Infront Motorsports CEO Paolo Flammini invited the media into a meeting on race morning at Miller Motorsports Park, in an unusual move to discuss the details of a meeting between the top teams and IMS bosses after Superpole.Flammini kicked off with a few comments of his own before opening up the floor to questions: “This is a very short update about yesterday’s meeting, not because there were decisions, but to give you the exact information on the process that is in place and what is the target of this process. Through the Top Teams Club and the meetings we always have with the manufacturers, we have a continuous relationship with teams and manufacturers in order to improve the series from any point of view. Clearly in this moment, for anybody, the focus is on the economic effort teams and manufacturers have to make in order to participate in a racing World Championship. We decided to hold a series of meetings, the first of which was held yesterday, in order to listen to the opinions of the teams and manufacturers to help them to optimize the cost of participation, mainly. And in any case to see if the existing Superbike/Supersport/Superstock classes can be improved, modified, developed, and evolved.”We had a round table and I can give you some outcomes, which are in my opinion very interesting. All the manufacturers said that the current regulations are okay, for Superbike, Supersport, Superstock as well. Probably some of you remember that some months ago there was a discussion about whether it was good to maintain the Supersport 600 and the Superstock class in place, or would it be better to merge the two. For the moment we have to make an effort to maintain the two classes as they are now. One thing for sure is in Superstock 600 and Superstock 100 to increase the maximum age respectively to 22 and 26 years old. Why? This initiative is because we found out over the last years that many times the National Championships can create some interesting riders, but not necessarily so young that they can step up to the international championship having at least two years of horizon in front of them. Plus there was another consideration. When we launched the age limit in Superstock, in 1999, probably the average duration of a riders’ career was much shorter than now. Today we see 39 and 40 year-old riders competing at maximum level without any problem. Even a 26-year old rider today in theory can have 10, 12, 14 years career in front of him. So why to limit so much? There is no decision taken, but I am sure that we will increase the age; in any case this is our proposal.
“In any case the manufacturers participating in this moment said they like the rules, they do not want different rules. But an effort should be made in order to see if we could somehow limit the electronics. As you know this is always a very difficult exercise. Every time you try to limit this you have to be sure you can police the limitations. So in any case this is an area where we can work.”In one place we have found a general agreement and this will be proposed to the FIM and, in my opinion, it will very soon be approved, very soon we will have only one bike for Supersport. This means that the riders will not have two bikes any more. This can create a saving, clearly not in buying the bike and the parts, but in the overall logistics of the team, including the cargo, less mechanics, all those things. Everybody was very much in favor of these modifications.”As far as the Superbike World Championship is concerned, I can tell you that from a promoter’s point of view, having worked together with the FIM and the manufacturers, in a very intense way in 2007 to create the new rules, I am very happy to acknowledge that these rules are really good. Nobody wants a revolution in the rules; the only things that can come out are what I would call fine-tuning. Nobody is saying let’s make a radical change in some element, because if we make this radical change then we will have a significant improvement on the financial side. Really everyone say that the rules are okay. What we have to definitely avoid is to eliminate exotic materials and exotic technologies as much as we can. This will probably translate into an increase in the minimum weight; many people suggested that an increase in minimum weight would help with the cost of building the bike. Even if you do not forbid the use of exotic materials, de facto it is useless to have titanium and carbon fiber whatever, if with steel and fiberglass you can still get the same weight of machine. As you see, we are not talking about changing anything. Maybe increasing the weight to a certain level. This was something that came out from all the manufacturers. There is still a process of consultation, for sure in Misano, for sure in Brno, so that we can find filter the proposals and individuate the proposals that are generally accepted or welcome together with the FIM, we can formulate the ideas for the evolution of the 2011, 12, 13 rules.
