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GP Week : Issue 145
2012 is a signal year in motorbike GP racing. Not just because of the new rules – 1000cc plus the new CRT underclass – but because it straddles the biggest philosophical change since the championship began in 1949. And 2013 is set to be very much different again. The production engines of the new CRT generation are the thin end of the wedge. Behind them is the threat of much stricter regulations. Such things as a control ECU and a rev limit will clip the factory designers’ wings, and pin the factory bikes to the new lower level. You can imagine the reaction at Honda and Yamaha. Never mind any sentimental desire to go racing among competitive engineers, when design is restricted, the excuse that racing is important for technical research no longer obtains. What are they going to tell the accountants now? It’s easy to foresee an extreme response: factory withdrawal from MotoGP. There is a precedent: in 1967 highly restrictive new technical regulations designed to cut runaway costs resulted in a full- scale pull-out from Japan. Only MV Agusta remained in the 500 class – if history does repeat itself, could this be Ducati’s new role? This puts a whole new light on the season to come. It could be the last, at least for a while to come, where the level and pace is set by the factories. This won’t necessarily be a bad thing, in terms of the competition. Back in the late 1960s, though the MVs rather spoiled the premier class, racing in 250 and 350 categories was fantastically good, thanks to grids full of identical Yamaha production-racers. The bikes were relatively cheap, races invariably over-subscribed with entrants, and the action close and furious. Pure entertainment, with technical progress left to a bunch of back-shed boffins. Dorna have recreated much of this with Moto2. This year Moto3 begins in place of the 125s, with very strictly controlled 250 four- stroke engines and a grid mainly filled with production-racers from Honda and KTM. The plan here also is close racing with very similar machines. Apply the same model to MotoGP and you can guarantee a crowd-pleaser. And that’s the only thing that matters to Dorna. Whether it suits the factories or not. MotoGP begins under floodlights in Qatar in just over a fortnight. The battle will be between the usual players, and Honda versus Yamaha, with Ducati battling to catch up. The CRT bikes will be very much a sideshow. The main event remains as before: full factory bikes at the pinnacle of current technology. Enjoy it while you can. OPINION MICHAEL SCOTT MotoGP Editor THE END OF RACING AS WE KNOW IT? GP3 – The 250cc replacement category continues the move to 'controlled engines' – MotoGP next? 16 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: OPINION