Rossi not certain new MotoGP age limits “will fix all the problems”

MotoGP veteran Valentino Rossi says increasing the minimum age limit of Moto3 entrants to 18 “is a big difference” but doesn’t believe it solves the main issue of riding standards.

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On Friday the FIM and Dorna Sports announced a new set of regulations for its junior series to increase the minimum age limits and cap grid sizes in a bid to improve safety in the wake of three teenage deaths in FIM-sanctioned events this year.

One of the most significant changes is the raising of the minimum age limit in Moto3 and Moto2 from 2023 onwards to 18 from 16.

Rossi – who started his grand prix career in 1996 aged 17 – says this will improve safety in Moto3, but feels the biggest issue that needs resolved is the current riding standards in the class.

“Especially for Moto3, from 16 to 18 is a big change because everybody wants to start as soon as possible,” Rossi said when asked by Motorsport.com for his thoughts on the new age rules.

“It’s a big difference, because two years is a lot. [At] 18, a lot of riders have to wait.

“For sure this will be better for the safety, but I don’t know if it will fix all the problems.

“I think it’s more important that the riders have good behaviour when they are on track than the age.

“So, they need to follow more precisely the Race Direction and [Race Direction] is more strict.

“A move to 18 is quite a big step. Imagine I maybe started at 17 in the world championship 25 years ago, or 26 years ago, so 18 is quite high.”

MotoGP Race Direction does appear to be taking a harsher stance on riding standards in Moto3, with Tech3 rider Deniz Oncu banned for two rounds after triggering a horror accident at the Circuit of the Americas two weeks ago.

Ducati’s Jack Miller believes the biggest thing that needs fixed is the difficulty of the Moto3-type machinery, which he says are currently too easy to ride and allow slower riders to latch onto big group battles and “cause chaos”.

“For me, in my honest opinion I think something needs to be done with the tyres or something like that,” Miller added.

“If they don’t want to do something to the size of the bike, that’s fine.

“But something with the tyres, make the bike harder to ride because as we’ve seen anybody can jump on and swing off the throttle, and you don’t really need all that much… it takes skill, don’t get me wrong, but you need that feeling, that technical finesse to be able to be there.

Dennis Foggia, Leopard Racing

Dennis Foggia, Leopard Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

“And especially when a massive there’s a massive train at Mugello or somewhere, it helps guys who are maybe losing a tenth or two in the last section, they’re able to grab a slipstream and stay in the group and cause chaos.”

His Ducati teammate Francesco Bagnaia – as well as title rival Fabio Quartararo – feel perhaps raising the minimum age limit of Moto3 is a bit much, with the Italian noting: “I see that they move [the minimum age limit] from 16 to 18, and just 32 riders per category.

“I think two years more are a bit too much because when you are young, 16 years are good I think.

“It’s ok that you have to have more maturity from the guys, but I don’t think that it changes too much from 16 to 18. I think 16 was already good and 18 a bit too much.”

Six-time MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez started his world championship career at 15 and made his MotoGP debut when he was just 20.

But he feels increasing the minimum age limits in motorcycle racing is a positive step and hopes it ends the pressure being exerted on young riders to progress through the ranks as quickly as possible.

“For me, it’s a good change after what happened this year,” the Honda rider said.

“It’s time to change something. It’s true that maybe I’m not the rider to say this because I arrived in the world championship at 15 years old, I moved to MotoGP at 20 years old, I was one of the youngest ones.

“But it’s true that now the tendency is now [to think] that if you are 20 and you are not in MotoGP you are not a good rider.

“And it’s not like this. Sometimes some riders need more time than the other ones.

“To move the age [limit] means everybody will be more ready and everybody more mature because it’s normal and it’s natural that with 15 years old you do one kind of mistakes, and at 18 you do other kinds of mistakes, and at 22 you will do other kinds of mistakes.

“But if you can arrive with more experience and more maturity in the world championship it will be better.

“But this needs to be a consequence from the smallest categories.

“Now it’s like if a baby at four or five years old is not on a bike, it’s too late already.

“And it’s not like this, you can start on a bike at seven, eight, nine years old with small bikes and just do it for fun. It’s not necessary to compete, so I think it’s good news for motorcycle racing.”

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