DORNA – the stealth crisis…

Why the recent restructuring of WSBK and MotoGP may present a totally different reality to the one that’s been presented elsewhere, and why costs aren’t the only major problem facing the fastest motorcycles on the planet….

Having long since predicted that Dorna and Infront would have their heads knocked together by Bridgepoint, we said that it could only signify two things. Firstly, logistical rationalisation. Secondly, the consolidation of separate product identities. For WSBK, this will mean that the production ethos will be foregrounded, BSB style. For GPs, it will mean…. hang on a minute. If WSBK goes native, surely GP should enhance prototype racing (by freeing up restrictions): then we really would have a serious demarcation of product, which is what Bridgepoint want. But Dorna still want to dumb down – they want cheaper racing, but above all they want enhanced competition.

Carmelo Ezpeleta, the man who writes the GP rulebook – that’s what happens when you become the rights holder in a premium autosport class – has come clean in recent weeks. Up to now, the problem was costs. But relatively speaking, GP’s are boring to watch. CE reckons that this is because only a handful of riders are capable of maximising prototype performance. So the best riders on the best bikes clear off. Which most people thought was the general idea of GPs. Problem is, there aren’t enough of either. But Dorna have exacerbated this scenario by introducing an under class of slow bikes. Moto 2 isn’t up to it as a training ground for M1 riders. Even those pesky WSBK supersport machines and their pilots would fly away from the Moto 2 bikes.  We all know that historically, stroker 250s were a passport to GPs for their more gifted practitioners. But the GP under-card these days is no preparation for the big bikes unless you are supremely gifted, like Marc Marquez, and super fast on anything. It’s a massive problem if we’re talking about prototypes with a future.

All the cards are stacking up against the fastest bikes in the world: so far so good for Ezpeleta’s vision. But now that WSBKs are down the corridor, he can not let GPs slide further toward the CRT approach, because Bridgepoint (and everyone else) want GP and WSBK to retain their unique identities. The premier class can’t do that by slowing down.

That is why we don’t get the recent hysterical pronouncements in the media about the consequences of a Dorna take over of WSBK. Dorna have had massive issues just putting together a 2014 GP programme, and if anything, the recent re-structuring has made the equation even more complex.  WSBKs have no such issues: if they are forced towards a superstock ethos, the racing will be hot and the tie in to production strengthened. GPs, by comparison, are all over the shop. What is the class for? Depends on what day it is. They’ve got the bikes, but they’re too expensive – and only a handful of people can ride them.

It could just be that housing WSBKs under Dorna’s roof will see the apotheosis of the former and the further demise of GPs. Just the opposite, in fact, of what you’ve been reading elsewhere.


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