I have opened this thread at the serious risk of being the only MGP fan on the site; I hope I am wrong. This early opener is really only a tester to see if I have any fellow followers out there.
Tomorrow marks two agonising months before the season's first race at Qatar. In Australia we don't get SBK's free to air and I have heard too many disappointing stories from mates who've coughed for pay-tele only to have SBK's dropped from the gig; so MGP is all I have and I plan to make the best of it. Not difficult since Mr Ed, the big toothed goose from Newcastle is gunna win the championship for a third time.
At Ducati; pressure is being felt. Stoner reckons they've painted themselves into a corner. 2007 Championship bike and best rider in the world cannot bow out without some sort of record. Additionally, Ezpeleta is squeezing the three factory teams for a more suitable outcome for 2013, or risk Dorna imposed cost-cutting techniques. Domenicali, Ducati CEO, sounds concerned, to say the least. The suggestions submitted by Honda and Yamaha are obviously going to suit each other better than Ducati; but will Honda and Yamaha be there in the long run? The dead-line for submissions is May. There there is the difficulty of deciding whether Ducati submits plans which push a high-tech approach; something Ducati claims allowed them to develop the Panigale. Or a Ezpeleta-friendly low-tech approach just because the show must go on. In a lengthly interview, Stoner predictably suggested that all the excitement Rossi and Burgo have been bleating about regarding improvements of the Ducati might just be a front.
The summary for the rules this year, for those who cannot decipher them, are;
1. 800cc - 1000cc. An attempt to make the engines less exacting; an effort to get away from the peaky performance of the 800 which relied on pricey electronics to get the power into the asphalt.
2. Revs limited, must be 4-cyl. Rev limit achieved by a max. bore of 48.515mm therefore effective limit of 14K rpm due to weight of internal components. It also provides an opportunity for smaller engines to run faster than the 1000cc jobbies by shortening the stroke. Main thing is valve springs work quite OK at 14K; development of pneumatic valve operation stops dead. Or not? It has been suggested that it may inspire $$Hondaha$$ be put into lighter internal components which could break through the 14K barrier.
3. Production based engines allowed for a second tier, the CRT class. Ezpeleta is huffing and puffing at everyone to NOT refer to the second-class as Moto1, which is effectively what it is. Like Moto2, Moto1 runs a production engine which UNlike Moto2, may be tuned, but the bike must have a prototype frame. The tuning appears to be only limited by the capacity. Aprilia seemed to have found a hole in the fence and plan to lease RSV packages to teams. Racing engine, leased, not owned by the team, which kinda presents practical difficulties on the buy out rule.
4. New bikes have fewer technical restrictions. The most obvious difference being fuel load, CRT teams are allowed another 3L, totaling 24L. With a larger engine and a smaller fuel load, the factories are going to have to rely on electronics again to minimise wheel spin - just brilliant. Looks like Nicky's prediction about less slipping and sliding is a good one.
5. 20K Euro buy out rule, to prevent factories from coming in on the cheap.
Honda has clearly stated that if things continue as they are, if 2012 becomes the thin end of the wedge, Honda will retire from the sport. It would be expected Yamaha would do the same. Ironically, Ducati who only entered GP since it became 4-stroke, may end up being the only factory team.