Crunch decision on NW 200 rules looms large

Mervyn Whyte set to make a decision on the new regulations. Matt Mackey/
Mervyn Whyte set to make a decision on the new regulations. Matt Mackey/

North West 200 Event Director Mervyn Whyte is considering a switch to new regulations next year that have already raised the prospect of Shaun Muir’s Milwaukee Yamaha team withdrawing from the 2014 Isle of Man TT.

Whyte is poised to make a decision early next week after holding talks with team bosses including Muir and Honda’s Neil Tuxworth at the Motorcycle Live Show at the NEC in Birmingham.

The TT organisers have implemented new rules that prevent teams from operating after-market electronics systems such as the Magneti Marelli unit used by Milwaukee Yamaha on the roads.

A complete shift towards a specified ECU is expected to come into force in 2015, bringing the TT in line with British Superbike regulations.

The aim is to make the event more cost-effective, ruling out the need for BSB teams to build machinery specifically to suit a different set of rules at the TT.

Rather than making the full transition to a specified ECU across the board next year, the TT organisers have reached a compromise allowing teams to run their own kit electronics systems or a Motec spec-ECU.

Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki and BMW are satisfied with the proposal, but Milwaukee Yamaha boss Muir has vowed to withdraw Ian Hutchinson and Josh Brookes from the TT next June, arguing that Yamaha’s kit electronics system is far less advanced than those used by rival teams, therefore putting his riders at a big disadvantage.

It may also be an issue facing Muir at the North West 200 next year, with race supremo Whyte weighing up the pros and cons of adopting the same rules for the international road race before announcing a final decision next week.

“I talked to Shaun Muir and Neil Tuxworth at the NEC last Sunday and I met with the TT guys as well,” Whyte said last week.

“The FIM is going to introduce new legislation in 2015 that requires a standard ECU and what the TT organisers have done in the meantime is brought in these rules ahead of the full switchover.

“Shaun Muir has been using the Magneti Marelli system on his road racing machines and his argument is that it will cost a lot of money to switch to the standard Motec system and make all the necessary changes around the electronics.

“We haven’t finalised anything yet on our plans regards the rules for the North West 200 but I’ve been doing some work on it and talking to our scrutineers,” he added.

“I haven’t made a decision as yet but I’ll be looking at it over the weekend and we’ll probably look at making a decision early next week.

“But we can run our 2013 FIM rules that we are using at the present time if we choose [allowing use of advanced after-market electronic systems],” said Whyte.