“It’s very important that whatever change we make we give enough time to the manufacturers to adapt, because otherwise a theoretical can become an extra cost, because you have to modify something you already have in your garage. So at this point we will be very careful about the timing of the application.”So this is where we are and most probably these initiatives about Supersport/Superstock will be announced soon. For sure before the summer break, because they are quite easy things to be done and, I have to say, everybody is in agreement, so at the end of the day shouldn’t’ be much discussion on that. So now we will start the process together with the FIM to try to formalize these things. For the Superbike we will continue to study the situation and for sure, in September, our target is in September to update what is going to happen. But again, I repeat, it’s not something that’s going to change the face of the series in any significant way. “The engine number limitation is in discussion?
“This is one point, for sure it’s one point. There are several, I would say ways to approach this… I would say the point on the table is can we save engines, no. And whether you save by limiting the number of engines allowed or maybe intervening on the mileage that you make during a racing weekend… In fact in this moment we make a lot of miles. In kilometers we make 800 kilometers [496 miles] a weekend, more or less, which is quite a lot. So you could say, ‘Okay, let’s go to 600 kms [372 miles] and automatically, even if you don’t limit the engines, at the end of the day you use fewer engines in one year.’ In any case, this is one point.”Any way of incentivising the current Superbike teams to have a Supersport wing?
“Well, you know, yes, Gordon, let’s say one of the points… this is not really a technical regulation it’s more of a sporting regulation and promoter initiatives. For sure we believe that have one bike means reducing the cost of the team is already an incentive point. The other element which we will consider is to optimize the calendar for the Supersport World Championship. This means not necessarily the Supersport class should be present at all the non-European rounds. So maybe we will see according to the number of European rounds and non-European rounds we will have next year to decide whether Supersport will be brought to two, three, four, we will see. But really this is something we are considering in order to avoid that the cargo and travel costs can be too heavy for a Supersport team. Third point, this is something we have already discussed and we are fully in agreement, we will push more on the PR activities for the top Supersport riders, so that, of course, we will give them more visibility and this will help, let’s say, feedback for the most competitive guys.What about TV for World Supersport?
“You know, TV, this is from the television point of view we always push the Supersport. The problem is that with the shrinking TV spaces for sport, it’s a more and more difficult exercise. The effort is there. We will see what we can achieve.”You mentioned restricting electronics in World Supersport. Is there any thought process on how that would be done?
“Unfortunately, no. Of course this item is also on the table for Superbike, because clearly this is… the problem is really big for electronics. Because I have to be very sincere with you, we’ve been discussing these things for probably three years now and any time you think that you found a solution, then when you go deeper into the analysis you find out that somebody can cheat and you don’t realize that he’s cheating. So we don’t want to create a rule that then will automatically generate suspects in the paddock that somebody’s not complying with the rules and so they are more competitive because they have hidden electronics somewhere. At this moment it’s fantastic, because, okay, with electronics basically you can do what you like. We see that from a performance point of view there’s no problem, because really we have two privateers in first row today. We have [Carlos] Checa and [Jakub] Smrz. Fantastic. They are in front of the works Ducatis, so it means that the electronics are not a problem from the competition fairness point of view. It is a problem for the money, because today you need the engineer dedicated to the electronics, you need a lot of activity. Whether this can be downsized, cut, I really don’t know today. It seems to me that it’s not realistic to think about a significant cut, but if… we have really asked the manufacturers, please think about, let’s try to understand whether we can do something on this. Of course, we have been talking also with the people at Magneti-Marelli, etc. etc. Very difficult, very difficult because you can make initiatives, but easily somebody under the table can do something. Money is a real problem for the private teams.
“It is, in fact that’s why we are discussing. But, you know, any solution, I can tell you we started all the initiatives. Any solution you find in this moment has a drawback that is stronger than the advantage that the solution could give. Nevertheless, this is on the table and whatever we can do to limit this effort, we will. Probably in Supersport could be slightly easier, because, in any case, the electronics is less sophisticated. But, again, we must be prudent because we don’t want then to find ourselves in the middle of the season disqualifying somebody because he has a hidden ECU somewhere and we find it and that’s very bad, you know.”