MotoGP's concession manufacturers, Aprilia and KTM, will be allowed to continue development of their 2020 engines until the end of June, the Grand Prix Commission has revealed.

With the March 6-8 Qatar MotoGP cancelled due to coronavirus restrictions, the usual engine design homologation for non-Concession manufacturers (Honda, Yamaha, Ducati and Suzuki) was instead carried out remotely on March 25, 'by sending in a sample engine to the organisation, which must match those in the machines at the first 2020 event'.

However, when MotoGP's new cost-cutting technical freeze for engine and aerodynamics was then announced on April 15, it stated:

'Until now, manufacturers with concessions could change [engine] specification during the year. In addition, all manufacturers were allowed two aero body designs per rider per season'. But the new freeze would now mean: 'There will be no update of any homologated parts during the 2020 season. This applies to all manufacturers, both Non-Concession and Concession.'

While Aprilia and KTM had not been included in the remote homologation of March 25, the tech freeze statement read that: 'Both Non-Concession and Concession manufacturers must start the 2021 season using March 2020 homologated parts' suggesting Aprilia and KTM would join the other four in freezing their engines at 'Qatar spec'.

It seems that while KTM was content with surrendering both the 2020 engine-development concession and abiding by the Non-Concession design deadline of 'Qatar', Aprilia wanted to continue refining its latest RS-GP engine until the delayed opening race took place.

"We don't want to make a big noise about it. Whatever the rule is we're going to stick to it. But we support for sure the way to freeze is from Qatar," KTM motorsport director Pit Beirer told Crash.net, before the latest Grand Prix Commission announcement.

"I mean we cannot ask the four big players in the class, without Concessions, to freeze their development for a long period and then basically give us the chance in the crisis to come closer.

"It was also a logical position for all of us, because not one racing manager would have to go home and say to their company; 'Okay, all the nice material that was ready for Qatar 2020 we can destroy because now we can develop better material'. It would not be logical [in a time of crisis].

"However, whatever the final decision will be, we will be happy because we were ready to go to Qatar and that's how we want to go to the next race as well."

The final decision reached is that engine design changes will indeed be allowed for Aprilia and KTM, until June 29. The opening round of the disrupted 2020 season is set for Jerez on July 19: 

'The GPC has decided that homologation of 2020/21 engine specifications for MotoGP class manufactures who benefit from concessions can be postponed.

'This means that KTM and Aprilia are now required to supply sample engines to the Technical Director by the deadline of 29th. June 2020.'

Aprilia's all-new RS-GP only made its track debut at Sepang in January and, while the team's riders were instantly impressed, the bike suffered some engine reliability issues during race simulations.

It is those reliability issues that Aprilia is probably keen to fix - and would have been allowed to do so had the normal rules remained in place and the coronavirus not prompted a technical freeze - rather than seeking to find extra performance.

Alongside the homologation postponement, the GP Commission also announced a change to the Concession points system:

'One consequence of the reduced number of events in 2020 meant it was possible for a non-concession manufacturer to gain concessions for 2021 based on results in just a few races. To address this issue the Commission agreed the following change to the regulations:

'During the 2020 season concessions can only be lost, but not gained.

'Current regulations apply to the timing of the loss of concessions.

'All concession points gained during the 2020 by concession manufacturers will continue to have a 2-year validity.'

The granting and removal of MotoGP concessions (which prior to the technical freeze was; extra engine changes, no engine design freeze, extra testing and wild-cards) is based on the accrual by each manufacturer of Concession Points during races: 1st place = 3 concession points, 2nd place = 2 concession points, 3rd place = 1 concession point.

When a manufacturer reaches 6 Concession Points within two seasons, they lose concessions. But if a manufacturer has accrued no Concession Points (no podium finishes) during one season, they regain concessions from the following year.

Because the 2020 season is now expected to feature just 10-12 of the planned 20 races, there is a higher chance of a non-concession manufacturer (Honda, Yamaha, Ducati or Suzuki) failing to finish on the podium and thus regaining concessions for 2021.

 

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