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CRT Works In F1
by staff
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
The new Claiming Rule Teams concept that will debut in MotoGP in 2012 continues to divide riders, fans and media worldwide.

Some abhor the "dumbing-down" of the sport to include engines based on production bikes, especially since World Superbike fills that void. Others, including the powerful voice of Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta, insist the CRT concept is essential for the survival of Grand Prix racing in these rough worldwide economic storms.

Sometimes it's helpful for two-wheeled folk to step outside the bubble for a second for some needed perspective.

Ten years ago, Formula One was dominated by factory teams. Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault, Ford, Honda, BMW and Toyota all owned all or part of F1 teams. A few minor privateer teams still existed, but the might of the manufacturers reigned.

And what happened? The racing was terrible. Ferrari and Michael Schumacher dominated at every level, with other factory teams tossing hundreds of millions per year in a futile attempt at catching the Scuderia and the Weltmeister.

Ducati spent massive euros to sign Valentino Rossi as the spearhead for its GP11 frameless bike concept. The Italian dream team ended up being an undeniable, massive, public flop. Rossi was winless for the first time in his 16-year Grand Prix career, and Ducati scuttled its chassis concept for a more traditional aluminum frame in 2012.
Soon, high-ranking executives of these car companies were forced to answer to boards demanding why nine figures were being spent each year for few victories and dwindling exposure. Few money men could justify the astronomical expenses, and manufacturers started to disappear.

This created a void for privateer teams to regain the upper hand in F1. These squads linked up with manufacturers for engine supply, but the efforts were not full-blown works deals. Privateer team Brawn and Red Bull have won the last three Constructors' championships in F1, and their drivers also have stood on the top step as World Champion.

Compare this to the current situation in MotoGP.

Honda put renewed focus on their MotoGP effort for 2011, trying to avoid a title shutout during the 800cc era by signing Casey Stoner and developing a RC211V motorcycle. Mission accomplished, as Stoner won the World Championship and Honda won 13 of 17 completed MotoGP races this season.

Ducati spent massive euros to sign Valentino Rossi as the spearhead for its GP11 frameless bike concept. The Italian dream team ended up being an undeniable, massive, public flop. Rossi was winless for the first time in his 16-year Grand Prix career, and Ducati scuttled its chassis concept for a more traditional aluminum frame in 2012.

Yamaha struggled to keep up with the arms race, as Jorge Lorenzo lost his world title to Stoner and Ben Spies suffered a humiliating defeat in the final race by being out-raced to the finish line by Stoner and Honda. And Suzuki was chased out of the sport due to the exorbitant costs, which the Japanese company couldn't justify due to the worldwide recession and damage to its business by the tsunami and earthquake in Japan.

And the racing in 2011 was mediocre, at best. No different than any other year of the soon-forgotten 800cc era.

So MotoGP stands at a competitive crossroads, just as Formula One did about five years ago. F1, urged by former FIA President Max Mosley, headed down its version of the CRT road, and the sport is flourishing today on and off the track. Apples and oranges? Maybe. Maybe not.

Maybe there is a method to this CRT madness.
 
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