MotoGP weight increase angers Honda and Yamaha

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Honda and Yamaha have both condemned the late decision to increase the minimum weight limit for the new generation1000ccc MotoGP machines from 153kg to 157kg.

Honda and Yamaha had both invested huge financial and human resources into developing their new 1000cc machinery believing the weight limit would be 153kg.

But after a meeting of the Grand Prix Commission in December, it was announced that an additional 4kg would be added and the weight limit set at 157kg.

Honda and Yamaha have since had to add 4kg of weight to their machines in winter testing and the move was heavily criticised by reigning world champion Casey Stoner during the first Sepang test in Malaysia last month.

The Aussie said: “It is rather frustrating. We already had the bike developed and then they decided to change the regulations, so we had to add 4kg to the weight of our bike,” he said.

“This is a disadvantage for us, because the bike was already developed with a specific weight in mind, and now we have to add more. 

“This affects the bike. It isn’t something that you notice much in your general riding, but unfortunately you do feel it quite a bit mid-corner. We have to try to adapt a little more and overcome this, but it is disappointing that the decision was made so late on.”

HRC boss Shuhei Nakamoto supported stoner’s criticism during last week’s second Sepang test, which Honda again dominated with a Stoner and Dani Pedrosa 1-2.

Nakamoto told MCN: “When you do something different you have to do reliability tests from zero. Our philosophy is to do minimum 2000ks running test and this cost is not so cheap. I was very disappointed about this. 

“We tested in Valencia and after this test suddenly the regulation changed and it is not fair. I don’t know why the regulation changed.”

Yamaha too expressed its frustration with the new rule when MCN asked senior race boss Masahiko Nakajima in Sepang last week.

He said: “Personally I am so frustrated about the Grand Prix Commission decision. In December it is impossible. We had already made some assembly parts and some spare parts and to change it by 4kgs makes it impossible to do anything. It is quite difficult. For me it is not a technical regulation for a sporting reason and I am very frustrated about this.

“If we have one-year lead-time then we can prepare. Braking performance with 1kg more is a big difference so with 4kg you can imagine what happens. We have to investigate which part of the bike is better to position the ballast but where we have put the weight is top secret.”

Paddock rumour pointed the finger at Ducati for pushing for the weight increase because of concerns its new GP12 couldn’t get close to the original 153kg limit.

When the weight limit was increased to 157kg, Ducati hadn’t started building its new spec Desmosedici, so the impact on the Bologna factory has been considerably less.
Ducati though strongly rejects any suggestion it pushed for the 4kg increase.

Factory team boss Vittoriano Guareschi told MCN: “This was a Dorna decision to decrease the cost but for Ducati it was easier to adapt the bike because when it was changed we only started building the bike.

“So for us it was easier to put 4kg in the machine. Sure for the Japanese they had their bikes done and for them it is not easy to put that weight on the machine. But we didn’t have a part in this decision. Our bike was only starting to be built and other machines were already done. We didn’t ask about this.”

Ducati technical chief Filippo Preziosi said: “We were open to that solution because we think the minimum weight is one easy to decrease costs. So where you have titanium bolts you have steel bolts. We are fighting like technicians against the weight, so the easiest way to have a cheaper bike is to increase the minimum weight.

“For me the right way is to increase the weight and after that each manufacturer will decide which is the best technology to use for each component in order to have the best performance and minimum cost. If the rule says you have to do that piece in that material and so on, it is not the most cost effective way.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt