Declining MotoGP must change to suit riders

Posted: June 19, 2013 by JonoShmono "SykOse. Live. Extreme." in Moto GP, Motor
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MotoGP has come along way since the inaugural 500cc category in 1949 when the first championship was held but arguably no more so than in the last 13 years.

2001 saw the end of the two-stroke era and a new one begin, and you’d be forgiven for feeling apprehensive about the change.

Especially after watching the final 500cc championship and if, like me, you’d witnessed MotoGP history at Phillip Island where Valentino Rossi took out the last 500cc championship in style.

2002 proved another a great year in MotoGP even though some of 500cc machines were entered into the championship, mainly due to team expenses.

However they quickly proved no match for the four-stroke engines, especially that of Valentino Rossi and the new Honda RC211V, and by 2003 were phased out.

Since then, in my opinion we have witnessed the slow decline of MotoGP, especially in the last four years.

To me the 2002 year of the championship was not unlike today, where we have superior factory prototype machines among the slower and less evolved CRTs (Claiming Rule Teams).

In a nutshell the CRTs are not restricted to the amount of engines they use per season, unlike the factory prototypes, which are restricted to five per season.

They’re also allowed a larger fuel allowance for each race; this was created to give an advantage to the CRTs but has made little difference.

One of many problems with the CRTs is under the ‘claiming rule’ teams agree to sell up at least four of their engines per season to one of the major manufacturer teams.

This is now the subject of a possible rule change within Dorna (the governing body of the MotoGP) and one that CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta discussed at the Catalunya round of the season, with Yamaha as of 2014 allowing teams to lease their engines and Honda rumoured to do the same.

Obviously these manufacturers do not want their technology getting into the wrong hands.

Through the years and modifications one thing is certain, gone are the days where a bad qualifying session didn’t cost you victory on the Sunday and when a rider could come from almost anywhere on the grid to take the win.

Rossi had done this on numerous occasions both on two-stroke and four-stroke engines, this being in that ‘crazy’ era when the better rider mattered more than the bike.

The Grand Prix races are now usually divided between two groups, the factory bikes and the CRTs, and the leading CRT rider even gets to join in on the celebrations after the race and the post race interviews as if there are now two separate races.

Even the riders have called the racing boring to watch and this is partly the reason Australian former MotoGP rider Casey Stoner retired.

He had been increasingly unhappy with the way his sport was evolving and the constant rule changing brought in by Dorna, but also the premise of the CRTs.

He also commented countless times on the ‘Rookie Rule’ where by a rider coming up through the ranks of the lower categories was unable to go straight to a factory supported ride and forced to join a satellite team for their first year.

However this ruling was changed on account of the entry of Spanish superstar Marc Marquez, who straight after the rule was scrapped signed a lucrative contract with factory outfit Repsol Honda that Stoner had left.

This caused distaste among other riders when at the time Yamaha rider Ben Spies tweeting fellow American and MotoGP rider Colin Edwards saying, “heard the rookie rule is being changed back again, sometimes I guess we need a different passport”.

Edwards quickly replied “Complete joke!! No wonder Casey has lost his passion when you see all the cards stacked against ya…ridiculous”.

Spies later added, “not hating on Marquez at all. The kid is fast. I’m just stating facts that no matter where you’re from it shouldn’t hinder or help you”.

The sport has also taken a leaf out of the book of Formula One in recent times with a controlled tyre rule introduced in 2009 and a new and improved qualifying set up this year, which in fairness wasn’t such a bad idea.

It was becoming more dangerous every qualifying session with the factory riders getting involved in altercations with the slower riders.

One example was that of the infamous ‘slap’ given by Casey Stoner to then Satellite Ducati rider Randy de Puniet in 2011 with Stoner claiming De Puniet’s indifference on the track could have cost him his life, with a nearby concrete barrier ready to take his fall had he been forced off the track.

They haven’t got it all wrong though in Moto2 at least, they are supplied only one type of manufacture engine throughout the category, which is basically a Honda 600cc CBR, the races are entertaining but like in MotoGP there are still teething problems.

With all this change and evolution to our sport it would be nice if for once the powers that be at Dorna headquarters thought less about what they can do to make it more difficult for riders and teams and more about how they can make the show better for MotoGP fans.

One thing is for sure though, if changes aren’t made, we will continue to lose the passion of great riders and inevitably great racing.

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