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GP Week : Issue 157
19 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: Matters are coming to a head between racing’s commercial directors Dorna and the manufacturers. Are they also coming to a pretty pass? The deadline for firm decisions on future dumb-down rules for MotoGP is fast approaching, and there are promises of finality in just three weeks, when the next meeting between the GP Commission and the MSMA (Motor Sport Manufacturers Association) is scheduled at Assen. Remarkably, there are encouraging noises coming out of both sides. This has always seemed unlikely. Dorna’s tub-thumping threats of late last year found immediate opposition from the manufacturers, both jointly and severally; and every other suggestion since has met with similar doubts. It seems, from the honeyed words emerging after the last meeting at Catalunya one weekend ago, that behind the scenes there is at least a degree of rapprochement. I’ve heard this from all sides now: including IRTA and Dorna, all very agreeable, although all couched in the vaguest of terms. And from the MSMA, but to be fair that organisation’s Japanese spokesman tends towards vague terms and honeyed words anyway, no matter what the real situation. So what are we in for? From the side of the GP Commission (essentially Dorna) there is a growing confidence that two key elements will fall into place: a rev limit and a control ECU. From these two things, Race Director Mike Webb believes, will flow not only closer racing but such consequent cost savings as to meet the original brief without having to be concerned much with other details. This is much in line with F1. MotoGP has one important difference; although limited to four cylinders, engine architecture is free. And every factory engine is different: 90-degree vee Ducati, 76-degree Honda, in-line Yamaha. As a result, a one-size ECU will definitely not fit all. More importantly for the rev limiter, the Ducati has unique desmodromic valves. Their greatest advantage is accurate control at high revs – approaching 19,000rpm on the 800. A rev limit – they’re talking about 15- or 16,000 – would nullify Ducati’s major strength, which also happens to be its USP. For this reason, and for many others, this will be the hardest point on which to reach agreement, and the one most likely to drive at least that one affected factory out of MotoGP. At one time it seemed as though Dorna’s Ezpeleta didn’t care whether the factories stayed or went. In an interview with GPWEEK last November he pledged to steer all financial backing away from satellite teams towards CRT from next year onward. Now everyone, including the factories, has had a good think about that, and we’re told there’s a spirit of reconciliation in the air. The polemic has gone full circle. Round and round the mulberry bush. I wonder how many more laps it will take before the flag. OPINION MICHAEL SCOTT MotoGP Editor NEW RULES, NEW MULBERRY BUSH OPINION