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Mar 6, 2014

​Report: Dorna Boss Ezpeleta To Immediately Add Factory 2 Category In MotoGP

Andrea Dovizioso (04) will ride his Ducati Desmosedici GP14 in the Open category of the 2014 MotoGP World Championship, but he may get promoted to the new Factory 2 category if he does too well.

Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta plans to immediately add a new category, Factory 2, to Factory and Open in the 2014 MotoGP World Championship, according to an interview with Ezpeleta published today at www.motor.as.com.

Coming into the 2014 FIM MotoGP World Championship, commercial rights holder Dorna – with FIM’s rubber stamp of approval -- instituted a spec Engine Control Unit (ECU) supplied by Magneti Marelli. Teams were given two options: run the spec ECU with software supplied by Dorna and receive the benefit of using up to 12 engines during the season, getting 24 liters of fuel to burn during races, having softer tire choices and not having engine development frozen during the season; or run any software they want but be limited to five engines sealed at the start of the season, use no more than 20 liters of fuel during races and not be allowed to use softer tires. Teams that chose the spec ECU and supplied software would compete in the Open category (an evolution of the Claiming Rules Team/CRT class), and teams that chose to use their own software would compete in the Factory category.

The concept behind the move was to provide a lower-cost option for teams to compete in the Open class while still allowing the Factory teams to develop electronic software and strategies to trickle down to their production motorcycles all while keeping the performance difference between the two divisions relatively small on the racetrack.

But since the original plan was announced the line between Factory and Open has been blurred. First, Ducati announced that it would sell full factory GP13 racebikes set up with the spec ECU and software. Then, NGM Mobile Forward Racing did a deal in which it was originally supposed to lease engines from Yamaha to put in aftermarket chassis, but the privateer team ended up running complete YZR-M1s at pre-season tests and doing quite well with them in the hands of Aleix Espargaro, especially.

Finally, Ducati announced right at the deadline for category declarations that it would enter not one (as Ducati had originally announced) but all four of its riders (Cal Crutchlow, Andrea Dovizioso, Yonny Hernandez and Andrea Iannone) in the Open division on full factory Desmosedici GP14s running the spec ECU and software.

“This year we have to keep developing our bikes throughout the season to improve our competitiveness,” Luigi Dall'Igna, Ducati Corse General Manager, said via a press release, “and the Factory option appears to be too restrictive for our needs.”

Honda, via Repsol Honda Team Principal Livio Suppo speaking to the media, objected to Dorna allowing Ducati to move to join the Open class. In an interview at www.crash.net, Suppo said he understood Ducati’s change of plans was aimed at helping them catch up with Honda and Yamaha but he and Honda felt it went against the aim of the Open category, which was to create a cheaper class.

Now, apparently in response to Ducati’s move, Ezpeleta has let it be known that he will immediately add a third MotoGP category called “Factory 2.” According to the interview with Ezpeleta, the new Factory 2 class will be for machines that start in the Open class and achieve one race win, two second-place finishes or three third-place results during the 2014 season. Once a machine is reclassified from Open to Factory 2, it will have its engine allotment reduced from 12 to nine and its maximum fuel load dropped from 24 to 22.5 liters.

Ezpeleta said the new category will adopted on March 11, after the FIM Grand Prix Commission (which is composed of representatives from FIM, Dorna, IRTA and MSMA) approves the proposal. And Ezpeleta sounded absolutely certain that the proposal would be adopted.

The ultimate goal, Ezpeleta said, was to have everyone running the control ECU and software by the 2016 season.