MotoGP Editorial: Set The Engineers Free

Michael Scott | October 3, 2013

What’s the most important thing in Grand Prix racing? If you are the guys at the top, planning all the strategy and writing all the rules, nothing seems more important than cutting the costs.

One rule follows another with this aim in mind. Technically numbers of tires, engines and the quantity of fuel are all severely restricted. CRT bikes with production engines were another symptom of rules tailored to this particular end. Moto2 runs low-grade one-size-fits-all production Honda CBR600 engines, and manufacturers in Moto3 have to negotiate a thicket of regulations, specifying not only dimensions, materials and design parameters, but also maximum costs.

Now see how these regulations can twist around and turn out to do the opposite of what is intended. See the Law of Unintended Consequences in full and glorious action.

Around the turn of the century, there was something of a revolution in racing gearbox design. Gearshifts became seamless: no interruption to the flow of power.

Actually the dual-clutch system was designed in the 1930s, but only properly developed in modern times, first for racing cars but by 2003 for some production cars. And since then for a handful of “automatic” motorcycles and scooters. The Honda VFR1200F of 2009 offered this option.

Sensing a big spend coming up and anxious to nip it in the bud, in 2010 MotoGP outlawed automatic gearboxes in general and the dual-clutch system specifically. Job done, money saved. Let’s all go off for a slap-up dinner at the FIM’s expense.

They forgot one important thing. In racing, regulations are not there to be obeyed. They are there to be circumvented.

To read more of this week’s In The Paddock, click here

Michael Scott | MotoGP Editor

Scott has been covering MotoGP since long before it was MotoGP. Remember two-strokes? Scott does. He’s also a best-selling author of biographies on the lives of legendary racers such as Wayne Rainey and Barry Sheene.