THIS year’s MotoGP season will likely be a fascinating one — but not because it is going to be solely chapter two of the Valentino Rossi-Marc Marquez rivalry or how the title was thrillingly decided in the last three races of the season with the silky smooth-riding Jorge Lorenzo picking up the spoils.
There are a raft of regulatory changes for the 2016 MotoGP season for all the teams with the controlled ECU and the unified software being only two of them.
The Open class has been abolished. Changes that have been made to the number of engines available for a team, lifting of the ban on engine development through the season, the limited testing and the amount of fuel bikes can now carry in a race may play very important roles in the resolution of the championship.
The biggest change — as alluded to by Rossi during Yamaha’s recent launch of the team’s 2016 livery — is in the tyre supply where Michelin replaces Brisdgestone.
Rossi said that he doesn’t expect to see dramatic changes for the riders at the top, but estimates that the rest of the riders will become more competitive.
This means a fiercer battle for the positions below the podium, and with a much tighter pack fighting closer to the leaders. Such predictions are true for the former Open bikes, and for the new constructors on the grid, Aprilia and Suzuki.
“For me, first of all I have to modify the way to ride the bike, as the tyres are quite different. All the riders have to be clever and fast to adapt to the new style.
“I think that my rivals will remain more or less the same, but I think the Satellite teams and the other manufacturers will be a lot closer so there will be more fighting.
“. . . we have a lot of work to because at the end of last year we concentrated very much to finish the season in the right way. Now we have to concentrate on the mission.”
Lorenzo though, feels the electronics will provide a degree of uncertainty, at least in the opening stanzas of the championship and, mindful of Ducati’s rapid progress last year, he wants more power from his bike.
“Our main worry at the moment is the electronics. The electronics are much more like in the past, but it is the same for everyone. To arrive at the same level we had last year will take a lot of time and work. This is our main worry at the moment.
“Then, if I could ask for something from the Japanese engineers it is for an increase in top speed and power. We don’t have the most powerful engine, and if we can improve a little bit in this aspect we will be very thankful to Yamaha.”
Under the rule changes, all the machines that make the start in a race in MotoGP 2016 will be allowed to load as much as 22 litres of fuel, regardless of how “old” or competitive they are.
On the other hand, the new manufacturer teams such as Aprilia and Suzuki, will be able to use nine engines per season, as opposed to the former ruling that saw only seven allowed.
At the same time, engine development will not be frozen throughout the season, and the teams will be free to make changes and experiment as they wish.
When it comes to testing, the book says that the teams that are subject to concessions can freely test with both their contracted and test riders as much as they please. Even more, a softer tire will be allocated.
The concession points system remains effective, with a team that earns six such points losing the advantages immediately. Initially, the concessions would have been lifted at the start of the next season, but this changed when Ducati started making solid progress.
Irrespective of whether a race is declared dry or wet, a team earns three concession points for a victory, two for a second place and one for a rider on the last step of the podium. Any combination contributes to accumulating six points and leads to losing the concession.
If a manufacturer fails to score a single point in 18 rounds, the full set of concessions will be available next season.