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The pinnacle of motorcycle racing reaches a tipping point, as a

new generation of spec electronics is enforced in an effort to

shrink costs. Add to the mix a new tire supplier and wings

designed to keep these motorcycles from flying, and we have

the recipe for an excitingly unpredictable year.

The new Michelin tires are allocated in three different

compounds: yellow stripe denotes the hardest and ... Magneti-

Marelli was the most popular supplier of electronic gear even

before it became the sole one The 2016 MotoGP season could

prove to be highly unpredictable

once two key parameters

changed simultaneously Movistar

Yamaha MotoGP Team, YZR-M1

When the 500 cc GP class

became MotoGP with the

introduction of four-stroke 990 cc

machines in 2002, a lot more than

just lap times changed. From the

factory two-strokes that cost up to

US$1 million in 2000, just a few

years later the four strokes would

amount to several times as much.

Numbers kept spiralling upwards

in the years to come, with the

development of electronics and

some technological marvels like

the seamless gearboxes – for its

innovative transmission alone

Honda allegedly charged up to

US$340,000 per year to lease to other teams.

The switch from 990 cc engines to 800 in 2007 did little to help

the situation. Rather to the contrary, this move entailed high

development costs for the new generation of bikes and

eventually ended up in shrinking the grid even further. Losing

several deep-pocketed sponsors due to restrictions on

cigarette advertising only made things worse.

MotoGP 2016

Dorna Sports, the Spanish company that holds the rights to

both Grand Prix and World Superbike racing, reacted by

introducing a series of measures aimed at gradually reducing

costs for the teams in an effort to make MotoGP appealing to

more manufacturers. Aprilia, Kawasaki, KTM and Suzuki had

all abandoned the championship’s top class, while BMW had

considered joining in at some point, but soon opted to direct its

efforts towards more promising fields. Another secondary

target would be to bridge the gap between factory and satellite

teams. The last time a non-factory rider won a GP it was Toni

Elias aboard a Gresini Honda at Estoril, Portugal, way back in

2006.

Results reveal some success, as

Aprilia and Suzuki have both

returned with brand new

motorcycles, and KTM will also

return next year with a new V4.

Evidently the spec Electronic

Control Units (ECU) and the

limitations on costs (engine

development freeze, limited

engines per rider, sanctioned

testing schedules) do indeed offer

some hope of developing a

competitive ride without

necessarily engaging in a

spending frenzy against the might

of Honda and Yamaha.

Two major updates mark the 2016

MotoGP season: tires and electronics.

Since 2009 the championship had relied on a single supplier,

Bridgestone. After the Japanese company announced it would

withdraw from MotoGP racing at the end of the 2015 season,

Michelin promptly took over the job.

As all MotoGP motorcycles had evolved over a course of six

years solely on Bridgestone’s tires, the shift to new rubber

unavoidably comes with an inherent level of uncertainty.