It's a well-known situation: the Honda factory team has not yet achieved a podium in the 2023 Sunday races, while Yamaha has only achieved one result in the top 3, in Texas, 3rd place with Fabio Quartararo.
We also know the Japanese manufacturers are not entitled to the so-called "concessions" provided for newcomers or for teams that do not obtain results, thanks to the victories and podiums obtained in 2022 and 2023. These concessions are engine development not frozen by the start of the season, private tests also allowed with regular riders, two engines more than the winning teams. The last manufacturer to have been entitled to them was Aprilia.
During the summer break, an initial proposal from Dorna was presented to the manufacturers' association (MSMA) for a new "concession system" that would help losers obtain privileges faster than the current one.
As we said, Aprilia lost them after the 2022 season, KTM after 2019, Aprilia, Suzuki once after 2016, then again after 2018.
"Yes, the current rules on concessions were drafted at another time and in a different situation, when there were three new competitors - admitted Ducati Sporting Director Paolo Ciabatti to Speedweek - We will look at the new proposal calmly. We need to think carefully about the circumstances in which a factory should obtain technical concessions. We can talk about reasonable solutions, for example extra test days, test days for the factory riders. These are solutions that can also be applied to Ducati, or KTM or Aprilia, if necessary. All this must be discussed in detail. But it must not come about on a personal basis".
By this Paolo Ciabatti means that it doesn't have to be a custom-made "Lex Marc Márquez", which might bring the superstar back to his winning ways with Honda in no time at all.
"But we won't oppose anything that makes sense - assured the Ducati director - It would be good for the championship if the Japanese were more competitive again. So, let's try to find a proposal."
Pit Beirer, Motorsport Director of Pierer Mobility AG with the brands KTM, GASGAS and Husqvarna, is aware of Dorna's proposal.
"These are aspects that have already been described anyway. In principle, these are 'concessions' that are making a comeback. In principle, there will be a new system of percentage points. And those who are below the average of the best manufacturers will benefit from concessions. It's a relatively complicated system. You must reach a certain percentage of points. If you don't reach that percentage, the concessions will come into effect, and they will do so more quickly than they do today. But there will be no regulatory benefits in the form of more fuel as was the case in the days of the Open Class. The benefits are modelled on the already existing privileges for newcomers in recent years. Dorna has proposed giving these 'concessions' back to Yamaha and Honda virtually overnight".
But Pit Beirer made it clear: "We will not support this proposal."
"We don't believe that either of the two brands is in a situation such as to justify the relaunch of these manufacturers with new concession rules. They are valid and proud factories; they will find their technical path. But they don't need 'concessions' to do so" .
The Pierer Group today invests €70m a year in the MotoGP World Championship and since entering the premier class as a ridiculed outsider (with a steel frame and WP suspension) have invested huge sums to win twice in the last three years with Brad Binder and five times with Miguel Oliveira.
"What should the other manufacturers who fought to get back to the top say? - said Pit Beirer - Ducati fought for a long time to get back to the top after 2007. We and Aprilia are also fighting. Only because Yamaha hasn't won a race yet this year, there is no need to make any concessions."
Massimo Rivola, CEO of Aprilia Racing, does not substantially reject a reshuffling of the "concession" rules in favour of the Japanese.
"It is undoubtedly a bit strange that now the small factories have to help the Japanese giants - wondered Massimo Rivola - At the same time, it is a recognition of the good work we have done. I am open to these talks, as long as the whole network remains united, and the field is balanced. If I am asked to help a constructor in difficulty, I am open to negotiations. After all, it might happen that one day, Aprilia will be the next to find itself in difficulty. But we must consider all points of view, not just that of the factories that are in difficulty. In the end, we must find an acceptable compromise that benefits the entire MotoGP World Championship. We want an exciting show, exciting races and all the manufacturers involved must have a chance to win. We must find balanced criteria. One could consider: if a factory has eight bikes on the track, one could, for example, cancel testing opportunities for that manufacturer. Something like that".
"We've suggested one or two changes to the rules since 2017 - observed Pit Beirer - It's no secret that we have fought against extreme aerodynamic development and extreme ride height devices at the front and rear. There have been many sensible suggestions from our side. However, we didn't get a majority in the paddock. In the meantime, many are complaining that the class has developed in the wrong direction. For this reason, we are not interested in changing the regulations in the middle of the Dorna contract period, which lasts until the end of 2026,” added the 1999 250cc motocross world champion runner-up, “because every time we made a request, we were told: 'There will be no rule changes in the current contract period.' We understood that and accepted it. That's why we don't want to spend an insane amount of time on new 'concessions' now. Because the next rule change won't happen until 2027."