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GP Week : Issue 58
went ahead with the plan to introduce production-based engines to shore up falling grid numbers in the premier class, then SBK was prepared to take action to prevent it. The nature of the action was left unspecified; the tone suggested that lawyers with bulging briefcases were on standby, ready to scramble at any moment. But the comment passed without a ruffle within MotoGP. “It’s exactly what he said about Moto2 when it was first proposed,” said a senior source, who asked not to be named. That was seen as a direct clash with SBK’s World 600cc Supersport. But by the time the rules were refined, the single engine being the crucial compromise, objections had melted away. In the same way, given the controlling O 3 N the weekend of the British Grand Prix, World Superbike chief Paolo Flammini made a thinly veiled threat … if MotoGP interest of the FIM and the need for general co-operation, objections to what officials are desperately trying not to call “Moto1” would be gently, but firmly, swept aside. After all, he added, who is to say there may not be a single-engine rule for 1000cc as well? Of course, it may never happen. The whole proposal is a game of brinkmanship by Dorna. But GP racing has proved surprisingly open to the idea of a two-tier MotoGP class, even if only as a last resort. At the same time, Dorna’s brinkmanship has in recent times generally gone the way of the first risky proposal (fourstrokes to replace two-strokes, the single tyre rule, the existence of Moto2, the singleengine rule). The suggestion first emerged at the German GP at the Sachsenring, where Dorna chief Carmelo Ezpeleta revealed that Dorna had proposed introducing privateer-team machines using production-based 1000cc engines. These would be tuned for racing, within strict limits that would keep them behind the 800cc factory prototypes. They would never win, said Ezpeleta, “in normal circumstances”. But they would serve two urgent purposes, and add a few more benefits. Firstly they would help out financially beleaguered private teams, currently struggling to meet lease costs of sub-factory Hondas. As a corollary, it would save the factory build costs of these bikes, so it could concentrate resources on its own teams. Secondly, it would bring more bikes and riders to the grid. There is currently a serious shortage of seats, with the grid down at 17 … actually one below the official regulated minimum number for a race. At the same time, it would re-open racing to the small band of chassis manufacturers – the same specialists now offered a road into racing via Moto2. Initial reactions of shock and awe were soon moderated by some surprising backers. One was Chris Vermeulen, who said: “I’m all for bringing back 1000s with less electronics,