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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Valentino Rossi breaks engine limit, pit lane start

Valentino Rossi will start Sunday's Aragon Grand Prix from the pit lane after exceeding the six engines (per rider) limit for the 2011 MotoGP season. 

Rossi has been forced to take the penalty not because of reliability problems with his Ducati engines, but because the numerous chassis developments introduced to try and improving the GP11's handling have required different engine mountings. 

Unlike the Japanese bikes, the Ducati engine is a fully 'stressed' part of the bike - the front and rear chassis sections literally bolt onto the engine itself. That means the mounting points are especially important in terms of handling. 

The GP11 has undergone several major modifications, culminating in a change from carbon-fibre to aluminium for the front section of Rossi's bike at Aragon. 

Some of those chassis 'steps' have been incompatible with previous engines, forcing Ducati to keep 'opening' new engines well before the mileage limit has been reached. 

Having qualified just 13th after a crash at Aragon, Rossi and Ducati have decided to take the penalty for opening a seventh engine now - for use on his spare bike - rather than risk having to abandon a more competitive qualifying at a future event. 

The penalty means Rossi will start the Aragon Grand Prix from pit lane, 10 seconds after the official start of the race. 

“I must say that we were a little unfortunate today, because I think we had good potential and that we deserved something better," said Rossi of qualifying. 

"However, I'm 13th, and at this point we'll use our seventh engine and start from pit lane, as the new [aluminium] front chassis part only works with the engine we used at Misano. 

"Unfortunately, although we have two engines that are nearly new and probably would have let us make it to the end of the season, we aren't able to use them.

"Anyway, we made this decision looking forward, and we've started working in what we think is a good direction, though of course we're on our first step, with a lot more left to do.” 

The seven time MotoGP champion will not face another penalty unless he opens an eighth engine. 

After Sunday's race there are four more grands prix before the end of the 2011 season, which has turned ever more into an extended test session for Rossi and Ducati. 

The only other rider to have been penalised for exceeding a MotoGP engine limit is Loris Capirossi, at Phillip Island in 2009, when he was a Suzuki rider 

The tail-end of the 2009 season was used as a trial run for the rules that exist today, with a maximum of five engine changes allowed for each rider during the final seven rounds. 

At that time, the punishment for any extra engines was different: Capirossi was demoted to the back of the grid, while Suzuki incurred a ten point penalty in the constructors' championship. 

For 2010 the punishment was changed to a delayed pit lane start - of which Rossi is the first to suffer. Suzuki are now allowed nine engines per year, rather than the six per rider for all other manufacturers. 

source: crash

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