Sometimes to take one step forward you must take two steps back. This is what is happening within the MSMA - the manufacturers' association - which in recent times has been facing the difficult task of drafting the new technical regulations which will come into force in 2027.
It's no easy task, because the goal is not only to decrease performance for safety reasons, with KTM reaching a warp speed of 366.1 with Binder at Mugello this year, but also to make access to MotoGP for other manufacturers, more attractive.
A leap of 40 km/h compared to the record of twenty years earlier, when in 2002 - the first 4-stroke MotoGP season - on the same track Tohru Ukawa on the five-cylinder Honda RC211V came close to 325 km/h: 324.5 to be exact! But while at Mugello, on its 1,050-metre straight, you rocket above 350 km/h, a record set in 2015 for the first time by Marc Marquez with the Honda RC213V, you also notch up a speed of 350.5 km/h at Losail. And in the last Austin GP, Maverick Vinales' Aprilia went over 350 (356.4 km/h). We are talking about top speeds that were unthinkable in the past: the bike would have taken off, but it’s only made possible today thanks to the technical evolution of engines, aerodynamics, chassis, suspension, tyres, electronics. Not to mention the 1000 cc engine capacity which has made it possible to reach powers in the order of 300 hp compared to the MotoGP of the 990-cc engine era.
Mind you, they were all going fast even at the time of Giacomo Agostini's three-cylinder MV 500 which, with just over 90 hp at Monza in 1971, averaged 204.545 km/h. The difference, compared to today, is in acceleration and braking, thanks to the electronics, to the huge 340mm diameter Brembo carbon brakes but also to the aerodynamics that keep the two-wheeled prototypes glued to the ground, obtaining what is called mechanical grip. The Holy Grail of the racing world.
So, what's the first thing to do? The MSMA’s general idea is that of a reduction in engine capacity: to go back below the litre mark. Exactly eight hundred and fifty cubic centimetres. Fifty cubic meters more than the 800-cc era, in force from 2007 to 2011.
Obviously, not all the manufacturers agree: Ducati, which took a big step forward precisely during the first reduction in engine capacity, is and so are the Japanese companies, Honda and Yamaha. For the moment, however, Aprilia and KTM are against it.
Obviously, the rule that today requires a maximum bore of 81mm should be changed hand in hand with the reduction in engine capacity. Logical because leaving it unchanged we would reach stratospheric rotation regimes.
While all the parties involved discuss the issue with crossed vetoes, between those who want to eliminate the mechanical devices that lower the bikes - the so-called shapeshifters - judged to be unreproducible in road-going production, as well as a now very intense research on aerodynamics and electronics, Dorna is pushing to get the situation sorted out as soon as possible. And in any case within a few months.
The reason is obvious: they need to be able to offer new regulations to any manufacturers interested in entering in 2027, as soon as possible. And in this sense, they are also talking about a budget cap, because as one of the leading engineers in the world championship rightly says, "the cost increase is a false problem: the racing departments will always spend the available budget down to the last penny. You can't ban everything, so the costs associated with a banned sector would be shifted to another one that is still free".
Is that it? Not at all, something new will also come in the tyre sector given that the contract between Dorna and Michelin will expire at the end of 2026 and the return of Bridgestone is looming on the horizon. In fact, the Japanese company is thinking of a comeback in grand style which also includes F.1 where it is willing to undermine even Pirelli which, let us remember, will be the sole supplier for Moto3 and Moto2 from next year.
Anyone who is interested in knowing the opinion of Casey Stoner (cover photo), who took the last 800cc MotoGP Ducati to the world title in 2007 with Bridgestone tyres, can find it here.