MotoGP boss pledges cheaper bikes and closer racing in 2013

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MotoGP boss Carmelo Ezpeleta has laid out his vision for MotoGP in 2013 and beyond by pledging to get manufacturers to supply cheaper bikes while cutting the gulf in performance between factory prototypes and the new production-based 10000cc machines.

Ezpeleta is adamant that if Yamaha wants to keep leasing bikes to Cal Crutchlow’s Tech 3 squad or Honda to supply bikes to Gresini Honda, they must do so for a price no higher than 1m Euros.

And he has also vowed to introduce restrictions on factory bikes like Honda’s RC213V machine to bridge the current huge gap in performance between prototypes and privately entered 1000cc projects (CRT) like the Suter/BMW that Colin Edwards will race in 2012.

In testing so far, the CRT machines, which can run highly tuned 1000cc production engines in a prototype chassis, have been around four seconds behind the lap times of the prototype factory bikes.

With 12 factory bikes and nine CRT bikes on the 2012 grid, Ezpeleta is conscious that the field will be too strung out and unappealing.

But to ensure closer competition in 2013 Ezpeleta has threatened a range of drastic measures including a controlled ECU, rev limit and even weight penalties for the fastest bikes.

Ezpeleta is currently awaiting an official response from Honda, Yamaha and Ducati on his plans but has set them a May deadline to come forward with concrete proposals to meet his demands for more affordable and more competitive racing.

The Spaniard has already held talks with Ducati management prior to Christmas and staged additional discussions when he was a guest at the Bologna factory’s 2012 team launch at the Madonna di Campiglio ski resort.

He flew to meet HRC management in Japan in mid-December and is currently planning a further trip to the Far East to discuss the future of MotoGP with Yamaha representatives.

Ezpeleta also said he wasn’t against banning factories from leasing machinery, so if Honda wanted to enter a two-rider factory effort, they could also obliged to make available a CRT machine that a independent team could purchase for 1m Euros.

Ezpeleta told MCN: “We are looking at ways to solve some of the economical problems and I am quite optimistic. First we have focused very well on the problems.

“We need to stop the increase in the performance of the top bikes, we need to have an acceptable number of bikes and determine the costs that people pay for these bikes, which as was mentioned was around 1m Euros per year.

“In my opinion it is better if it is not leasing bikes but that depends on the reaction of the manufacturers.

“Now we have an acceptable number of bikes on the grid with 21 and now the second problem is to try and reduce the gap between the CRT and factory bikes.

“I am talking with the existing manufacturers participating in the championship but also with manufacturers that are able to join us in the near future.

“We propose to them many different possibilities for 2013 and beyond and we have a deadline of May of this year to decide on the decisions that will help us be comfortable for the next three or four years.

“I need to know if it is leasing or CRT or a controlled ECU and rev limits. What is important is working out what we want to achieve and that is a grid of 21 bikes with not a big gap between the first and the last bike.

“We need to be flexible on that depending on the performance of the riders and also the costs of the non-factory bikes.  How we do that we are flexible with the manufacturers. Since Valencia until now we have been reflecting.

“We have various measures that we have sent to them, one being the controlled ECU and one being the limit on revs. Not all of them think the same. All of them are not in favour of the same ECU for everybody.

“Some of them are in favour of reducing the revs while others are completely against. I don’t want to discuss technical things with them.

“What I want to discuss is to be absolutely sure that the costs they propose to us is achievable and the championship will be competitive.

“How they do that is up to them. The controlled ECU was a proposal as a solution and this will be imposed unless they propose something which achieves for us our goals.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt