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GP Week : Issue 58
>>Moto GPFEATURE though I’m not so sure about restricting the performance.” Another was Rossi, who said in Britain: “If it brings back grid numbers, why not? The racing will be interesting.” He seemed surprised when informed that the litre-bikes would have restricted performance to make sure they could not win, but not fazed. “Normally it is only three or four different riders who win most of the races,” he said. The satellite teams were already doing little more than making up (insufficient) numbers. Race director Paul Butler added an official line of support, making the point that there were a number of precedents for two-tier formulae on both two and four wheels. Formula 1 had in the past mixed turbocharged and non-turbocharged cars, while MotoGP had run for the first year with 500cc two-strokes up against the new 990cc four-strokes, with occasionally unpredictable results. There had been something similar back in the late 1990s, after grid numbers had slumped, said Butler, when Honda produced a privateer special V-twin 500, up against the full factory V4s. The bikes had no chance of winning, but they filled the grid and provided a lower-cost entry level, for teams and riders alike. “Mixed formulae tend to be transitional,” said Butler, adding “what really excites me is the chance a 1000cc rule would bring new constructors into the paddock.” Nor did it need to exclude the factories; Aprilia’s decision to build a chassis for Moto2, in spite of the spec Honda engine, demonstrated that, he concluded. The factories are key to the whole issue, for it is their restriction of supply that is limiting the numbers of full prototype 800cc racers. Honda is unwilling to increase beyond the current six machines; Yamaha likewise is at its limit with four. Ducati increased numbers to five this year, adding Sete Gibernau to the list. He has now gone, but the Italian factory will supply a fifth bike next year, to the new Aspar team. Suzuki has been solidly resistant to repeated attempts by Dorna to persuade them to go beyond the two-bike factory team. And Kawasaki is leaving. Dorna’s 1000cc proposal is meant to put the squeeze on harder to produce more entries, and Butler is among those hoping it will have the desired effect. The manufacturers association, the MSMA, responded at once with a counter-proposal of its own: suggesting that 800cc engines could be leased to teams, which could then construct their own chassis. “I’m pleased the MSMA have indicated they may be able to solve the problem with more 800cc motors,” he said. But like everybody, he is waiting for the other shoe to drop. The MSMA will report back at the end of August, at the Indianapolis GP. The future of the litre-bikes, an uncanny reincarnation of Formula One machines of the late 1970s, depends on what they will decide.