to be stable. The fact is they haven’t stopped making changes to the championship. It’s not the decisions that they’re making now that’s the problem, it’s decisions they made in the past. By changing from 500 to 1000, changing from 1000 back to 800, then going with the single tyre rule you lose all competition. So you lose somebody who’s maybe not as fast, but on another brand of tyre that was working better on the day pushing themselves up on the podium spot and getting exposure. So the smaller teams can get their exposure.”

Stoner used the late weight limit change ahead of 2012 as another example of too much interference with the rules.

The weight limit for the new 1000cc class was initially set at 153kg, but four kilos were suddenly added in December after Honda and Yamaha had spent months developing their bikes.

Stoner added: “They want to cut costs but then put four kilos on the bikes after everyone’s already developed them. That’s cost them a lot of money, especially Honda and Yamaha because I know they were on the legal weight requirement. Maybe the other manufacturers weren’t, so they went; let’s just move everybody up there (to 157kg). So all that money that they’re trying to save, they just spent. Kenny Roberts might still be racing with his team if they had stopped changing everything. But even in 800s they were changing this and that and they want to 21 litres. It’s just not giving a chance to anybody else to reach those levels."

"It’s about the teams that are planning to come into this championship wanting to make a name for themselves and build up a machine that can be competitive. But every year or two they change the regulations, so where is the money going to come from to develop again for these small teams? They don’t make any sense, trying to save money by spending more money. It’s just complicated to figure out why they keep changing things. And why restrict it to four-cylinders as well. If they didn’t restrict all this then you’d see somebody with an amazing idea maybe. It’s like Honda with their five-cylinder. It was an amazing bike, but somebody else might come in with a completely different idea again and be able to make a great bike. But when there’s such a tight rule, and then they keep changing it for small things, it’s impossible for small companies to make a difference, so this is where I think they’re going wrong.”