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.
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
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.