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GP Week : Issue 175
22 GPWEEK.com // 22 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: Eighteen months of argument and speculation came to an end at Valencia. And 18 months of tub-thumping by Carmelo Ezpeleta left the Dorna chief looking like a loser. His threat to dispense with the factories and go all-CRT has been thoroughly defused, his insistence of a rev limit has melted away, his fighting words now look like so much posturing. It looks like the factories have won. In fact, it is not quite that simple, and Ezpeleta might reasonably claim partial victory, for the factories have made concessions in order to retain their grip on the championship. But given his aggressive stance in the past, he will have to talk fast to convince anyone that he has actually won. The good news, for those who feared a terminal dumbing down of prototype racing, is that the factories will be able to continue as they are now, more or less. They will have to work harder, given the stringent fuel restriction – down from 21 to 20 litres if they wish to write their own software, compared with 24 litres for those who will accept the stock supplied software. The decision has been a long time coming. Ezpeleta had first demanded new technical rules in May this year, to be introduced in 2013. Delaying tactics by the factory organisation, the MSMA, successfully moved that target one year. There were a few false starts and red herrings from their side too, to be fair. Honda threatened to walk out to World Superbikes, and dangled the promise of replica factory bikes for sale for a price capped a one-million Euros. Yamaha have also spoken of making engines available for lease, at an affordable price. The new regulations depend on "a satisfactory conclusion" to discussions for supply of additional machines, which must be settled before the first race of next year. There have other factory concessions. Honda won a victory earlier this year getting the rule that bans rookies from factory teams rescinded ... opening the way for Marc Marquez to jump on Stoner's bike. But another changed announced at Valencia impinges directly on Marquez and HRC: a dispensation allowing class rookies three free days of testing during the December-January test ban has been cancelled. So no free tests to get Marquez up to speed. So what happens next? Next year will be much like this year. The new regs come into play in 2014. And it doesn't look as though it will be that much different. There will be spec electronics ... but only the hardware. There is still room for factory software engineers to make their own developments. And to rev as high as they are able. Will the changes achieve Ezpeleta's main aim – to reduce the gap between factory and private teams? That remains to be seen. They do achieve the factories' main aim: to preserve a meaningful role at the front end of the grid. So everybody wins. And the MSMA more than anybody. Or, to put it another way, everybody loses, but only by a small amount. In the current circumstances, I guess that should be called "progress". Footnote: One paragraph in the announcement may be more significant than all of them. The new rules are provisional, depending on agreement with the factories before the first race of next year to supply additional machines and engines for other teams from 2014. OPINION MICHAEL SCOTT MotoGP Editor THE END OF THE END OF RACING AS WE KNOW IT OPINION