MotoGP Approves “Factory 2″ RulesTue, 18 Mar 2014
We’re just days away from the start of the 2014 MotoGP season and one would think it’s a little late for series organizers to make any significant rule changes. At least, one would think that if one were unfamiliar with the political back-and-forths going on between the major manufacturers and MotoGP promoter Dorna.
But with the season-opening Qatar round about to begin, the Grand Prix Commission approved new rules establishing a compromise between the new Factory and Open options. The new regulations allow new manufacturers or current manufacturers that haven’t won a race over the last year to compete under the Open option, but should they prove to be too successful, the manufacturers would revert to a new, third option (nicknamed “Factory 2“) that splits some of the difference between Factory and Open. The commission also approved a standard ECU software for the 2016 season onwards.
Under the current rules, the Factory option allows teams to use their own ECU software but are limited to 20 liters (5.3 gallons) of fuel per race, a maximum of five engines per rider in a season and are barred from developing engines during the season.
The Open option, originally designed to give privateer teams a better chance of being competitive, are allowed 24 liters (6.3 gallons) of fuel, are allowed 12 engines per season, are allowed to continue developing engines and have access to a softer tire compound. As with the Factory option, Open teams use the same spec ECU hardware but are restricted to a standardized software.
Ducati threw a wrench into the works by deciding to enter under the Open option to take advantage of the chance to continue tinkering with its engines and the rest of the option’s advantages. This drew a strong reaction from Honda which believed the move undermined the purpose of the Open option. The result of the behind-doors negotiations was the creation of a new compromise.
Should Ducati or any other manufacturer operating under the Open team win a race, score two second-place results or three third-place finishes under dry conditions, that manufacturer would have its fuel capacity reduced to 22 liters (5.8 gallons) per race. If the Open manufacturer wins three races in 2014, it will lose the option of the softer tires. The manufacturer would also have to abide by these new restrictions in the 2015 season.
Though Ducati is the obvious target of these new rules, they also apply to other prospective manufacturers such as Suzuki which is planning to return to MotoGP racing in 2015 but may decide to enter select rounds this season as a wildcard. Suzuki would be allowed to do so under the Open option, and should they beat the odds and win as a wild card, it would have to adopt the 22-liter fuel capacity in 2015. There are a lot of “ifs” in this scenario, but it could conceivably happen.
By Dennis Chung
See also: MotoGP to Standardize ECU Software in 2016 Season, MotoGP to Standardize ECU Software in 2016 Season, MotoGP to Standardize ECU Software in 2016 Season.