HARDRIDER MOTORCYCLE MAGAZINE

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.

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