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GP Week : Issue 149
New MotoGP race director Mike Webb has taken over from long-term incumbent Paul Butler, while retaining the role of Technical Director. The New Zealander, with long GP experience including a spell as a Yamaha factory team crew chief, takes control of a ship in the throes of radical change. He is optimistic about the results. GPWEEK: Moto3 – all new, and quite different. Like the rule that says manufacturers must be prepared to supply a minimum of 15 riders. MIKE WEBB: Eight the first year, 15 the next. The original ruling said 15, and the manufacturers involved said we’re happy to do 15, but in the first year it’ll be difficult. So we agreed: new manufacturers in the first year would be eight, then rising to 15. The point is, if one was clearly better than the others, the engine you had to have, that is not allowed to be limited to one or two teams. Then if ... Mahindra for example had eight customers lining up, they must supply them, within four months. The real change in Moto3 is in going from two-stroke to four-stroke. All the rest hinges on that ... the price control, because four-strokes can be expensive, the 14,000 rev limit, which we’ve not had before, the single fuel supplier and single tyre supplier, and tyre quantity controls as well. Not much change in Moto2. Two or three words changed in the regulation rewrite, just to make things clearer. And big changes in MotoGP. Starting with one of the smaller ones – the brake protectors are new. Talk us through them. That’s in all classes – an idea that’s been talked about for some time after various accidents over a period of years: Lorenzo, Capirossi, Gibernau, Simoncelli in 250, Rossi last year. It got to the point where there was enough support in the paddock, though no-one could agree on a solution. Now enough agreement has been found. It’s written in the regulation that you must have brake protection and it’s up to the teams to come and show me their solution, and we accept it or not. What would you not accept? Already we have banned some devices. It cannot interfere with the brake function in any way. There was one solution that a manufacturer came up with which was a stop attached to the throttle, so that at full throttle it wouldn’t allow you to touch the brake. That was immediately banned. All it says is “protection such that in a contact with another motorcycle the brake lever could not be accidentally deployed” – or whatever the wording is. Plus, the real thing, very strong, that there is no chance for the rider’s hand to become trapped. So a full loop like a dirt bike won’t be accepted. Ducati did come up with a prototype that had very nicely engineered snap- connectors either side, so that any contact in the direction away from the rider would open it up. To me it was a little bit over-engineered. The increase in MotoGP engine size speaks for itself. The real innovation is CRT. What are your thoughts so far? This year’s unwritten target was always 22 or 24. We have 21. A good start. The Aprilia ART has caused a lot of trouble, by seeming more factory bike than true CRT. Is it a bit close to the wind? If you want my personal opinion I think it is exactly what everyone should be doing ... almost a return to TZ Yamaha days, where a manufacturer makes a factory race bike, then goes and sells copies of it that anyone can buy, unrestricted. And that to me is exactly what the model’s aimed at. It’s very close to the Aprilia in World Superbikes. Is that a concern? If HRC decided they would make RULES AND HOW TO USE THEM MICHAEL SCOTT grills MotoGP's new Race Director Mike Webb 35 GPWEEK.com // MOTOGP >>> FEATURE