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Top 15 Stories of 2012. Number 11: So Long, CRT
by staff
Tuesday, January 01, 2013

The Claiming Rules Team concept has ended up becoming the New Coke of Grand Prix motorcycle racing: A lauded new idea that quickly proved to be a disaster with customers and swept into the dustpan of amnesia, with the previous formula being reinstated as the status quo.

It became painfully obvious during preseason testing that the production-based CRT bikes would be a disaster and never threaten factory or satellite machinery in normal conditions. The best CRT bike lapped around two seconds off the pace of its top prototype cousin during the final preseason test at Jerez. That gap never closed during the season, as Aleix Esparagaro was the quickest CRT qualifier at the season finale at Valencia, 1.9 seconds behind pole sitter Dani Pedrosa.

Dorna and the three manufacturers in MotoGP - Ducati, Honda and Yamaha - participated in horse trading all summer while trying to create new regulations for 2014 that achieved the elusive balance of cost reduction and technological challenge.

During the negotiations, officials from Honda and Yamaha both unveiled plans to boost grid numbers in the premier class starting in 2014 that would re-create an all-prototype grid, eliminating the much-loathed CRT concept.

But Honda and Yamaha's plans differed in scope and execution.

HRC intends to sell - not lease - a complete "customer" version of its all-conquering RC213V prototype to teams starting in 2014. The price tag is expected to be around 1 million euros, far cheaper than the 3 million euros that HRC charges satellite teams to lease one bike.

Yamaha intends to lease - not sell - its YRZ-M1 engine and electronics package for up to four bikes starting in 2014. It's very similar to the technical model used this season in Formula One, in which the Mercedes factory team leases engines to the McLaren and Force India teams, Ferrari leases engines to Sauber and Toro Rosso, and Renault leases engines to Williams, Caterham, Lotus and Red Bull.

The plans appear to have found a rare sweet spot within the swinging pendulum between runaway costs and technological challenge. The price of poker at the highest level should drop in 2014, yet the scourge of lower-tech, production-based machinery becoming rolling chicanes for leading factory bikes will be gone.

And the different philosophies by Honda and Yamaha also will increase the engineering intrigue of the premier class in 2014. How close will the Honda "customer" bike be to the factory RC213V? Will a certain chassis work better with the Yamaha engine and electronics than another?

Tasty hors d'oeuvres for thought.

ENDS

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