(Left to right) Aleix Espargaro, Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa, and Cal Crutchlow weigh in on the new rules for 2014.
Most of the talk during the MotoGP off-season centered on the rules, namely regarding how the Factory and Open would integrate, and that topic didn’t change today in the pre-Qatar Grand Prix press conference as the talk of the new rules again dominated the conversation.
The panel of riders present for the pre race press conference included World Champion Marc Marquez, his Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa, Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, Ducati’s Cal Crutchlow and NGM Mobile’s Aleix Espargaro and they were asked their impression of the rules and if they thought it was too confusing for the fans. And also if they thought that rule changes should be done farther in advance to alleviate the confusion.
Marquez spoke first and acknowledged that it was all a bit confusing, but seemed confident that Dorna and Co. were working on a solution for modern MotoGP.
“It’s difficult to say, because I can understand what you mean,” Marquez said. “Because for the fans maybe will be a little bit strange because it [rules] change two or three times. But from the beginning they say it was two categories – the official one and the open one – but now have this other category…
“I don’t know how is the situation. I don’t know yet. But anyway I think in the end will be quite similar. Open category will have some advantage and some disadvantage. Then the official ones we will have some advantage some disadvantage. But, of course, we need to find some way. And I think everybody’s working on that, for have only one category because that is the name, no? MotoGP. I think the way is have only one category, but just I think they need time.”
Lorenzo, the winner of the past two season openers in Qatar, seconded Marquez’ feelings on having one category.
“For me I think the ideal thing is just to have one category,” Lorenzo said. “And to have a lot of teams, maybe 10-15 riders with options to fight for the world title. This would be the best thing.
“And also I think the goal from Dorna, from the championship is to reduce the cost of the teams and also to have lots of bikes, lot of teams fighting for the victory. I think the second thing we got it at this moment. The first one is a little bit confused because finally you reduce the engines, you reduce the fuel consumption to reduce the cost, but finally you have the option to go with Open [class] that have more engines and more fuel. So sometimes it’s a little bit difficult to understand. But for the moment the thing that more riders can fight for the championship for the victory, they got it. Let’s see if more teams can reduce the cost of everything, no?”
Lorenzo’s teammate Rossi said ultimately the most important thing is the racing.
“A little bit of confusion yes, but at the end I think that all the riders doesn’t care a lot about this,” Rossi said about the rule’s discussion. “Usually for us what’s important is try to go on the track and give the maximum and go as fast as possible. And I think what’s important at the end will be that on Sunday and all the weekend we can see a good practice and a good race. Good show for the people and at the end the result after the checkered flag will be what’s important and after the rest is not so important for us.”
The other man on the Repsol Honda also acknowledged that although the current situation wasn’t ideal it was the sign of the times.
“Well, I think of course it’s not ideal the current situation,” Pedrosa said. “We are in an era where every five minutes we have changes because it’s not easy to find a way to make it only one class and to make everyone race in the same conditions or make the show good enough. So I think we have to wait some more years to find the correct balance to get the best out of the championship. But if you look outside also Formula 1 is doing many changes all the time to figure out the best way. So yeah it’s not ideal, but it’s what it is.”
Perhaps no one would have more to say about the new rule changes than Crutchlow, since Ducati was the team to chose the Open class.
“I think the rules are fine,” Crutchlow said and then made everyone laugh with his follow up. “I think Dorna are doing a good job to help us. Thanks.”
The other top Open class rider is Espargaro, the revelation of pre-season testing on the Forward Racing. So the new rules could end up affecting his season as well, but he was supportive of the change in direction of the series.
“Well, I mean Cal said before…This is the rules,” Espargaro said. “We are just racing for the fans who are watching the races in the grandstands or on TV. So more competitive bike. More option for more riders. More fun races. I think it’s not easy for Dorna… for sure will be much clearer with one rule. But at this moment it’s just four bikes competitive. This year maybe we have more bikes competitive with the new Open rule. So I think it’s a step forward.”